Our delicious butternut squash pasta sauce features sausage, parmesan cheese, fresh herbs, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil. The flavor of the creamy butternut sauce is enhanced with ginger and honey. It’s an easy dish highlighting the fall flavors we love.
This post is an updated version of a recipe posted in October 2020. New ingredients, new photos, and clearer recipe instructions now accompany the post.
If you love this Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce, you will also love this Eggplant pasta with Tomatoes and Sweet Italian Sausage, Quick Pumpkin Stew with Tortellini or Spicy Chicken Chipotle Pasta Recipe!
Why this recipe sings
- This lovely butternut squash pasta sauce makes a perfect quick dinner for the whole family.
- The recipe is versatile and easy to substitute and play with ingredients in the pantry. Swap the butternut with pumpkin and the sausages with thick-cut bacon or pancetta, add thyme for sage, or use goat cheese instead of parmesan.
- The sweetness of the butternut combined with ginger, honey, fresh herbs, savory sausages, and parmesan creates a flavor that ticks all the boxes.
Here is what you need
- Butternut squash cut into 1/2-inch cubes. On a weeknight when I have had a long day at work but still want a quick, homemade dinner, I get the pre-cut butternut squash from my local grocer. Frozen butternut cubes also work well. Substitute with pumpkin or sweet potatoes.
- A whole garlic head. It adds so much flavor when roasted with herbs and olive oil.
- Fresh herbs. Use herbs like thyme, sage and rosemary sprigs. Dried herbs will work just fine as well. I use whatever is available in my pantry if I can’t find fresh herbs. Dried sage, rosemary and thyme are great. If you have just one of these, use it with some dried oregano or Greek seasoning blend.
- Heavy cream. It adds more creaminess to the sauce.
- Extra virgin olive oil.
- Pasta. Use your favorite pasta. Here, I am using rigatoni pasta. But I have used linguine and orecchiette in the past.
- Sausages. My go-to is rustic Greek sausages with a little heat. You can use spicy Italian or sweet sausage, bratwurst or chorizo. Feel free to substitute with thick bacon or pancetta. Or use mushrooms saute in butter with lots of freshly ground pepper.
- Parmesan cheese. You can also use grated pecorino romano or creamy goat cheese.
- Ground ginger. I love the mildly spicy bite and sweetness of ground ginger. If you want a more intense flavor, use grated fresh ginger instead.
- Honey. It intensifies the sweetness of the butternut an pairs perfectly with the savory sausage.
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper for seasoning, and chili flakes for serving.
- Usually, when I add parmesan cheese to a sauce, it is grated to incorporate better in the sauce. In this recipe, it is ok to be more flexible and add shaved or grated parmesan. The shaved parmesan will partially melt and adhere to pasta pieces, resulting in a burst of flavor.
- For thinning out the sauce, use reserved pasta water. You can also use broth, more heavy cream or half and half.
- If you like to use goat cheese for serving, place it in the freezer for 15 minutes before serving. It will make it easy to grate it over the pasta.
Step by step
Detailed measurements and instructions can be found on the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Cut the top part of a garlic head. Place it in the middle of a small aluminum foil piece—season garlic with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Add a couple of thyme sprigs, rosemary, and sage. Add a tablespoon of olive oil on top. Fold the aluminum foil snuggly and secure it around the garlic head.
In a bowl mix the butternut squash cubes with 2 tbsp olive oil, sea salt and a generous portion of freshly ground pepper.
Arrange the rest of thyme sprigs, rosemary and sage on a rimmed baking sheet.
Arrange the squash in one layer on top of the fresh herbs. Place the garlic head (wrapped in aluminum foil) on the baking sheet to roast with the squash. (Image 3)
Roast for 45 minutes until the squash is tender.
Wait a couple of minutes for the garlic head to cool down. Squeeze the soft garlic flesh out.
Transfer the squash and garlic flesh to a food processor.
Blend until smooth. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Start preparing the pasta about 15 minutes before the squash is out of the oven.
Boil the pasta until al dente. Scoop out 1 cup of pasta water.
Chop the sausage into 1/3-inch pieces.
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a medium sauté pan. Add 2-3 sage leaves and thyme sprigs. After half a minute, add the sausage. Cook until it is fully cooked with crispy edges. Remove the herb sprigs from the pan.
In the same skillet, mix the butternut pasta sauce with the sausage. Add the heavy cream, parmesan, ground ginger and honey. Stir well.
Bring the pasta pot close to the skillet (it should be finished cooking the pasta by now) and with the help of a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer the pasta to the butternut squash sauce. It is perfectly fine if some pasta water is transferred as well.
Stir gently to coat every single pasta in the sauce. Use some of the reserved pasta water until the sauce reaches your desired consistency.
Serve warm in bowls with generous amounts of parmesan and chili flakes.
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Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce with Sausage
- 2 lb butternut squash cut in 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 garlic head
- 10 fresh thyme sprigs or one tablespoon of dried thyme
- 10 fresh sage leaves or one tablespoon of dried sage
- 10 rosemary sprigs or one tablespoon of dried rosemary
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 8 oz Greek sausage Cut into ⅓ inch pieces
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese shaved or grated
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 8 oz rigatoni pasta or your favorite pasta
- freshly ground pepper
- sea salt
- parmesan cheese shaved or grated
- chili flakes
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Cut the top part of a garlic head. Place it in the middle of an aluminum foil piece—season garlic with sea salt, and freshly ground pepper. Add a couple of thyme, rosemary and sage sprigs. Drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil on top. Fold the aluminum foil snuggly and secure it around the garlic head.
- Mix the butternut squash cubes with two tablespoons of olive oil, one teaspoon of ground nutmeg, sea salt and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper.Arrange the rest of thyme sprigs, rosemary and sage on a rimmed baking sheet. Save some sage leaves for later.Arrange the squash in one layer on top of the fresh herbs. Place the wrapped garlic head on the baking sheet to roast with the squash.Roast for 45 minutes until the squash is tender.
- Wait for the garlic head to cool down. Squeeze the soft garlic flesh out of the garlic skins.Transfer the squash and garlic flesh to a food processor. Puree until smooth. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
- About 15 minutes before the squash is ready, prepare the pasta. Boil the pasta until al dente. Towards the end of cooking, scoop out one cup of pasta water and set aside.
- Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a medium sauté pan. Add 2-3 sage leaves and a couple of thyme sprigs. After half a minute, add the sausage pieces—season with freshly ground pepper. Cook until sausage is fully cooked with crispy edges, about 5 minutes. Remove any hard herb sprigs.
- In the same skillet, mix the butternut pasta sauce with the sausage. Add the heavy cream, parmesan cheese, one teaspoon of ground ginger, and one tablespoon of honey.Your pasta should be al dente by now. Carefully bring the pasta pot close to the skillet, and with the help of a slotted spoon or tongs, grab and transfer the pasta to the sauce. It is perfectly alright for some water to transfer as well. In medium-low heat, mix gently the pasta with the sauce. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. If you need to thin the sauce use the reserved pasta water until it reaches your desired consistency.
- Serve the pasta warm in bowls topped with generous amounts of shaved (or grated) parmesan cheese, and chili flakes.