This pumpkin pasta recipe is just so good.
An easy, extraordinarily good pumpkin pasta recipe, a pasta layered with creamy pumpkin sauce, salty prosciutto and earthy sage. This elegant, comforting dinner comes together in minutes.
Who among us does not have a random extra can of pumpkin in their pantry? Maybe you don’t; I most certainly do — especially this time of year. Not wanting more pie or pumpkin bread, though, I decided to try something savory.
This easy pumpkin pasta recipe is the glorious result. Turn that canned pumpkin into a creamy pumpkin pasta sauce, toss it with pasta, and serve dinner up right.
The Creamy Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
Here, perfectly al dente pasta gets finished in a creamy pumpkin pasta sauce and topped with savory prosciutto and fried sage for an indulgent, restaurant quality dinner that just so happens to be easy and fast.
- While the pasta comes to a boil and cooks, cook the prosciutto and sage in two tablespoons olive oil over medium heat, stirring, until lightly browned and crisp. Set aside on a plate.
- Add the pumpkin, cream, 2 teaspoons salt, pepper, and butter to the skillet.
- Cook, whisking, until smooth and heated through. It will be thick, but you will thin it a bit with pasta water.
Why This Pumpkin Pasta Recipe Is So Good
There are several reasons why I can’t say enough good things about this pumpkin pasta recipe:
- First, it is very simple. Boil pasta. I prefer rigatoni, a popular pasta shape because it cooks to a nice al dente and gets sauce in the holes — yum. But a medium ziti or even penne will also work very well.
- The flavor and color looks — and is — special without being fussy. This creamy pumpkin pasta sauce has a gorgeous light orange color, set off by the dark sage and pink fried prosciutto. It looks “restaurant-y,” but is actually just beautiful, elegant home cooking.
- We always need a savory way to eat pumpkin. Pumpkin purée recipes almost always tend to default sweet: think pie, pumpkin bread, or pumpkin bars. I love that this does the opposite. The salty prosciutto and Parmigiano-Reggiano plays perfectly against the pumpkin.
How to Make Creamy Pumpkin Pasta: Recipe Notes
- First, cook your pasta to very al dente. Make sure the pasta is a little underdone; it will finish in the pumpkin sauce. Drain, reserving some pasta water.
- Meanwhile, fry some prosciutto and sage.
- Remove the prosciutto and sage from the skillet. Then, heat the butter, cream, cheese, and pumpkin together in the skillet. Stir and cook to create the sauce.
- Add the pasta and a bit of pasta water to the creamy pumpkin pasta sauce. Finish cooking the pasta in the sauce, coating the pasta thoroughly.
- Divide the pasta onto plates. Top with prosciutto and sage, and serve.
Can I Make This Pumpkin Pasta Recipe Vegetarian?
Want to make this pumpkin pasta sauce recipe vegetarian? Easy. Just leave out the prosciutto. The sage and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano will add enough savory element and tastes fabulous on its own. You may need to slightly adjust the salt in the finished dish.
The Importance of Using Pasta Water
Save the pasta water! The pasta water is a key ingredient here. You will need it to loosen the sauce and make everything cohesive and creamy.
Along those lines, undercook the pasta. The pasta will finish cooking in the pumpkin sauce with added pasta water. If you’ve hit al dente with your pot of boiling water, it is already slightly overcooked. (But don’t stress; it will still taste delicious.)
Did you enjoy this pumpkin pasta recipe? You’ll also like:
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Creamy Pumpkin Pasta With Prosciutto + Sage
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 ounces prosciutto, sliced into thin ribbons
- ½ cup fresh sage leaves, cut into thin strips (chiffonade)
- 1 15-ounce can pumpkin purée, such as Libby's
- 1 ¼ cups heavy cream or half-and-half
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for pasta water
- 1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
- 1 pound rigatoni or other good-sized tubular pasta
- ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more to garnish
- 2 cups reserved pasta water (you may not use all of this)
- Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add pasta. Stir, and cook until two minutes shy of al dente. Drain, reserving at least 2 cups of pasta water.
- While the pasta comes to a boil and cooks, cook the prosciutto and sage in two tablespoons olive oil over medium heat, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and crisp. Set aside on a plate.
- Add the pumpkin, cream, 2 teaspoons salt, pepper, and butter to the skillet. Cook, whisking, until smooth and heated through. It will be thick.
- Add the drained pasta and half of the prosciutto and sage back to the skillet. Toss to coat and cook together for a minute or two, using pasta water to loosen it into a creamy sauce. (Note: I used nearly 2 cups, in several additions.)
- Remove from heat. Stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Taste for seasoning. Spoon into pasta bowls, topping with the remaining prosciutto and sage, with a sprinkle of additional grated cheese.
Amazing. We loved this. It was hard to get an entire pound of pasta into my skillet to toss everything, so I did the reverse and put the pumpkin cream and sage into the drained pasta pot and stirred it that way.
My son who “doesn’t like pumpkin” had seconds. hah! This tasted creamy and wonderful, and looked sophisticated, too. Thanks for such a good recipe!
WOW THIS IS GOOD. THANK YOU.
Trish Evans says
So, so, so good. I am making this one of my go-to pasta dishes. Thanks for the recipe, and I love your blog!
Made for dinner last night and it has a definite wow factor and tasted wonderful. I used pancetta so the flavor was probably very similar to prosciutto. But I do think that the prosciutto looks better, so I will use that next time.
Steph W. says
I made this recently, using whole wheat penne and adding a little fresh nutmeg. It came together quickly and was delicious!
I plan to make it again soon, using (roasted) butternut squash (from the local farmers market) in place of the pumpkin.
Great recipe and perfect for fall!
So glad you enjoyed this and I love the idea of the butternut squash!
Hello, for those of us who can’t get cans of pumpkin puree, what do you suggest?
Any type of squash purée (especially roasted, puréed pumpkin) will work fine. The amount of moisture in different types of squash will vary, but something like pumpkin, delicata, or butternut will work. I’d avoid acorn squash purée because it has a fairly bland, watery texture and flavor.
This was just absolutely scrumptious and I can’t wait to make it again. It completely nailed my “deliciousness to effort” ratio. As a prior reviewer noted, it was easier to put the sauce into the pasta pot for final mixing than to try to combine everything in a 12″ skillet. Thanks Lisa, for something different and delicious!
I thought this recipe was excellent. Thank you for sharing. I tend to salt my pasta water a lot, so next time I would cut my salt from two teaspoons to one teaspoon. Definitely restaurant quality! I look forward to trying your other reci
Thanks so much, Linda! Glad you enjoyed it; one of my go-to pumpkin recipes that isn’t pie or cake.
Rhonda Townsley says
Delicious and easy as all others said. My tweak was that I used only one cup of the heavy cream and the rest half & half to save on some of the fat. Next time I may try using all half & half. Lisa you were right, at least 2 cups of pasta water is needed at the ready to loosen and make creamy. What I didn’t use of the water, I saved for the next day when heating up the leftovers. Since its only my husband and I there was another full meal. yea!!