Instant Pot Pumpkin Pasta is a quick and easy Fall dinner recipe made with pappardelle pasta, canned or homemade pumpkin puree, heavy cream, and cream cheese. Top with crunchy pecans and fresh herbs for a delicious full course dinner that's adult and kid-friendly!
This fresh and filling creamy Instant Pot Pumpkin Pasta is full of the warming flavors of Autumn.
The rich pumpkin sauce is made with lots of pumpkin puree, cream cheese, and heavy cream. While pumpkin is generally low on the flavor scale on it's own, this recipe is seasoned with nutmeg, sage, and a dash of pumpkin spice to bring out all that we love about October and November.
Using specialty bronze cut pasta like pappardelle adds extra texture and makes it an elegant main dish for winter holidays and family dinner gatherings.
It's like eating a creamy fettuccine alfredo but with pumpkin puree!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Pasta: pappardelle pasta works great with thick and creamy sauces, plus it looks extra fancy when serving. Bronze cut pasta, like these at Target, have a texture that helps sauce stick. Pennoni and paccheri are great choices too. If you can't find these cuts, your favorite shape is fine!
- Pumpkin puree: the key ingredient! Homemade is my favorite but canned pumpkin tastes delicious also. Substitute with butternut squash puree.
- Heavy cream: use evaporated milk or dairy milk as a substitute. Doing so will lesson the richness of the sauce by a small amount.
- Cream cheese: mascarpone is a great substitute, although it's a tiny bit sweeter than cream cheese.
- Pecans: the crunchiness of the nuts is fantastic with each creamy bite! Walnuts, hazelnuts, or cashews are delicious here too.
- Fresh herbs: garnish the pasta with fresh sage, basil, chives, or parsley.
- Spices: nutmeg and sage compliment and bring out the flavors of pumpkin. You can experiment with the spices in this recipe by adding a pinch of cinnamon or allspice.
- Freshly ground black pepper: ground peppercorns add a kick here, so I suggest sticking to grinding your own, but regular black pepper will be fine if not.
- Butter: to slightly lessen the fat content, use extra virgin olive oil (remember that cream cheese has a high fat content too).
I suggest garnishing the finished pasta dish with a handful of fresh herbs and pecans (or other nut) and a dash of pumpkin spice seasoning to really escalate the flavor and texture.
Make it Dairy Free
Make this Instant Pot pumpkin pasta recipe dairy free by:
- Using olive oil instead of butter.
- Replacing the heavy cream with coconut milk.
- Substituting vegan cashew cream cheese for the cream cheese.
This pumpkin pasta makes a full course vegetarian dinner on it's own on a lovely crisp Fall evening. It also can be served as a side dish on Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Make it spicy but adding red pepper flakes at the end, along with the pecans and fresh herbs.
It can be served with simple herbed chicken breasts, baked shrimp, or breaded and lightly seasoned fish. Tossing shredded rotisserie chicken into the finished dish also makes a great meal with even more flavor!
- This recipe will work in a 6, 8, or 10 quart pressure cooker. For a 3 quart, you'll need to halve the recipe quantities.
- To deglaze, scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon until there are no bits of onions and garlic stuck to the bottom.
- 4 cups of water is needed for 16 ounces of pasta. If using less pasta, reduce the amount of water accordingly.
- Alter the pressure cook time to what's right for the pasta you are using. Look at the time range on your package. Divide the lowest number in half and subtract one. This is the general rule of thumb when pressure cooking pasta so that it doesn't overcook. If you like al dente pasta, cook for one minute less.
- To perform a controlled quick release, press down lightly on the steam release valve for 5-10 seconds, then stop for 1-2 seconds. Repeat until all pressure has been released.
- Once the cream cheese is melted, remove the inner pot from the pressure cooker heating element. Doing this will prevent the pasta from overcooking.
- Heavy cream has a fat content high enough to be put under pressure without curdling. If you'd prefer not to put any dairy under pressure, you can add the heavy cream with the cream cheese.
How To Store and Reheat
Store your pumpkin pasta in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave until warmed through. This recipe is not freezer-friendly, as the sauce will lose it's smooth texture.
Step 1: Set the Instant Pot to saute on high (or normal) for 4 minutes. Melt the butter and add the garlic and red onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until the time is up.
Step 2: Add 4 cups of water to the pot and deglaze thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Then add the pappardelle, submerging in the water as much as possible. Add nutmeg, sage, salt, pepper, heavy cream, and pumpkin puree in this order. Do not stir. Close the lid, seal and set to pressure cook on high for 3 minutes.
Step 3: Complete a controlled quick release (see above) when finished. Remove the lid and stir thoroughly, but gently.
Step 4: Add the softened cream cheese.
Mix with a wooden spoon until melted thoroughly into the pasta and a smooth sauce has been made.
Step 5: Serve garnished with pecans and fresh herbs and sprinkled with a dash of pumpkin spice seasoning.
Instant Pot Pumpkin Pasta Recipe
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 red onion diced
- 4 cups water
- 16 oz pappardelle or other pasta
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground sage
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon black peppercorns freshly ground
- 2 cups pumpkin puree
- 8 oz cream cheese softened
- pecans or other nut for garnish
- fresh basil or other herb for garnish
- pumpkin spice seasoning for serving
- Set the Instant Pot to saute on high (or normal) for 4 minutes. Melt the butter and add garlic and red onion. Cook, stirring frequently.
- Turn off saute. Add 4 cups of water to the pot and deglaze thoroughly with a wooden spoon.
- Add the pappardelle, submerging in the water as much as possible. Add nutmeg, sage, salt, pepper, heavy cream, and pumpkin puree in this order. Do not stir. Close the lid and seal. Set to pressure cook on high for 3 minutes (*see notes).
- Complete a controlled quick release when finished. Remove the lid and stir thoroughly, but gently.
- Add the softened cream cheese and mix with a wooden spoon until it's melted into the pasta and a smooth sauce has been made.
- Serve garnished with pecans and fresh herbs and sprinkled with a dash of pumpkin spice seasoning.
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