Butternut Squash Pasta

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This creamy Butternut Squash Pasta is a comfort food dream! Luxuriously coated creamy fettuccine with tender roasted butternut squash, crisp bacon, and fresh thyme — does pasta get any better than this?!

If you don’t have access to butternut squash, try one of our other creamy pasta dishes — this chicken pasta or zucchini pasta sauce coated pasta.

Overhead image of the butternut squash pasta in a bowl

Butternut Squash Pasta

Nothing screams comfort food like a bowl of luxuriously creamy fettuccine and when you throw in some perfectly caramelized roasted butternut squash, well, you’ve reached the ultimate type of comfort food. This may just be our new favorite Fall meal and I have a feeling it’s going to be on menu very often — even the kiddos couldn’t get enough of it!

Process shots-- images of the butternut squash being roasted and the pasta being drained reserving some of the pasta water

Prepping Butternut Squash

QUICK TIP

When picking a butternut squash: look for a uniformly beige & matte color. Choose a squash that feels heavy for its size and, if you give the squash a tap, it should sound hollow. If you aren’t using the squash right away, keep it at room temperature in a dark/cool place (left whole, raw, and unpeeled). If you have peeled & chopped it, keep the cubes in an airtight container in the fridge.

With its odd shape, cutting a butternut squash can be an intimidating task, but with a few good kitchen tools you might find it’s easier than it seems! Here’s a quick overview

  1. Rinse the squash and then use a sharp vegetable peeler to peel it all
  2. Place the squash on a firm cutting board. Using a sharp chef’s knife cut off the top stem & 1/4th an inch from the bottom.
  3. Cut the squash in half (crosswise) where the “neck” meets the wider, base end section. Now cut each section in half again, right down the middle to get 4 pieces.
  4. Use a spoon to scrape out all the seeds from the insides. 
  5. Lay each of the halves cut side down and then cut each half into 1/2-inch piecesCut these pieces into 1/2-inch cubes.

SHORTCUTS

For a quicker prep time, grab a bag of already cut butternut squash in the produce section of the store. If the pieces are overly large, cut them down a bit so they’ll roast evenly for Butternut Squash Pasta.

Process shots-- images of the bacon being cooked and the butter, shallots, and garlic being added and sautéed

Other ingredients worth mentioning

Beyond the squash, there are a few other key ingredients in Butternut Squash Pasta worth going into detail on:

  • Low-sodium chicken broth. Most of the recipes shared here call for chicken stock, but it’s key to using a low sodium chicken broth so the final dish doesn’t end up overly salty. There is a good deal of salt in the dish between the bacon, pasta, Parmesan cheese, and butternut squash so we limit it here.
  • Parmesan cheese. For the perfect melt and to ensure the measurement is accurate, grab a block of Parmesan cheese and grate it on the small holes of your cheese grater.
  • Thick-sliced bacon. To ensure there is plenty of grease (and flavor) left behind, opt for thick-sliced bacon — see “quick tip” below
  • Fresh thyme. We wanted this dish to be simple to make without requiring loads of ingredients, so fresh thyme is the answer for packing in a ton of flavor as a single ingredient — in my bowl, the more the merrier!

QUICK TIP

The only difference between regular and thick-sliced bacon is that thick-sliced bacon is sliced thicker. This means we’re packing in more bacon and subsequently more grease (and flavor!). If you don’t have thick-sliced bacon, you’ll want to use more thin-sliced bacon We want about 4-6 ounces.

Process shots of the butternut squash pasta- Images of the remaining sauce ingredients being added and the spinach and pasta being mixed in

Emulsifying Butternut Squash Pasta

The final step of tossing the Alfredo sauce, hot pasta, and reserved pasta water is one of the “secrets” to Italian pastas. It’s called emulsifying and that’s how you get a luxuriously smooth and incredibly flavorful sauce.

After draining the pasta, the pasta water looks a bit murky and less than appetizing but it’s filled with leftover starch from the boiling pasta and plenty of salt. Once you combine that water with a hot fat (the creamy Alfredo sauce) the two emulsify to create that perfect smooth sauce.

QUICK TIP

If you’re like me, it’s easy to forget to save some pasta cooking water when you drain the fettuccini. Here’s a memory booster: Set a colander in the sink for draining the pasta. Then, take a one-cup measuring cup and put it in the colander. When it’s time to dump the pasta and water into the colander, you’ll see the measuring cup and know to scoop out enough for the rest of the recipe.

Process shots-- images of the butternut squash being added and then the bacon and it all being mixed together

Butternut Squash Pasta Tips

  • Salt the pasta water: Make sure the pasta is well salted as it cooks, since salting the water is the only chance you have to season the actual pasta. Add the salt when the water is boiling and then wait until the water returns to a full boil before adding in the rotini pasta. (Read more on how to properly salt your pasta water here.)
  • Increase the sauce as desired: Sometimes the pasta absorbs more sauce or you just want an extra saucy meal so don’t be afraid to add in a few splashes of the reserved pasta water until the sauce is exactly how you like it!
  • Coarsely chop the baby spinach. While the spinach doesn’t have to be chopped it does integrate better in the dish that way. Plus, you’ll get spinach in more bites and the smaller pieces are easier to eat.
  • It’s easy to go on autopilot and dump in the whole package of fettuccini, but this recipe only works with 10 ounces. Many packages contain 16 ounces, so save the remaining 4 ounces for another recipe.

Overhead image of the butternut squash pasta still in the pot ready to be served

STORAGE

Butternut Squash Storage

As with most pasta dishes, this recipe is best enjoyed the minute the sauce is emulsified (this is when all Italian-type pasta dishes taste their best)!

You can certainly store leftovers, but will likely need to add some more heavy cream as you re-heat the pasta to loosen the sauce up again. Leftover pasta will be softer, but still plenty flavorful. Because of the pasta and dairy in this dish, it isn’t a great candidate for freezing and thawing.

More ways to use butternut squash

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Butternut Squash Pasta

5 from 1 vote
This creamy Butternut Squash Pasta is a comfort food dream! Luxuriously coated creamy fettuccine with tender roasted butternut squash, crisp bacon, and fresh thyme.
Print Recipe

Butternut Squash Pasta

5 from 1 vote
This creamy Butternut Squash Pasta is a comfort food dream! Luxuriously coated creamy fettuccine with tender roasted butternut squash, crisp bacon, and fresh thyme.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword butternut squash pasta
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Roasting Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 676kcal
Cost $8.12

Ingredients

Squash

  • 6 cups (1-3/4 lbs; 820g) butternut squash, peel & cut into 1/2-inch cubes (Note 1)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Fine sea salt & pepper

Pasta

  • 10 oz. fettuccine
  • 4 thick-sliced bacon slices Note 2
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (60g) thinly sliced shallots, optional
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup (210g) low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1-1/4 cups (285g) heavy whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup (43g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese Note 3
  • 4 lightly packed cups (100g) baby spinach Note 4
  • Optional: fresh thyme, additional Parmesan for topping Note 5

Instructions

  • SQUASH: Start with the squash. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. On a very large sheet pan (or 2 smaller ones), add the squash cubes, olive oil, dried thyme, & Italian seasoning. Season to taste, I add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Generously space out on the sheet pan (if they're overlapping, they'll steam not roast) and roast for 30-35 minutes, flipping every 10 minutes or until crisp tender. If they are too closely spaced or cut too large, they'll take 5-10 more minutes. Remove and set aside.
  • PASTA: Set a strainer in the sink with a glass mug or liquid measuring cup. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Generously salt the water and then cook the pasta according to package instructions minus 1-1/2 minutes. Use the glass mug to remove a big scoop of pasta water and then drain the pasta and set aside.
  • BACON: Meanwhile, dice the bacon and cook, over medium-high heat, in a large heavy-bottom skillet until golden and cooked to desired preference. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon onto a paper towel lined plate. Leave the grease behind (if there is more than ~2 tablespoons grease, drain off the excess)
  • SHALLOTS/GARLIC: Reduce heat to medium. Add the butter to the skillet. Once melted, add shallots, garlic, and a tiny pinch of salt & pepper. Cook, until golden, about 1-2 minutes. Pour in 1/2 cup of chicken broth. It should sizzle and boil, scrape up any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Once this 1/2 cup is mostly evaporated, add in the other 1/2 cup. Stir.
  • CREAM SAUCE: Add in the heavy cream and Parmesan cheese. Simmer, over medium-heat, stirring occasionally for 3-5 minutes or until it thickens up and slightly reduces.
  • TOSS: Add the spinach and pasta and use tongs to toss into the cream sauce until the sauce thickens, nicely coats the pasta, and the spinach cooks down (1-2 mins). IF needed (sauce is too thick), slowly add in set aside pasta water. Once sufficiently tossed, add in roasted squash, 3/4ths of the bacon, and toss to coat.
  • SERVE: Serve immediately. Top individual plates with remaining bacon pieces, a touch more Parmesan if desired, and fresh thyme if using. Enjoy immediately! Pasta is best enjoyed right after being tossed!

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Butternut Squash: Grab pre-chopped squash or cut your own -- details for how to do this is in the post under title "Prepping Butternut Squash"
Note 2: Bacon: To ensure there is plenty of grease (and flavor) left behind, opt for thick-sliced bacon. If you don't have thick sliced, you'll need more (aiming for about 4-6 ounces bacon). Remove excess grease by grasping a paper towel with tongs and dabbing the excess.
Note 3: Parmesan: Grab a block of Parmesan cheese and grate it on the small holes of a cheese grater to get an accurate measurement and the perfect melt in this sauce.
Note 4: Spinach: While the spinach doesn’t have to be chopped it does integrate better in the dish that way. Plus, you’ll get spinach in more bites and the smaller pieces are easier to eat. I just run a chef's knife through a big pile of spinach quickly!
Note 5: Fresh thyme: We wanted this dish to be simple to make without requiring loads of ingredients, so fresh thyme is the answer for packing in a ton of flavor as a single ingredient -- in my bowl, the more the merrier! Yes it's optional, but if you're wanting a punch of Fall/Winter flavors and love thyme, you'll love it in this pasta.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 676kcal | Carbohydrates: 83g | Protein: 16.6g | Fat: 32.5g | Cholesterol: 67.6mg | Sodium: 215.6mg | Fiber: 7.3g | Sugar: 9.3g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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4 Comments

  1. This looks so delicious! I can’t wait to try it! What could I use instead of bacon? Dietary restrictions call for low fat and while we LOVE bacon it would be best to find a substitute. Any suggestions?
    Thank you!

    1. Hey Sarah! I haven’t tried this recipe without bacon, but you could try turkey bacon instead and replace the missing grease with either butter or olive oil (you can cut this amount down a bit to reduce fat).

      You could also leave out the bacon entirely (replace missing grease with olive oil or butter) and then add in some dijon mustard (about 1/2 teaspoon) to amp up the flavor of the sauce (add with heavy cream) — flavors will be slightly different (not smokey) but should still be tasty. Hope that helps!

  2. 5 stars
    This was delicious! We tossed in some leftover rotisserie chicken since we had it on hand. Best thing we’ve made in awhile!

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