Easy Butternut Squash Sauce

Quite possibly our favorite pasta sauce of all time, this kid-friendly butternut squash sauce goes great over any kind of pasta and makes enough to freeze for a busy night. Easily vegan or dairy-free, and takes just 15 minutes to prep!

closeup of butternut squash sauce in glass mason jar

I’ve been waiting for the right time to share this butternut squash pasta sauce recipe — and by waiting I definitely mean hoarding. 

Don’t believe me? Just look in my freezer.

Fellow sauce-loving friends: let me introduce you to my go-to homemade sauce for any and all pasta — this simple, sweet and savory Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce. 

overhead closeup of butternut squash sauce in jar with spoon in the background

Butternut squash simmered in broth with onion, garlic, and fresh sage, then pureed to smooth perfection — it’s not just my favorite sauce, it’s our toddlers’ favorite, too.

The best part about this sauce, besides the excuse it gives me to dive head first into a big ol’ bowl of pasta with zero regrets, is that it makes enough to bathe not one but two pounds of dry pasta. That’s a lot of pasta, friends, so unless you’re feeding a crowd, you’ll most likely have another whole batch to freeze for another night! 

The cook once, eat twice strategy is one of my secret weapons to maximizing productive time during the week. This Instant Pot Bolognese is another family favorite that makes plenty to freeze for another time.

How to make butternut squash sauce

Peeling and chopping the squash is the hardest part of making this sauce. To save time, grab a bag of pre-peeled and chopped butternut squash, or prep your ingredients in advance!

  • Grate the Parmesan cheese up to 2 weeks in advance.
  • Peel and chop the butternut squash and onion up to 5 days in advance.

To make the sauce, start by sautéing the squash, onion, garlic and sage for about 10 minutes on medium heat, until the onion is soft and translucent.

Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, add your broth, and increase the heat to bring it to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by about half and the squash is very soft. 

While the squash simmers, put a pot of water on the stove and cook your pasta.

Cool the squash mixture slightly before pureeing everything together. A high-powered blender will yield the silkiest sauce, but an immersion blender works well too, and makes cleanup even easier!

Once cooled, you can freeze the remaining sauce in an airtight container or freezer bag.

Freezing tips:

  • Don’t add the Parmesan before freezing. The consistency is best when you combine the hot pasta, sauce, and cheese in the pot just before serving.
  • Freeze food storage bags laying flat and stack them afterwards to save space!
  • If you prefer to freeze this sauce in a glass container, I recommend these 32-ounce mason jars which hold a full 3 cups (the amount you’ll want for 1 pound of dry pasta) with plenty of space for the sauce to expand.

How to serve butternut squash sauce 

This squash sauce is best served over freshly cooked pasta, or even a basic Instant Pot risotto. Any shape pasta works, but I gravitate toward rigatoni, ravioli, or good ol’ linguine, and the kids always love it with macaroni! For a more satiating meal and boost of fiber, use whole wheat or lentil pasta. 

butternut squash sauce with ravioli

If serving immediately, combine 3 cups of sauce and ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese for every 1 pound of dry pasta cooked — and freeze the rest!

Portion and top with additional Parmesan, salt and freshly ground pepper. Or crispy pancetta if you’re a total badass.

butternut squash sauce recipe closeup of sauce on a spoon with jars of sauce in background
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Recipe

Easy Butternut Squash Sauce

This kid-friendly butternut squash sauce goes great over any kind of pasta and makes enough to freeze for another night. Easily vegan or dairy-free.

  • Prep Time:
    15 minutes
  • Total Time:
    45 minutes
  • Makes:
    6 cups 1x
  • Prep Time:
    15 minutes
  • Total Time:
    45 minutes
  • Makes:
    6 cups 1x
  • Ingredients

    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 pounds peeled and seeded butternut squash, chopped into 1-inch pieces (about 4 ½ cups)
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 3 cloves garlic chopped
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 3 cups chicken broth
    • 2/3 cup finely grated Parmesan (⅓ cup per batch, see notes)

    Instructions

    1. Saute the squash, onion, garlic, and sage. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the squash, onion, garlic, and sage. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
    2. Add broth & simmer. Add the broth. Increase the heat to bring liquid to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until squash is soft and liquid is reduced by about half, about 15–20 minutes.
    3. Cool slightly and puree. Let cool slightly, then purée everything in a blender (or with an immersion blender) until very smooth. Season with additional salt and pepper.
    4. Eat half, freeze half. If serving over pasta, return half of the sauce back to the pot, stir in cooked pasta of choice and ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese. Portion and top with additional Parmesan, salt and freshly ground pepper, if desired. Once cooled, freeze the remaining sauce in an airtight container.

    Notes

    Favorite Equipment

    Recipe Notes

    This recipe makes a double batch of sauce (3 cups sauce per pound of dry pasta), so enjoy half and freeze half for another night. For the best consistency, hold off on adding the cheese to the sauce you’ll be freezing. It’s best when combined with warmed sauce and hot, freshly cooked pasta just before serving.

    Ingredient Notes

    • Parmesan cheese: Add ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese for every 3 cups sauce (half a batch) and 1 pound dry pasta. Add the cheese just before serving, to warmed sauce and hot, freshly cooked pasta.
      For a vegan sauce: Use vegetable broth and substitute nutritional yeast for the Parmesan
      For a dairy-free sauce: Substitute nutritional yeast for the Parmesan

    Ingredient Prep 

    • Grate the Parmesan cheese up to 2 weeks in advance.
    • Chop the butternut squash and onion up to 5 days in advance.

    Little Helpers 

    Involving little ones can decrease picky eating and increase appetite and willingness to try new foods. Here are a few ways they can help:

    • Toddlers: Add oil, onion, and squash to the pot (closely supervised); peel the garlic, help with pureeing
    • Little Kids: Chop the onion; peel and chop garlic; Peel and mash the bananas, open canned pumpkin, measure ingredients; pour batter into the pan
    • Big Kids: Chop the butternut squash and onion

    Freezing Tips

    Best sauce-to-pasta ratio: 3 cups of sauce for every 1 pound of uncooked pasta. If you typically cook less than a full pound of pasta, portion accordingly when freezing.

    To freeze in a plastic freezer bag or reusable silicone bag, press out as much of the air as possible and lay the bags flat on a cookie sheet to freeze. Stack the bags once frozen. For best taste and texture, enjoy frozen sauce within 4 months.

    Nutrition Notes

    Nutrition calculation is for the sauce itself (no pasta) and includes the Parmesan cheese. 

    Nutrition

    • Serving Size: 1/2 cup sauce
    • Calories: 86
    • Sugar: 2 g
    • Sodium: 268 mg
    • Fat: 4 g
    • Saturated Fat: 1 g
    • Unsaturated Fat: 3 g
    • Trans Fat: 0 g
    • Carbohydrates: 11 g
    • Fiber: 2 g
    • Protein: 3 g
    • Cholesterol: 5 mg

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    If you make this Butternut Squash Sauce, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Ratings and comments help other busy parents and families discover this recipe. Plus I love to hear from you and always do my best to respond to every comment.

    Oh and if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to snap a photo and tag me on Instagram so I can share!

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    closeup of butternut squash pasta ravioli and spoon with butternut squash sauce with title text overlay

    Author: Elle Penner M.P.H., R.D.

    I'm Elle, Registered Dietitian and minimalism-obsessed mama with a thing for simplifying, particularly when it comes to clutter, calendars, and family meals. Favorite things include carbs, cooking, kid-free workouts, and high-waisted yoga pants.

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    Recipe rating

    • This sauce is outstanding. And the fact that it makes enough for two family-sized pasta dinners and freezes well is a huge bonus. We will be adding this to our regular rotation of favorites!

    • I love the look of this recipe as part of my weaning journey with my son! How long could this sauce last in the fridge before I commit to freezing it?

      • Hi Rochelle! I’d say easily 3-5 days before you’d need to freeze it. Hope you and your son love it!

    • Absolutely love this recipe! My picky eater also loves this one. It also freezes well. I have made it with bacon added or chicken sausage and both were terrific. Thank you!!!!

      • Nice addition with the bacon and chicken sausage! I’m so glad you and your little one loved it. Thanks for taking the time to leave a review. 🙂