Easy and Oh So Creamy Vegan Pumpkin Pasta (gluten-free)

This creamy vegan pumpkin pasta sauce is a surprisingly delicious and nutritious twist on the traditional pasta dinner.

It's easy to make, packed with delicious pumpkin flavor and the perfect blend of spices, it's just right for fall, but I guarantee you're going to want to serve this all year round.

hand holding fork taking a piece of pumpkin pasta out of small white bowl.

I mean, you have at least one can of pumpkin puree in your pantry, am I right?

Why not treat yourself and your family to this hearty pasta dish any time you're in the mood for a yummy creamy pasta dish. It not only tastes amazing, but the pumpkin adds a nice boost of nutrition too.

Ingredients

Following is a basic list of ingredients. See recipe notes for alternatives and see the recipe card for measurement details.

  • gluten-free pasta
  • pumpkin puree (from whole or canned pumpkin or alternatives)
  • coconut milk
  • olive oil
  • garlic cloves
  • sage leaves
  • smoked paprika
  • vegan parmesan cheese
  • salt
  • black pepper

How to Make This Sauce Super Easy

To make this vegan pumpkin pasta recipe taste simply amazing, you'll want to follow the instructions exactly--roasting real pumpkin (or butternut or kabocha squash / Japanese pumpkin) and toasting the walnuts or other nuts.

If you're like me, however, you don't always have time for roasting stuff.

Instead, you can easily toast the squash and/or nuts in a pan on the stovetop, so you don't need to take time heating up the oven. 

But you can also make this recipe without roasting. It will still taste great--just not as great, but you can add more of the following umami flavor to boost the flavor.

A middle of the road option is to use canned pumpkin puree or butternut squash puree, and roast that briefly in the oven or toast on the stovetop. 

For super busy nights, make this pasta sauce ahead of time and simply remove from the freezer and reheat the sauce for an easy healthy meal.

ingredients for pumpkin pasta

How to Boost the Flavor of This Vegan Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

Add some yum, aka umami, to this dish with some of the following.

  • nutritional yeast
  • molasses
  • tomato paste, diced tomatoes or tomato powder
  • thyme
  • more sage
  • mushrooms (sauteed first is best)
  • fish sauce
  • soy sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce 
  • miso paste
  • more cheese
  • beef or sausage - this pasta dish tastes great with some added beef. Cooking it ahead of time with some garlic is the best option. Sausage would be amazing too.

Instructions

Here are the basic instructions for making this sauce. Please see the recipe card below for full instructions.

Wash and cut the pumpkin (the image shows a kabocha squash / Japanese pumpkin) into chunks. Boil in water, peel, and put chunks in bowl.

collage of process images for pumpkin pasta with sauce ingredients in blender container and then blended.

Place most of the sauce ingredients in a blender. Blend 'til smooth.

collage of process images for pumpkin pasta with one showing sage leaves in frying pan and the other showing pumpkin sauce in frying pan.

Put sage leaves and oil in pan. Fry until darkened. Set aside. Put sauce ingredients in frying pan.

collage of process images for pumpkin pasta including pasta in pasta sauce in frying pan and finished pasta with sauce in white bowl.

Cook pasta. Add pasta to sauce in frying pan. Top pasta with vegan parmesan, sage, and walnuts.

Recipe Notes and Substitutions

  • Don't Overcook the Pasta! Aim for al dente, meaning "to the tooth" in Italian. You want your pasta tender on the outside but not mushy and with a little bit of firmness on the inside. Test the pasta before you think it's done because if you wait too long, it can easily overcook. The pasta will cook a bit more once you add it to the sauce, so keep that in mind too!
  • Whole vs canned pumpkin puree -  Either will work. Just make sure that if you're buying canned pumpkin that it's PLAIN pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling pumpkin. Totally not liking what the results for this dish would be if you make that mistake!
  • Fresh sage vs dried sage - You can use either for this recipe, but fresh is always best. But I get it--fresh herbs don't happen often in my home either. For 6-7 fresh leaves you can use about 1.5 tablespoons of minced, fresh leaves or 1.5 teaspoons of rubbed sage or about 3/4 teaspoon dried sage
  • Coconut milk alternatives -  Coconut milk makes the sauce really creamy, but you can also use dairy milk or another dairy-free alternative, or skip this altogether. Make sure to not use a sweetened non-dairy milk, no matter what.
  • Cheese alternatives - While parmesan works great, romano cheese would also be lovely. You could even branch out and try feta, pecorino, halloumi, goat cheese--so many options!
  • Walnut alternatives -  The walnuts add great flavor and crunch to this dish. I highly recommend the toasting part here, or at the very least, soak and dehydrate them for better flavor. 
hand holding fork taking some pumpkin pasta out of a white bowl.

How to Store and Reheat

You can store thissauce in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for about 3-4 days. To reheat, I recommend heating it up in a pan with a bit of added water. A microwave will not only dry out the sauce, but also radiates your food--no thanks!

If somehow (not sure how!) you manage to have leftovers, you can freeze the remaining pumpkin pasta sauce for later. Place the sauce in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to three months. 

When you're ready to use the sauce, place it in the refrigerator to thaw, then heat in a saucepan over medium heat until it just starts to boil. You can add additional water, broth, or olive oil, coconut milk, or cream, if you need it to be either thicker or thinner.

While you can freeze pasta with the sauce, for the best texture, it's better to freeze them separately. 

side view of vegan pumpkin pasta in white bowl.

FAQs

What's the Best Type of Pasta or Pasta Shape for Pumpkin Pasta Sauce? 

You can use your favorite pasta from regular to whole wheat pasta to gluten-free pasta or keto pasta (veggie noodles or konyaku pasta) as well.

It's best to use a pasta with ridges since that helps the sauce really stick to each shape.  I mean, really, that's the best kind for any type of pasta in my book. Regular spaghetti / long pasta noodles have no nooks and crannies for the creamy sauce to settle into.

Some great pasta shapes for this vegan pumpkin pasta sauce are:

Can you use canned pumpkin instead of pumpkin / squash cubes?

Yes, and in fact this pumpkin sauce will taste totally amazing that way. You can even use canned butternut squash puree.

Another simple option is to buy frozen butternut squash cubes. Some say you can't, but you totally can toss the frozen cubes right on a sheet pan for roasting. You'll need to roast them for a bit longer, however.

More Healthy Pumpkin Recipes

Grab your fall pumpkins or leftover pumpkin puree and try some of these delicious healthy pumpkin recipes.

Pumpkin Custard - super easy with a vegan option too!
Gluten-free Pumpkin Roll - easier than most and very yummy
Gluten-free Pumpkin Snickerdoodles - the perfect fall combo--healthified
Healthy Pumpkin Pie - with a unique egg-free option
Pumpkin Chia Pudding - a great fall-friendly dessert or treat

Want even more? Here are a bunch of other healthy pumpkin recipes to check out.

Recipe

hand holding fork taking a piece of pumpkin pasta from a white bowl.

Easy Creamy Vegan Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

This easy and oh so creamy pumpkin pasta sauce is full of flavor and nutrition. You'll want to add it to your meal rotation not only for fall, but for all year round!
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dressings, Seasonings, etc.
Cuisine: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Low-Carb, Sugar-Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: pumpkin pasta sauce, vegan pumpkin pasta sauce
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 713kcal

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Wash the pumpkin well. Cut into large chunks. Bring to a boil for 15 minutes or until the pumpkin softens enough to make a purée.
  • Alternatively, for added flavor, you can roast the chunks in the oven at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes. Highly recommended, but not mandatory!
  • Carefully remove the skin and discard it.
  • Transfer the flesh to a food processor or high-speed blender. Add the coconut milk, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper to taste and blend until creamy.
  • Heat a frying pan on medium heat. Add a spoon or two of olive oil and fry the sage leaves until they turn darker and hardened. If using dried leaves, they might darken just a little but not much. Set aside.
  • Bring a pot of salt water to boil. Once it's boiling, add pasta of choice and cook for the amount of time recommended on the packaging.
  • While the pasta is boiling, transfer the pumpkin sauce to a frying pan heat over medium heat. Add the paprika and mix it with the sauce.
  • Cook the sauce for about 4-5 minutes, depending on how thick you prefer your sauce. Add thinning or thickening liquids as mentioned in notes as needed. Remove from heat.
  • Once the pasta is ready, transfer it to the frying pan and add walnuts. Toss the pasta until covered in sauce.
  • Top with vegan parmesan cheese (of course regular cheese works as well) and fried sage. You can use the sage leaves whole or break them down into smaller pieces.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

    • Prevent Mushy Pasta - You want your pasta tender on the outside but not mushy and with a little bit of firmness on the inside. Test the pasta before you think it's done because if you wait too long, it can easily overcook. The pasta will cook a bit more once you add it to the sauce, so keep that in mind!
    • Whole vs canned pumpkin puree -  Either will work. Just make sure that if you're buying canned pumpkin that it's PLAIN pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling pumpkin.
    • Fresh sage vs dried sage - You can use either for this recipe, but fresh is best. For 6-7 fresh leaves you can use about 1.5 tablespoons of minced, fresh leaves or 1.5 teaspoons of rubbed sage or about 3/4 teaspoon dried sage
    • Coconut milk alternatives -  Coconut milk makes the sauce really creamy, but you can also use dairy milk or another dairy-free alternative, or skip this altogether. Make sure to not use a sweetened non-dairy milk.
    • Cheese alternatives - While parmesan works great, romano cheese would also be lovely. You could even branch out and try feta, pecorino, halloumi, goat cheese.
    • Walnut alternatives -  The walnuts add great flavor and crunch to this dish. I highly recommend the toasting part here, or at the very least, soak and dehydrate them for better flavor.
    • Storage: You can keep the pasta up to 2 days in the fridge in an airtight container. If the sauce dries out, add some coconut milk or water to make it creamier.

Nutrition

Calories: 713kcal | Carbohydrates: 96g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 23g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Sodium: 1034mg | Potassium: 464mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 14524IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 104mg | Iron: 4mg | Net Carbs: 89g

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is merely an approximation. Optional ingredients are not included and when there is an alternative, the primary ingredient is typically used. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site. Erythritol carbs are not included in carb counts since they have been shown not to impact blood sugar. Net carbs are the total carbs minus fiber.

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