Creamy Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

This creamy pumpkin pasta sauce is the ULTIMATE fall comfort food! Roasted garlic, onion, and sage fill it with cozy, complex autumn flavor.

Creamy Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

This creamy pumpkin pasta sauce recipe comes from my first cookbook. Even though I developed it years ago now, it’s still one of my favorite fall and winter recipes. Fresh pumpkin puree (or kabocha or butternut squash) blends with cashews to create a super creamy, super comforting sauce. Yes, it looks like mac and cheese, but this surprising pumpkin pasta sauce is something else entirely. Roasted garlic, onion, and fresh sage give it a nutty, complex autumn flavor. Personally, I think it’d be a fantastic option for a vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner, but it’s so simple and cozy that you’ll want to make it all fall and winter long.

Pumpkin Pasta Sauce Recipe Tips

  • Soak the cashews ahead of time. Heads up! If you don’t have a high-speed blender, you’ll need to plan ahead when you make this recipe. Make sure to soak the cashews overnight, or for at least 4 hours, before you start to cook. That way, they’ll get really smooth and creamy in the blender.
  • Save some pasta water. The pumpkin and cashews create a luscious puree on their own, but the addition of pasta water is what transforms them into a sauce. This salty, starchy water loosens the puree, amps up its flavor, and helps it stick to the cooked pasta. Reserve at least 1/2 cup before you drain the pasta!
  • Season to taste. You should season to taste anytime you’re cooking, but it’s especially important in this pumpkin pasta sauce recipe. The flavor of your final dish will depend on your particular brand of vegetable broth, the saltiness of your pasta water, and how generously you salt the vegetables before you roast them. There’s a good chance you’ll need to add another pinch of salt or a few extra grinds of pepper before you eat. Make sure to taste and adjust to create a pasta dish you love!

Creamy Pumpkin Pasta Serving Suggestions

Topped with a sprinkle of vegan Parmesan or regular Parmesan cheese, this creamy pumpkin pasta makes a fantastic meal on its own. I often serve it with homemade focaccia or crusty bread to mop up any pumpkin pasta sauce that’s left at the bottom of my bowl.

If you’re craving a larger meal, pair this pumpkin pasta with your favorite veggie side dish. I love it with roasted broccoli, roasted Brussels sprouts, sautéed kale, or roasted cauliflower. It would also be delicious with any of these salad recipes:

Enjoy!

The Love & Lemons Cookbook

More Favorite Pumpkin Recipes

If you love this creamy pumpkin sauce, try one of these delicious pumpkin recipes next:

Creamy Pumpkin Pasta

Creamy Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

rate this recipe:
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 50 mins
Serves 4
This creamy pumpkin pasta sauce is the ULTIMATE fall comfort food! Serve it over penne, like I do here, or any pasta shape you like. This recipe works best in a high speed blender, such as a Vitamix. If you're using a regular blender, be sure to soak your cashews overnight.

Ingredients

  • ½ kabocha squash or small sugar pie pumpkin, to yield 1 heaping cup cooked mash
  • ½ yellow onion, sliced into wedges
  • 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
  • 5 large fresh sage leaves
  • ¾ cup vegetable broth
  • ½ cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked for 4 hours or overnight, drained and rinsed
  • 16 ounces uncooked penne pasta
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with foil. Place the pumpkin, onion, and garlic on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn the pumpkin cut-side down and pierce a few holes in the skin with a fork. Cover with another sheet of foil and bake until the onion is soft and the pumpkin flesh is very tender, 35 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Add the sage to the pan during the last few minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, keeping everything covered, and let it continue to steam for another 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Pour the vegetable broth into a high-speed blender. Remove the skin and add the pumpkin flesh to the blender along with the onion, peeled garlic, sage, cashews, ½ teaspoon salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Blend until smooth and creamy. Add the 2 tablespoons olive oil and blend again. (If your sauce is not smooth and creamy, add a little more broth or olive oil and blend it longer).
  • Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions or until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of the starchy pasta water before draining the pasta.
  • Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Stir in half the sauce, adding more as needed to coat the pasta. Add the reserved pasta water, ¼ cup at a time, to thin the sauce and make it creamy. Add the remaining sauce as desired. Taste and season with more salt and pepper. Serve hot.

 

37 comments

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  1. Roasted garlic is the BEST. Love that you included it. I’ve made something like this with butternut squash, but will definitely be trying your recipe with pumpkin (especially come fall) – sounds so tasty and looks beautiful!

  2. I haven’t bought your cookbook yet, but I am so excited to soon! I told the hubby that we have to get it as soon as I get back from the UK.
    Pumpkin is one of my favorite things to cook with, I am so excited about this recipe!
    I don’t think the hubby would like it, but the kid and I will 😛

  3. Ohhhh man, my mouth is watering. I love anything with pasta and I think it’s such a great idea to add the pumpkin… And that sage on top, I’m drooling!

  4. Jen
    07.18.2016

    It is chilly here in Melbourne. This looks perfect.

  5. Deb
    07.18.2016

    Can we used organic canned pumpkin? If so, how much? Or would this not be good?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.18.2016

      Hi Deb, the flavor is really not as good with canned pumpkin, but butternut squash works great here too if that’s easier to find!

  6. This pasta looks delicious! I love pumpkin and would eat it all year if I could. I might have to try this with butternut squash until I can get my hands on a pumpkin. This will be great to use as one of my meatless Monday meals. Thanks for the recipe!

  7. Melissa
    07.19.2016

    Looks delicious! I just have one question. My husband is allergic to most nuts, but he can eat almonds and peanuts. Would it be possible to sub the cashews with either of these, and if so, would one work better than the other? I’m thinking almonds might be better…

  8. It is that time again. Halloween is just around the corner. Time to pull out our best pumpkin recipes. Adding this one to the bunch!

  9. Kira
    07.23.2016

    I have never been on your website before but bought your cookbook online while searching for whole foods cookbooks. I fell in love with the format, pictures, and ingredients used. I was even happier when it arrived. It is a beautiful book, and filled with many recipes I want to try. We just ate the roasted cauliflower and pear pizza tonight. I was speechless. So unique to me, and absolutely tastes delicious. My 4 year old and I thought it was the perfect dinner to end our girls day in while the boys were away today. Thank you for putting together the cookbook. I love it! It will be used often. And we will be visiting your site often now too.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.31.2016

      Hi Kira – welcome! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the book, and I’m so happy that your family enjoyed the pizza! Thank you for coming to let me know 🙂

  10. Jeanine Donofrio
    08.02.2016

    Hi, you might want to try soaking your cashews longer, that will help them become more creamy when you blend them (if you’re not using a high powered blender like a vitamix). I would also suggest blending the sauce a little longer to get it creamier. Hope that helps!

  11. Jeanine Donofrio
    09.10.2016

    The Aussie cookbook does list items as you call them :). You can use a butternut squash or (what we call) sugar pie pumpkins in this recipe!

    • Rebbecca Valenti
      09.10.2016

      Excellent!! Going to try this one today, have all the ingredients. Thanks 🙂

  12. Hana
    10.06.2016

    Made this for dinner tonight and it was amazing. Added in some baby spinach and thought it was a great addition. My junk food loving fiancé loved this too, so this recipe is definitely a keeper

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.09.2016

      I’m so glad you both loved it!

  13. Susan
    11.18.2016

    Going to try this soon- could you tell me if walnuts or almonds might work as well as cashews?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      12.12.2016

      Hi Susan, blanched/ peeled almonds might work if your blender is really powerful. I think walnuts would give a funny flavor. Cashews will blend up the creamiest. Hope that helps!

  14. Paige
    12.11.2016

    Delicious. I added some nutritional yeast, water instead of broth, and turkish red pepper flakes and parmesan on top…whoops!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      12.12.2016

      So glad you liked it! 🙂

  15. Jeannie M Hubbard
    07.06.2017

    Wish you had included nutritional information (sat.fat; cholesterol, sodium etc.)

  16. Giselle Jones
    08.08.2017

    This was very bland oh my lord. For some reason I can’t make the rating any less than 5 but it’s a 2 for me. It sucks that I can’t find any flavorful vegan recipes, everyone calls for salt and pepper & I’m not a white American.

  17. Audrey
    09.30.2017

    Could you sub the cashews out for milk or half & half if you didn’t want it vegan?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.01.2017

      Hi Audrey, yes, but I don’t know the amounts because I haven’t made the recipe this way. So sorry that’s not very helpful…

  18. Alexander B
    10.11.2017

    Sadly have to agree with Giselle. Tasted quite bland – as vegan I am used to my recipes being more “colorful” so to say. Be it visual, or in taste. This one didn’t quite satisfy my imagination. It’s ok.

  19. Liz
    12.12.2017

    I made this tonight and I could NOT be happier. I used the instant pot for the cashews (covered almonds in water, 2 minutes under high pressure, quick release) and subbed pumpkin with butternut squash. The only thing I really changed was adding a few dashes of smoked paprika to the sauce, just because! I can’t wait to make again. Thanks!

  20. Jenny Swain
    12.17.2018

    Hi! Can this recipe be made ahead?

  21. Elyse
    01.21.2019

    can you freeze any leftover sauce?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.22.2019

      Hi Elsye, this one doesn’t freeze all that well. The cashew base becomes less creamy (and more gritty) once frozen. However, it’ll keep in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.

      • Elyse
        01.25.2019

        Thanks! It was sooo delicious! I added sautéed spinach when I put it over chickpea pasta shells. Yum!

  22. Kylie P.
    11.13.2019

    I just made this last night. I’m new to plant-based and sooo so happy about this recipe! It is so creamy and the flavor is soo yummy. I didn’t roast the pumpkin, but instead used canned pumpkin. I sautéed the onions and garlic and used dried sage as I only had that on hand (added it to the pan with the onions and garlic) then added it all to the blender with the other ingredients. So good, thank you!

  23. Meagan
    11.13.2020

    5 stars
    Made this tonight and was amazed at how tasty and light the sauce was! Great dinner!

  24. Mary Frangie
    11.16.2020

    5 stars
    This sauce is excellent! Jeanine, you’ve done it again. I’ve reviewed before and am a big fan of what a talented magician you are. This sauce is creamy and absolutely delicious. I followed the recipe exactly. other than using dried instead of fresh sage leaves, and it was easy and delectable. I never wonder if your recipes will come out well, they always do. Thank you so much!

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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.