Creamy and luxurious, this butternut squash pasta sauce is layered with all of your favorite fall flavors! Roasted butternut squash is blended until incredibly smooth with savory Parmesan and a touch of nutmeg to welcome those warm fall flavors. The smooth pasta sauce is generously finished with crisp cubes of savory pancetta, crunchy fried sage leaves and an extra dusting of Parmesan cheese to bring it all together!
Fall is in the air and we are making all of our favorite fall recipes these days! Between this creamy butternut squash pasta and butternut squash risotto, I can’t get enough of all the squash and pumpkin recipes!
You only need a touch of nutmeg for this butternut squash sauce, but a little makes such a difference and transforms the sweet and earthy butternut squash into something warm and comforting.
Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- The butternut squash sauce is velvety smooth, making for an ultra creamy and decadent pasta sauce!
- The sauce freezes very well and can be made ahead of time to freeze in batches.
- The sauce can easily be turned into butternut squash soup with a bit more vegetable broth added.
- The crunchy pancetta and crisp fried sage leaves adds another layer of texture and flavor to the creamy sauce.
- Butternut Squash: Prepping a whole butternut squash takes time but is worth the effort because it’s less expensive overall and you’ll have a fresher product. But for ease, many grocery stores will have already prepped butternut squash as well as frozen butternut squash.
- Garlic Cloves: A few cloves of garlic are added with the butternut squash so everything can roast together. There is no need to peel the garlic, since the garlic peel will keep the cloves from burning when roasting.
- Olive Oil: Use an everyday cooking olive oil to drizzle over the vegetables before roasting. I also like to add a little drizzle at the very end for garnish.
- Parmesan Cheese: Grated Parmesan cheese is added to the butternut squash and roasted garlic mixture in the blending stage. But be sure to save some garlic for garnish as well!
- Heavy Cream: Only a 1/4 cup of heavy cream is added, giving the sauce another layer of creaminess. If you are looking for a dairy free option, full fat coconut milk works great!
- Nutmeg: Whole nutmeg is preferred over ground nutmeg because it will stay fresher, longer. Use a microplane to grate a pinch of fresh nutmeg right into the sauce before blending.
- Pancetta: Pancetta is smoked and seasoned pork belly that is often found in the meat section of grocery stores. When buying pancetta, you’ll most likely see it in a package where the pancetta is diced in small cubes or sliced in larger slices. If you can only find slices, cut the pancetta into small cubes for this recipe.
- Pasta: Linguine or fettuccine are some favorites pasta shapes that go well with a creamy sauce, but use whatever your favorite pasta shape is!
- Pasta Water: When cooking your pasta, save at least a cups worth of the starchy cooking pasta water. You can add some to the sauce when blending or when you are mixing the sauce with the pasta to loosen it up a bit.
Step by Step Instructions
Prep the Butternut Squash
Prepping a whole butternut squash takes time, but worth the effort! It winds up being cheaper and you get a fresher product that roasts very well.
Cutting the squash into cubes instead of cutting the squash in half and roasting, allows for more caramelization, creating a sweeter and more flavorful sauce.
How to cut Butternut Squash
- Cut the ends off of the whole butternut squash and use a vegetable peeler to peel the squash. Discard the tougher peels.
- Cut the butternut squash in half, lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
- Cut the butternut squash in long slices, then chop into cubes.
Roast the Butternut Squash with Garlic
- Line a baking sheet with foil and add butternut squash and garlic cloves and season everything with salt, pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to combine so all of the squash is evenly coated.
- Roast the butternut squash and garlic at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 45-50 minutes until the squash is tender and caramelized.
Make the Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
- Allow the roasted squash and garlic to cool for a few minutes, then remove the garlic peel, exposing the soft roasted garlic.
- Add the roasted butternut squash, roasted garlic cloves, grated Parmesan cheese, heavy cream, nutmeg and salt and pepper to a blender along with reserved pasta water and blend until smooth.
Cook the Pancetta
- Add cubed pancetta to a small skillet over low-medium heat and cook until fat has rendered and pancetta is crisp, about 5-6 minutes.
- Remove cooked pancetta to a paper towel lined plate to drain excess fat and set aside for garnishing.
Fry Sage Leaves
I have a whole post on frying sage leaves and let me tell you, this is a must for an added layer of crispiness!
- Heat oil in a small saucepan or skillet until it reaches 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Add sage leaves and dry for 30-45 seconds until crisp.
- Remove to a paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with salt.
Putting It All Together
- While squash and garlic is roasting, cook the pasta and reserve at least 1 cup of the starching pasta cooking water.
- Drain the rest of the cooked pasta and pour sauce onto the cooked noodles.
- Give the pasta and sauce a good mix and add more pasta water to loosen the sauce, if needed.
- Serve the butternut squash pasta into bowls and top with cubes of pancetta, fried sage leaves, a touch of red pepper flakes (optional, but recommended) and an extra sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
Tips and Substitutions
- Instead of heavy cream, use full fat coconut milk.
- If you can’t find pancetta, substitute cubed bacon.
- Make an extra batch of butternut squash sauce and convert to a butternut squash soup, just add broth until its a soup consistency.
- If Parmesan isn’t available, Pecorino, which is a hard Italian sheeps milk cheese, is a great substitute.
- For frozen butternut squash, thaw and pat dry the best you can, then continue roasting until caramelized.
Yes! This sauce freezes incredibly well. If freezing, do not add the fried sage or pancetta, just freeze the sauce.
Cinnamon and sage are classic flavor pairings, as well as clove, allspice and ginger. Not a spice, but maple syrup is a great pairing as well.
Leftovers hold up really well and can be stores in a resealable container and placed in the fridge up for to 3 days. You can also use leftover sauce and make a butternut squash soup, just add broth to make to a thinner consistency.
More Favorite Pasta Recipes
- Kale Pasta with Capers and Olives
- Chorizo Bolognese with Burrata
- Pumpkin Ricotta Ravioli
- Linguine and Clams
Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce with Fried Sage
- 1 pound linguine
- 4 cups butternut squash peeled and cubed into 1 inch pieces, about 1 small squash
- 5 garlic cloves with the peel
- Olive oil for drizzling
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
- 1/2-1 cup starchy pasta water
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
- Add cubed butternut squash and garlic cloves and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Toss to coat evenly, then roast for 45-50 minutes, until the squash is tender and caramelized.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta until just al-dente or 1-2 minutes less than the package directions and reserve 1 cup of starchy pasta water.
- Once the vegetables are done roasting, remove the garlic peel and add garlic cloves and roasted butternut squash to a blender, along with the heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, nutmeg and 1/2 cup of starchy pasta water.
- Blend until smooth and add more water if the sauce is too thick.
- Pour creamy butternut squash sauce over cooked linguine and toss to combine so all of the sauce evenly coats all of the noodles.
- If the sauce is too thick, add more pasta water to loosen the sauce.
- Serve butternut squash pasta into bowls and garnish with fried sage leaves, crisp pancetta, a drizzle of olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese.
- To make the crisp pancetta, add cubed pancetta to a small skillet and bring up to medium heat. Continue cooking until fat has rendered and pancetta is crisp, about 5-6 minutes. Then reserve to a paper towel lined plate.
- To make the fried sage leaves, add enough oil to a small saucepan or skillet and bring up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Add a few sage leaves and fry for 30-45 seconds until crisp, then remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain excess oil.
- Cook pasta 1-2 minutes less than the package directions, this will make sure the pasta is not being over cooked when added with the sauce.
- When cooking the pasta, save at least 1 cup of the starchy pasta water, this will help loosen the sauce if needed.