Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta

4.81 from 81 votes
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Nothing says Fall quite like hearty recipes–but who says satisfying can’t be healthy, too? Skip traditional pasta recipes and opt for a creamy, nutrient-loaded butternut squash sauce.

Creamy butternut squash pasta sauce, who says satisfying can’t be healthy? This season, skip the marinara recipes and opt for a nutrient-loaded sauce.

The weather has finally cooled where I am, meaning it’s time to dig into autumn-inspired recipes. Butternut squash is always the top of my Fall must-have list, so I’m always trying to think of new, creative ways to use it. With a high dose of dietary fiber; lots of Vitamin A, which is good for eyesight; and plenty of potassium and manganese for managing blood pressure and strong bones, butternut squash can be an easy additive to any dish.

I like using pasta, in particular, because sometimes nothing hits the spot quite like the meeting point between a starch and a starch, especially after temperatures have dipped. The beauty of butternut squash is, though, that it has a low glycemic index–clocking in at less than 100 calories, 26 grams of carbohydrates and almost no fat for a one-cup serving.

Being full of fiber means you’ll become easily full and healthily so, and you won’t have to worry about hunger pangs soon after, as can happen with more nutrient-empty pasta dishes.

Glass measuring cup pouring butternut squash sauce over rigatoni pasta

How To Make Butternut Squash Sauce

It’s so easy to prepare! If you’re working with a full butternut squash, slice off the ends, lengthwise. Then, cut the squash in half right where it starts to get wider, leaving you two pieces: the thinner, oblong top part and the rounder, bottom “base” of the squash.

From there, you can peel with a vegetable peeler or a paring knife if you don’t have one. At this point, you’ll want to scoop out all the innards, like you would a pumpkin. If you like, sift through and collect the seeds, which you can salt and roast just like pumpkin seeds later to turn into a snack or give added crunch to a dish. Finally, cut the remaining squash into cubes, which will be the starting point for creating the sauce.

Large of pot of rigatoni noodles mixed with butternut squash pasta and spices

My butternut squash pasta sauce relies on a nut or dairy fat to help balance the starch, creating a creamy, almost cheese-like texture that is marked with a hint of the squash’s sweetness. I gave the option of including cashew, almond or dairy to allow for different preferences, but if you’ve ever had butternut squash soup, you’ll know that either milk or nuts will pair perfectly with butternut squash.

The fat smooths out the carbohydrates in both the squash and pasta, adding a contrasting effect while providing a base for the sauce. Rigatoni has proved to be the perfect pasta to use as it allows for plenty of surface area for the sauce to “catch.” Just make sure you don’t rinse the pasta after cooking because you’ll wash off the starch required to make the sauce stick!

Rigatoni pasta in a large pot topped with cheese and butternut squash sauce

Something else I love about this recipe is that it’s the perfect full meal for those who don’t eat meat or dairy. It’s rounded out with the full spectrum of nutrients and is so rich that nobody eating it could possibly feel like they’ve missed out on a necessary component of a meal.

Often times sauces require an additional starch like flour or corn to help add thickness and viscosity, think macaroni and cheese. However, in this recipe, the natural starches in butternut squash are released when steamed and then pureed help to create a creamy mouthfeel, effortlessly coating the noodles with a luscious sauce. The starches swell in the presence of heat and moisture, while the breakdown of the cells of the squash from blending creates suspended particles in the sauce. Both chemical and physical factors work together to create a rich vegetable-based pasta sauce.

Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta

Creamy butternut squash pasta sauce, skip the marinara and opt for a healthier nutrient-loaded sauce instead.
4.81 from 81 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine American


  • 8 ounces rigatoni pasta, dried
  • 3 cups butternut squash, ¼-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ¼ cup minced shallots
  • 6 tablespoons milk, unsweetened cashew, almond or dairy
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • teaspoon black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley


  • Cook pasta according to manufacturer directions and drain.
  • Add enough water to the bottom of a medium-sized pot so that it does not rise above the steamer basket.
  • Place steaming basket into the pot and then add in the butternut squash. Cover and heat on high, water should be steaming.
  • Once the steam builds, cook the butternut squash until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a blender.
  • Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add olive oil, once hot add the garlic and shallots and saute until fragrant and tender, 2 minutes. Add to the blender.
  • Add milk, ½ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon black pepper to the blender. Puree mixture until smooth. Taste and add more milk, salt, and pepper as desired.
  • In a large bowl or pan, combine cooked pasta, butternut squash puree, and parmesan cheese. Mix to combine and reheat if needed to rewarm.
  • Serve pasta topped with more Parmesan cheese and parsley.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 280kcal (14%)Carbohydrates 38g (13%)Protein 9g (18%)Fat 10g (15%)Saturated Fat 2g (10%)Polyunsaturated Fat 1gMonounsaturated Fat 6gCholesterol 5mg (2%)Sodium 487mg (20%)Potassium 344mg (10%)Fiber 4g (16%)Sugar 2g (2%)Vitamin A 8650IU (173%)Vitamin C 25.6mg (31%)Calcium 200mg (20%)Iron 1.8mg (10%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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20 Comments Leave a comment or review

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Yes, you can freeze the butternut squash sauce. However, do not bring to a boil. Defrost and reheat over medium-low heat until just warm. This will help prevent the milk from curdling.

  1. Andrew S says

    This was a little bland. If I were to make it again, I would probably add a bit more salt and more cheese. When sauteing the garlic and shallots, I would recommend adding some sage as well.

  2. Ali says

    1/4 inch cubes? Girl my tendonitis and dull knives can’t handle that lol I’ll just do bigger chunks and steam for longer.

  3. Beth says

    Hi Jessica,

    These steaming directions aren’t very clear. How much water am I supposed to put in the pot? Do I add the water and the squash all at once?

    Excited to try this!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Beth! I made the instructions more detailed about the steaming step. Let me know if it makes more sense!

  4. wendy comar says

    I made this amazing dish. Then the second time,I made it more savory. I added sauteed pancetta and topped with a mix of panko and chopped Diamond rosemary sea salt almonds. Very yummy for my sister’s harvest party.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Morgan- Is the yogurt on the tangy side? I would gradually add a tablespoon at a time to ensure it’s not too sour. If you need to thin the sauce add stock/broth or some water.