Make this Creamy Pumpkin Pasta Sauce with penne for the most delicious weeknight meal. The velvety cream sauce contains puréed pumpkin, cream, hints of dried sage, and shredded parmesan. It’s rich, smooth and coats the pasta in the most wonderful way. Garnish this luxurious pasta with pepitas for the perfect finishing touch.
Pumpkin isn’t just for lattes in the fall, it’s delicious in savoury dishes year-round. We love it mixed with chickpeas and Thai red curry paste in a fiery Pumpkin Hummus Dip and add it to our No Knead Bread Recipe for a little extra fiber and flavour boost.
Creamy Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
Friends, this is one of those recipes that will get you through those busy days. Forget ordering takeout, this is the ‘fall back’ weeknight dinner you have been looking for. Pumpkin with cheese and carbs is magic, indeed.
Firstly, you might even have most of these ingredients in your pantry and refrigerator. If you don’t, it’s time to keep pasta (penne, linguine, or rigatoni, etc.) and a can of pumpkin puree handy at all times.
Aromatics like onion, garlic, and sage flavour this delightful dish and you’ll also need some cream and Parmesan cheese. I like to throw leftover chicken, turkey, sliced steak or even cooked bacon in for a little extra protein. What could be easier?
Best of all this creamy pumpkin pasta sauce takes less than 30 minutes to make. Yes, you read that right. I told you it is a lifesaver! So, the next time you are staring down at the 5 o’clock dinner dilemma, reach for your phone and head to this post and skip the takeout.
Ingredients for Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
It’s surprising how tasty this pasta dish is considering how few ingredients it contains. This is one of the most basic sauce recipes which makes it such a satisfying and flavourful weeknight dinner option.
- Olive Oil
- Chicken Broth
- Pumpkin Purée
- Heavy Cream
- Parmesan Cheese
Penne pasta works perfectly with this pumpkin cream sauce. However, feel free to use your favourite pasta shape, especially those that are traditionally served with cream sauce.
Thin, flat, long noodles like fettuccine and linguine or short tube-like pasta like rigatoni, ziti, campanelle, and cavatappi are best paired with simple cream sauces. This sauce is also great with gnocchi.
Try to use homemade or high-quality chicken stock or vegetable stock. There are very few ingredients in this recipe, so quality of ingredients is especially important. This includes the sage. It is the only seasoning besides onion and garlic, so be sure to use fresh dried sage for the best flavour result.
Heavy cream and real Parmesan Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese are the backbone of this creamy pumpkin sauce. There are no substitutions for these ingredients IMHO.
Finally, fresh parsley and pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) appear as the final garnish for this pumpkin pasta dish. Feel free to omit one or both, however the pumpkin seeds do provide a bit of textural crunch and visual interest to the final dish.
If you’re feeling spicy, feel free to season the sauce and final dish with as many red pepper flakes as you like.
Pumpkin Pie Filling vs. Pumpkin Purée
When shopping for this pumpkin pasta sauce recipe, be sure to purchase a can of pumpkin purée. It sounds obvious but it is so easy to bring home pumpkin pie filling instead of purée. I’ve been there, done that!
The difference between the two is that pumpkin pie filling also contains extra sweetener and spices. This means that your pasta will be sweet and spicy, kind of like a pumpkin spice latte.
To be honest, you can use any brand of canned pumpkin puree, it doesn’t even need to be 100% pumpkin. Some brands include a mixture butternut squash and pumpkin purée because they look and taste very similar.
How to Make Penne Pumpkin Pasta Sauce with Penne
To make this pumpkin pasta recipe, cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions. Drain (reserving 1 cup hot pasta water) and set aside.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant.
Next, add the chicken broth, pumpkin purée, heavy cream and dried sage to the skillet. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add the cooked pasta and shredded parmesan to the sauce, stir well and simmer until the sauce thickens and cheese melts. If the sauce becomes too thick, thin it out with some of the reserved pasta water.
Divide between serving bowls and top with more freshly grated Parmesan cheese, chopped fresh parsley, and pepitas, if using.
How to Make Vegan Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
This creamy pumpkin sauce is not vegan as written because it contains milk products and grated Parmesan cheese. However, with a few easy recipe substitutions it is easy to turn it into a vegan pasta recipe. To make this recipe dairy free, simply substitute your favourite non-dairy heavy cream substitute.
Additionally, you will need to substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth and nutritional yeast flakes for the Parmesan cheese. I’ve made this dish vegan several times and my daughter absolutely loves it.
How to Serve Creamy Pumpkin Pasta
This pasta makes a satisfying dinner on its own garnished with chopped fresh parsley, crunchy pepitas, or crispy fried sage leaves. However, we like to make it a meal with a mixed green side salad and some sliced crusty bread to mop up all that delicious sauce.
Feel free to add cooked or grilled sliced chicken, leftover steak, or even sautéed garlic shrimp for a tasty protein boost to this vegetarian pasta dish.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Store this pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat until piping hot using the stovetop or microwave.
This pasta is suitable for freezing. Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight, before reheating until piping hot using the stovetop or microwave.
Hi! I’m Bernice Hill and I’ve been the sole recipe developer, photographer, and writer at Dish ‘n’ the Kitchen for the past eleven years. It is my pleasure to share easy to follow recipes that are delicious, nutritious, and approachable for the whole family.
If you make this Creamy Pumpkin Pasta Sauce recipe, I’d love to hear about it in the comments section or in a recipe rating. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Pinterest for my latest recipes. Also, if you do make this recipe please share your photos and tag me on Instagram. I hope you like this recipe!
- 16 oz. dried Penne Pasta
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 Onion; peeled and diced
- 4 Garlic Cloves; peeled and finely diced or minced
- 1/2 cup Chicken Broth
- 1 1/2 cups Pumpkin Purée
- 3/4 cup Heavy Cream
- 1 teaspoon ground dried Sage
- 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese; shredded
- Salt (to taste)
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper (to taste)
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped Parsley; to serve (optional)
- 2 Tablespoons Pepitas; to serve (optional)
- Cook the dried penne in salted boiling water according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant.
- Add the chicken broth, pumpkin purée, heavy cream and dried sage to the skillet. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add the cooked pasta and shredded parmesan to the sauce, stir well and simmer until the sauce thickens and cheese melts.
- Divide between serving bowls and top with chopped fresh parsley and pepitas, if using.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 475Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 58mgSodium: 452mgCarbohydrates: 49gFiber: 6gSugar: 6gProtein: 15g
Nutritional calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. For special diets or medical issues please use your preferred calculator.