Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta

This butternut squash pasta is healthy, comforting, and delicious! Roasted squash, sage, and thyme fill the creamy sauce with cozy autumn flavor.

Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta

The first time I made this butternut squash pasta sauce, Jack couldn’t stop talking about it for days. “That sauce!”, he kept saying. “That sauce!” Of course, I teased him for it, but if I’m being totally honest, I was completely smitten with it too.

Looking at this butternut squash pasta, you might expect it to taste like mac and cheese. But don’t be fooled. The creamy sauce is rich and nutty, with bold autumn flavor from herbs like sage and thyme. Because it’s so flavorful and complex, this butternut squash pasta would make a show-stopping vegetarian main dish at a special occasion dinner (pasta for Thanksgiving, anyone?). Still, it’s really comforting and easy to make, so go ahead and enjoy it on regular old weeknights too. On cold nights, Jack and I have been loading it into bowls and cozying up on the couch. One bowl is plenty to warm us up, but it tastes so good that we always go back for seconds…or, in Jack’s case, thirds.

Butternut squash pasta recipe ingredients

Butternut Squash Pasta Recipe Ingredients

If you love butternut squash, you’ll go crazy for this pasta sauce! In it, the squash is front and center, adding to the creamy texture and supplying sweet autumn flavor. You’ll need 1/2 small squash to make this recipe, enough to yield 1 cup cooked flesh. Chop up the other half and roast it, or save it for a salad or soup. In addition to the squash, gather these ingredients to make this recipe:

  • Shallots and garlic – They roast along with the squash, becoming sweet, nutty, and tender.
  • Cashews – My go-to ingredient for making sauces rich and creamy.
  • Nutritional yeast – It adds umami flavor to this butternut squash pasta sauce.
  • Balsamic vinegar – For tang.
  • Sage and thyme – They add earthy autumn flavor to the creamy sauce.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – For richness.
  • And sea salt and fresh black pepper – To make all the flavors pop!

Last but not least, you’ll need some pasta! I like to serve this sauce over rotini, but you can use any pasta shape you like. I recommend a shape with lots of folds and creases to catch the delicious sauce.

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Butternut squash pasta sauce in a blender

How to Make Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce

This butternut squash pasta sauce is super easy to make! However, the first step is roasting the squash and shallots, which takes about 30 minutes. If you’re crunched for time, feel free to roast the veggies up to 2 days in advance. The rest of the recipe comes together in no time:

First, roast the veggies. Drizzle the squash with olive oil and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Then, place it cut-side-down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Wrap the shallots and garlic in foil with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt, and add them to the baking sheet too. Roast for 30 minutes at 425°, or until the squash is tender.

Then, blend the butternut squash sauce. Add 1 cup roasted butternut squash, the shallots, peeled garlic cloves, cashews, nutritional yeast, vinegar, herbs, salt, and pepper to a high-speed blender. Pour in some water and olive oil to get the blender moving, and blend to form a thick, creamy sauce.

Butternut squash pasta in a skillet

Next, cook the pasta! Add it to a large pot of boiling water, and cook until al dente. Before you drain the pasta, reserve 1 cup of the starchy pasta water.

Finally, add the pasta back into the pot. Stir in the sauce, adding 1/2 to 1 cup of the reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce and coat the pasta. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and enjoy!

Squash rotini with broccoli

Butternut Squash Pasta Serving Suggestions

When you’re ready to eat, scoop the creamy butternut squash pasta into bowls. Garnish it with thyme leaves, red pepper flakes, and freshly cracked black pepper. Jack would tell you to add some shaved Parmesan cheese too!

Jack and I have been loving this recipe with a scoop of sautéed broccoli on the side. Roast the broccoli if you prefer, or replace it with roasted cauliflower, roasted Brussels sprouts, or sautéed kale. A fall salad, like my Pear Salad, Caesar Salad, or Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad, would pair nicely with this recipe too. If you like, round out the meal with crusty bread or homemade focaccia to wipe up any sauce that’s left at the bottom of your bowl. It’s so delicious that you won’t want one drop to go to waste!

Butternut squash pasta recipe

More Cozy Pasta Recipes

If you love this butternut squash pasta recipe, try one of these delicious pastas next:

Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta

rate this recipe:
5 from 9 votes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Serves 4
Roasted squash, sage, and thyme fill this creamy butternut squash pasta with cozy autumn flavor. Serve it with sautéed broccoli or any veggie side dish you like.

Ingredients

  • ½ small butternut squash, halved vertically, and seeded
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, coarsely chopped (½ cup)
  • 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ cup raw cashews
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 10 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, plus a few leaves for garnish
  • 12 ounces rotini pasta
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Sauteed broccoli, for serving, optional

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Drizzle the squash with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place cut-side down on the baking sheet. Wrap the shallot and garlic cloves in foil with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and place on the baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes or until the squash is soft.
  • Scoop 1 cup of the squash flesh and transfer to a blender with the shallot, peeled garlic, water, cashews, 2 tablespoons olive oil, nutritional yeast, vinegar, sage, thyme, ¾ teaspoon salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Blend until creamy.
  • Cook the pasta according to package directions in a pot of salted boiling water. Reserve 1 cup of the hot pasta water.
  • Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Stir in the sauce, adding 1/2 to 1 cup of the reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce and coat the pasta. Season with ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt. Top with freshly ground black pepper, a few thyme leaves and sautéed broccoli, if desired.

29 comments

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  1. Ursula Vollmer
    10.30.2020

    HI! This looks so delicious but I was wondering what would be a good substitute if allergic nuts? Thanks so much

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.30.2020

      Hi Ursula, I would use raw hulled sunflower seeds or white beans. With sunflower seeds you might need a little more water in the blender if the sauce is thick… with beans you might want to start with a little less water.

    • Sandi
      10.30.2020

      Hi, we have a nut allergy- are the cashews necessary? Any suggestions for a replacement?

  2. Charlotte
    10.30.2020

    I made some variation of this and all I can say is Wow!! Putting squash on grocery list.

  3. Nancy
    10.30.2020

    I don’t have butternut squash on hand so would be using kabocha type squash. Approximately how many cups does this recipe use? I realize I can eyeball it but it would be helpful to ensure balance of flavours to have an approximate. Thanks so much.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.30.2020

      Hi Nancy, the recipe uses 1 cup of the cooked squash mash. I’ve found butternut to be more watery than kabocha so you might have to add more water to the blender if the sauce is too thick. Hope that helps!

  4. Toni
    10.30.2020

    This butternut squash pasta is truly amazing, and is a new favorite in my household
    I was worried it would taste like Mac and cheese but it doesn’t at all
    I put a few fried sage leaves on top and used chickpea pasta.

  5. 5 stars
    Hi! I love all of your amazing recipies!! I was wondering if I could purchase this book in print! I would love to have it to pour over!
    Thank you so much!
    Rachel 🙂

  6. Thera
    10.31.2020

    5 stars
    I just made this for my post- half-marathon meal. It was fantastic. Thanks. 🙂

    I’m freezing extra sauce for colder days.

  7. Becky
    10.31.2020

    5 stars
    Made this tonight for dinner. It’s delicious! I only made a small amount of pasta. How long will this sauce keep in the refrigerator?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.01.2020

      Hi Becky, I’m so glad you loved it! I keep it up to about 5 days. If it gets thick, stir in more pasta water.

  8. Sarah
    11.01.2020

    5 stars
    Made this and the flavor was incredible! Only thing was my sauce was a bit crunchy from the cashews. I used my Ninja food processor to blend it. I re-read the directions but don’t see anything about soaking the cashews first. Wondering if I was supposed to to get a creamier sauce?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.02.2020

      Hi Sarah, yep, it’s supposed to be creamy. You could try soaking them if your blender won’t get them super creamy – and/or I’d try blending a little longer.

  9. Talli
    11.02.2020

    Hi, looks amazing. Could I sub pumpkin?

  10. John
    11.02.2020

    Think the sauce would freeze well?
    Miss you in Austin!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.02.2020

      Hi John, aw, ha ha. The texture gets a little chunky and isn’t as smooth. I had to re-blend after it thawed to get it smooth again.

  11. Ally
    11.03.2020

    Could you give me a better idea of how much butternut squash to use?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.03.2020

      Hi Ally, you’ll use half or a little less – once it’s roasted you measure 1 cup of the soft squash for the sauce.

  12. Ally
    11.03.2020

    Can you give us a better idea of how much butternut to use? “1/2 small butternut” doesn’t really help because they vary so much in size and shape. Even a weight would be helpful.

  13. Rhianne Boa
    11.07.2020

    Do i put the balsamic vinegar in the Sauce?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.07.2020

      yep, in step 3

  14. Kristina
    11.11.2020

    This recipe is unreal! I was skeptical because I’m not a huge fan of butternut squash, but this is SO GOOD.

  15. Vicky Nesbitt
    11.12.2020

    5 stars
    Just made this for our dinner and it did not disappoint! So delicious despite the fact that I forgot to buy some sage so just had the thyme. The balsamic really lifts it I thought too.

    My husband really enjoyed it as well and he’s not usually into vegan food so much! Thank you so much for the recipe, will be making again.

    P.S. found your website via the latest Apple release because your site was on one of the screens they were demo-ing!

  16. Andrea
    11.13.2020

    This looks delicious–thanks! Do you chop the shallots before or after putting them in the oven? Thanks!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.13.2020

      Hi Andrea, chop them before – afterward they go into the blender with everything else.

  17. Chris
    11.16.2020

    Hi! Do you think it’s possible to sub red onion for the shallot? Also would red wine or Apple cider vinegar be okay for the balsamic or should we go get some?

    Love the recipes!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.16.2020

      Hi Chris – yes, I think red onion would be fine. I think apple cider vinegar would be great.

      • Chris
        11.16.2020

        5 stars
        The red onion worked perfectly and we ended up having balsamic. I’m not a huge butternut squash fan but my wife loves it so I was a bit hesitant. It was delicious, so balanced with the sweetness of the squash along with the roasted onion and garlic, the savory herbaceous sage and the brightness of the vinegar! We will definitely be making again!!

  18. Santa Fe Mom
    11.28.2020

    5 stars
    It was amazing and super easy. Thank you!

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Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.