If you love a cozy dairy free pasta recipe than this butternut squash pasta is for you! Made without heavy cream, swapping in ultra creamy cashew cream instead. It is easy to make, healthy, and a total crowd pleaser. Easily made vegan and vegetarian by leaving out the bacon and using olive oil instead!
The best dairy free butternut squash pasta
Pasta night is arguably one of the best nights of the week at our house.
And once fall arrives, we love leaning into all the cozy, comforting flavors that come with it!
This butternut squash pasta made with cashew cream instead of heavy cream is a swoon-worthy dairy free stunner that is just the thing to make when the weather starts to turn cold.
We love amping up the flavor with bacon, toasted walnuts, fresh chives, and dairy free parmesan cheese, but once you have the sauce prepared the possibilities are endless.
And it can easily be made vegan by leaving out the bacon and sautéing the aromatics & butternut squash with olive oil!
- Easy to make. The butternut squash and aromatics are sauteed in a skillet until caramelized and tender, and then simmered with broth, spices, and cashews before blending into a blissfully creamy pasta sauce. From start to finish the recipe is ready in just 30 minutes!
- Bursting with fall flavors. Besides butternut squash (which is a natural fall ingredient!), the recipe pulls other savory flavors like sage and walnuts that pair beautifully with the squash to celebrate the season.
- Creamy without any cream! Typically, butternut squash pasta recipes rely on heavy cream or another type of dairy for that irresistible creamy texture that is so easy to love. This recipe uses raw cashews for that same rich quality but with no cream!
Ingredients and substitutions
You can find the full list of ingredients, along with measurements, in the recipe card below. These are my ingredient notes and recommendations for easy swaps and substitutions!
Peeled and diced butternut squash is used as the base of the pasta sauce.
To save some prep time I like to buy the pre-peeled and diced butternut squash that our local grocery store sells in the produce section. It’s relatively affordable and you won’t have a bunch of squash leftover.
Bacon is chopped and rendered in the same skillet that you’ll be sautéing the squash and aromatics in, and then set aside until the pasta is assembled.
If you want to make this recipe vegan (or just don’t feel like including the bacon!), olive oil can easily be substituted for the bacon fat. I have tested this recipe with and without bacon and it’s delicious both ways!
Onion and garlic
To help build the aromatic flavors.
Garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder, paprika, dried sage, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper, are briefly sautéed with the butternut squash and aromatics to bring out the natural flavor of the spices and boost the overall flavor of the pasta sauce.
All it takes is a small amount of raw cashews to lend the creamiest texture to the sauce once blended. Their natural flavor is mild and so they make a wonderful dairy free alternative to cream.
In order to make the sauce “saucy”, you need a liquid to blend together the sauteed veggies, spices, and cashews. Vegetable broth and chicken broth are great options! Water could be used in a pinch instead, but you may want to add a little extra seasoning to the sauce if you do.
Any type of pasta that you like will work for this recipe, but we’ve chosen to use a gluten free option to keep the recipe gluten free friendly. The pasta shaped pictured in this blog post is the Mafalda GF Pasta from Jovial. They are shaped like mini lasagna noodles and I am totally obsessed with them!
Garnishes so often have the ability to take a dish from good to GREAT, and I’d say this pasta is no exception to that rule. Toasted walnuts and bacon are also tossed into the pasta, but adding some extra on the top just before serving is never a bad idea. Dairy Free Parmesan or regular parmesan are also a nice touch, and fresh chives (or another fresh herb), add a welcome bit of green to the dish.
Once the base of the sauce is made, you could go so many different directions in adding other ingredients to make this pasta recipe your own!
And of course you could always add additional veggies, too! Sautéed mushrooms, sweet peas, kale, baby spinach, or arugula are just a few ideas.
How to make dairy free butternut squash pasta
With a few staple kitchen tools this healthy pasta recipe comes together in right around 30 minutes. All you need is a large skillet, a pot to boil your pasta in, and a blender! There may seem like a lot of steps but if you prep your ingredients before you start cooking the recipe comes together fast. I always suggest reading through the recipe at least once to keep the flow moving smoothly.
If you’re ready to start cooking the complete set of ingredients and instructions are located in the recipe card at the bottom of the blog post.
Step 1: Cook bacon.
In a large skillet, cook bacon until desired crispness is reached. Remove from the skillet and set aside on a paper towel lined plate.
Step 2: Caramelize aromatics and squash.
Remove all but 2 tablespoons of bacon grease from the skillet (if not using bacon, add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan). Add diced onion, garlic, and butternut squash and sauté until squash and onions are starting to caramelize.
Step 3: Sauté spices.
Add dried spices, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper and continue to sauté for another 1-2 minutes, until spices are aromatic.
Step 4: Add broth and cashews
Bring to a slow simmer, cover the skillet, and allow to simmer until broth is reduced slightly, squash is fall-apart tender, and cashews are pale and plump.
Step 5: Cook pasta and blend the pasta sauce
While butternut squash is simmering, cook pasta according to package instructions and set aside. Transfer butternut squash mixture to a high-speed blender and puree until smooth, with no pieces of cashew remaining.
Step 6: Assemble the pasta.
Add pasta to the large skillet along with blended sauce, walnuts, and half of the bacon over medium low heat. Toss pasta with sauce until heated through and noodles are evenly coated.
Step 7: Serve and enjoy!
Top pasta with chopped walnuts, additional bacon, and black pepper if desired.
Storage and reheating
Once you’ve made this pasta, you may have leftovers you want to store and reheat later. Here are some tips to help you store and reheat properly:
To store in the refrigerator: Allow to cool to room temperature and transfer to an airtight container before moving to the fridge. It should keep for up to 5 days.
To reheat: This pasta can easily be reheated in the microwave or in a small skillet over low heat on the stovetop. However you reheat, I recommend adding a few tablespoons of water or broth to the pasta as cashew cream sauces tend to thicken in the refrigerator.
Can you freeze this pasta?
Generally speaking, I do not recommend freezing pasta, especially gluten free pasta. The noodles may lose their integrity and be overly soft once thawed.
The butternut squash pasta sauce, however, can definitely be frozen and defrosted when ready to use. Depending on how long it was in the freezer you may want to quickly reblend it if it appears to have separated once thawed.
Love this pasta? Try these other flavorful recipes!
- Cashew Cream Corn Pasta with Basil
- Healthy Chicken Sausage Pasta
- Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta
- Vegan Mexican Taco Pasta
- Easy Pesto Pasta
- Creamy Vegan Vodka Pasta Sauce
- Cashew Cream Mushroom and Kale Pasta
- Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo
- Creamy Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff
- Nut Free Vegan Mac and Cheese
If you enjoyed this recipe, we’d love it if you would take 5 seconds to rate and review it below! It’s also super helpful for other readers if you share any modifications you made to the recipe.
Thank you for sharing your kitchen with NK. We’re so grateful you’re here!Print
If you love a cozy dairy free pasta recipe than this butternut squash pasta is for you! Made without heavy cream, swapping in ultra creamy cashew cream instead. It is easy to make, healthy, and a total crowd pleaser. Easily made vegan by leaving out the bacon and using olive oil instead!
- 4 strips bacon, cut into 1/4 inch pieces (or 2 tablespoons olive oil if not using bacon)
- 1/2 medium onion, finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 generous cups diced butternut squash
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth, plus more as needed
- 12 ounces of your favorite gluten free pasta
- 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts (see notes for toasting instructions)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chopped toasted walnuts
- Fresh chives
- Dairy free parmesan cheese
- Cook bacon. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until desired crispness is reached. Remove from the skillet and set aside on a paper towel lined plate.
- Cook aromatics and squash. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of bacon grease from the skillet (if not using bacon, add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan). Add diced onion, garlic, and butternut squash and sauté over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until squash and onions are starting to caramelize – about 7-8 minutes.
- Sauté spices. Add garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder, paprika, dried sage, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper and continue to sauté for another 1-2 minutes, until spices are aromatic.
- Add broth and cashews and bring to a slow simmer. Cover the skillet and allow to simmer until broth is reduced slightly, squash is fall-apart tender, and cashews are pale and plump – about 10 minutes.
- Cook pasta. While butternut squash is simmering, cook pasta according to package instructions, undercooking by about 1 minute since it will continue to cook a bit with the sauce. Drain and set aside.
- Blend the sauce. Transfer butternut squash mixture to a high-speed blender and puree until smooth, with no pieces of cashew remaining.
- Assemble the pasta. Add pasta to the large skillet along with blended sauce, 1/2 cup walnuts, and half of the bacon over medium low heat. Toss pasta with sauce until heated through and noodles are evenly coated. Thin sauce with extra broth if needed for desired texture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve and enjoy! Top pasta with extra chopped walnuts, bacon, chives, and dairy free parmesan as desired. Serve hot and enjoy!
To toast walnuts: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spread walnuts out in a single layer on baking sheet and roast for 6-8 minutes, until a shade or two darker and smelling toasty. They can be chopped before or after roasting, but will toast faster if they are chopped beforehand.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Healthy
Keywords: pasta, butternut squash, fall, autumn, winter, bacon, walnuts, gluten free, dairy free, vegan, healthy, noodles