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Roasted Pumpkin Pasta in Parmesan Cream Sauce

4.66 from 96 community reviews

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The most delicious fall pumpkin pasta: One of our all-time favorite fall pasta recipes, this dish combines pasta shells with chunks of roasted butternut or kabocha squash, a Parmesan garlic cream sauce and fresh thyme. If you buy precut squash, it requires just a few minutes prep before cooking. This is the ultimate comforting vegetarian pasta recipe!

Photo of a gray speckled bowl with pasta shells in a creamy sauce with roasted orange winter squash, kale and parmesan cheese.

This luscious pumpkin pasta combines pantry dried pasta with sweet, roasted winter squash and an incredibly savory creamy garlic sauce.

It’s just the kind of comfort food pasta recipe we crave, right along with classic pasta carbonara or an easy, totally delicious pappardelle with portobello mushroom ragu, which is another of my vegetarian pasta recipes that gets rave reviews!

Italian pumpkin pastas

Italians, especially in the Veneto, have a long tradition of making pumpkin pasta and risottos with zucca that have pale to dark green skin. I’ve always loved the contrast of roasted butternut squash with pasta and cream.

The natural sweetness of creamy-textured roasted squash, combined with ingredients like cream and aromatic herbs is delicious and tastes really luxurious. The sauce is captured in the pasta shells, or a similar short pasta shape.

kabocha squash cut in half

Which pumpkin to use for pumpkin pasta

There’s more to pumpkins than those perfectly round orange specimens (think jack-o’-lanterns) which are actually a variety called sugar pumpkin.

  • Butternut squash is an easy to find winter squash to use in this recipe. Or, if you’re lucky to find winter squashes at your local farmer’s market, Blue Hubbard  is another great variety to look for.
  • Kabocha is a culinary variety of pumpkin I look forward to when fall rolls around, at least for cooking purposes. It’s a Japanese winter squash variety with beautiful, dense, deep-orange flesh that cooks up velvety and firm-textured. You can often find frozen cut-up chunks of frozen kabocha and butternut squash in grocery stores. That means making this recipe is that much easier!

As for the familiar decorative pumpkins we see in the fall, they might be good for pies and the front stoop around Halloween, but I don’t recommend them for this recipes. The flesh tends to be too watery and not as as sweet as other types of winter squash.

Photo pasta shells with a creamy sauce including roasted orange winter squash, kale and parmesan cheese in a gray-speckled serving bowl.

How to cut and peel a winter or butternut squash:

If you do have a fresh whole squash, here’s how to get it prepped for cooking:

  1. Set the squash on a cutting board.
  2. Slice off the stem end and bottom of the squash.
  3. For a butternut squash, make a slice between the bulb end and the long neck.
  4. If slicing a round squash like a pumpkin or kabocha, insert the tip of a sharp chef’s knife at a 45-degree angle at the stem. See-saw the knife while very firmly moving the knife downward. Repeat on the other side of the squash.
  5. Remove the seeds from each half with a spoon.
  6. Slice each half into wedges. Peel the squash with a swivel peeler or use your knife: lay each wedge on its side and shave off the skin as close to the flesh as you can with your chef’s knife.

More fall pasta recipes to love:

Roasted Pumpkin Pasta in Parmesan Cream Sauce

Karen Tedesco
The most delicious fall pumpkin pasta: This simple pasta recipes combines pasta shells with chunks of roasted butternut or kabocha squash, a Parmesan garlic cream sauce and fresh thyme. If you buy precut squash, it requires just a few minutes prep before cooking. This is the ultimate comforting vegetarian pasta recipe!
Print Pin
4.66 from 96 community reviews
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Pasta
Cuisine Vegetarian
Servings 4 servings


  • 2 pounds (900 g) winter squash, approximately half of 1 medium kabocha or butternut squash, or 4-5 cups pre-cut squash
  • ¼ cup (40 g) finely chopped onion
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • cups (375 ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 4 whole garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 sprigs thyme, plus 1 teaspoon chopped
  • ¾ cup (75 g) grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 8 ounces (225 g) dried pasta shells, or other type of short pasta
  • cups (100 g) baby kale or spinach leaves


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • If using a whole squash, peel it, remove the seeds and slice into 1-inch chunks. 
  • Combine the squash and onion on a large rimmed baking sheet. Toss with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 10 or 12 grinds of black pepper. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake 25 minutes. Remove the foil and stir the squash around with a spatula. Roast 15 minutes more, or until the squash is tender and lightly browned.
  • Pour the cream into a saucepan. Drop in the garlic cloves and thyme sprigs and bring to a simmer — lower the heat and watch that it doesn't boil over. Simmer 20 minutes, until the cream is slightly reduced and the garlic is soft. Remove from the heat and steep 10 minutes, then remove the garlic and thyme. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Transfer the sauce to a serving bowl with the butter and keep warm.
  • Bring a 6 quart pot of water to a boil with 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and add to the bowl with the sauce.
  • Add the squash and baby greens to the bowl and gently stir everything together until evenly coated with the sauce. Serve with the remaining cheese and chopped thyme sprinkled over the top.

Karen’s Notes and Tips

  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator up to 5 days. Add a few tablespoons cream and/or vegetable broth before reheating.
  • Tip: Look in your grocery store for  1-pound bags of cut-up frozen kabocha or butternut squash to make this recipe even quicker to make.


Calories: 837kcal | Carbohydrates: 76g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 53g | Saturated Fat: 26g | Sodium: 361mg | Potassium: 1159mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 28101IU | Vitamin C: 81mg | Calcium: 448mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition facts are calculated by third-party software. If you have specific dietary needs, please refer to your favorite calculator.

Did you make this recipe? Search @Familystylefood or tag #familystylefood on Pinterest

Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about creating elevated dinners with everyday ingredients. Find simplified recipes made from scratch and enjoy incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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  1. Karen Johnson says:

    5 stars
    Really easy and delicious!

  2. Sara Sampkin says:

    Are you using butternut squash & calling it pumpkin (all types of squash taste different!)? I love cooking with pumpkin & this is NOT pumpkin…….

    1. Hi Sara. As I describe in the post, my first choice of squash to use in this recipe is a type of Japanese pumpkin called kabocha squash. Butternut squash is a lot easier to find in markets so I recommend trying it to make the pasta. Also, some canned pumpkin is actually made with butternut squash. If you love pumpkin you should try it in this pasta!

      1. Sara Sampkin says:

        I don’t use store bought canned pumpkin, only fresh or my own pumpkin is made due to taste & health. I am totally in control of what I eat instead of the nasty “processed” garbage that’s out there with all unnecessary chemicals, dyes, & preservatives.

    2. Can I cook the squash and blend it then add to the cream? Rather than leaving it cubed?

      1. Hi Sara – If you would like a smoother sauce, I suggest cooking half the amount of squash, then go ahead and puree and then mix with the cream. You can adjust the amount of cream if it’s too thick.

  3. Hello! I am so glad I came across this recipe, looking forward to trying it! I was wondering if frozen squash would work?

      1. Thanks! Does that adjust the cooking time or cooking process?

  4. 5 stars
    Amazing! So delicious. Used butternut squash and spinach. I also changed measurements on the sauce to our preference.

  5. 4 stars
    Amazing recipe!! ive never made pumpkin before this, so i absolutely messed up some parts. i put way too much pumkin and too little cream and pasta, so its very thick and VERY filling.. could not eat alot of it. tasted absolutely wonderful though!

  6. 5 stars
    Delicious! I also learned that kabocha is now my new favorite squash. My 90 year old father, a meat and potatoes guy, agrees😁.

    1. That’s fantastic!! I know once I discovered kabocha it was life changing. So glad your dad enjoyed it too!

  7. For those who don’t like waste, I recommend leaving the skin on. After it has cooked that long, it basically smushes like the rest of the squash. Plus it has extra nutrients 🙂

  8. Does this freeze well? I made it tonight and it was delicious; so creamy! But there’s far too much for me, it would take me like a week to eat it all!

    1. Yes, you can freeze it. The sauce might thicken a bit – just add a few tablespoons water or broth when you reheat.

  9. Have you ever tried this with a protein? Do you think chicken or bacon world work well with this? Thanks so much for sharing what sounds like a super yummy recipe!

    1. Hi Laurel – A good vegetarian protein option would be chickpeas. A simple grilled chicken breast, quickly cooked garlic shrimp or bacon would be great too!

  10. Accidentally mixed this with a full pound of pasta and it was way too dry. Even after adding broth to the sauce before mixing with the pasta

    1. I would recommend doubling the recipe for a pound of pasta – the sauce is perfect for 8 ounces (1/2 pound)

  11. This pasta was the bomb. My wife loved it. This recipe is a definite keeper.

  12. I use sugar pumpkins to make homemade pumpkin pie. I disagree that they’re just for decorations. My pies are a family favorite and I am often asked for the recipes I use.

    1. Mary – You must be a talented baker – your family is lucky to have you! I’ve never had luck with the sugar pumpkins. How do you prepare your filling?

  13. Charity MacPherson says:

    Do you think you could substitute almond milk or cashew cream for the whipping cream? Looks delish, can’t wait to make it

    1. Hi Charity – I haven’t tried this recipe with non-dairy options, but if I were to substitute with one of those I’d go with the cashew cream because almond milk will be too watery. If your cream is very thick (sometimes cashew cream can be), thin it out with a tablespoon or so of vegetable stock so it’s the consistency of thick cream. Let me know how it goes!

  14. 5 stars
    This was soooo good! I’m on my own tonight but can’t wait to make it for the whole family!