Ready in less than 30 minutes, this easy pumpkin pasta uses the BEST creamy, velvety pumpkin sauce. The subtle pumpkin flavor is perfectly balanced with fall-inspired herbs and cheesy creaminess.
About This Recipe
The star of this recipe is the pumpkin sauce, which is thick, creamy, and a little cheesy. The pumpkin flavor isn't overpowering, but it gives just the right amount of flavor to make this dish feel like a fall treat.
This recipe has two main component to cook: the pasta and the sauce. You'll cook the sauce in a large skillet and then add the cooked pasta. Everything stirs together for a sizable and satisfying skillet of pasta.
Pumpkin Pasta Ingredients
The full recipe is at the bottom of this page, but here's a quick overview of what you'll need & how to make it:
- 14 ounces penne pasta (or ziti, rigatoni, rotini)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup whole milk
- 6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature & cut into chunks
- 1 can pumpkin puree
- ¼ teaspoon ground sage
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese
- ¾ cup pasta water
Popular Substitutions & Additions
- Pasta: swap out penne for any medium noodle pasta (like ziti, rigatoni, or rotini).
- Crushed Red Pepper: sprinkle crushed red pepper flakes on your pasta after serving to add some spice! This complements the creaminess of the dish.
- Milk: you can also use not-fat milk or any alternative milk but your pasta sauce won't be quite as creamy.
- Pumpkin Puree: canned pumpkin puree works best for this recipe (not pumpkin pie filling).
How to Make This Pumpkin Pasta
STEP 1: Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water according to package instructions. Drain and reserve ¾ cup of the pasta water. Set aside.
STEP 2: While pasta cooks, add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, cook the garlic for 1 - 2 minutes, until fragrant.
STEP 3: Turn the heat to medium low and add the cream cheese. Once it begins to soften, stir in the milk. Stir and mash the milk and cream cheese together until it is melted and no lumps remain. Turn up the heat if needed to melt the cream cheese.
STEP 4: Stir in the pumpkin puree, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper, to taste (I usually add ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper).
STEP 5: Stir in the parmesan cheese until melted.
STEP 6: Stir the pasta and pasta water gently into the sauce until combined. If desired, add less than the full ¾ cup pasta water for a thicker sauce.
STEP 7: Serve & Enjoy! Serve immediately, optionally topped with more parmesan cheese.
How to Serve This Recipe
Serve your pasta immediately, optionally topped with parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of black pepper. You can also add a sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes if you're craving some spice.
This recipe is hearty and can be served as a stand-alone dish. If you'd like to add sides, roasted fall vegetables (like Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts) or a light salad are both tasty options.
Frequently Asked Questions
As you add your pasta to the pumpkin sauce you'll also stir in ¾ cups of pasta water. The pasta water will help thin your sauce: if you'd like a thinner sauce add more and if you'd add a thicker sauce add less.
I find that ¾ cups of the pasta water creates a thick sauce and that the sauce will also thicken as it sits and cools. For a thinner sauce, add more pasta water (1 cup or more).
As your sauce cooks, continue to stir it and scrape it from the sides of your skillet to prevent it from burning.
If you find that your sauce is browning or burning, you should also turn the heat down on your skillet. The heat on your skillet can stay relatively low throughout this recipe, as you'll just need to melt the ingredients (like cheese, pumpkin & spices) together.
This sauce tastes heavenly! It's creamy, nutty, and a little cheesy. The pumpkin flavor is subtle but add just the right amount of flavor for this recipe to quickly become a favorite fall-inspired dinner!