Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
Published Nov 04, 2015•Updated Jan 25, 2023
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Just three ingredients is all it takes to create a butternut squash pasta sauce that is rich, creamy, and delicious. If you’re not really into the whole peeling and slicing squash thing, this easy slow-cooker recipe is for you.
Mention ‘cozy fall foods’ and butternut squash is one of the first ingredients that comes to mind. After all, what’s cozier than this rich, nutty, creamy, and naturally sweet veggie?
With just three simple ingredients, this recipe for butternut squash pasta sauce is perfect for lazy days. You know the kind. The days you just want to curl up on the couch with a big blanket and your favorite movie. It’s also the ideal, easy pasta recipe for those days when you’re so busy you can barely catch your breath.
The secret to this easy homemade squash pasta sauce is using a slow-cooker to cook a whole butternut squash. That’s right; the whole squash. It’s that easy! No prep, no cutting, no peeling. Just set it, and forget it. A few hours later, the richest, creamiest, most beautiful orange colored pasta sauce will be ready to top your favorite pasta shapes, to use in cheesy lasagnas, or as a healthy mac and cheese sauce.
What Is Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce?
Butternut squash pasta sauce is made by cooking and then pureeing fresh or frozen butternut squash with a cup of chicken or veggie stock, and a dash of salt. This creamy pasta sauce can be used in place of tomato-based sauces in all of your favorite Italian dishes. What’s great about this sauce is it is so customizable – really, you can use it in just about any pasta dish, as a warm dip to dunk a baguette in, and so much more. You can also integrate your favorite herbs and spices and top it with cheese to create all kinds of cozy flavors.
How to Make It
- Place the whole squash in the slow-cooker, and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-7 hours. You could also roast the squash on a sheet pan in the oven at 425°F for 60 to 80 minutes.
- Carefully, remove the squash and transfer to a cutting board. The squash will be very hot, so allow it to completely cool before proceeding.
- Slice the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
- Scoop out the filling with a spoon and place in a food processor or blender. Add your remaining ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Butternut Squash – Fresh butternut squash is the foundation of this easy pasta sauce. Full of flavor, full of vitamins, and a great alternative to a tomato-based sauce.
- Vegetable or Chicken Stock – To give the pasta sauce the perfect texture for spooning over noodles.
- Kosher Salt – To enhance the squash’s sweet, nutty flavor.
- Make this recipe ahead for an easy weeknight pasta dinner. When you’re ready to prepare your meal, just cook the noodles and toss your sauce in! You can store this sauce in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- If you are reheating the sauce, you may need to add a touch of liquid. Try water, stock or cream to achieve a super smooth texture.
- Make it creamy – Creme fraiche and butternut squash are magical together. Not only does creme fraiche add a tasty zing to the sauce, but it also increases the creaminess.
- Add herbs and spices – Including a few fresh herbs in this pasta sauce provides a wonderful balance to the natural sweetness of the butternut squash. Earthy sage, rustic thyme, or the subtle warmth of nutmeg can really turn up the flavor. Spicy red chili flakes or aromatic garlic can also add a nice contrast to this seasonal squash.
- Make it cheesy – The saltiness of grated parmesan cheese with the rich, nutty and buttery flavor of the squash adds so much complexity to your next pasta dish. The addition of cheese also adds another layer of cheesy texture, and who can say ‘no’ to that?
If you want to make this butternut squash pasta sauce ahead of time to freeze it for use later, you absolutely can. The most important thing to remember when freezing a sauce is that it must be room temperature before you pop it in the freezer. Once you’ve achieved room temperature, place the sauce in an airtight container, label the outside with the date, and freeze. The sauce will stay fresh and creamy for 3-4 months.
Some home cooks swear by using frozen butternut squash. I mean, one look at a somewhat awkwardly shaped butternut squash and the first thing that comes to mind is: can I just use frozen butternut squash instead of fresh in this recipe?
While you definitely can use frozen squash in a pinch, we love the taste and texture of fresh squash. And, cooking butternut squash in a slow-cooker is really, really easy because you don’t have to peel or chop it. Just cook, scoop out the flesh, and blend. No Iron Chef knife skills required!
Recipes that use butternut squash pasta sauce
- Sausage and Chard Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash
- Stovetop Mac and Cheese with Squash and Chorizo
- Creamy Sweet Potato Pasta Bake
- Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese (sub butternut squash sauce for the sweet potato)
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Easy Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce Recipe
- 4-quart or 6-quart Slow Cooker
- Food Processor or Blender
- 3 pound butternut squash
- 1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Pierce the squash a few times with a knife. Cook it one of two ways:
- Place it in the bowl of a slow-cooker, cover, and cook until very tender, on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-7 hours.
- Place it on a parchment or foil-lined sheet pan and roast until very tender at 425°F for 60 to 80 minutes.
- Use oven mitts to remove transfer the squash to a cutting board and let it cool completely.
- When cool enough to handle, slice the squash open lengthwise. Scoop out and discard the seeds.
- Scoop all of the remaining filling into a food processor or blender. Add the stock and salt. Blend until very smooth.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze for up to 4 months.
- The sauce should be warmed up and may need to be loosened with a small amount of water before you add it to pasta.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.