Pumpkin Pasta Carbonara

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5 from 3 votes

This cozy pumpkin pasta transforms classic carbonara into the perfect fall dish with pumpkin purée, pancetta, hints of warm nutmeg, and topped with fried sage leaves.

While some people impatiently await fall so they can have their first sip of a pumpkin spiced latte, I’m always eager to finally make this crazy delicious pumpkin pasta. I’m taking a classic carbonara recipe but adding pumpkin purée that’s creamy, earthy, and has a beautiful orange color. Believe it or not, plain pumpkin isn’t sweet, so it’s perfect in a savory dish like carbonara! A dash of nutmeg warms things up and is complementary to the salty, meatiness of pancetta. With a final garnish of fried sage, this pumpkin pasta is just a touch of fall without being overpowering. It’s the perfect balance!

Pumped for pumpkin? For all you pumpkin lovers out there, finish the meal with Pumpkin Cupcakes topped with a luscious cream cheese frosting.

Ingredients

  • Spaghetti – spaghetti is my favorite shape for pumpkin pasta! You can also use linguine or even fettuccine.
  • Unflavored pumpkin purée – plain, unflavored pumpkin purée is the key ingredient. When looking for which pumpkin purée to buy, look for “100% Pure Pumpkin” or “Plain Pumpkin” purée. 
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano – Parmigiano-Reggiano (or regular parmesan cheese if preferred) is a classic ingredient in carbonara. 
  • Pancetta – pancetta is salty and meaty, and when cooked in a pan, it gets crispy! You can find it in your local grocery store’s deli or specialty meat section. Sub with bacon for a smokier flavor.
  • Sweet onion – sweet onions are mild with a sweet flavor that complements the pumpkin in this dish well. 
  • Garlic – garlic enhances the flavor of the pumpkin, adding a touch of sweetness.
  • Eggs – eggs, especially the yolks, create a creamy sauce that’s classic in carbonara. 
  • Black pepper – crack your own pepper; don’t buy pre-ground!
  • Nutmeg – only a pinch is needed! A little nutmeg goes a long way to infuse the flavor of fall into pumpkin pasta. 
  • Extra virgin olive oil – olive oil is used to sweat the garlic and onion.
  • Butter – butter helps fry the sage leaves. 
  • Sage leaves – fresh sage and pumpkin is a match made in heaven!

My Recipe Video

How To Make Pumpkin Pasta

Learn how to make pumpkin pasta! Full instructions in the recipe card; this is an outline!

  1. Cook.

    Cook the pancetta (or bacon if preferred) over medium heat in a large, dry pan until light golden brown.

  2. Drain.

    Drain the extra fat.

  3. Sweat.

    Add olive oil followed by the onion and garlic. Sweat over medium heat for 3-4 minutes until onions have softened. Keep heat on lowest setting and set aside.

  4. Combine.

    Add pumpkin purée, egg and egg yolk, Parmigiano-Reggiano, ground nutmeg, and black pepper to a bowl. Mix until combined. Set aside.

  5. Boil.

    Boil the pasta according to box instructions until al dente.

  6. Reserve.

    When the pasta has about 3 minutes left, reserve 1 cup of pasta water.

  7. Melt.

    In a separate small skillet, add 1 tablespoon of butter and melt over medium-high heat.

  8. Fry.

    Add sage leaves and let fry for 1-3 minutes until crispy. Remove from heat and set aside.

  9. Add.

    Add drained, hot pasta to the pancetta mixture over low heat. Then, add the pumpkin mixture and a ½ cup of hot pasta water. Stir continuously to prevent the eggs from scrambling.

  10. Mix.

    Mix and fold pasta until combined and creamy. If the mixture looks dry, add another ¼ cup of pasta water and stir until combined.

  11. Serve.

    Serve with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, black pepper, and fried sage leaves. 

Substitutions

  • Pumpkin purée: if you are looking for other ways to make a fall-inspired pasta without the pumpkin, try using butternut squash purée instead! 
  • Pancetta: if you’re looking for a more smoky flair, sub with bacon! 
  • Sage: replace the fried sage leaves with either fresh thyme or rosemary.
  • Different pasta shape: use a shorter pasta shape like penne.
  • Use pasteurized eggs: you can use pasteurized, liquid eggs instead of whole eggs.
  • Gluten-free: If you are looking to make this recipe gluten-free, swap out the spaghetti with a gluten-free pasta.

Recipe Tips

  • Don’t overcook the pasta. Cook the pasta just until it hits al dente as it will continue to cook after being drained and combined with the other ingredients. 
  • Make sure to reserve some pasta water. Be careful not to be too quick to drain the pasta that you forget to reserve 1 cup of pasta water. If you accidentally forget and have already drained the pasta, you can sub with regular heated water or broth to loosen the pumpkin pasta sauce. 
  • Serve right away: pumpkin pasta is best served piping hot!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What’s the best type of pasta to use?

My favorite pasta to use for pumpkin pasta is spaghetti but linguine or fettuccine would also be delicious! You can also use a short pasta shape if preferred.

Can I use homemade pumpkin purée?

Yes! It is important to note that homemade pumpkin purée is usually higher in water content than canned pumpkin, so it is important to assess the sauce consistency and adjust the pasta water added accordingly.

Why is pasta water important?

When pasta cooks, it releases starch into the water that acts as a natural thickener when added to pumpkin pasta sauce while also helping create a creamier texture.

Serving Suggestions

Storage

  • Store: Pumpkin pasta is best enjoyed right away. To store any leftovers, let the pasta cool completely before placing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 
  • Reheat: reheat the pasta on the stove until warmed through or in the microwave in 30 second increments. If the pasta is too thick or looking a touch dry, add a splash of water or broth.

More Pasta Recipes You’ll Love!

Pumpkin Pasta Carbonara

This cozy pumpkin pasta transforms classic carbonara into the perfect fall dish with pumpkin purée, pancetta, hints of warm nutmeg, and topped with fried sage leaves.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: fall, winter
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 896kcal
Author: Tastefully Grace

Ingredients

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 cup canned, unflavored 100% pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or grana padano, plus more to garnish
  • 12 fresh sage leaves
  • 8 ounces diced pancetta
  • ½ medium sweet onion finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves minced
  • 1 whole egg, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper plus more to garnish
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  • Cook pancetta in a large, dry pan over medium heat until light golden brown.
  • Drain off liquid fat. Leaving pancetta in the pan, add olive oil. Then add onion and garlic.
  • Over medium heat, sweat for 3-4 minutes until onions have just softened. Keep heat on lowest setting and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, add pumpkin purée, egg and egg yolk, parmigiano, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mix together until combined. Set aside.
  • Boil pasta until al dente, according to box instructions.
  • When the pasta has about 3 minutes left, reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Also, in a separate small skillet, add butter and let melt over medium-high heat. Add sage leaves and let fry for 1-3 minutes until just crispy. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Add drained, hot pasta to pancetta mixture over low heat. Add in pumpkin mixture and ½ cup hot pasta water. Stirring continuously (so eggs don’t scramble), mix and fold pasta until combined and creamy. If mixture looks dry, add another ¼ cup or so of pasta water, stirring to combine.
  • Serve immediately with more parmigiano, black pepper, and fried sage leaves.

Video

Notes

  • You can use 12 ounces of bacon instead of pancetta if preferred!

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 896kcal | Carbohydrates: 95g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 42g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 18g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 103mg | Sodium: 828mg | Potassium: 590mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 9897IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 359mg | Iron: 3mg
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