This creamy vegan pumpkin pasta recipe is easy to make with just a few simple ingredients.

A small bowl of creamy vegan pumpkin penne pasta topped with bits of fresh sage..

About Pumpkin Pasta

This rich and decadent 20-minute pumpkin cream sauce is delicious served with your favourite pasta for a simple plant-based meal that’s pure comfort food.

Whether it’s a cozy date night at home or a quick family meal, this dish is perfect for any occasion. Creamy, comforting, flavourful and easy to make with wholesome ingredients, you’ll love it!

Quick Highlights

  • Vegan (dairy-free).
  • Can be gluten-free.
  • Can be oil-free.
  • Nut-free.
  • Ready in 20 minutes.
  • Pantry ingredients.

Ingredient Notes

A skillet of creamy pumpkin cream sauce for pasta with a whisk resting in it on a stovetop.
  • Pasta: Combine the pumpkin sauce with your choice of pasta such as penne, farfalle or orecchiete or rigatoni.
  • Pumpkin: Use canned pumpkin puree. I like Farmer’s Market or E.D. Smith brands. Make sure it’s pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling.
  • Coconut Milk: Use full-fat canned coconut milk. You can substitute light coconut milk or cashew cream if you prefer.
  • Vegan Butter: Use your choice of plant-based butter or regular butter, or you can substitute olive oil. If you prefer an oil-free recipe, you can omit the oil and use some broth to cook.
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic is best here.
  • Paprika: You can use regular paprika or smoked paprika to add a bit of smokiness to the sauce.
  • Sage: Sage leaves are nice for serving but optional.

Step by Step Instructions

Before you Start: Start boiling water to cook your choice of pasta. Don’t forget to salt the water! Get that cooking as soon as the water boils and cook until al dente according to the package instructions.

Cook Garlic

Melt the vegan butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the garlic and cook it for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Garlic being sautéed in melted butter in a cast iron skillet on the stovetop..

Add Pumpkin & Coconut Milk

Add the canned pumpkin, coconut milk, paprika and salt.

Pumpkin and coconut milk being mixed into a skillet of garlic and melted butter on a stovetop.

Stir it well then let it simmer over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes until thick and creamy.

Creamy pumpkin pasta sauce being stirred with a whisk a skillet on the stovetop.

Add Cooked Pasta

Once the pasta is done and drained, add it to the pan with the sauce and stir to combine.

Quick Tip: Reserve some of the pasta cooking water before draining. To add extra creaminess and adjust the consistency of the sauce, stir in a little of the reserved water at the end.

Dumping cooked penne pasta into a skillet of pumpkin cream sauce on a stovetop.

Enjoy your delicious pumpkin pasta with crispy sage and fresh cracked black pepper.

How to Fry Sage

To serve your pasta with crispy sage:

  1. Remove the sage leaves from the stem, wash and and pat them dry.
  2. Warm some vegan butter or olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  3. Once hot, add the sage leaves in a single layer.
  4. Fry for 30-60 seconds until the edges start to darken.
  5. Flip and cook another minute until they’ve darkened and are crispy.
A plate of pumpkin penne pasta topped with bits of fresh sage on a small plate with a fork resting on it. A bowl of pumpkin pasta can be seed in the background.

Additions

This recipe is really easy to customize with different additions and variations. Here are a few ideas.

  • Saute thinly sliced mushrooms before starting until they’re softened and brown. Remove them from the pan then stir them back in at the end when you add the pasta.
  • For spicy pasta, add up to 1/2 tsp red chili flakes or cayenne pepper when you add the paprika.
  • Add 2-3 cups fresh spinach when you add the pasta and stir until wilted.
  • Brown plant-based sausage of choice before starting the recipe then remove from the pan and add back in at the end.
  • Serve with vegan parmesan. Store-bought or try this cashew parmesan.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of pasta can I use?

You can use any kind of pasta but I like short shapes for this sauce such as penne, ziti, rotini, orecchiette, farfalle, macaroni or fusilli. That being said, you can definitely use linguini, spaghetti, pappardelle or fettuccini too!

Can I make this gluten-free?

Yes! The pumpkin pasta sauce itself is naturally gluten-free so simply combine with your favourite gluten-free pasta such as brown rice, quinoa or chickpea pasta.

Can I make this low-carb?

Yes! To make this recipe low-carb, use zucchini noodles, carrot noodles or spaghetti squash instead of pasta. For higher-protein pasta, though not low-carb, use edamame pasta, lentil pasta or chickpea pasta.

Can I use almond milk instead of coconut milk?

I think almond milk would be too thin unless you use thick homemade almond milk. If you can’t do coconut milk, I suggest homemade cashew cream.

Prepare cashew cream by soaking 1 cup of raw cashews in boiled water for 1 hour then blending with 1 cup of water and using it to replace the coconut milk. After you stir it into the pumpkin, you can add a bit more water or vegetable broth to adjust the consistency.

Can you use homemade pumpkin puree?

Sure! You’ll need about 1.5 cups of pumpkin puree to replace the canned pumpkin. Just make sure your homemade puree is nice and smooth. If not, you can process the sauce in a high-speed blend before adding the pasta so make sure it’s nice and creamy.

A small serving of creamy pumpkin penne pasta on a plate on a marble counter top. A larger bowl of pasta can be seen in the background.

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Print
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Bowl of creamy pumpkin penne topped with fresh sage.

Vegan Pumpkin Pasta

  • Author: Katie Koteen and Kate Kasbee
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegan
Save Recipe

Description

This pumpkin cream sauce is warm, savory and perfectly suited to sweater season. For those who aren’t fond of coconut, fear not. The taste is barely detectable beneath the flavorful layers of pumpkin, garlic and paprika.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 lb (454 g) penne pasta
  • 1 ½  tbsp (22 g) vegan butter (such as Earth Balance)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (15-oz [425-g]) can pumpkin purée
  • 1 (13 ½ -oz [382-g]) can coconut milk
  • ¾ tsp paprika
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • Fresh or crispy sage leaves, for serving, optional

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the vegan butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute or two, until fragrant.
  3. Stir in the pumpkin purée, coconut milk, paprika and salt. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
  4. Drain and rinse your pasta and combine it with the pumpkin cream sauce. Stir to thoroughly combine.
  5. Garnish with fresh or crispy sage leaves if using, and serve immediately.

Notes

This recipe has been re-printed with permission from Frugal Vegan by Katie Koteen and Kate Kasbee, Page Street Publishing Co. 2017. 

Keywords: pumpkin pasta, cream sauce, easy, comfort, plant-based

This recipe was originally published on August 28, 2017.