This Pumpkin Pasta Sauce makes the perfect fall weeknight dinner! It’s creamy and comforting, made with pantry staples, and ready in under 30 minutes!
I love incorporating different vegetables into family favorite meals. Especially when the seasons change and new produce hits the market shelves. Currently, we’re loving on all things butternut squash and pumpkin!
We eat pasta at least once a week and the kids almost always happily lick their plates clean. Changing up our typical marinara sauce for a creamy pumpkin pasta sauce instead has proven to be a winner!
Ingredients you need
Ingredient notes and substitutions
Pumpkin ~ While you could certainly make your own homemade pumpkin purée, it’s so much easier and more convenient to buy canned. Just be sure to use 100% pure pumpkin purée and not pumpkin pie filling. This recipe calls for the whole can (15 ounces) so there’ll be no awkward leftovers.
Aromatics ~ Onion and garlic add flavor.
Carrots ~ I love the addition of finely diced carrots in this pumpkin pasta sauce recipe. They bring a natural sweetness that perfectly complements the earthy pumpkin.
If you prefer a smooth sauce with no chunky veggies, you could purée the sauce in a blender before adding the pasta. Or just leave out the carrots.
Spices ~ I’ve used thyme, smoked paprika and a touch of nutmeg.
You can swap out the thyme for sage, if you prefer. Chili powder or a pinch of red pepper flakes. would be a tasty sub for smoked paprika.
And I almost always add a pinch of nutmeg to cream sauces, but you can leave it out if you don’t have it. Or use cinnamon instead.
Milk ~ Any unsweetened, plain non-dairy milk will do. I used almond milk, but soy milk, oat milk, or light coconut milk will all work. I wouldn’t recommend using full-fat coconut milk, as it has a very distinct coconut flavor that I don’t think would work all that well here.
Miso paste ~ Miso paste has a rich, salty, savory flavor. In other words – umami!
You might find parmesan cheese or sharp cheddar cheese in some pumpkin sauce recipes. The miso is a great replacement for that cheesy, salty flavor in this vegan version.
Miso paste lasts virtually forever in the fridge, so don’t worry about buying a container and not using it all right away. Use some of it to try my Miso Parsley Hummus, Mushroom Ramen Soup, or Vegan Instant Ramen Noodles.
Pasta ~ You’ll need pasta for serving this creamy pumpkin sauce. I like curly pasta, like rotini, cavatappi, or gemelli. But almost any pasta will do. Use gluten-free pasta if you wish.
Extras ~ This recipe is really quite versatile.
You could garnish this dish with toasted walnuts or pumpkin seeds.
Stir in some chopped kale or spinach.
If you want this to be a bit more marinara-like, stir in a can of diced tomatoes.
How to make the recipe
First, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, salt it well. Cook your pasta of choice according to the package directions until al dente.
Save 1 cup of the pasta cooking water before draining!!
While the pasta is cooking, make the pumpkin sauce.
Sauté the onion, garlic, and carrots in a little bit of oil or vegan butter until tender. Add the spices and sauté until fragrant.
Add the pumpkin and milk and whisk until fully combined and smooth. Simmer until thick and bubbly.
Stir in the miso paste.
Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
If the sauce is too thick, add some of the pasta cooking water. If you forgot to save the cooking water, add some vegetable broth or extra milk.
Garnish with fresh thyme and stir in the pasta.
Storage and freezing
Fridge: Leftovers will keep in an air-tight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.
Freezer: You could also freeze this sauce for up to 3 months.
Reheat: If frozen, let it thaw in the fridge overnight. Reheat either on the stovetop or in the microwave with a little bit of extra milk or vegetable broth so that it doesn’t dry out.
Pro tips and tricks
~ Salt the pasta water generously.
~ Save 1 cup of the pasta cooking water to thin out the sauce, if needed. But don’t worry if you forget this step (as I often do!), you can use vegetable broth or more non-dairy milk, if needed.
~ Dice the carrots finely so they cook through fully.
~ Whisk the miso paste in really well and simmer until it’s fully dissolved and incorporated. No one wants to bite into a clump of the paste!
~ For a gluten-free option, use gluten-free pasta.
~ For an oil-free option, sauté the veggies in vegetable broth or water instead of oil.
~ Other ways to serve the creamy pumpkin sauce: over gnocchi, in lasagna, over baked potatoes, as a dipper for quesadillas, or as a sauce for buddha bowls.
This is a creamy, savory sauce made with pumpkin purée that’s perfect for smothering pasta in.
This sauce has an earthy, savory flavor with a mild pumpkin flavor.
Serve this pasta dinner with vegan sausages or vegan chicken, salad, and/or garlic bread.
More vegan pasta recipes
- Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
- Creamy Mushroom Pasta
- Fall Roasted Vegetable Pasta
- Easy Hummus Pasta
- Creamy Sweet Corn Pasta
- Vegan Cauliflower Bolognese
- Vegan White Sauce Pasta
I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! If you tried it, please use the rating system in the recipe card and leave a comment below with your feedback.
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For even more easy family recipes, be sure to check out my cookbook, The Meatless Monday Family Cookbook!
Vegan Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
- 16 ounces pasta your favorite
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or vegan butter
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 2 small carrots peeled and finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme or sage
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 can (15 ounces) pure pumpkin purée
- 1 ½ cups unsweetened, plain non-dairy milk
- 1 tablespoon mellow white miso paste
- 1 cup pasta cooking water or vegetable broth, if needed
- chopped fresh thyme to garnish
- Cook the pasta in well salted water according to package directions until al dente. Save 1 cup of the pasta cooking water before draining.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and sauté 5 to 6 minutes until the onion is translucent and the carrots are starting to get tender.
- Add the garlic, salt, thyme, smoked paprika, and nutmeg and sauté 1 minute until the spices are fragrant.
- Whisk in the pumpkin and non-dairy milk until fully incorporated. Let simmer for 10 minutes.
- Whisk in the miso paste until fully dissolved and incorporated into the sauce.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Add the reserved pasta cooking water (or vegetable broth) if needed to thin out the sauce.
- Add the cooked pasta and stir well to combine.
- Garnish with chopped fresh thyme.