Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce

Did someone say they wanted a cream sauce, hold the cheese?

One of our favorite ways to work veggies into a sauce is to incorporate a butternut squash puree. Unfortunately peeling, seeding, cubing, roasting, and then pureeing a butternut squash is its’ own labor of love. Did I say labor of love? Because I’m pretty sure I meant time consuming pain in the ass. Either way, using canned squash takes this meal out of the “only on the weekend” category and right into the “perfect for a weeknight supper” category. It’s extremely fast to throw together. It’s just a matter of dicing and stirring, and the sauce is done in less than 30 minutes. I still love using fresh butternut squash, but during the week there’s no need to roast and puree. Save a ton of time by using the canned version.

Our four year old ate a bowlful of tortellini drenched in this velvety yellow sauce and just assumed it was mac and cheese. Needless to say we did not shatter that illusion. If he’s happily eating onion, bell pepper, and squash, we figure why rock the boat?

Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce… the time is now!

Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce Recipe


  • 1 bell pepper (small diced)
  • 1 small to medium onion (small diced)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (divided)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 can butternut squash puree (15 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon minced rosemary (plus more to finish bowls)
  • 3/4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup pasta water
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • cheese tortellini or pasta of your choice


Step 1
Melt 1Tbs of butter and 1Tbs olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.

Dump in the diced onion and bell pepper, along with 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper.
diced pepper and onion
Step 2
Saute about 5 minutes or until softened.
softened peppers and onions
Step 3
Now comes the real time saver in the form of canned butternut squash.
canned butternut squash
Step 4
Don't be scared. It's good; I promise.

Anyone who's ever thought about adding butternut squash to a weeknight meal then reconsidered because it's a royal pain in the ass and takes too long should seriously try this.

Anyway, scrape all the yummy squash out of the can and onto your onions and peppers. Sprinkle on the rosemary,
adding butternut squash to pasta sauce
Step 5
and mix everything together to make an onion studded paste.
butternut squash paste
Step 6
Pour in the broth and pasta water, and carefully stir to incorporate them into the sauce. Or if you're me, stir vigorously until some slops out of the pan, and THEN stir it carefully.
Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
Step 7
Reduce the sauce slightly at a simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 cup of heavy cream depending on your taste.
adding cream to Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
Step 8
We went heavier and added 1/2 c heavy cream. You could definitely go lighter and only add a splash.

If you only add a touch, I'd do it off the heat and add the vinegar at the same time. However, if you add a full 1/2 c like we did, I'd keep the sauce over medium low heat for a few more minutes to let it reduce just a touch more.

Once the sauce looks deliciously smooth and creamy, add a splash of your favorite vinegar to finish it off.
Benissimo Barrel Aged Balsamic Vinegar
Step 9
Brian always goes balsamic when given the choice, so we opted for one of our favorites... Benissimo Barrel Aged Balsamic Vinegar.

A touch of vinegar adds just enough acidity to help develop all of the flavors in the sauce.

I think any number of vinegars would work great here. Red wine, champagne, sherry, or apple cider vinegars are all fine choices.
Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
Step 10
In less than half an hour, you've got a satisfyingly creamy pasta sauce that's healthier AND tastier than boxed mac and cheese!
Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
1 reply
  1. Mandy Trapp
    Mandy Trapp says:

    You completely duped me into believing it was mac and cheese a couple of Thanksgivings ago. Tricky, tricky, tricky


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