Creamy Pumpkin Pasta
Published Sep 02, 2022, Updated Jan 21, 2024
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Cozy up this fall with a bowl of this pumpkin pasta. Cooked pasta is tossed in a creamy sauce made with pumpkin puree, brown butter and fresh sage leaves to create a delicious and comforting dinner that comes together in under 30 minutes.
When I think of pumpkin recipes my mind immediately goes to sweet recipes like muffins, cookies and bread, but I always forget how much I love savory pumpkin dishes like my pumpkin curry and curried pumpkin soup. So when brainstorming recipes for this fall my mind immediately went to a pumpkin pasta dish.
The inspiration for this recipe came from my love of the Trader Joes sweet potato gnocchi with butter & sage. I thought it would be delicious to create a creamy pumpkin sauce with brown butter and fresh sage. And I was right! The brown butter adds a unique nutty flavor, the fresh sage adds an earthy, peppery flavor and the pumpkin adds a touch of sweetness. The combo is seriously so good and I can’t wait for you to try this dish!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It’s the perfect savory, comforting meal for fall and winter!
- The combo of a creamy pumpkin sauce, brown butter and sage is chef’s kiss!
- It’s packed with nutrients from the pumpkin, spinach and herbs.
- This is the perfect dish for busy weeknights. It comes together in just 30 minutes!
- pasta – I used rigatoni, but your favorite type of pasta will work just fine!
- butter – we’re browning the butter, which adds a unique nutty, deep caramelized flavor to this dish. I went with salted butter for extra flavor, but you could also use unsalted butter if that’s what you have on hand
- sage leaves – I definitely recommend picking up a package of fresh sage leaves for this recipe. The fresh sage adds an earthy, slightly peppery taste to this dish which pairs perfectly with the brown butter and creamy pumpkin sauce.
- onion and garlic – together they provide a savory base for the sauce.
- almond milk – to create a creamy sauce we’re combining unsweetened almond milk with pumpkin puree and veggie broth. Any type of milk will work, just make sure to use unsweetened!
- vegetable broth – for the sauce. The almond milk and pumpkin puree will add a little sweetness to the sauce while the veggie broth adds more savory flavor. I recommend using low sodium stock or broth so you can control how salty the sauce turns out. You can always add salt but you can’t remove it!
- pumpkin puree – both canned pumpkin or homemade pumpkin puree work for this recipe! If using canned pumpkin, make sure the ingredients are just “pureed pumpkin” and not pumpkin pie filling.
- sea salt and pepper – to bring all the flavors together.
- parmesan – for topping and mixed into the pasta. You can omit to make this dairy-free, but the parmesan adds a great savory flavor and some saltiness. I recommend grating fresh parmesan cheese versus using pre-shredded cheese.
- baby spinach – adds a lot of great vitamins and minerals to this dish plus a little pop of color!
- pepitas – I love adding pepitas as a topping for some crunch. They’re also known as shelled pumpkin seeds and adds some healthy fats and fiber to this dish!
How to Make Creamy Pumpkin Pasta
Cook pasta: Begin by bringing water to a boil and cooking the pasta according to the package. Once cooked, drain and set aside.
Brown butter: While the pasta is cooking, add the butter and sage leaves to a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat, stirring often. Once the butter starts to bubble, stir constantly for about 8-10 minutes until butter browns and gives off a nutty aroma. Remove sage leaves from the butter, place on a plate and set aside.
Make sauce: Add onion to a saucepan and sauté for 4-5 minutes until they’re fragrant and translucent. Add garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes (be careful not to burn the garlic!). Slowly add the almond milk, vegetable broth, pumpkin puree, salt and pepper. Whisk everything together and bring the mixture to a simmer.
Combine: the pasta to the sauce and mix well until all the pasta is coated. Stir in the sage leaves, parmesan cheese and spinach until wilted.
Serve: Serve immediately topped with pepitas, more shredded parmesan, fresh sage leaves and cracked black pepper.
Substitutions & Notes
- Pumpkin puree: If you aren’t a fan of pumpkin or don’t have any on hand you could use sweet potato puree or butternut squash puree!
- Gluten-free: If you need this recipe to be gluten-free, I bet using a gluten-free pasta will work just fine. My favorite is Banza!
- Vegan: I recently made this pasta with vegan parmesan and vegan butter and it worked perfectly! Vegan butter doesn’t brown, but it was still delicious!
- Spinach: If you don’t have spinach on hand, kale would be an excellent substitution.
The Best Type of Pasta to Use
My first choice of pasta would be any tubular variety like penne, ziti, or rigatoni because it works well with the sauce. That said, really any type of pasta will work! I bet it would also be delicious with fettuccini or spaghetti noodles.
How to Brown Butter
The process of browning butter may seem intimidating at first if you’ve never done it, but it’s pretty straightforward and when done correctly it adds an incredibly rich and nutty flavor to your recipes.
You start with adding your butter to a saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter starts to melt and making a crackling sound make sure you’re constantly whisking or stirring the butter so it doesn’t burn.
Soon the butter will begin to darken in color and appear with small bubbles at the top. Keep stirring and as soon as the butter turns a deep amber color and gives off a nutty aroma it’s ready. The whole process should take about 8-10 minutes. For this recipe we’re sautéing the onion and garlic in the brown butter, so as soon as it turns a deep amber color, remove the sage leaves and add the onion to the pan to sauté. You want to make sure to not let the butter sit cooking for too long otherwise it will burn!
What to Serve With Pumpkin Pasta
This pumpkin pasta dish is hearty enough to be served as a meal on its own, but if you want additional protein I recommend pairing it with an easy option like chickpeas, tofu or chicken. It would be delicious with my grilled apple cider vinegar chicken or air fryer chicken breast.
You can also serve it alongside a salad or roasted veggies for extra goodness. Here’s some recommendations: roasted sweet potatoes, roasted broccoli, garlicky kale salad, kale and brussels sprout salad, or roasted butternut squash salad.
How to Store Leftover Pumpkin Pasta
Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. To reheat, add pasta to a saucepan and heat over medium-low, until warmed, stirring often to prevent burning. Make sure to add a little bit of milk or water to thin out the sauce and prevent the noodles from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan. You can also heat leftovers in the microwave if you’re in a rush!
More Savory Pumpkin Recipes to Try
- Tofu Pumpkin Curry
- Black Bean Pumpkin Burgers
- Pumpkin Spice Salmon
- Maple Balsamic Tempeh Bowls with Pumpkin Rice
- Pumpkin Rice
More Pasta Recipes to Try
- Spaghetti Squash Baked Feta Pasta
- Vegan Mac and Cheese
- Creamy Walnut Pasta Sauce with Spaghetti Squash Noodles
- Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta with Tahini Sauce
- Lightened-Up Penne alla Vodka
- Easy Baked Ziti
- 16 oz pasta, I used rigatoni
- ½ cup salted butter
- 12 fresh sage leaves
- ½ yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- ½ cup vegetable broth, I used low-sodium
- 1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
- ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- 2-3 cups fresh baby spinach
- For serving: pepitas, fresh sage, fresh parmesan cheese, cracked black pepper
- Cook pasta according to package. Drain and set aside in large pot.
- While pasta is cooking, add butter and sage leaves to a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium low heat, stirring often. One butter starts to bubble, stir constantly for about 8-10 minutes until butter browns and turns a deep amber color. Remove sage leaves from butter and place on a separate plate. Set aside for later.
- As soon as you remove the sage leaves from the pan immediately add onion to saucepan and saute for 4-5 minutes until onion is fragrant and translucent. Add garlic and saute for 1-2 more minutes. Be careful not to burn garlic!
- Slowly add almond milk, veggie broth, pumpkin puree, salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Bring mixture to a simmer.
- Once pasta is cooked and drained add to sauce mixture and stir to combine.
- Stir in sage leaves, parmesan cheese and spinach until spinach has wilted.
- Serve immediately topped with pepitas, shredded parmesan, fresh sage leaves and cracked black pepper.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.