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Pasta with Pumpkin Vodka Sauce

Moriah Brooke
Cook Time:
20 mins
Prep Time:
20 mins

Chef notes

You’ll be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t like pasta with vodka sauce. The Italian-American classic is ultra creamy and decadent. This fall twist swaps the usual tomatoes with pumpkin for a cozy dinner that’s fit for cool nights. The sauce is rich and addicting and incredibly easy to make, making it as perfect for a last-minute date night or dinner party with friends as it is for a quick weeknight dinner. 

While the pumpkin vodka sauce only takes about 20 minutes to make, it can be made ahead of time and refrigerated overnight. To make it, you’ll sauté shallots, garlic, fresh sage and thyme leaves and red pepper flakes in olive oil until deeply fragrant. You’ll then stir in a healthy splash of vodka, a whole can of pumpkin purée (be sure to use plain pumpkin purée and not pumpkin pie filling), heavy cream and pasta water. If you’ve decided to make the sauce ahead of time, skip the pasta water and add it the next day when you’ve cooked the pasta and are reheating the sauce on the stovetop. The same goes with the lemon zest, chopped parsley and grated Parmesan — add all three to the sauce with the cooked pasta when you’re just about ready to eat.

The result is a dish that’s deeply savory but also a touch sweet, thanks to the natural sweetness of pumpkin. Vodka provides just enough bite to keep each twirl of pasta from too heavy but it’s still as luxurious as can be. Oh, and know that the alcohol in the vodka will cook out as the sauce simmers so this is a pasta dinner that can be enjoyed by the whole family.


  • 1 pound pasta of choice (spaghetti, penne and rigatoni all work)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more serving
  • 4-6 ounces vodka
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pure pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
Fulfilled by



Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water for later.


Place a large skillet over medium heat and add in the olive oil. Add in the shallots and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, until they begin to turn golden-brown. Then add in the garlic, thyme, sage and pepper flakes and cook for an additional 2 minutes, or until the garlic becomes fragrant.


Stir in the vodka, pumpkin puree, heavy cream and pasta water. Once thoroughly combined, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. When the sauce has thickened, remove from the heat, add in the parsley, lemon zest and grated Parmesan, and toss in the cooked pasta.


Serve with additional grated Parmesan and red pepper flakes.