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Butternut Squash Pasta

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Learn how to make one of my favourite comfort recipes: creamy roasted butternut squash pasta with garlic crumbs. Using delicately sweet butternut squash, hardy rigatoni pasta and simple ingredients for the sauce, this dish is fit for a restaurant menu, yet you can easily make it at home with my easy-to-follow recipe and step-by-step instructions, photos and video. It’s an absolute crowd-pleaser, and your family and dinner guests will be impressed and satisfied! 


Butternut Squash Pasta Recipe With Rigatoni With Garlic Crumbs

In This Post:

Recipe Overview

This creamy rigatoni pasta dish is easy to make yet it has plenty of flavour complexity and finesse to think you got it at a fancy cafe or a restaurant. So, why is it so good?

There are three key elements: the right pasta, the roasted butternut squash blended into the pasta sauce and the garlic thyme crumbs (don’t skip this one!). 

Rigatoni Pasta

This pasta is just a bit fancier than your typical penne or shells. With its large tubes and ribbed texture, rigatoni holds onto the sauce and has a unique visual appearance. Large shapes give you better sauce to pasta ratio in every bite.

Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce

The creamy pasta sauce has the roasted butternut squash blended into it along with some pasta water. It has lots of flavour, lovely yellow colour and is creamy and rich, without using as much cream as your typical Alfredo sauce. 

Garlic Crumbs

The crumb topping is garlicky and herby, adding a much needed crunch and a little saltiness to the finished pasta. In my opinion, this is a crucial part of this dish so don’t skip on the golden garlic crumbs. 

Pasta-Free Option

Avoiding grains or pasta? Make a pasta-free version by pan-frying some chicken and mixing it with the butternut squash sauce. Serve with quinoa, rice or cauliflower rice.

Okay, let’s get into the nitty gritty of how to make all the elements for this butternut squash pasta. Don’t worry, it’s easy once I break it down into simple steps.


Ingredients

  • Pasta – I recommend rigatoni but of course you can use penne, fusilli or large pasta. The sauce is creamy and rich so if you use pasta that is too small, you will get the wrong ratio of the pasta to sauce. 
  • Butternut squash – It’s delicate and sweet and has a soft, creamy texture once roasted, which is perfect for our sauce. You can also use kabocha squash (it’s a little sweeter) or another sweet winter squash/pumpkin. You will need a little olive oil and salt for roasting.
  • Breadcrumbs – you need larger-sized breadcrumbs, such as Panko, so you get the right texture. Fine breadcrumbs will not work as well. To season, I used some garlic, dried thyme, salt and butter.
  • For the sauce – butter, garlic, cream, Parmesan. The base of the sauce is very similar to Alfredo but uses less butter and less cream, with pasta water and roasted squash adding texture, body (and flavour, of course).
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How To Make Butternut Squash Pasta

Find the full list of ingredients and nutritional info in the complete recipe card below. Here are some step-by-step photos and instructions to walk you through the process. 

Step 1. Preheat the oven to 395 F/200 C.

Step 2. Peel and cut the squash into medium cubes. Toss the squash in a little olive oil and salt and roast on a flat tray for 35 minutes at 395 F. No need to stir or flip the squash. Do check it at a 25-30 minute mark if your oven runs very hot.

Step 3. Melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Stir in the garlic for 10 seconds. Add the breadcrumbs, dried thyme and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown. These are easy to burn so keep an eye on them. Remove from heat and set aside. 

Step 4. Add the pasta to a large pot of boiled water along with 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir and cook to al dente, as per pasta instructions.

Step 5. Once cooked, scoop ½ cup to 1 cup of pasta water into a bowl and strain the rest. Set pasta aside. 

Step 6. Add the ½ cup of pasta water to a jug or a tall bowl along with 1 cup of tightly packed roasted butternut squash. Puree using an immersion blender stick or you can do this in a blender/food processor. Set aside. 

Step 7. Make the butternut squash pasta sauce. In a large, deep saucepan, heat butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir until aromatic and slightly golden. Sprinkle in the nutmeg and white pepper and stir. Add the cream, pumpkin puree and grated Parmesan, stir until melted. Taste and season with a little extra salt. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. The sauce will thicken slightly. 

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Step 8. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and fold through. Then add the remaining butternut squash cubes and stir through the pasta and sauce. Top the pasta with garlic crumbs, you can reserve some to garnish individual servings. Top with more Parmesan cheese and some thyme.

Butternut Squash Pasta With Rigatoni & Garlic Crumbs Feature

Watch The Video

Recipe Tips

  • Butternut squash can be roasted ahead of time to save time. 
  • Large shaped pasta is best for standing against the rich, creamy sauce.
  • Yes, you could use canned pumpkin puree here! You will need to add 1 cup of pumpkin puree and 1/4-1/3 pasta water to the sauce. 
  • Panko breadcrumbs are best for the topping, don’t skip on this buttery, garlicky garnish as it completes the dish.  
  • This pasta is best served hot. The sauce will thicken and firm up once it cools; you can add a little water when reheating the pasta to thin it out. 
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Ideally, store the crumb topping separately to keep it crunchy. Reheat with a little water to thin out the sauce.
  • You can make this with regular or gluten-free pasta. For a pasta-free version, pan-fried some chicken and mix in with the butternut squash sauce.

What To Serve With Butternut Squash Pasta

This is a rich, creamy pasta dish and is best served with something refreshing and light. As the flavour of the pasta is slightly sweet, complement it with side dishes that are more savoury or tangy.  

It will pair well with a crisp salad, vibrant steamed green beans or broccoli or grilled asparagus, Greek salad, or an olive-oil-based tangy cabbage slaw. 

I’d suggest going for a medium-bodied white wine like a Chardonnay or a Viognier. These wines have enough depth and fruitiness to stand up to the creaminess of the pasta and bring out the lovely flavours of the butternut squash. 

Butternut Squash Pasta With Rigatoni & Garlic Crumbs Social

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Full Recipe 

Find the full list of ingredients, instructions, and a nutritional breakdown below. If you have questions or cook this recipe, please let me know in the comments, and make sure to rate this recipe so it’s easy for others to find.

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For Roasted Butternut Squash


  • Preheat the oven to 395 F/200 C.

  • Roast Butternut Squash. Peel and cut the squash into medium cubes. Grease a flat baking tray/sheet and toss the squash cubes in a little olive oil and salt. Roast for 35 minutes at 395 F.

  • Make the crumbs. Heat a small pan over medium-high heat. Melt the butter and stir in the garlic for 10 seconds. Add the breadcrumbs, dried thyme and salt and stir. Cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown. These are easy to burn so keep an eye on them. Remove from heat and set aside.

  • Cook Pasta. Add the pasta to a large pot of boiled water along with 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir and cook to al dente, as per pasta instructions.

  • Once cooked, scoop ½ cup to 1 cup of pasta water into a bowl and strain the rest. Set pasta aside.

  • Make the butternut squash pasta sauce. Add the ½ cup of pasta water to a jug or a tall bowl along with 1 cup of tightly packed roasted butternut squash. Puree using an immersion blender stick or you can do this in a blender/food processor. Set aside.

  • In a large, deep saucepan, heat butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir until aromatic and slightly golden. Sprinkle in the nutmeg and white pepper and stir. Add the cream, pumpkin puree and grated Parmesan, stir until melted. Taste and season with a little extra salt. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. The sauce will thicken slightly.

  • Finish the pasta. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and fold through. Then add the remaining butternut squash cubes and stir through the pasta and sauce. Top the pasta with garlic crumbs, you can reserve some to garnish individual servings. You can also top with more Parmesan cheese and some thyme.

  • Serve while hot and creamy!


Notes

To lighten up the recipe, you can use lower-fat cream or half-and-half. Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce, Creamy Pasta, Creamy Rigatoni, Dinner Recipe, Pumpkin Pasta, Rigatoni Pasta

Nutrition

  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 664
  • Sugar: 6.5 g
  • Sodium: 1326.1 mg
  • Fat: 27.4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 87.3 g
  • Fiber: 6 g
  • Protein: 19.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 56.1 mg

Keywords: Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce, Creamy Pasta, Creamy Rigatoni, Dinner Recipe, Pumpkin Pasta, Rigatoni Pasta

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