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:
4.95 from 40 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.

69 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Janie
    01.20.2022

    3 stars
    The sauce is tasty, but overall was disappointing. The color was nothing like the photo in this post, more of an unappealing grayish tone which did not make the pasta look very appealing! Maybe this was the cashews? I used large raw organic cashews and followed the recipe to a T. The squash was delicious. I don’t know what went wrong. Now I have extra sauce and don’t know what to do with it…..any ideas?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.22.2022

      I’m so sorry you didn’t enjoy this one. I would drizzle extra sauce over vegetables or maybe spread it on toast.

  2. Jayne
    01.15.2022

    5 stars
    This is delicious! All four of us loved it! I did soak my cashews in hot water for 30 minutes prior to blending, so the sauce was very creamy! Will definitely make this again,.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.16.2022

      Hi Jayne, I’m so glad you loved it!

  3. Vanessa Widen
    01.15.2022

    What’s a good substitute for the cashews? My son is allergic to nuts. Would almonds be ok?

    • Mary
      01.16.2022

      I am allergic to nut. How can I replace the caches? Thanks

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.16.2022

      Hi Vanessa, you can use blanched, peeled almonds. If you can’t find whole blanched almonds, try slivered almonds. The skins make the sauce less creamy but generally they’re a good sub for cashews.

  4. Kathy
    01.03.2022

    5 stars
    I made this tonight just as it’s written except I didn’t have fresh sage so used about 1/4 tsp of dried sage. It was fantastic….thank you!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.04.2022

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  5. Jenny
    11.23.2021

    Can someone please tell me what this tastes like? Is it sweet? Is it salty? I’ve never had butternut squash before so I’m curious to know how this dish tastes before making it.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.23.2021

      Hi Jenny, it’s savory with just a little sweetness from the squash. The sage and thyme give it fall flavors (ie, they’re herbs used in Thanksgiving type dishes).

  6. Robin
    11.22.2021

    5 stars
    Fantastic! Did a test run a couple of weeks ago, as I need a substantial side that can serve as a Thanksgiving main for an almost-vegan guest. This time I added about a Tablespoon of Dijon mustard, and it gives it a nice hit of sharpness. So great with out home grown fresh herbs~

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.23.2021

      Hi Robin, I’m so glad you loved it!

  7. Miranda
    11.22.2021

    5 stars
    Amazing! This might be the best pasta sauce I’ve ever tried. It’s certainly the best I’ve made myself. The depth of flavour was really unexpected. I’ll be making it again for sure!

  8. Mike
    11.17.2021

    This recipe is hard to follow. How much does a small squash weigh? I don’t have fresh thyme, how much should I use if my thyme is dried? Is there a way to see the ingredients by weight that I don’t see?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.18.2021

      Hi Mike, I would use 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme. I don’t have a weight, but the size doesn’t have to be so precise. Just look for a small butternut squash, or use a smaller portion of a medium one.

      • Mike
        11.24.2021

        5 stars
        Hey, I made this twice now. The first time I didn’t know what I was doing, the store only had huge squash available and they weren’t ripe. I bought one anyway because I didn’t know how to pick a good squash. I also used way too much sage… and forgot to buy cashews so I used sunflower seeds, and also forgot shallots so I used onions, also didn’t have pasta water because I used left over pasta… that batch didn’t turn out so good.

        The second time though, I followed the recipe exactly and knew how to pick a good squash, the sauce came out fantastic! 🙂

        On the second attempt I used my cocotte to roast the squash, the squash didn’t fit inside cut in half so I peeled the squash and cubed it then put it back in the cocotte with the shallots and garlic and roasted them together.

        Thanks for the recipe! I’m bringing the dish over for Thanksgiving tomorrow, I’m the only vegan at the table but maybe if people like this enough they’ll join me next year? I won’t hold my breath but I will stuff my face with this pasta 🙂

  9. Megan from northforkmoto.com
    11.16.2021

    Can this be made ahead of time and heated up before eating? I need to take it with me to someone else’s house for the holiday.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.17.2021

      Hi Megan, I think the pasta is best fresh, soon after it’s tossed with the sauce. Would it be a possibility to make the sauce ahead of time, then cook the pasta and toss it together when you get there?

  10. Tania
    10.16.2021

    Hi what do you mean by nutritional yeast? I have instant yeast or regular dry yeast.

  11. Binder
    10.13.2021

    Looks delicious! Can you make it without the cashews or would you need an alternative? We have an allergy in the family so no tree nuts.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.14.2021

      Hi Binder, you could try using 1/4 cup raw hulled sunflower seeds instead of the cashews.

  12. Jess
    10.11.2021

    Have you ever tried freezing this? I wonder if it would be as tasty after. I’m looking for ways to stretch past the season and this looks delicious

  13. Debra Minutillo
    09.22.2021

    5 stars
    Just recently started eating a vegan diet and was searching for recipes when I stumbled upon this one. Made last night…it was amazing!
    Will be making again real soon.
    Thanks for recipe. Looking forward to trying more of them.

  14. Jo
    04.27.2021

    5 stars
    I’ve made this several times and it is absolutely fabulous. I do need to provide a word of caution. This needs to be made with a ripe squash. I made it today and it went from 5 star to 2 for that very reason. Found online, that if picked too soon, butternut squash is tasteless. I barely salvaged it with some lemon juice. By all means make this one, just take a moment to learn how to pick a ripe squash when you do.

  15. Sabrina
    04.01.2021

    5 stars
    Just tried this and it’s delicious! I added a little extra balsamic vinegar to the sauce because I wanted extra zing. Also used dried sage because I didn’t have any fresh and worked fine.

  16. Karen Lipsey
    03.26.2021

    This kobacha squash recipe from your book and the butternut squash soup recipe from the other book are both delicious! I used leftover kabacha and butternut squash that I had frozen from making these recipes before to make them again. Do you think I can then freeze any leftover soup or pasta sauce or would freezing the main ingredient for a 2nd time ruin them?

  17. Marcia
    01.28.2021

    Jeanine, I just came across this recipe while looking for a stuffed winter squash idea. I’ll make this tonight as it looks fabulous! I just want to say, even though I subscribe to a couple of food bloggers, your recipes by far look – and taste the best! Thank you so much for sharing these delicious recipes with us!
    Marcia

  18. Janet
    01.25.2021

    5 stars
    Just made this today–it is pretty much PERFECT. Thank you again for another excellent one!

  19. Nicole
    01.15.2021

    5 stars
    This recipe was so delicious! I panic-bought a can of pureed butternut squash at the beginning of the pandemic and it has sat in the back of my pantry since. I saw this recipe today and had to try it! Will definitely be making this again, so delicious and easy!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.16.2021

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  20. Jody L
    01.02.2021

    5 stars
    Totally delish! I wanted to test our new blender with this one. And the sauce came out nice and creamy. I used the extra butternut squash for butternut squash soup and roasted some extra garlic and onions for that. I didn’t have sage, but just threw in some extra thyme. We made some green beans as our side and wow! So good! I love how all of your recipes seem to be flexible and I use them as a guide or inspiration and they always turn out so well.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
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.