This vegan pumpkin pasta sauce is super easy to make! It creates an incredibly delicious, ultra-creamy sauce that’s perfect for a quick, warm and hearty meal.
Serve with any pasta you like! You can also take this recipe to the next level by preparing some fried sage and/or sautéed vegetables. This simple addition makes a gourmet meal that’ll impress anyone you make if for.
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Is Pumpkin Pasta Sauce Vegan?
Many pumpkin pasta sauce recipes are not vegan as they commonly use dairy-based ingredients like butter and cream.
Luckily, it’s super easy to make vegan pumpkin sauce that’s just as creamy and delicious as a non-vegan option. The first time I made this, my family didn’t believe it was vegan and were sure I used dairy!
Creamy Vegan Pumpkin Sauce Ingredients
There are two parts to this recipe. The first is the sauce itself which is unbelievably quick and easy to make, coming together in as little as 5 minutes.
You can stop there and serve the sauce with your favorite pasta, or you can level up the recipe by serving with fried sage and/or some sautéed veggies.
Vegan Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
- Canned pumpkin puree: The sauce base is made from pumpkin puree which is creamy and delicious. If you don’t have access to pumpkin puree in a can, make your own by boiling, steaming or roasting pumpkin before blending it (use a blender or food processor).
- Canned coconut milk: This is what gives the sauce its rich, creamy taste and texture. Make sure to buy the “regular” coconut milk rather than a “light” option. The light options contain less coconut and more water, so you’ll end up with a watery, not-so-creamy sauce.
- Garlic or garlic powder: I love to use lots of fresh, minced garlic for this sauce. It adds a ton of flavor especially when cooked in some oil before adding other sauce ingredients. However, for the ultimate quick-and-easy recipe, you can skip the garlic (and a step that requires you to cook garlic) and simply stir 1 teaspoon of garlic powder into the other sauce ingredients.
- Olive oil: Use some oil to sauté the garlic before adding other sauce ingredients. Use any liquid oil you like; I just typically use olive (or avocado) oil.
- Onion powder: For some extra flavor, and zero effort, onion powder is a tasty way to boost the flavor in this sauce.
- Salt and black pepper: Add salt and black pepper to your taste. Salt is critical for this recipe as it enhances the few simple flavors that you’ll use. I recommend tasting your sauce before serving, then add extra salt or pepper if needed!
Fried Sage (Optional)
- Vegan butter (or oil): To fry sage, you’ll need some vegan butter or cooking oil. Keep in mind the butter/oil flavor comes through in the fried sage. Since the sage won’t soak up much butter or oil, I like to use what’s leftover to sauté the vegetables (if making)!
- Fresh sage: Pumpkin and fresh sage are best friends. They pair so well together, and the sage really takes simple sauce flavors to a higher level!
Sautéed Vegetables (Optional)
- Onion: As noted, you can use any vegetables you like but I highly recommend onion as its potent flavor adds a lot of character to the recipe.
- Mushrooms and spinach: Again, you can use any vegetables you like but mushrooms and spinach are a tasty combo.
- Chickpeas: For some added protein, drain and rinse a can of chickpeas (or any bean you like). If you don’t want to prepare additional vegetables, you can toss chickpeas directly into the sauce and pasta before serving. This will boost the recipe’s protein content with minimal effort!
- Salt, pepper and nutmeg: Season the vegetables however you like. Salt and pepper are a must for me, but I also love nutmeg in this pumpkin sauce. Don’t worry, it won’t taste sweet or like a pumpkin dessert.
How to Make Dairy Free Pumpkin Sauce
I’m not kidding when I say this is the easiest recipe ever. The sauce comes together in 5 minutes. Beyond that, all you need is some cooked pasta and you’ll have a tasty meal!
Of course, you can also make the optional fried sage and/or sautéed veggies to take this simple recipe to the next level.
Step 1: Make Pumpkin Sauce
Peel and mince (or crush) the garlic. Use as much or little garlic as you like!
Warm some oil in a medium-large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes. This takes out the sharp, raw garlic taste and leaves a mellow, roasted garlic flavor with minimal effort.
You can also skip this and simply toss in 1 teaspoon garlic powder with the other ingredients.
Once you’ve cooked the garlic, add your remaining sauce ingredients including pumpkin puree, coconut milk, salt, pepper and onion powder. Stir until combined. By the time you’re done stirring, the sauce should be heated through!
That’s it! It’s so easy, but so yummy!
Step 2: Cook Pasta to Serve
You’ll need to prepare a package of your favorite pasta to serve with the sauce. Follow package directions to get the best result.
Toss some sauce on the pasta and you're ready to serve.
If desired, prepare the optional fried sage and/or sautéed vegetables.
Step 3: Fry Sage (Optional)
Fried sage is easy to make. Start by removing the sage leaves from the stem. Wash the leaves and pat them dry (use paper towel or a kitchen towel).
Warm some vegan butter in a large pan (you’ll need the surface area) over medium heat. Once it’s warm and melted, add the sage.
Fry your sage leaves until the edges begin to darken, about 1 minute. Use tongs to flip the sage over, then fry on the other side until the whole leaf is a dark color and feels crisp.
Remove the sage from your pan and place onto a plate.
Keep the fried sage separate from your pasta/ sauce until ready to serve.
Step 4: Sauté Vegetables (Optional)
You can use any vegetables you like, but I love the combo of onion, mushrooms and spinach with this pumpkin sauce. I also like to add chickpeas for some extra nutrition.
If you’ve made the fried sage, use the leftover sage-infused butter that remains in your pan. If you skipped the sage, add 1-2 tablespoons of vegan butter or oil to your pan before cooking the vegetables. Make sure the butter or oil is warm in the pan over medium or medium-high heat.
Add the sliced onion and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add the mushrooms and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add the spinach, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Toss around and cook until your spinach wilts.
When you’ve fully cooked the spinach, remove the pan from heat. Taste your veggies and add extra salt, pepper and/or nutmeg to taste.
Serve on top of your pumpkin sauce pasta or toss directly in with the pasta and sauce.
How to Create a Balanced Vegan Meal
This pasta sauce is mostly pumpkin puree and coconut milk. Pumpkin provides healthy carbohydrates and a serving of vegetables, whereas coconut milk provides satiating fats.
Assuming you serve the sauce over pasta, that’ll provide additional carbohydrates.
For a balanced meal, I recommend adding some plant-based protein and additional veggies. You can easily do this by making the optional sautéed vegetables with chickpeas (detailed in the recipe card below).
To save time, you could simply toss a drained and rinsed can of chickpeas or beans into the pasta and sauce! This makes for an ultra quick and easy meal. It’s lower in veggies but that’s perfectly fine every now and again.
How to Refrigerate and Freeze Pumpkin Sauce
Leftover sauce, on its own, can be refrigerated in an airtight container. You can also freeze the sauce in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
To reheat refrigerated sauce, use a microwave or warm it up in a pot on your stove over medium heat. To reheat frozen sauce, thaw in the fridge overnight, or defrost on your counter for an hour or 2. Place thawed sauce into a pot over medium heat until warmed through.
If the sauce is already tossed on pasta, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a pot over medium heat.
If you’ve made fried sage, keep it separate from the pasta until serving. Otherwise, it’ll get soggy. It will stay fairly crisp while refrigerated in an airtight container for a day or two. Fried sage won’t freeze well.
Typically, if I make sautéed vegetables, I toss it with the pasta and sauce before serving. Therefore, I store and reheat the veggies along with my pasta. If you’ve kept them separate, store in the same way as the pasta (but don’t freeze sautéed vegetables).
If you make this recipe, please rate and comment below to help others benefit from your experience!
Vegan Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
- 350 grams package pasta , cooked
(Optional) Fried Sage
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter
- ½ cup sage leaves (about 20 leaves)
(Optional) Sautéed Vegetables
- ¾ cup onion , sliced
- 1 ½ cups mushrooms , sliced
- 2 cups spinach , raw
- 2 ¼ cups chickpeas (19 oz/ 540 mL can, drained and rinsed)
- salt (to taste)
- black pepper (to taste)
- nutmeg (to taste)
Step 1: Make Pumpkin Sauce
- Peel and mince (or crush) 5 cloves of garlic (use less, or more, to taste).5 cloves garlic
- Warm some oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.1 tablespoon avocado oil
- Add the remaining sauce ingredients, including pumpkin puree, coconut milk, onion powder, salt and black pepper.2 cups pumpkin puree, 1 ¾ cups coconut milk, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Stir until combined.
- Taste and add extra seasonings as desired.
Step 2: Cook Pasta to Serve
- Cook your favorite pasta according to package directions.350 grams package pasta
- Coat with the prepared sauce and serve!
- 350 grams of dry pasta is a good amount if serving with the additional vegetables. Without the veggies, 400 grams of pasta is a better amount.
Step 3 (Optional): Fry Sage
- If making fried sage, remove the stems from sage leaves and wash. Pat the leaves dry.½ cup sage leaves
- Warm vegan butter (or oil of your choice) in a large pan over medium heat.2 tablespoons vegan butter
- Once the butter melts, add your sage. Fry until the edges become crisp (they turn a darker color). Flip the sage over and fry for another 30-60 seconds, until the whole leaf is a dark color and crispy.
- Remove from the butter and serve on your pumpkin pasta!
Step 4 (Optional): Sauté Vegetables
- Once the sage is out of your pan, use the leftover sage-infused butter to sauté some vegetables. If you’ve skipped the sage, simply use a tablespoon of your favorite oil or vegan butter alternative.2 tablespoons vegan butter
- Slice the vegetables. Drain and rinse a can of chickpeas.2 ¼ cups chickpeas
- Cook the onion for 2-3 minutes, until it starts to soften.¾ cup onion
- Then, add the sliced mushrooms and cook for another 2-3 minutes before adding spinach.1 ½ cups mushrooms, 2 cups spinach
- Add salt, black pepper and a pinch of nutmeg to taste.salt, black pepper, nutmeg
- Let the spinach wilt, then remove the pan from the heat.
- Taste your vegetables and add extra salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.
- Serve on top of the pumpkin sauce pasta, with the fried sage!
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About Nicole Stevens
Nicole is a vegan Registered Dietitian (RD) and founder of Lettuce Veg Out.
She helps people thrive on a vegan diet with balanced recipes and easy-to-understand nutrition science.