The Best Homemade Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

If you’re looking for a delicious, kid-friendly dinner recipe this fall make sure to try out our pumpkin pasta sauce! It is easy to make and has a perfect combination of pumpkin, tomatoes, peppers and a few seasonings. You can use canned or fresh pumpkin.

Pumpkin sauce in a sauce pot ready to be served.

One of the great things we love here about fall is pumpkins. Really we love a lot of things about fall so it is hard to say just one thing, but this sauce is one of them!

The first time we ever tried pumpkin pasta sauce was a store bought sauce. We tried it years ago and half the house liked it, the other half was just ok with it. Problem was that it was too sweet and processed!

We started using less jarred sauces and making all homemade like our homemade lasagna sauce or creamy vodka sauce. This set me out on a mission – to create a better pumpkin sauce for pasta!

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The ingredients

The ingredients for pumpkin pasta sauce are pretty simple and there are a couple that can be substituted.

Please note that as written this is not vegetarian but it can easily be made vegetarian by substituting the chicken broth with vegetable broth. You don’t have to add any meat to the sauce either, that is optional.

Picture for all ingredients with them ready in prep bowls.

Olive oil – The flavor that olive oil gives is a great one, but you can leave it out if you prefer. You will just have to cook the onions and all the seasonings in the tomatoes instead of sautéing the onions in oil first. Both methods of cooking are great and I will cover more below.

Onion – I recommend either yellow or white. You can use sweet onions as well, but do not use a red onion. They are a great onion if they will be served raw, but do not add a good flavor to sauces.

Garlic – fresh garlic is always best in sauces, but you can substitute garlic powder if needed. Start with one half a teaspoon and add more as desired.

Tomatoes – Crushed tomatoes work best here and we use the no salt added. You may need to adjust the salt if you add tomatoes with salt added.

Broth – We use unsalted chicken broth or stock, but you can make this pumpkin pasta sauce vegetarian by using a vegetable broth instead! If you use a broth with salt, you may need to adjust the salt you add to sauce. Taste and add as needed.

Peppers – They need to be sweet peppers, green bell does not add as good of a flavor here. We recommend either red, orange or yellow. You can do a combination of them too!

Pumpkin puree – We like to use fresh pumpkin puree (recipe for puree is made using an Instant Pot), but you can use canned pumpkin as well. A can of pumpkin is just short of 2 cups. If you are using fresh pumpkin, you can add 2 cups of puree instead of weighing it to 15 ounces.

The spices

  • Parsley – We use dried and think it works best in this sauce.
  • Basil – Dried works best for this sauce as well.
  • Cayenne pepper – Highly recommended but you can use red pepper flakes in it’s place.
  • Cinnamon – Dried cinnamon works best and it is highly recommended you add it!
  • Salt – Adjust as needed. May not need it if using salted broth. Sea salt or table salt taste great here.

Making the pumpkin pasta sauce

Pasta in a dinner bowl with pumpkin sauce and sausage on top.

This pumpkin pasta sauce recipe was originally written to sauté the onions in olive oil first. It was updated in August 2021 to add in the option to make it without sautéing first.

The flavor is slightly better when you can let it simmer longer with the onions, garlic, peppers and seasonings in the tomatoes mixed with broth. Everything blends together better, but you need to simmer for a longer period of time. There is no right or wrong way here, they both taste great so go with which one you have time for!

In a hurry? Sauté first. Have more time? Go for cooking the onions in the tomatoes!

If you sauté the onions first (shorter cook time)

If you are looking to make this pumpkin pasta sauce in 40 minutes or less, you want to make it this way. You cut back on the amount of cook time the onions need to soften. You also get a slightly roasted flavor in your garlic when you add it to the oil before the tomatoes.

Cook onions in oil for about 3-5 minutes until they start to become translucent. Then add in the garlic for a minute stirring often. Carefully pour in the broth and tomatoes, there will be steam and it might splatter slightly if your pot is very hot.

Add in the peppers and spices, stir well and simmer on medium low for about 20-30 minutes. Taste the sauce to see if the flavors are blended nicely together or if you want to add more salt. Then add in the pumpkin and cook for about 5-10 minutes before serving.

If you want to cook it all together (longer cook time)

This gets a great flavor throughout the pumpkin pasta sauce, but it does require you to cook it longer. You will pour the tomatoes, broth, onions, garlic, peppers and spices into the sauce pot. Stir well and allow to simmer on medium low for at least 45 minutes to an hour stirring occasionally.

You want the onions and peppers to be soft. I still add olive oil when cooking it this way to get a little bit of flavor, but that is optional. You would add it in with the first set of ingredients (before simmering and before pumpkin.)

After your onions and peppers have softened, taste your sauce and see if it is at a good flavor. If you want to add more salt, now is the best time to add it. Add in the pumpkin after the simmering and cook for about 5-10 minutes before serving.

Frequently asked questions

What meat goes with pumpkin pasta sauce?

We prefer sausage in ours, but chicken tastes good in it too! We have not tried regular ground beef, but have had meatballs in it and they were good. Sausage is still our favorite.

Can I use fresh tomatoes instead of canned?

Yes you can and we have! It takes about 3 pounds of tomatoes. You would peel them, chop them up and then crush them with a potato masher while cooking them for a couple minutes to make them crushed tomatoes.

Can I freeze the pumpkin pasta sauce?

Yes if stored in an air tight container, it freezes well and should last for 4-6 months in the freezer as long as it was handled properly before freezing. Allow it to cool down in the fridge before placing in freezer containers.

Pasta with pumpkin sauce and sausage on it

The Best Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

Perfect for a fall day, the pumpkin pasta sauce is easy to make and delicious! It is the perfect combination of pumpkin, tomatoes, onion, peppers and some seasonings.
5 from 12 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course, Sauce
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 108 kcal


  • Sauce pot


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion large, chopped
  • tablespoons chopped garlic 3 cloves
  • 1 cup sweet pepper chopped – red or orange is best
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken broth no salt added or low sodium recommended
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • ½ teaspoon salt adjust to taste, see notes
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne more if preferred
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 15 ounces pumpkin puree see notes


  • Heat up your sauce pot over medium heat. Add in the olive oil and onions.
    Cook for about 3-5 minutes until the onions are just starting to become translucent.
    Add in garlic and cook for another minute.
    2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 sweet onion, 1½ tablespoons chopped garlic
  • Pour in the broth and the tomatoes.
    Add in the peppers, salt, cayenne, cinnamon, parsley and basil. Stir well.
    Simmer on medium low for about 20-30 minutes.
    1 cup sweet pepper, 28 ounces crushed tomatoes, 1 cup chicken broth, 1 teaspoon dried basil, ½ tablespoon dried parsley flakes, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon cayenne, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • If you are adding sausage (optional), we cook it first and drain to keep some of the grease out of sauce. Then add it during the simmer time.
  • Add in the pumpkin puree and stir well. Cook uncovered for another 5-10 minutes, long enough to heat through again.
    Your sauce is ready to serve over pasta, enjoy!
    15 ounces pumpkin puree


The nutritional values are estimated as serving sizes vary per person.  
For pumpkin puree – if using canned pumpkin, use the 15 ounce can.  If using fresh pumpkin, you can measure out 2 cups.
It is important that you use a sweet pepper like a red or orange in this.  Green peppers do not add as good of a flavor as the sweet pepper does.
If you are looking to make this vegetarian, substitute the chicken broth with vegetable broth.
Salt may need to be adjusted based on taste and other ingredients.  If you use full sodium broth, you may not need as much salt.  Taste before it is finished cooking and adjust as needed.
Updated 8/13/21:
You can skip the sautéing of onions and garlic by adding the tomatoes, broth, onion, peppers, garlic and spices together and simmering for at least 45 minutes to an hour before adding the pumpkin.  We still add olive oil for taste if we cook it this way, but it is up to you.  
Both are great ways to make the sauce – one is quick while the other has to cook for longer.


Calories: 108kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 3gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gSodium: 293mgPotassium: 528mgFiber: 4gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 9099IUVitamin C: 38mgCalcium: 66mgIron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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    1. Thank you and I hope you have a wonderful week as well 🙂 I will definitely be at the party today, see you there!

  1. 5 stars
    Now that it’s Fall, I’m ready for anything and all things PUMPKIN! This is such a creative recipe. Thanks for doing all the work and allowing us to enjoy.

  2. 5 stars
    I love making something similar to this during the fall! I am loving that you added the crushed tomatoes to this sauce! Trying this asap!

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