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Pumpkin and Sausage Pasta Bake

This Pumpkin and Sausage Pasta Bake is creamy, cheesy, yummy, and ready in less than an hour. It’s the perfect fall and winter comfort food dinner!

Pumpkin is not just for dessert, my friends. It’s also super delicious in savory dishes. Never tried it? Give it a go with this easy recipe. You might be very pleasantly surprised!

Now, I’ll admit that it took me a long while to warm up to the idea of putting pumpkin in my dinner. Since I always associated pumpkin with something sweet, the two just didn’t want to connect in my brain.

But I just kept seeing recipes for things like pumpkin pasta, pumpkin chili, and pumpkin soup, and they looked so good that I was totally intrigued.

Once I finally broke down and tried it, I was hooked. I made a whole bunch of savory pumpkin recipes, and this Pumpkin and Sausage Pasta Bake is my hands-down favorite!

Canned pumpkin makes this recipe super easy. Along with some onions, garlic, half-and-half, chicken broth, and sage, it makes a smooth, creamy and tasty sauce that coats the pasta beautifully.

And that subtle sweetness of the pumpkin pairs perfectly with the Italian sausage, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.

This is such a hearty and satisfying meal that you don’t need a super huge portion to fill you up. If you pair it with a salad and/or some bread, you could easily get six servings, and there’s only a half pound of pasta!

spoonful of pumpkin and sausage pasta bake being taken out of thebaking dish

Ingredients you need:

  • Cooking spray
  • Rigatoni or ziti pasta
  • Sweet Italian sausage
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Canned pumpkin
  • Roasted chicken base (such as Better Than Bouillon (#notsponsored))
  • Water
  • Dried ground sage
  • Half and half
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh parsley (optional)

Here’s a look at how to make Pumpkin and Sausage Pasta Bake:

two images showing the steps to make pumpkin and sausage pasta bake
two images showing the steps to make pumpkin and sausage pasta bake
two images  showing the steps to make pumpkin and sausage pasta bake
two images showing the steps to make pumpkin and sausage pasta bake
two images showing how to make pumpkin and sausage pasta bake
two images showing how to make pumpkin and sausage pasta bake
two images showing how to make pumpkin and sausage pasta bake

Tips & Tidbits:

  • If you can’t get bulk Italian sausage, just buy links and remove the meat from the casings.
  • If you like things spicy, you could use hot Italian sausage or a combination of sweet and hot.
  • I usually use rigatoni or ziti when making this dish, but penne, fusilli, rotini, farfalle, orecchiette, and gemelli would all work nicely.
  • Since you will be baking this in the oven, make sure you just slightly undercook the pasta so that it doesn’t end up being mushy. I cook my pasta for two minutes less than what the package states. If you like your pasta softer, cook it to the time on the package.
  • Please salt the pasta water! You want that pasta to have some flavor. If it’s bland, it will affect the flavor of the final dish. For 8 ounces of pasta, I cook it in 2 quarts of water with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Adjust the salt accordingly to suit your own personal tastes.
  • You can substitute 1 cup of chicken broth for the roasted chicken base and water. I like using the chicken base because I think it has more flavor.
  • Be sure to use pure pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling. Sometimes those cans can look very similar!
  • The pasta will soak up some of the sauce as the dish sits, so this is best when served immediately.
  • When reheating leftovers, adding a little bit of water or broth to the dish and covering it with foil will help keep the pasta from drying out.
serving of pumpkin and sausage pasta bake on a plate with a fork

That right there is some serious deliciousness!

I hope you try this Pumpkin and Sausage Pasta Bake recipe and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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Pumpkin and Sausage Pasta Bake

This Pumpkin and Sausage Pasta Bake is creamy, cheesy, yummy, and ready in less than an hour. It's the perfect fall and winter comfort food dinner!
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Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6
Estimated Calories: 753

Ingredients

  • cooking spray
  • 8 ounces rigatoni pasta, or ziti
  • 1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon roasted chicken base, such as Better Than Bouillon
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pure pumpkin
  • ½ teaspoon dried ground sage
  • 1 cup half and half
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • chopped fresh parsley, optional, for garnish

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • Spray a 3 or 4-quart baking dish with cooking spray (the dish I use is 3 quarts and measures approximately 12 x 8 x 2½ inches, but a 9 x 13-inch dish would also work).
  • Cook the pasta in boiling salted water for 2 minutes less than stated on the package directions (this will help keep the pasta from becoming mushy after it bakes in the oven; if you like your pasta softer, cook it to the time on the package). Drain and set aside.
    Note: While you are waiting for the pasta water to boil and while the pasta is cooking, continue on with the recipe to use your time most efficiently.
  • In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium-high heat until lightly browned. Remove the cooked sausage from the pan to a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess grease. Leave about one tablespoon of the grease from the sausage in the skillet. If there is any more than that, remove the excess.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the onions to the skillet. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the onions start to soften (don't brown them).
  • Add the garlic and continue to sauté, stirring frequently, for another minute.
  • Combine the roasted chicken base and water; add it to the skillet along with the pumpkin and sage. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring the mixture to a boil; reduce the heat and cook at a very gentle simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add the half and half and the cooked sausage. Cook at a very gentle simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning, if needed, keeping in mind that the Parmesan cheese will add some saltiness as well.
  • Add the pasta to the sauce and gently stir to combine.
  • Place half of the pasta mixture in the prepared baking dish. Top with half of the Parmesan cheese and half of the mozzarella cheese.
  • Add the remaining pasta mixture and top with the remaining Parmesan and mozzarella.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese has melted.
  • Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley, if desired. Best when served immediately (the pasta will soak up some of the sauce as it sits).

Notes

  • If you can’t get bulk Italian sausage, just buy links and remove the meat from the casings.
  • You can substitute 1 cup of chicken broth for the roasted chicken base and water.
  • Estimated calories shown are based on 4 servings. This dish is very filling, so if you serve it with sides such as a salad and/or bread, you could easily get six servings, in which case the estimated calories per serving would be 502.
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see it!Share it on Instagram, tag @nowcookthis and use the hashtag #nowcookthisrecipes. Thanks!

Adapted from Pumpkin and Sausage Baked Ziti by Paula Deen.

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