Pumpkin Pasta Sauce - Real Food Whole Life

Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

October 12, 2015 (Updated on October 8, 2021)

Spaghetti pasta covered in an orange pumpkin pasta sauce.

Easy and delicious, creamy Pumpkin Pasta Sauce is quick to make with simple, healthy pantry ingredients including canned pumpkin, tomato sauce, and a dash of cinnamon.

spaghetti on a white plate covered in pumpkin pasta sauce with fresh sage and rosemary on top

About this Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

To tell you the truth, I never thought about adding pumpkin to pasta sauce, but since I’ve shared so many delicious savory pumpkin recipes on here over the years (Pumpkin Sweet Potato Soup, Slow Cooker Pumpkin Soup with Canned Pumpkin, and Instant Pot Creamy Pumpkin Soup to name a few), I thought I’d give it a shot.

I was originally inspired to make a homemade version of pumpkin pasta sauce when when I tried Trader Joe’s Autumnal Harvest Creamy Pasta Sauce.

The Trader Joe’s pumpkin pasta sauce is made with both butternut squash and pumpkin, as well as heavy cream, so I wanted create a version that streamlined the prep process (hello canned pumpkin!), and also replaced the cream for a deliciously dairy-free, vegan, and Whole30 version of the popular sauce.

This sauce was also inspired by Cucina Antica Tuscany Pumpkin Pasta Sauce.

I took inspiration from the warming, autumnal spices of cinnamon, sage, and rosemary for this version, but again replaced the cream to make it dairy-free and vegan,

The final result ins’t quite as bright orange as the store-bought version but it still has a warm, pumpkiny undertone.

This sauce also doesn’t taste overwhelmingly of pumpkin, as it’s balanced out by the tomato sauce and coconut cream.

The pumpkin basically adds a richness to the sauce plus it adds a hefty serving of veggies to your pasta dinner. Love that!

a sauce pan filled with pumpkin pasta sauce being stirred by a wooden spoon

Pumpkin Pasta Sauce Ingredients

In recreating the sauce I tried to keep the ingredient list short so it would be feasible to make on a regular basis.

To replace the cream I used full-fat coconut milk, which I know sounds strange but trust me, it really works.

The coconut flavor is virtually undetectable, so it should work even for people who don’t love the taste of coconut.

I also added a tiny pinch of cinnamon, as it was included in the store bought version, but you can skip it if you like.

Fresh rosemary and sage really add a lot of flavor to this dish.

If your budget allows I’d recommend both, but just rosemary or just sage would also work.

I haven’t tried it with dried herbs, so if you do and it works well let us know in  the comments.

The final result is a sauce that’s rich, creamy, and completely comforting.

ingredient modifications & swaps

olive oil: any neutral flavored oil will work in this recipe, omit it entirely for an oil-free option.

white onion: if you don’t like or can’t eat onion, feel free to leave it out.

kosher salt: look for kosher salt with the regular iodized salt at the grocery store. It has a subtler flavor. Use less iodized salt if that’s what you have on hand.

canned pumpkin puree: 2 cups of fresh pumpkin puree can be used in place of 1 can of pumpkin puree.

tomato sauce: look for no-sugar added for Whole30. Jarred marinara spaghetti sauce can also be used.

honey: maple syrup can be used for a vegan option. The sweetener adds a nice balance to the earthiness of the pumpkin, but you can omit it to keep this recipe free of added sugar & whole30 friendly.

coconut milk: use canned, unsweetened, full-fat coconut milk for the most creamy results. Heavy cream, half-and-half, or cream cheese can also be used.

Tip: I don’t recommend using boxed varieties of coconut milk, especially if they’re labelled “coconut beverage”. This will be a much more watered down consistency and won’t give you the creamy results you need for a thick pasta sauce.

closeup of spaghetti with an orange pasta sauce on a white plate

Serving Suggestions for this Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

Serve this pumpkin pasta sauce over any type of pasta you like, or as a sauce for chicken or fish.

Enjoy it for lunch or freeze for another night.

Lightly sauce the pasta and then top with parmesan cheese.

Serve along with these easy crockpot turkey meatballs or these 5-ingredient free meatballs for added protein.

Add a simple side salad, we love this pasta dish paired with our harvest fall salad, roasted butternut squash salad or mixed greens with apple cider vinaigrette on top.

Storing and Freezing Leftover Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

It makes a lot so you will probably end up with leftovers.

This sauce will keep well in the fridge for up to 3-4 days, in a sealed container

It also freezes well, store in a sealed freezer friendly container for up to 2-3 months.

this recipe is…

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I hope you’ll make this healthy Pumpkin Pasta Sauce recipe soon.

If you do, be sure to share it on Instagram and tag me at @realfoodwholelife so I can see!

top down view of plated spaghetti with pumpkin pasta sauce alongside a saucepan with fresh herbs

More Savory Pumpkin Recipes

Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Soup

Instant Pot Turkey Paleo Pumpkin Chili

Creamy Pumpkin Hummus

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Soup with Canned Pumpkin

More Sweet Pumpkin Recipes

One-Bowl Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

One-Bowl Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies

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collage of two images of pumpkin pasta sauce with pink background and navy text
Spaghetti pasta covered in an orange pumpkin pasta sauce.
5 from 1 vote

Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

Author Robyn Downs
Yield 6 cups
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 25 mins

Simple and elegant, Pumpkin Pasta Sauce is easy to make with pantry ingredients. It feels indulgent, yet is packed with veggies and is naturally creamy without a trace of dairy. Perfect for a cool autumn evening or any night of the week.

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 3 ½ teaspoons salt divided
  • 2 cloves garlic finely minced or grated
  • 2 15- oz cans pumpkin puree not pumpkin pie filling
  • 1 15- oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons honey omit for Vegan and Whole30
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup full-fat coconut milk from a can, not coconut beverage
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste

Optional Serving Suggestions

  • 16 oz pasta of choice

Instructions

  • If serving with pasta, bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven or saucepan. Add the onion, sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt, and sauté until the onions are soft and very tender, about 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add the garlic and sauté an additional 1-2 minutes, stirring to avoid burning. Add the pumpkin puree, tomato sauce, honey (if using), 3 teaspoons salt, and water, stirring to combine. Stir on medium heat until the sauce begins to bubble (be careful, the sauce will be thick and might splatter). Turn the heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the coconut milk, cinnamon, rosemary, and sage, stirring to combine. Taste and add additional salt and pepper to taste.
  • If serving with pasta, toss the cooked pasta with 2-3 cups of the sauce. Serve warm with additional sauce if desired.

Notes

See notes in the post for ingredient and dietary substitutions.
This recipe makes 6 cups of sauce, so if you’re making 16 oz of pasta, you will have leftover sauce. Store covered in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Nutrition information calculated for 1 cup of sauce.

Nutrition

Calories: 122kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 1762mg | Potassium: 499mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 12848IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 3mg
Nutrition disclaimer
did you make this recipe?Mention @realfoodwholelife or tag #realfoodwholelife!

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16 comments to " Pumpkin Pasta Sauce "

  • Kelsey

    This was the BEST sauce I have ever come across, THANK YOU! My husband and I were all but eating I like soup! So soooo good! 🙂

  • Shanna

    I made this on Halloween and we LOVED it! Now I’m trying to decide what to do with the leftover sauce sans pasta. Any ideas?

    • Robyn Downs

      Shanna, yay, I’m so glad you liked it! You could add some chicken or veggie stock, a little more salt and another splash of coconut milk to make Tuscan Pumpkin Soup. Or, if you eat meat you could grill some chicken and serve with the sauce. Or, you could freeze for another night when you want to eat the pasta again.

  • Sarah

    Hi – I’ve been dairy free for one week now in an experiment for my son who is breastfeeding. I just made this with pantry staples, using dried herbs, and it is delicious!! I am so thankful for your site – I will be trying many of your recipes in the coming weeks – I love that I don’t have to figure out how to make substitutions. I’ve never had to live with diet restrictions, so this is all new to me and your site is going to make it much easier! Thank you! – Sarah

    • Robyn Downs

      Sarah, thank you for your note! I had to go dairy-free while breastfeeding my daughter and I remember having no idea what I was going to eat! So happy you’re enjoying the recipes and it’s making the process simpler for you. Best of luck in your journey! xxoo

  • Sharyn

    The whole time I was making this (I put it over zoodles) I was wondering how in the world I was going to sell it to the family. I didn’t have to, it came together nicely and tasted fabulous! This is definitely a keeper! Thank you.

  • Nicole

    Hi Robyn ☺
    Thank you for this most delicious unique fall feeling sauce! I had last minute company over and was wanting something fall like because this season is here and you can’t help but love it, so I looked up pumpkin pasta sauces and yours caught my eye!
    Same values as us, I cook whole clean eating food. My in laws were nervous as they usually are when I try something new (they tend to be the guinea pigs lol)
    I received thumbs up and wow this is delicious! reviews from everyone down to my 4yr old!
    Thanks for helping me make happy guests and a happy family! This is an awesome delicious easy to follow sauce! Thank you!
    Sincerely,
    Nicole

    • Robyn Downs

      Nicole, thanks so much for taking the time to let me know you and your family enjoyed this recipe! My family is also used to being the guinea pigs when it comes to new recipes. 🙂 So glad you all enjoyed! 🙂

  • Tomasso

    What does Tuscan have to do with it?

  • Joan Fraser

    I just made this sauce. It’s still on the stove. Delicious. In September I was diagnosed with high cholesterol. Without meds and staying dairy free and red meat I have it now to a good level. I’m searching always for vegetable recipes for my cooking as the more vegetables and fruits eaten the better. Pasta is not often eaten but I am now using whole grain plus ancient grain pasta. Only a fistful with this wonderful sauce. Thank you so much. It’s delicious

  • Briar

    5 stars
    I was trying to find uses for some leftover pureed squash, and found this! It works lovely with butternut squash as well- My whole household of college grads were into it!
    This is the first time a recipe has turned out so well that I felt the desire to comment, so thank you!

    • Robyn Downs

      Briar, that’s fantastic! So happy to hear this was a hit with you and your housemate. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a review!

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If you love this recipe it would mean SO MUCH if you gave it a star rating and left a comment. Your feedback helps me create more recipes you'll love, and helps others find my recipes online. Thanks so much for your feedback! —Robyn

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