Main Dishes

November 12, 2021

30 Minute Creamy Butternut Squash Carbonara

This Butternut Squash Carbonara is ready in 30 minutes for the easiest weeknight dinner. The sauce is thick and creamy from eggs, parmesan cheese, and pureed butternut squash, and the pasta is topped with crispy bacon and roasted Brussels sprouts.

When you think of comfort food, what do you think of? For me, it's roasted vegetables, fresh baked bread, or a giant bowl of cereal. Any of those things can brighten my day and give me a little pick me up.

For most people, however, I'd guess it's foods like bread, pasta, or chocolate. There's something magical about carbs that just, well, make people happy.

We all joke that carbs aren't good for us, but they actually are! (If that peaks your interest, click here to learn more.)

So, I did a very good thing...

I combined one of my favorite comfort foods (roasted vegetables) with one of the most popular comfort foods (pasta) to create the ultimate comfort food that doubles as an easy and delicious weeknight dinner: Butternut Squash Carbonara!

Now, I will admit that this recipe wasn't completely my idea. I saw Half Baked Harvest publish a butternut squash carbonara recipe last fall and even though I had no idea what a "carbonara" was, it looked so good.

So good, in fact, that I wanted to create my version that was a little bit easier and healthier.

Ingredients for butternut squash pasta carbonara

  • Pasta of choice: I recommend this veggie spaghetti to sneak in some extra servings of veggies, but you can use any pasta you like, including gluten-free pasta! Just choose a pasta that holds well after cooking (ie won't fall apart during mixing).
  • Whole eggs: one of the main ingredients for the creamy sauce
  • Fresh parmesan: yes, fresh! I've tested this recipe with pre-shredded parmesan and it does not work. I promise. It's worth the splurge!
  • Butternut squash: the star! We're blending it until smooth and tossing it in the homemade sauce to make it extra creamy and rich.
  • Turkey bacon: a healthier alternative to traditional bacon
  • Brussels sprouts: for color, texture, and a boost of green vegetables!
  • Nutritional yeast: for a boost of plant-based protein and color in the pureed squash. It adds so much flavor so please don't skip it!
  • Fresh herbs and seasonings: lots of thyme, rosemary, and black pepper with a dash of red chili flakes

A platter of Butternut Squash Pasta Carbonara with crispy bacon, brussels sprouts, and fresh thyme

How to make butternut squash carbonara

Because this recipe moves so quickly, I recommend having everything prepped and ready as much as possible. This means:

  • Peeling and chopping your Brussels sprouts (I do this the morning of)
  • Grating the parmesan cheese (yes, use fresh cheese and not pre-shredded!)
  • Whisking the cheese, eggs, and black pepper together in a very large mixing bowl

Once all of that is finished, you can start making your delicious butternut squash carbonara! It's quite easy. Here's how to do it:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F and spray a sheet pan with cooking spray. Spread the Brussels sprouts in an even layer, season well, and lay the strips of bacon on top. Bake for 15 minutes until everything is roasted and slightly crispy.
  2. Steam the butternut squash in the microwave until completely cooked. Set aside when finished.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, then drain the pasta but DO NOT RINSE. Immediately add the pasta to the egg/cheese mixture and toss quickly. Keep tossing, constantly! Gradually add reserved pasta water until you reach a silky, creamy texture.
  4. Puree the squash in a blender with nutritional yeast, seasonings, and the remaining pasta water. Stir in with the pasta carbonara until smooth.
  5. Serve your delicious butternut squash carbonara with the roasted Brussels sprouts and crispy bacon, extra herbs, and lots of fresh cracked black pepper.

Ingredients for Butternut Squash Pasta Carbonara

Frequently Asked Questions

What is carbonara sauce made from?

Traditionally, carbonara sauce is made from raw eggs, Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, heavy cream, and black pepper. My recipe for butternut squash carbonara is lighter and healthier with a simple mix of eggs, parmesan, pureed butternut squash, and black pepper.

Does pasta carbonara taste like eggs?

No! Mixing in cheese, reserved pasta water, and the butternut squash puree takes away any egg flavor and the result is an ultra silky, creamy sauce. It's heaven!

How do you keep carbonara from scrambling?

Toss the pasta constantly and thoroughly. No stopping! I will literally mix the noodles in the egg sauce for a good 5 minutes by hand.

If you start to notice scrambling, make sure you're really getting all the sauce from the bottom of the mixing bowl - that's where the scrambled eggs are probably coming from. You can also add more pasta water.

What goes well with pasta carbonara?

Traditionally, carbonara is made with spaghetti or linguine noodles with pancetta, but you can use any noodles you like. I chose to use turkey bacon instead of pancetta to keep this lighter and more affordable.

To add more protein, you could serve a grilled chicken breast seasoned with the same herbs and spices on the side.

A hearty side salad like this one would also be a great option!

A platter of Butternut Squash Pasta Carbonara with crispy bacon, brussels sprouts, and fresh thyme

Make this carbonara your own!

  • Add more protein and serve a grilled chicken breast on the side. Season with thyme, rosemary, and black pepper, then sprinkle with parmesan cheese and let it melt.
  • Go vegetarian by omitting the turkey bacon or replacing the bacon with tofu!
  • Make this pasta carbonara gluten-free by choosing your favorite gluten-free pasta.

How to store butternut squash carbonara

In the fridge

For best results, use glass tupperware like these and store in the fridge for up to 4 days. To reheat, sprinkle a tablespoon of water over your pasta and reheat in the microwave. Stir in the excess liquid to rehydrate the pasta and enjoy!

In the freezer

Prepare the pasta (not the Brussels sprouts or bacon) according to directions, let cool to room temperature, then freeze in a ziploc bag for up to three months. Let thaw overnight in the fridge, then reheat with some water or milk on the stove until warm. Prepare the Brussels sprouts and bacon the same day and serve according to directions.

More easy weeknight recipes

Easy 30 Minute Lemon Chicken Stir Fry

Baked Hawaiian BBQ Chicken with Jalapeno Pineapple Salsa

Fresh Raspberry Almond Arugula Salad with Lemon Pepper Chicken

30 Minute BBQ Chicken Pizza (no yeast required!)

Jamaican Jerk Burgers with Sweet Mango Sauce

Instant Pot Healthy White Chicken Chili

A plate of Butternut Squash Pasta Carbonara with crispy bacon, brussels sprouts, and fresh thyme

I can't wait for you to dive into a cozy plate of this Butternut Squash Carbonara! It's so easy to make, so delicious, and it's a great weeknight dinner or unique Thanksgiving dish.

Be sure to leave a star rating and review below if you try the recipe so other readers know how you liked it! You can also tag me on Instagram. I love seeing my recipes come to life in your kitchen!

30 Minute Creamy Butternut Squash Carbonara

This Butternut Squash Carbonara is ready in 30 minutes for the easiest weeknight dinner. The sauce is thick and creamy from eggs, parmesan cheese, and pureed butternut squash, and the pasta is topped with crispy bacon and roasted Brussels sprouts.

Author:

Brooke Harmer

Prep:

10

min

cook:

20

min

total:

30

min

servings:

6

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. Barilla Veggie Spaghetti (or pasta of choice)
  • 20 oz. frozen butternut squash cubes
  • ¼ C nutritional yeast
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp red chili flakes
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 C freshly grated parmesan (not pre-shredded)
  • 1 C reserved pasta water
  • 2 lbs. Brussels sprouts, peeled and halved
  • 6 strips turkey bacon
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Spread the Brussels sprouts in an even layer, lay the bacon over the sprouts, and spray everything with cooking spray. Season with salt to taste and roast for 15-20 minutes until the Brussels sprouts and bacon are crispy. Chop the bacon.
  2. Meanwhile, steam the butternut squash in the microwave according to package instructions. Add to a blender with the nutritional yeast, garlic powder, thyme, and red chili flakes. Set aside.
  3. In a very large mixing bowl, whisk together the cheese and eggs vigorously (at least 1 minute). Set aside.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. When the pasta is finished, reserve 1 cup pasta water* and drain the pasta. DO NOT RINSE THE PASTA. Immediately add the pasta to the mixing bowl and toss constantly for 4-5 minutes. Gradually add in 3/4 cup of the reserved pasta water as you toss to thin the sauce and avoid scrambling the eggs.
  5. Add the remaining 1/4 cup pasta water to the blender and blend until smooth. Pour the butternut squash puree over the pasta carbonara and toss to combine. Season generously with fresh cracked black pepper.
  6. To serve, divide the pasta into 6 servings and top with the Brussels sprouts and bacon.

Notes

*This is how much I needed, but I would reserve another 1/2 cup (1 1/2 cups total) in case you need more to blend the squash or toss the sauce.

Nutrition facts are a calculated estimate of 1/6 of the prepared pasta, Brussels sprouts, and bacon.

Nutrition

Calories: 413 / Fat: 7.6g / Saturated Fat: 3.5g / Sodium: 266mg / Carbohydrates: 63.8g / Fiber: 7.9g / Sugar: 6.7g / Protein: 23.2g