Creamy and delicious, this pumpkin pasta sauce is a surprise hit! It's a simple recipe that goes together in just 10 minutes and relies on simple ingredients you might even already have in your pantry. Get ready to enjoy the flavors of fall with this delicious creamy pumpkin sauce recipe.
Recipe: $2.95 | Per Serving: $0.75 | Yield: 4
- How I Came To Love This Pumpkin Cream Sauce
- Why You'll Love This Pumpkin Pasta Sauce Recipe
- Ingredients You Need
- Variations and Dietary Modifications
- How to Make Creamy Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
- How to Store
- Serving Suggestions
- Expert Tips
- Recipe FAQs
- More Pasta Recipes to Try
- Creamy Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
How I Came To Love This Pumpkin Cream Sauce
This was the first-ever pumpkin recipe on Frugal Nutrition, so it holds a special place in my heart (and stomach!).
Once I finally got on the pumpkin train, I made this sauce a couple of times with different herb variations, and I believe the combination of basil and oregano is the perfect complement to this creamy sauce.
But of course, feel free to go nuts with all the fall flavors here like rosemary, thyme, and pumpkin's BFF: sage. Check the variations section below to see how customizable this pumpkin sauce for pasta is!
Do yourself a solid and make this delicious, creamy, awesome pumpkin sauce pasta. Even if you're a pumpkin skeptic like I once was.
Why You'll Love This Pumpkin Pasta Sauce Recipe
- So super easy to pull together using simple ingredients and taking just 10 minutes from start to finish.
- This pumpkin pasta recipe cooks in one skillet and requires only one burner to prepare. This means easy cleanup!
- No blending needed! Creamy & delicious from the pumpkin puree.
- Seriously, anyone can make it!
- Versatile recipe. You can pair with a wide variety of pasta dishes and proteins to make a different meal each time.
- Easy Ingredients. Nearly all the ingredients are pantry staples! You'll just need to add milk of some kind.
Ingredients You Need
Here's a quick look at the most important ingredients you need to make this pumpkin spaghetti sauce recipe. Get the full list and quantities of each further down the page in the recipe card.
- Pumpkin puree: The shining star of this sauce! You can make your own pumpkin puree or buy canned pumpkin. Not sure which canned pumpkin to use? Check out this comparison of different brands of canned pumpkin by From My Bowl.
- Garlic: I have tried this with 1 teaspoon of garlic powder as well, but I find the fresh garlic really packs the best punchy flavor here.
- Milk: You can use whole cow's milk, soy milk, almond milk, etc. depending on your dietary needs. If you'd like this even creamier, feel free to use a combination of milk and half and half.
- Oregano, basil, and red pepper flakes: Use dried spices here to keep things simple! These humble little friends do a lot to increase the depth of flavor of your creamy pumpkin pasta sauce.
- Turmeric: It's optional but I like to add a bit of ground turmeric to the sauce as a way to add color and some anti-inflammatory compounds.
- Vinegar: I really like to use a bit of apple cider vinegar in the sauce to balance out some of the natural sweetness of the pumpkin but you can also use another mild vinegar such as rice vinegar or white vinegar.
- Fresh herbs and parmesan: We love these for garnishing the final dish.
- Feel free to explore other seasoning blends. If you want a pumpkin sauce pasta dish that really emphasizes fall flavors, consider a pinch of nutmeg or a teaspoon of dried sage.
- Replace the pumpkin with different types of squash such as butternut squash, butternut squash, or others that blend really well.
- Swap the milk for coconut milk which adds a bit more sweetness and creaminess.
Variations and Dietary Modifications
- Make it extra creamy. Swap the milk for half and half or coconut milk.
- Cheesy pumpkin sauce. Melt half a cup of finely grated Parmesan into the pumpkin sauce while cooking.
- Vegetarian: Yes, this recipe is naturally vegetarian! And if you use a dairy-free milk (like soy milk, used below), this is also vegan.
- Dairy-free and vegan: I often use soy milk here, but almond milk and walnut milk both work well. Be aware that if you use oat milk, it is sweeter than other milk options and will influence the flavor significantly.
- Paleo: Nut and seed-based milks are Paleo, so almond or coconut would work here to make this recipe Paleo approved.
- Gluten-free: The sauce is naturally gluten-free so just make sure to use your favorite gluten-free pasta to keep it GF-friendly for you!
How to Make Creamy Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
For such a flavorful dish, it's surprisingly easy to make! Let's get started.
- Chop the garlic into small minced pieces. Set it aside for 10 minutes to activate the allicin, the anti-microbial compound in garlic.
- Cook the garlic in your skillet with olive oil until it's fragrant.
- Add the vinegar, pumpkin puree, salt, pepper, oregano, and basil as well as the turmeric and red pepper flakes if you're using them. Mix everything together.
- Stir in the milk and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes. Be sure to give it a taste and adjust the seasoning as desired.
If you plan to serve it with pasta simply add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir well. Top with fresh herbs (parsley!) and Parmesan cheese before serving.
If you're thinking, "Wow, this sauce is so delicious. How else can I incorporate it into my life," may I suggest using it as pizza sauce? I know, your mind is blown, isn't it?
How to Store
This creamy pumpkin sauce for pasta stores great so feel free to make a double batch to use for later!
- Fridge or freezer: Store the pumpkin sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to seven days. Since pumpkins are a bit acidic it lasts a bit longer in the fridge. You can freeze it in small containers to use in the future. It will keep in the freezer for up to six months.
- Reheat: If frozen, allow it to thaw overnight in the fridge and then reheat in the microwave or on the stove over medium-low heat until warmed through.
Pumpkin sauce is great to serve in the fall when everything pumpkin is in the air! But since we're using canned pumpkin, you can really enjoy this sauce any time of the year.
- It makes a nice change to regular pasta sauce! So try pasta with pumpkin sauce instead!
- Top it with some ground pork with this homemade Italian sausage seasoning or store-bought Italian sausage.
- Serve it topped with grilled chicken breasts or leftover shredded chicken.
- If you're looking to keep it vegetarian you can top it with some chickpeas or white beans.
- Sprinkle it with crispy bacon or toasted pumpkin seeds.
- Stir in some sautéed greens! Spinach, kale, or arugula all go great with pumpkin.
- Using homemade pumpkin puree? Be sure it's well drained. I often place it in a cloth-lined strainer and give it a little squeeze. It often has much more liquid than canned pumpkin.
- If the sauce seems a bit dry when reheating, you can add a bit of milk to thin it out.
- Make sure you grab PLAIN pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling. They often are close together in the store but they are NOT the same.
Watch this pumpkin sauce being made here:
Pumpkin works well with cheeses, especially Gruyere, parmesan cheese, and others with a bold flavor. Spicy cayenne, coconut milk, nutmeg, onions, pasta, and sage are just a few flavors that really meld with well with the earthy sweetness of pumpkin.
No, they aren't quite the same thing. Most canned pumpkin is actually made with a blend of different winter squashes rather than the orange pumpkin we are most familiar with seeing. While you can use them interchangeably, fresh pumpkin puree does tend to contain more liquid than canned.
If you're using fresh, I recommend making sure it's well drained or allowing it to cook a bit longer so it can cook off some of the excess liquid. This additional step will make sure your sauce is flavorful and not watery.
More Pasta Recipes to Try
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Creamy Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic grated or finely minced (or more to taste!)
- 15 oz can pumpkin puree about 1.5-2 cups
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or other neutral-ish vinegar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- optional: ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- optional: dash of red pepper flakes for spice
- 1 cup whole cow's milk or organic soy milk
- garnish: fresh herbs parmesan cheese
- Mince, grate, or crush garlic. Set aside for 10 minutes to activate allicin, if desired. (See notes.)
- Warm oil in a large pan and sauté garlic over low heat for about 30-60 seconds, until fragrant, but not brown.
- Add vinegar, pumpkin puree and herbs and seasonings (salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and optional turmeric and optional red pepper flakes). Stir to combine.
- Stir in the milk, then cook over low heat for about 5 minutes. Taste to adjust seasoning as desired.
- To serve with pasta, just add cooked pasta to sauce and stir well. Top with fresh herbs (parsley!) and Parmesan cheese and serve. Or - use this delicious sauce for pizza or lasagna!
- For more tips, substitutions, variations, and ingredient information please check the full post.
- If you’re really in a bind, you can replace the fresh garlic with 1 teaspoon powdered garlic. I tried it both ways and preferred the fresh, but the powder was good too!
- Dairy Alternatives: Substitute the dairy milk with almond milk, organic soy milk, or other dairy-free milk of choice. Be aware that if you use oat milk, it is sweeter than other milk options and will influence the flavor significantly.
- Make your own homemade pumpkin puree with this recipe from The Pioneer Woman.
- For activation of anti-microbial allicin in garlic, it is recommended that you wait 10 minutes after mincing garlic before adding it to the heat. Crushing or cutting garlic starts the activation, but once added to the heat, no additional allicin will be activated!
- This sauce is perfect for pairing with pasta or using in baked ziti or lasagna, or as a festive fall pizza sauce, this recipe is super fast and easy!
- Affiliate reminder: Please note that any links on this site, especially those to Amazon, may be affiliate links. This means, that though your price doesn't change, I may receive a small commission on your purchases. TY!
This recipe was originally published in October of 2015, but has been updated with new photos and minor tweaks to the recipe to make it even BETTER! Enjoy!