Pasta with Butternut Parmesan Sauce

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

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.

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


  • 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
  • 1 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
  • Pepper to taste
  • Water as needed to thin the sauce, about 1 cup


1 Bake the butternut squash: Preheat the oven to 350°F. 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 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 Sauté the shallots in the olive oil over medium heat in a small skillet until just beginning to brown, about 2-3 minutes.

3 Purée in blender: Add the shallots to the blender. Add 1 cup water, the parmesan, 1 teaspoons salt and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg and blend until smooth. Taste and add more salt if needed. If the sauce is too thick, thin it with a little more water.

4 Add sour cream and heat until warm: 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.

5 Cook pasta in boiling salted water: 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.

6 Mix cooked pasta with sauce: 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.

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  • Stacy

    This dish was delicious! It’s a keeper that will return to the supper table at my house. Thank you!

    • Dianne Morey

      If you put your squash in the microwave for 1 minute it slices open like a charm.

  • Fire Restaurant

    Amazing! Butternut Parmesan :) Brilliant idea!

  • pam

    this is so good. thanks

  • Dev

    I made this recipe back in 2009 with fresh roasted butternut squash and loved it. Fastforward to 2011 when I have a 13 month old running around and decided to cut the cooking time by using canned organic butternut squash puree and loved it even more! The texture was more sauce-like with the canned squash. This recipe always hurtles me into fall. Thanks for posting.

  • Robin


    We had 4 big leftover sweet potatoes from Thanksgiving, and my mom and I were trying to figure out what to do with them when I stumbled upon this recipe. I measured out about a pound of sweet potatoes, mashed them, and added a little water to them because they were very thick….added the rest of the ingredients.. and holy crap. This is so amazing. I’m making extra sweet potatoes every year, just so I can make this sauce.

  • Bonnie

    I thought this was quite good. I used a creamy blue cheese in place of the parmesan, and sage leaves (simmered briefly in butter) in place of the parsley. One thing I don’t understand, however, is why go to the trouble of cutting the squash in half? I just roasted my squash whole for about 1.5 hours, until it was collapsing in on itself when touched. Then cut it open, discarded the seeds, and scraped out the flesh. No need to puree or blend it, as it was completely soft. I guess it’s less time in the oven the other way, but this way retains all the vitamins, and it’s so much easier than struggling to cut through the raw squash with a knife.

  • Cathy

    Love the recipe! In response to Toni, Sept. 28, your idea of adding stock to thin this sauce slightly to make a soup is completely possible.
    I came to making a similar sauce by adapting a Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato soup recipe that I have been experimenting with. Some suggestions: for a naturally sweet sauce/soup use Delicata squash along with the Butternut and sweet potatoes. Also, to provide added fibre to either the sauce or the soup, puree the edible skin of the squash and sweet potatoes along with the flesh. However whatever combination of squash/sweet potatoes you use, you MUST roast them with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of allspice and nutmeg. This process brings out an enormous amount of flavour and those who thought that the sauce was too bland likely didn’t roast the vegetables but rather boiled or microwaved them which leads to a loss of flavour.

  • Moxie

    We made your butternut parmesean sauce using way high quality parm, and served topped with toasted butternut seeds. Another amazing recipe. Thanks much!


  • Renee

    I just made this as a lunch for us, and it is delicous! I did cheat a bit and use some leftover butternut and apple soup (your recipe!) in place of the butternut puree, but this is best use of leftovers ever. And when I mixed it together, it does look a bit like mac and cheese – to the point where I was asked “how come my mac and cheese tastes different?” But they still ate it all. :)

  • J. Bean

    This sauce was easy and quick to make using a squash I cooked and cubed earlier that morning. It tasted great served hot over pasta and was just as good the next day as a cold sandwhich sread. The kids ate it, too, so how much better can you get? I froze about half the batch. Hopefully it thaws well.

  • Toni

    Any way to transform this into soup? I’m thinking that doing everything (minus the water for the pasta part), and then using an immersion blender, blend it all up…maybe adding some stock to thin it to soup consistency? Double up on the ingredients? I made this last year, and it was great. I would prefer to make it as a soup though, and I do like these ingredients! I now have to add Pecorino Romano cheese to every butternut squash soup I make/eat!! Thanks, Elise :)

  • Becki White

    Thanks for the great recipe! Finding vegetables I can eat is really tough, so I’ve been looking for more butternut squash recipes. I fell in love with a fancy restaurant’s butternut squash ravioli, but this is a version I can easily make at home (and save myself a 2 hour trip and $35 tab). I bought squash that was already peeled and cut from my local grocery store, boiled instead of roasting, and skipped the scallions. Heaven!

  • Corinna Beck

    I loved this. I made it last night and my husband was over the moon. I will have to work with it though to remove the dairy as my son has a milk allergy and he is just now starting to eat what we eat.

  • Katie @ goodLife {eats}

    Hi Elise – made this for a Christmas potluck last night. Everyone loved it and asked for the recipe. Thanks! Will definitely make it again, great flavor & easy meal.

  • Janine

    Great recipe. Made this last Wednesday – thought that a light pasta dish would be great before all the heavy holiday eating. And so it was. I was amazed by the fact that I only had to touch the squash once with the knife – that is, to cut it in half. How easy, to cook it like this. I will never ever cut cubes again for butternut squash soup. I prepared it like you suggested, with a little less Pamesan, because I am not a big fan, and yes, the sauce needs some water.

  • Louise

    Yum! I just made this with some unknown pumpkin (orange and green stripes) that I bought last month, and it was delicious. It was enough to top a whole pound of whole wheat rotini. Thanks.

  • Kari

    Made this last night and it was amazing. My boyfriend even licked the bowl!

    I do have a small confession though – I didn’t have any pure nutmeg on hand, so I substituted with a bit of pumpkin pie spice (I know, totally not a valid substitution). To my surprise, it actually worked! The sauce was delicious and savory and did NOT taste like pumpkin pie :).

    Brilliant idea! ~Elise

  • jen

    This recipe was very easy and very tasty! Even my picky 20 mo boy loved it. Thanks.

  • Christina

    Just made the recipe this weekend! It came out just like the photo and extra delicious! This recipe is a keeper, and my husband enjoyed as well, he wants me to add this recipe to my list of usuals. Thanks a million for the excellent dish!

  • Wendy

    I am eating this dish right now! I made it exactly as you originally suggested and it’s fabulous. I do wish I had read the “microwave the squash before you try to cut it” bit before I got that workout, but probably for the best with all this cream and parm. Thanks again Elise.

  • Stacey

    This turned out great and was absolutely delicious. After nearly every bite I said, “Mmmmmm.” I will definitely be making this again and sharing the recipe with friends. Kudos to you and Garrett for this awesome recipe.

  • Karen

    I made this last night and it was delish! I am not a squash fan, but have lately discovered some wonderful recipes using butternut, kabocha and delicata, and am becoming a convert. This will definitely go into my repertoire of fall recipes. Thanks for a truly lovely dish!

  • Katrina

    I made this last night and it was delicious. I pureed my squash until it was really smooth so my sauce was really silky. Instead of serving it with the sauce on top, I mixed the sauce in with the pasta. It looked just like packaged macaroni and cheese (which I never make) so I had to warn my husband that the orange wasn’t cheese, despite appearances. He still liked it though! I served it with a simple salad with romaine, gorgonzola, thin gala apple slices and toasted walnuts with balsamic vinaigrette. YUM!

  • Mary

    I wanted to like this. I really did. It didn’t really have any taste to it. I made it to the T. used really good parmi and still, didn’t care for it. It needed some other texture, something crunchy maybe.

    Sorry Elise…but I did love other recipes that I’ve tried.

    Sounds like it was underseasoned. I would add more salt and pepper. ~Elise

  • Kezza

    Could you make this with acorn squash?

    I think the acorn squash might be a little fibrous for this dish. But if you try it, please let us know in the comments how it turns out. ~Elise

  • Sue Renault

    This was really YUMMY! I didn’t have bowtie pasta; I used whole wheat spaghetti, instead and it was wonderful. The next day I had plenty of the sauce left over (I guess my butternut squash was a little bigger than I needed). I cut it with chicken broth and had wonderful squash soup with crusty bread. This recipe is a keeper!

  • Jen A

    I made a version of this last weekend. I bought a box of frozen Birdseye Butternut Squash and defrosted it in the fridge.

    I sauteed up a big pan of chopped sweet onion, sliced mushrooms and red bell pepper seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, sage and oregano and deglazed the pan a bit with balsamic vinegar.

    When the veggies were soft, I added a few chunks of frozen spinach to the pan and let that sit in the hot pan to defrost. When the spinach was soft enough I mixed it in and then sprinkled the whole pan with a bit of granulated chicken bouillon. Then, I mixed in the squash puree and finally finished it off with a small can of evaporated milk. The tiny can was the perfect amount of milk to make the sauce a smooth consistency. I used the sauce on whole wheat pasta topped with parmesan and really LOVED IT!!!!!!

  • Kate

    I just made the recipe last night for my husband and we both loved it. As a time saver, I went to Trader Joe’s and purchased the pre-cut butter nut squash cubes and steamed them. I will use the whole squash when I make this for my vegeterian friends for Thanksgiving! Thanks for this wonderful dish.

  • Kathryn

    Ack! Let TWO pots boil over on the stove, I was so distracted by this recipe! No shallots on hand… is there an acceptable substitute?

    Sure, onions. ~Elise

  • Emily A.

    Thanks for a great recipe – I just made it today and it was DELICIOUS. I’m completely in agreement on eating it with a spoon straight out of the fridge. The leftovers won’t last long!

  • Sara

    I too make a similar sauce with canned pumpkin. One reader asked about meat – I have used sweet Italian sausage (sometimes turkey sausage), and the savory aspect compliments the great fall flavors.

    Sometimes I also throw in other things: mushrooms, tomatoes, or even black beans. My 2-year-old daughter LOVES it!

    Also, I often use plain yogurt. You just need to make sure to slowly warm it with a small amount of sauce to prevent it from curdling.

  • Cara

    I make a similar sauce out of blended cottage cheese and canned pumpkin (yes, really butternut, you’re right!) seasoned with sage and nutmeg. I serve it over pasta with caramelized onions, spinach and chicken sausage. It’s one of my favorite things! I have had many a moment explaining to people that canned pumpkin is not actually the jack-o-lantern variety, or even the sugar pumpkin. I use butternut and buttercup pretty much interchangebly with pumpkin!

  • Leo Cironis

    Living in Illinois, where the majority of pumpkins (and canned pumpkin) in America are grown and canned, I can tell you that most canned pumpkin is… Pumpkin.

    Check the label. Yes American labeling are the among the world’s weakest, but even in America they couldn’t say pumpkin if it isn’t. I’ve never seen one where butternut squash is among the ingredients.

    That said, the recipe is WONDERFUL. And we used frozen butternut squash as that was in the freezer and we had no fresh squash laying around.

    Most pumpkins that we buy aren’t even true sugar pumpkins, but some hardier variety of winter squash. I don’t think the label is an indication, it would be like distinguishing between patty pan and gooseneck summer squash, when it’s all summer squash, and the label could read zucchini and would still be accepted. That said, if someone from Libby can tell us the actual varieties of winter squash used in making canned pumpkin, please speak up. ~Elise

  • Heather

    Pre-roast butternut squash is just the handiest thing to have about at this time of year. Add chunks to salads, turn it into soup or pie filling, or if it’s really sweet I love to puree it, put it in a little pudding bowl and top with maple syrup and a dash of cinnimon as a snack. Thanks for another inventive recipe idea here.

  • Elizabeth (Australia)

    This sauce would make a yummy soup, served with crusty bread. What do you think?

    I think it’s a bit too rich for a soup, but if you make it into one, please let us know in the comments how it turns out. ~Elise

  • Nana

    I just made this with Fage Total Greek Yogurt and it worked fabulously.

  • mantha

    You have such a nice way of working in that little touch of sweet spices — the nutmeg is perfect. Tried this with the thick greek yogurt (regular, not nonfat, but still lighter than cream); it was delicious, and since I already had some fresh butternut roasted and ready in the freezer, it made up real quick and simple. What I had in the house was small pasta shells, and they caught up the sauce beautifully. I didn’t think of it until later, but what do you think of incorporating the squash seeds, lightly toasted in a little olive oil? scattered over the top, or folded into the pasta?

    I think roasted shelled pumpkin or squash seeds would be lovely over the top. The seeds with the shells still on would be a little too tough for this dish. ~Elise

  • Sunny

    To cut the squash: If my husband doesn’t do it, I use a chef cleaver and hit it with a rubber mallet(that I use for tenderizing or flattening out chicken)works every time very nicely.
    I love the idea of sage. We go to this restaurant in Naples,FL. called Naples Tomato and they serve a butternut squash ravioli with sage and butter….YUM
    Going to try this one. Thanks for this recipe.

    A rubber mallet is a useful tool for cutting butternut squash. ~Elise

  • Jerrod

    This is delicious. You actually don’t have to skin the butternut at all before pureeing it. You can roast it in olive oil at 425 for about 25 minutes and the skin softens up deliciously. Also, goat cheese adds a nice flavor instead of parmesan.

    Yes, there is no need to peel the butternut squash for this recipe. After roasting you can easily scoop out the flesh. Thank you for the suggestions of goat cheese, it would work well. ~Elise

  • GoneVeg

    Hey, I have a quick question: if you wanted to make this with frozen butternut squash, how much would you use? Yes, yes, I know, it’s better to make your own puree, but if one is in a hurry?

    I would guess a couple of pounds. ~Elise

  • dcirene

    Recipe sounds delightful! I will try this tomorrow night.

    One easy (and safer) way to cut butternut squash is to soften it in the microwave first. prick the squash with a fork several times, stick the squash in a microwave for 7 minutes, and then cut in half. Scoop out the seeds, and then roast the halves in the oven. The microwaving also cuts down the roasting time by about 25%.

  • 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!

  • 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

  • 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