Creamy Pumpkin Marinara

This pumpkin marinara recipe tastes like fall. It’s comforting like mac and cheese, but lighter and full of vegetables! Just add pasta. Recipe yields about 4 cups of sauce (enough to generously coat 12 ounces/4 modest servings of pasta).


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon dried tarragon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 can (15 ounces) diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin purée
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Finely grated Parmesan and chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (both optional)

Cooking method:

  1. Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once it’s shimmering, add the onion, bell pepper, and ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring often, until the onions and pepper are very tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, oregano, tarragon, and cinnamon. While stirring, cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook for 1 minute, while stirring. Add the pumpkin purée and stir to combine. Continue simmering for 5 minutes, then remove it from the heat.
  3. Carefully transfer the mixture to your blender. Add 1 tablespoon butter and 1 teaspoon vinegar. Blend until very smooth and creamy.
  4. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper and additional salt (I usually add another ¼ teaspoon salt). For a more luxurious sauce, add another tablespoon of butter, or for more tangy complexity, add another teaspoon of vinegar. Blend to combine.
  5. Stir into warm pasta. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan and chopped parsley on top.

MAKE IT DAIRY FREE/VEGAN: Omit the butter or blend in olive oil instead. Use vegan Parmesan or omit it.

MAKE IT GLUTEN FREE: This sauce is gluten-free. Just serve it over gluten-free pasta.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1 cup (Enough for 3 to 4 ounces of pasta. Pasta and garnishes are not included.)Serves 4

Calories 156/ Protein 2.4 g / Total Fat 10.5 g /Total Carbohydrate 16 g / Sodium 354.1 mg / Sugars 7.4 g

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