Pasta with Butternut Parmesan Sauce

Recipe updated Nov. 18, 2011

One of the best things about fall is the abundance of pumpkins and hardy winter squash. Ever wonder why winter squash is called “winter” squash when it first makes its appearance in the fall? Perhaps because if stored in a cool place, they’ll last several months, well into winter. Anyway, butternut squash is the queen of winter squashes. The taste is so good, and so consistent, that from what I understand, most “canned pumpkin” that we use to make pumpkin pie is actually made with a variety of pumpkin more akin to butternut squash than to the pumpkins we use for jack-o-lanterns. (See Canned pumpkin is it really pumpkin?)

The ever fabulous Garrett came over recently with a pint of roasted butternut squash purée and a mission to create a pasta sauce with it. We often find butternut squash inside of ravioli, why not on the outside? It just needed to be thinned a bit with water, made savory with Parmesan, and brightened with some sour cream and parsley. The result was absolutely delicious; I ate the leftover sauce with a spoon straight out the fridge for days.

Pasta with Butternut Parmesan Sauce Recipe

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Serves 4-6.

This sauce will work with any pasta, but spaghetti is an especially good pairing.



  • 1 butternut squash weighing about 2 1/2 pounds
  • 1 pound pasta
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/3 cup of chopped shallots or onions
  • 1/4 cup of packed, freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 1/8 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley, for garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Water as needed to thin the sauce, about 1 cup


1 Preheat the oven to 350F. Cut the butternut squash lengthwise in half* and scoop out the guts and seeds and discard them (or save the seeds and toast them). Pour 1/4 cup of water into a pyrex or ceramic baking dish and place the butternut squash halves cut side down. Bake for 40 minutes or until a fork easily pierces the squash. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Scoop out the squash flesh from the skins and put into a blender. Discard the skins.

2 Saute the onion in the olive oil over medium-high heat in a small skillet until just beginning to brown, about 3-4 minutes. Add the onions to the blender. Add 1 cup water, the parmesan, 2 teaspoons salt and nutmeg and puree. If you need a little more water, add it. Pour the sauce into a small pot set over low heat. Mix in the sour cream and warm it through. Do not let the sauce boil.

3 Fill a pot with water and salt (1 tablespoon of salt for every 2 quarts of water). Set over high heat to bring to a hard boil. Add the pasta and cook at a hard boil, uncovered until al dente. When the pasta is ready, drain and put it into a bowl. Mix with a little of the sauce and serve. Add a dollop of additional sauce and some parsley right when you bring it to the table.

*Be careful when you cut the squash, winter squash are hard! The best way to do it safely is to slice a bit off of both ends so that you can stand the squash upright without it rolling. Then cut down the middle. See how to cut and peel a butternut squash for visuals, though note for this recipe you do not want to peel the squash before roasting.

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Showing 4 of 48 Comments

  • Sketchy

    What type of meat topping would go well with it?

    Your guess is as good as mine. I wouldn’t add meat to this. ~Elise

  • Cooking with Michele

    I like to mix it with some ricotta cheese as well for a nice smooth and creamy sauce for pasta. I’ve been waiting to get butternut squash from my CSA but might actually have to go buy one to make this as you have me salivating!

  • Yana

    I’ve never tried canned pumpkin…do you think it might be a good substitute if you’re trying to create the meal a bit more quickly (with lower risk of chopping off fingers as well)?

    I’m guessing that you could use canned pumpkin, as long as it was just canned pumpkin, not the already seasoned kind (with cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.) If you try it with canned pumpkin, please let us know in the comments how it turns out. ~Elise

  • Lee

    I make something similar to this but use a good Gruyere and add sage. It’s incredible over gnocci! Also, I use a thicker version, sans the sage and Gruyere, as a lasagna stuffing and cover the whole thing with a Gruyere and sage mornay sauce. Heaven on a cold winter’s night with a good crusty bread and a great red wine!

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