This creamy pumpkin pasta sauce is made without cream and is naturally dairy-free. It’s a delicious and easy pasta dinner ready in about 30 minutes! We have it on frequent rotation in our house, and I think you will too.
When fall rolls around, the pumpkin recipes come out in full force! Most pumpkin recipes are sweet, like these Dairy Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins. You can also use pumpkin in savory recipes. Try Pumpkin Crostini or Pumpkin Risotto for pumpkin recipes with a savory flavor.
This creamy pumpkin sauce makes a simple pasta dish that can be eaten alone, served as a pasta course, or topped with protein for a more filling meal. Other pasta sauce recipes that you'll also enjoy include Italian Fresh Tomato Sauce, San Marzano Tomato Sauce (using canned or jarred tomatoes), and Spinach Pesto sauce.
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Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Got leftover canned pumpkin purée? This recipe uses 1 cup of purée.
- You can use fresh pumpkin purée or canned for this recipe.
- This quick and easy recipe is ready in about 35 minutes.
- It’s family friendly! My kids really enjoy this dish. One year my daughter decided to take Pumpkin Pasta to a potluck at school. The other kids really enjoyed the dish as well, and many asked for the recipe.
When to Serve Vegan Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
This creamy sauce and pasta makes a great weekday meal. It's a fall favorite in my household.
I like to serve fall recipes during Sukkot to celebrate the harvest. It’s the perfect time to start my repertoire my favorite fall recipes, and vegan pumpkin sauce is at the top of the list.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
See the recipe card below for a complete ingredient list and measurements.Jump to Recipe
- Produce - Onions and celery with fresh garlic create an aromatic base for this pasta sauce.
- Vegetable broth - I prefer to use a low sodium broth.
- Pumpkin purèe - You can use homemade pumpkin purée or canned. If you use homemade, it usually has a higher water content, so you will need less broth.
- Ground nutmeg - Nutmeg adds a nice warm fall flavor to this pasta dish. If using whole nutmeg, grate it about 10 times on a small grater.
- Dried sage - This is another flavor that feels like fall and compliments the pumpkin well. You can also top the pasta with fresh sage leaves, or pan fry them for a little crisp texture.
- Maple syrup - Optional, but helps if your pumpkin has a slightly bitter flavor.
- Pasta - Use your favorite type of pasta shape. I recommend spaghetti, linguini, and penne.
How to Make Savory Pumpkin Sauce
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Chop onion and celery with a small dice.
Sauté onion, celery, and garlic until soft.
Blend vegetables in a blender or food processor with some of the vegetable broth until smooth.
Combine puréed vegetables with pumpkin purée and seasonings and stir.
Simmer the sauce and adjust seasonings if needed.
Add pasta and toss to combine with a splash of reserved cooking water. Cook for a few minutes together.
Serve pasta warm with grated Parmesan cheese, toasted pine nuts, or steamed broccoli. You can top with fresh or fried sage leaves.
- Add a protein. This sauce works well with grilled chicken breast.
- Change out the pumpkin. You can make this creamy pasta with other winter squashes. It would be delicious with butternut squash purée too.
- Add some texture. Adding toasted pine nuts or toasted bread crumbs to the top is a great way to add some textural contrast. You can also add steamed broccoli to pack in some more veggies.
- Add more creaminess. This pumpkin sauce gets its creaminess from puréeing the vegetables, but if you want some extra creaminess, add a splash of unsweetened almond milk or coconut cream.
- Vegan or not. The recipe is vegan as written. You can keep it vegan, vegetarian, or add in meat if you want! You can also use chicken broth in place of vegetable broth if needed.
- Soup. Add additional broth to the sauce turning it into a delicious pumpkin soup.
You can make this sauce a day in advance. Cook pasta just before serving and combine sauce and cooked pasta together just before serving.
Storage and Reheating
How to store: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. If possible, store leftover pasta separately from sauce.
How to freeze: Pumpkin pasta sauce can be frozen in an airtight container for up to three months. I do not recommend freezing the cooked pasta.
How to reheat: To reheat, microwave until warmed through. You can also reheat in a skillet on medium-low heat with a splash of broth or pasta water until warmed through.
How to Serve Pumpkin Pasta
Pasta in Italy is sacred. It is usually served in individual shallow pasta bowls in a course all by itself. The dish is often simple without a lot of additional ingredients mixed in. I mean, what could be better than staring into a bowl of pasta without other distractions?
If you want to serve this pumpkin pasta Italian style, consider serving a second course after the pasta, like a salad or a main dish and vegetable side. There’s an economic reason behind this style of coursing, according to Silvestro Silvestori, owner of The Awaiting Table Cookery School in Lecce, Italy. Traditionally, first you fill up on the more economical pasta dish, and then you serve the family a much smaller portion of an animal protein, which is the more expensive ingredient.
To read more about the courses of an Italian meal, see Christina Cucina’s article “What (not) To Serve With Pasta”.
Here are some of my favorite dishes to round out this pasta meal:
Nevertheless, pasta is a dish that has been embraced and adapted by Americans, so serve pasta in whatever way works for your family. Sometimes my family enjoys pasta as a one-dish meal. My kids like this pumpkin sauce with penne pasta and small bites of chicken and broccoli (or peas) mixed together.
More Dinner Recipes
Creamy Pumpkin Pasta Sauce Recipe
- Large pot
- Large skillet or sauté pan
- Blender, immersion blender, or food processor
- 4 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 celery ribs chopped small
- 1 small onion chopped small
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth divided (or more to desired consistency.)
- 1 cup pumpkin purée homemade or canned
- 1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
- Several grinds of freshly cracked black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg if using whole nutmeg, grate about 10 times on a small grater
- 1-2 pinches dried sage or 1 dried leaf crumbled
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup optional, only if pumpkin is slightly bitter
- 1 pound dried pasta regular or whole wheat pasta like spaghetti, linguini, or penne
- Serving suggestions toss pasta with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, or lightly steamed broccoli.
- Cook pasta as per package directions in salted water to al dente, and drain. Reserve some pasta water to mix into the pasta for later.
- In a large sauté pan heat olive oil over medium heat. Add celery, and sauté for 5 minutes stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Add onion, and sauté for 5 minutes more. Then add garlic and sauté for 5 more minutes, totaling 15 minutes. Celery mixture is ready when vegetables are soft.
- Place celery mixture and ½ cup broth in a blender or food processor, and purée until smooth.
- Add puréed celery mixture back into the pan. Add pumpkin purée, remaining broth, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and sage. Turn flame on low, and stir gently until thoroughly combined. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference. If sauce is slightly bitter, add optional maple syrup. If thinner consistency is desired, add a little more broth.
- Add al dente pasta to sauce, and fold until sauce coats the pasta. Add a splash of reserved pasta water if needed. Allow sauce and pasta to cook for a few minutes together then serve immediately. Sprinkle pasta with grated Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, or broccoli.
- Homemade pumpkin purée has more water content than canned pumpkin, so if using homemade pumpkin, use 1-½ cups of broth instead of 2.
- Make ahead: You can make this sauce a day in advance. Cook pasta just before serving, and combine sauce and cooked pasta together just before serving.
- How to store: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. If possible, store leftover pasta separately from sauce.
- How to freeze: Pumpkin pasta sauce can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. I do not recommend freezing pasta.
- How to reheat: To reheat, microwave until warmed through. You can also reheat in a skillet on medium-low with a splash of broth or pasta water until warmed through.
- Repurpose the leftovers by turning it into a pumpkin soup by adding additional broth or vegetable stock.