Instant Pot Acorn Squash Pasta is a delicious cheesy one pot recipe that's ready to serve in only 25 minutes. This is a great fall dinner that can be made with acorn squash, butternut squash or pumpkin puree. Add bacon for a hearty and wholesome complete dinner.
With Autumn comes lots of delicious winter squash recipes, and the Instant Pot makes cooking them a complete breeze! From roasting your whole pumpkins in the pressure cooker and turning them into homemade puree, to making pumpkin soup and pumpkin cheesecake!
This recipe is a spin off of my vegetarian Instant Pot pumpkin pasta. But Instant Pot Acorn Squash Pasta is made with an acorn squash pasta sauce, crispy bacon bits, parmesan cheese and herbs instead of the classic fall warming spices in my pumpkin pasta.
It has a flavor that's slightly more subdued and reflective of traditional creamy pasta sauces made with cheese, milk, and herbs.
If you've never cooked with acorn squash puree or seen it in grocery stores, don't worry! It can be difficult to find, so it's best to make your own. You can do this by first cooking the squash in your pressure cooker, in an air fryer, or in the oven. Then follow these instructions to blend the squash into a creamy puree for use with this recipe.
And If you're not able to make your own puree, you can make this recipe using butternut squash puree or pumpkin puree instead.
Why This Recipe Works
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Acorn squash puree: substitute with butternut squash puree or pumpkin puree
- Specialty pasta cut, like paccheri: or a thick shaped pasta, such as rigatoni or penne.
- Cooked bacon slices: freshly cooked is best, but substitute with bacon bits if necessary.
- Oat milk: this recipe is made with oat milk because of its mild nutty flavor and creamy texture. This pairs well with the nutty, mild sweetness of acorn and butternut squash. Make sure to use unflavored oat milk or substitute with any other milk, including heavy cream, evaporated milk, dairy milk, or soy milk.
- Parmesan cheese: grated or freshly shredded.
- Sweet onion and garlic: these two ingredients are the base flavor to a great sauce. Substitute the sweet onion with shallots, or red or yellow onion if desired.
- Seasonings: paprika, thyme, parsley, salt, freshly ground pepper, red pepper flakes.
Butter is optional, and can be added with the oat milk to increase the richness of the sauce.
Step 1: Set the Instant Pot to saute on high (or normal) for 4 minutes. Add the olive oil, onions and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently.
Step 2: Turn off saute and add 4 cups of water to the pot. Deglaze thoroughly with a wooden spoon.
Step 3: Add the pasta, submerging it in the water as much as possible. Add paprika, thyme, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and acorn squash puree. Do not stir. The red pepper flakes can also be left out of the pressure cooking and added to individual bowls instead, so those who don't like spicy foods can still enjoy it!
Step 4: Close the pressure cooker lid and seal the vent. Set to pressure cook on high for 4 minutes, or the time recommended for your type of pasta. When done, complete a controlled quick release, remove the lid and transfer the inner pot to a heat proof surface.
*Removing the inner pot from the pressure cooker base after it's done cooking takes the pasta off of the heating element and prevents overcooking as you prepare it for serving.
Step 5: Stir gently, but thoroughly. Pour in the oat milk and parmesan cheese and mix with a wooden spoon until evenly distributed.
Serve topped with crumbled bacon, parsley, and additional red pepper flakes.
Make It Vegan, Gluten-Free or Dairy-Free
Vegan: to make it vegan, leave out the bacon and use tofu. Substitute the parmesan cheese for a plant-based parmesan cheese.
Gluten-free: Use a gluten-free pasta to easily make this recipe gluten-free.
Dairy-free: Make it dairy free by using a dairy-free cheese substitute.
Not usually. It's best to make your own or use butternut squash puree as a substitute.
For every 1 pound (16 ounces) of pasta, you need 4 cups of a thin liquid such as water, chicken broth, beef broth, or vegetable broth. When using more or less pasta, adjust the liquid proportionally. So for 8 ounces of pasta you need 2 cups of liquid. For 12 ounces of pasta you need 3 cups of liquid, and so on. The pasta absorbs the liquid, and without enough, the pasta won't fully cook or you'll trigger the burn notice.
The general rule of thumb is to take the time range on your pasta package and divide the lowest number in half. Then subtract one.
Al dente pasta: cook for one minute less.
Soft pasta: cook for one minute more.
It's also always a good idea to remove the inner pot from the pressure cooker base after it's done cooking. This takes the pasta off of the heating element and prevents overcooking as you prepare it for serving.
Instant Pot Acorn Squash Pasta
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- ¾ cup sweet onion diced
- 1 ½ cups acorn squash puree or butternut squash puree
- 16 oz paccheri or other thick cut pasta
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cup unflavored oat milk substitute with any other milk
- 1 ½ cups parmesan cheese grated
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 6 slices cooked bacon crumbled
- Set the Instant Pot to saute on high (or normal) for 4 minutes. Add the olive oil, onions and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently.
- Turn off saute. Add 4 cups of water to the pot and deglaze thoroughly with a wooden spoon.
- Add the paccheri, submerging in the water as much as possible. Add paprika, thyme, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes (red pepper can be added to individual bowls instead) and acorn squash puree. Do not stir.
- Close the lid and seal. Set to pressure cook on high for 4 minutes (*see notes). Complete a controlled quick release when finished. Remove the lid and stir thoroughly, but gently.
- Add the oat milk and parmesan cheese and mix with a wooden spoon until evenly distributed. Taste and season with additional salt and freshly ground pepper if desired.
- Serve topped with crumbled bacon, parsley, and additional red pepper flakes.