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Pumpkin Pasta Bake

5 from 14 votes
Time: 1 hour
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This hearty Pumpkin Pasta Bake is packed with fall flavors like pumpkin, Italian sausage, fried sage, and nutty parmesan. You’ll love how creamy, cheesy, and easy this baked pasta recipe is.

Round it out with a refreshing glass of Harvest Punch or Apple Cider Sangria! I also love this with my favorite Pecan Pie Dip and Pie Crust Cookie Dippers!

For another pasta bake, try my Baked Chicken and Broccoli Pasta.

Baking dish and dinner plate filled with cheesy pumpkin pasta and topped with fried sage leaves.

It is officially fall in Michigan and I am craving all things comfort food. This Pumpkin Pasta Bake is my go-to recipe for a super cozy meal. I also love making this for a crowd because it is easy to make ahead of time, packed with flavor, and ALWAYS leaves everyone feeling satisfied.

The pasta is coated in a creamy pumpkin sauce with Italian sausage, freshly grated parmesan cheese, and topped with crispy fried sage leaves. Every bite is bursting with complex fall flavors.

For more delicious pasta dinners, try this Chicken Alfredo Tortellini Soup or this Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole!

Let’s Make This Creamy Pumpkin Pasta Bake Together!

Why This Pumpkin Pasta Bake Is The Perfect Meal

  • HEARTY: The cheesy, meaty, saucy carb-filled goodness is warm and comforting especially on chilly fall nights.
  • CONVENIENT: A quick and easy dinner that is relatively hands off. Just heat everything together in a large pot, pour into a dish, and pop it in the oven. That’s it!
  • FREEZER-FRIENDLY: Pasta bakes freeze extremely well making this recipe perfect for quick meals at a later time.
  • SHAREABLE: They are perfect for feeding a crowd. Bring one to a potluck or divide it up to share with neighbors. The recipe can easily be doubled to feed extra people while only using one dish.
  • CUSTOMIZABLE: You can use your favorite Italian sausage (I like Italian chicken sausage), try gluten free noodles or other chunky shapes, and add in extra veggies for even more deliciousness.
Plate of cheesy pumpkin pasta bake topped with a fried sage leaf and parmesan cheese on the side with a baking dish filled with more pasta in the background.

Pumpkin Pasta Bake Ingredients

The ingredients in this baked pumpkin pasta are pretty straight forward. But keep reading for a few notes on each ingredient and potential substitutions if you need them.

  • Penne Pasta: Partially cooked pasta (2 minutes less than al dente) and rinsed with cool water. Feel free to use your favorite brand (I like Barilla), whole wheat, gluten free, or even veggie penne pastas.
  • Italian Sausage: I used chicken Italian sausage but any variety works, including pork Italian sausage.
  • Onion: Diced sweet onion is what I used. Feel free to use shallots, vidalia, or other white onions.
  • Garlic: Freshly minced or grated tastes the best in this pasta dish. You can use garlic powder, just know the flavor is not as pronounced.
  • Vegetable Broth: You can also use chicken broth and even low sodium varieties.
  • Pumpkin Puree: Make sure you don’t accidentally buy pumpkin pie filling, we want unsalted canned 100% pumpkin puree. You can also use homemade pumpkin puree from fresh pumpkins.
  • Italian Seasoning Mix: This will be a blend of basil, oregano, rosemary, marjoram, and thyme.
  • Fresh Sage: Fresh is the best in this recipe because we will not only add it to the sauce, but we are going to fry it as a garnish too. In short, I don’t recommend subbing this out for dried sage.
  • Cream Cheese: Full fat works the best. I noticed reduced fat had a tendency to separate the sauce.
  • Heavy Whipping Cream: Used to thicken and give creaminess to our pumpkin sauce. Again, other types of milk separate the sauce because they do not have a high fat content. Half and half, sour cream, or plain Greek yogurt are the best substitutes.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Freshly grated tastes the best but you can also use pre-grated. Whatever you do, do not use the powdered parmesan cheese that comes in a can!
  • Salt: Used to season the sauce to your taste preferences.
  • Black Pepper: Freshly cracked black pepper is best. Again, season to taste.
Ingredients for Pumpkin Pasta Bake with Sausage and Sage

Equipment Needed

  • Large Stock Pot: Because this pumpkin pasta is first prepared on the stove and then baked, you will need a large 6 quart pot. No lid needed by the way!
  • Baking Dish: You will need a large 13×9. I love using my ceramic dish but this baked well in glass as well.
  • Shallow Skillet: This is for frying up the fresh sage leaves. You want to use a skillet and not a pan so there is plenty of room for the leaves to fry in a shallow area.

How to Make Pumpkin Pasta Bake with Sage and Sausage

Here’s a quick overview on how to make this easy and cheesy pumpkin pasta bake. The recipe card below will have complete details.

1. BROWN THE SAUSAGE, AND SAUTE THE ONIONS AND GARLIC together in a large pot. Always strain off any leftover grease.

2. MAKE THE CREAMY PUMPKIN SAUCE. Add the vegetable broth, pumpkin puree, Italian seasoning, sage, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil before whisking in the cream cheese, heavy whipping cream, and three quarters of the grated Parmesan cheese. Allow the pumpkin sauce to simmer until it is thickened.

3. ADD THE UNDERCOOKED RINSED PASTA and coat it well in the creamy pumpkin sauce.

4. POUR THE PUMPKIN PASTA mixture into your baking pan and top it with the remaining parmesan cheese. Bake in the oven until it is bubbly and the cheese has become melty and slightly browned.

5. PAN FRY SAGE LEAVES as the pumpkin pasta bakes. Drop a few sage leaves into hot olive oil until they crisp up (about 5 to 6 seconds). Crumble them on top of the piping hot pasta right before serving.

Storing Information

This Pumpkin Pasta Bake should be stored covered with aluminum foil or in an airtight container. In the refrigerator it will keep up to 7 days. Easily reheat the pumpkin pasta by microwaving for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until warm.

How To Freeze This Pumpkin Pasta Bake For Later

Freezing your pasta bake will extend it’s shelf life exponentially and means you can enjoy it on busy days, lazy days, or take it to your neighbor. It will keep for up to 3 months if prepared and stored properly:

  1. Fully assemble (but do not bake) your pasta bake in an aluminum baking pan. Cover it with aluminum foil and then plastic wrap to keep the air from getting in. Freeze.
  2. When you are ready to eat it, thaw in the refrigerator overnight (do not thaw it out at room temperature).
  3. Bake the pasta dish as specified in the recipe card below.

TIP: Write in permanent marker the name of the dish, date it was made, and cooking instructions. There is nothing worse than a freezer full of unknown food.

Large baking dish filled with cheesy pumpkin pasta.

Recipe Notes Worth Noting

1. Cook your pasta 2 minutes less than al dente. Doing this ensures your pasta does not become overcooked as the pumpkin pasta bakes in the oven. There is nothing worse than mushy pasta bake!

2. Drain off any grease from the cooked Italian sausage before you finish making the sauce. Extra grease is going to make your creamy pumpkin sauce oily and it keeps the sauce from properly sticking to the noodles.

3. Sage can be very pungent, so do not eat it raw. This is why we cook it within the pumpkin sauce and shallow fry it in a pan before using it as a garnish.

4. Cook the Pumpkin Pasta Bake covered. Baking the pasta covered with aluminum foil will keep it from drying out and allowing it to evenly heat up. We do uncover our pasta at the end of the bake time to help it crisp up the parmesan cheese topping.

Plate of pumpkin pasta bake topped with a fried sage leaf and parmesan cheese on the side.

A Few Fun Baked Pumpkin Pasta Variations

There are a lot of ways you can make this pumpkin pasta work for you and your family. Here are a few of my personal favorite variations:

  • TRY OTHER TYPES OF NOODLES. If you do not have Penne pasta you can swap them out for other types of small, chunky pastas. I also like bow tie, fusilli, shells, rigatoni, campanelle, (just don’t use long types like spaghetti and fettuccine).
  • SWAP OUT THE PUMPKIN for pureed butternut squash.
  • ADD MORE VEGGIES to the pumpkin pasta like baby spinach, mushrooms, cauliflower, sweet potato, shaved brussels sprouts, chopped kale, and even peas or carrots.
  • SPICE IT UP with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes added to the sauce (which will add a wonderful mellow spice) or before serving (which will add a bold kick of spice).
Plate of creamy pumpkin pasta topped with a fried sage leaf and parmesan cheese on the side with a baking dish filled with more pasta in the background.

Leftover Pumpkin Recipes

This baked pumpkin pasta uses one whole 12 ounce can of pumpkin. If you had a larger can and have more to use up, try one of these recipes:


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Enjoy Entirely, Elizabeth
Baking dish and dinner plate filled with cheesy pumpkin pasta bake and topped with fried sage leaves and parmesan cheese on the side.

Pumpkin Pasta Bake

Elizabeth Swoish
This easy Pumpkin Pasta Bake is the epitome of cold weather comfort food. It is so creamy with flavors of pumpkin, sage, Italian sausage, Parmesan cheese, and cracked black pepper. Let's dig into this pan of hot, bubbly, cheesy pasta!
5 from 14 votes
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Servings 8 servings
Calories 375 kcal

EQUIPMENT

  • Large Stock Pot - 6 qt or larger
  • 9×13 baking dish - I used a ceramic Staub
  • Shallow Skillet

INGREDIENTS
 
 

  • 16 ounces Penne pasta - Barilla
  • 1 pound Italian sausage - I used chicken sausage
  • 1 medium white onion - diced into bite sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon garlic - freshly minced or grated
  • 2 ½ cups vegetable broth
  • 12 ounces pumpkin puree - 100% organic
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves - finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper - freshly cracked
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 ½ cups parmesan cheese; - freshly grated
  • 8 fresh sage leaves - pan fried for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS
 

  • Preheat oven to 375 °F. Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the Penne pasta and cook for 2 minutes less than al dente (about 8 minutes).
  • Strain the partially cooked pasta from the water. Do not rinse and set aside.
  • In another large pot, brown the Italian sausage with the diced onion and minced garlic until cooked and crumbled (about 5 to 10 minutes). Drain away and discard the excess grease.
  • To the Italian sausage mixture add the vegetable broth, canned pumpkin puree, Italian seasoning, finely chopped sage leaves, freshly cracked black pepper, and salt.
  • Stir everything together until well combined while bringing the mixture to a rolling boil.
  • Whisk in the cream cheese until it has melted and combined into the sauce.
  • Slowly pour in the heavy whipping cream while continually whisking the sauce.
  • Add 1 cup of the freshly grated parmesan cheese. Continue to whisk until the sauce simmers and becomes slightly thickened.
  • Add the partially cooked Penne pasta and stir until everything is evenly coated.
  • Transfer pumpkin pasta to the prepared baking dish and top with the remaining ½ cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese.
  • Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and continue to bake uncovered for an additional 10 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and allow the Pumpkin Pasta Bake to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • As the pumpkin pasta rests, pan fry the fresh sage leaves. Start by heating a 1/4 cup of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat until hot.
  • Drop a few sage leaves in at a time until they crisp up (about 5-6 seconds). Transfer them to a paper towel covered dish once fried.
  • Scoop the Pumpkin Pasta Bake onto plates and crumble fried sage leaves over the top before serving.

VIDEO

RECIPE NOTES

Storing Information:

  • Refrigerated, covered or in an airtight container, for up to 7 days. 
  • Frozen, covered or in an airtight container, for up to 3 months. 
  • Reheat leftovers in the microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until warm.
 

Freezing and Baking Later Information:

  1. Fully assemble (but do not bake) your pasta bake in an aluminum baking pan. Cover it with aluminum foil and then plastic wrap to keep the air from getting in. Freeze.
  2. When you are ready to eat it, thaw in the refrigerator overnight (do not thaw it out at room temperature).
  3. Bake the pasta dish as specified in the recipe card below.
TIP: Write in permanent marker the name of the dish, date it was made, and cooking instructions. There is nothing worse than a freezer full of unknown food.
 

Metric conversions are calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information.

Tried this recipe?Feel free to share a rating and comment below. Don’t forget to tag me on social media, or use the hashtag #EntirelyElizabeth – I would love to see what you’ve made!
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By Elizabeth Swoish on September 21st, 2021
Elizabeth Swoish holding a camera up to her eye taking a photo.

About Elizabeth Swoish

Elizabeth Swoish is the founder and CEO of Entirely Elizabeth. She is a self-taught foodie and mocktail enthusiast with a business degree in data analysis. Read Elizabeth's food journey or connect on your favorite social media channels.

32 thoughts on “Pumpkin Pasta Bake”

  1. 5 stars
    This pasta bake is my new favorite dinner for the family! It’s so easy to make and soo delicious! I love the use of sage in this. The flavor combination with the pumpkin was on point!

    Reply

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