Spicy Brown Butter Pumpkin Rigatoni

September 12, 2022
Shanika | Orchids + Sweet Tea
This Spicy Brown Butter Pumpkin Rigatoni is the perfect way to enjoy a good plate of creamy pasta for the entire family. Enjoy pasta that comes completely loaded with pumpkin flavor married with savory spices, a nutty brown butter flavor, and of course with the amazing texture of rigatoni.

Spicy Brown Butter Pumpkin Rigatoni

Make the creamiest Spicy Brown Butter Pumpkin Rigatoni made with a pumpkin-cream sauce, herbs + spices, brown butter, chopped kale, parmesan, and a bit of spice for dinner tonight. Dairy-Free and Gluten-free options available.

Wooden spoon scooping Spicy Brown Butter Pumpkin Rigatoni out of a skillet

I'm always here for pasta. There's literally nothing better in this world to me than one full of pasta. Haha. 

But more importantly, creamy pasta is really where it's at and this Spicy Brown Butter Pumpkin Rigatoni is the ultimate creaminess and marriage of flavor that makes it a great option this Fall season, especially during PSL season.

Pumpkin-infused pasta is truly something delicious and shouldn't be passed up on if you ever get the option to try it. This vegetarian option pasta is truly amazing. Nothing short of flavor and it’s even perfect once reheated!

So, these quick, easy meals come in real handy, especially on those days!

Of course, you can always search weeknight meals on our site for more deliciousness.

How to Make Spicy Brown Butter Pumpkin Rigatoni

Start making this recipe by boiling your pasta. In the meantime, you make your creamy sauce by sautéing a few garlic cloves, and then adding in the seasoning, heavy cream, veggie stock, white cooking wine, pumpkin puree, and parmesan.

Next, toss in your chopped kale, finish things off with freshly-grated parmesan cheese and wallah.

Ingredients for Spicy Brown Butter Pumpkin Rigatoni including garlic, seasonings, and pumpkin puree


First and foremost, the flavors in this simple and creamy pumpkin pasta is enough to convince anyone, however, here are a few more reasons why you’ll love this pasta dinner:

  • It’s absolutely delicious—-creamy + velvety. I always try to ensure that my creamy pastas are just that----creamy! So, using cream-based ingredients like a high-quality heavy creamy and freshly-grated parmesan helps to achieve this best!
  • Super easy to make and quick! I literally love making the most delicious weeknight meals that don't take a ton of time and effort and this recipe is it! Plus, no crazy clean-up! Can we say–Everything in a pot and skillet?
  • Full of flavor + well seasoned! (The best reason). This by far is one of my biggest reasons for making this pasta. I enjoy adding spices + herbs to create a bold flavor profile that works with pumpkin. Even a pinch of cinnamon + allspice adds a beautiful touch!
  • Perfect for any time of day—Dinner, Lunch, Breakfast (if that’s your thing), whatever! Most of all, this is my biggest plus! I love pasta during anytime of the day, especially whenever there are leftovers. The good thing is that this pasta reheats nicely once done over the stovetop---slow and warmed through.

Colander of Rigatoni noodles

Ingredients For Spicy Brown Butter Pumpkin Rigatoni

This is a very simple recipe, but it does have THREE components: the brown butter, creamy pumpkin sauce and the rigatoni itself.

Creamy Sauce Ingredients

Here’s what you need to make this fast creamy pasta dinner recipe:

  • Unsalted butter. No need to have the butter at room temperature. You can take it right out the fridge if needed because you’ll be melting it in a skillet until darkened and fragrant.
  • Garlic. I recommend fresh, but you could use ½ teaspoon granulated garlic.
  • Heavy cream. I recommend organic–always!
  • White wine. Choose a dry wine that you like the taste of.
  • Herbs + Seasonings – A great addition of flavor. Adds such savoriness nice + a beautiful kick of spice including with a pinch of cinnamon and allspice.
  • Pumpkin. I use 100% organic pumpkin puree in the can, NOT pie filling. There’s a difference!
  • Parmesan cheese. You could also use pecorino romano.
  • Kale. Use fresh for best results, but frozen also works! Ensure that it’s chopped.
  • Veggie Stock– Helps to add extra flavor and creaminess. Use low-sodium store-bought or make your own.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin

It must be noted that this recipe (and most sweet or savory pumpkin recipes) calls for 100% pumpkin puree, NOT pumpkin pie filling! Pumpkin pie filling is quite literally the sweet pumpkin custard that you find in traditional pumpkin pie. It already contains sugar, cinnamon, clove, and other ingredients that make a pie filling.

Adding pumpkin pie filling to a dish that calls for 100% pumpkin puree will add an unwelcomed sweetness, essentially ruining the dish. Even if you are unsure of what type of pumpkin a recipe is calling for, go for the 100% pumpkin puree.

How to Brown Butter

Once you get the hang of browning butter, the process becomes second nature. At first, however, it might be a challenge to perfect the technique on your first try. Butter can burn quickly and easily, so you cannot step away during this process!

First, melt your butter in a skillet over medium to medium-low heat.

Once the butter has melted completely, allow it to begin bubbling. If the butter spatters, the heat source is too hot!

Allow the butter to cook for 3-4 minutes until you begin to see toasted bits at the bottom. This is the milk solids browning!

Once a rich brown color has been achieved and the butter smells nutty, it is ready. Remove the butter from the heat immediately.

Skillet of Spicy Brown Butter Pumpkin Rigatoni

How To Make Your Pumpkin Sauce More Flavorful?

It’s all about the seasoning! Whether you choose to keep things simple or a bit more complex, adding seasoning to your sauce is KEY! Adding flavor to the base of your sauce with garlic and seasonings will add more depth to your creamy pasta and allow everything else to marry together well.

Just let it all simmer together and slowly bubble as the seasonings infuse deeply.

Begin by cooking ziti pasta according to the directions of the packaging (about 8-10 minutes) and drain (leaving aside 2-3 Tbsps of pasta water for later).

Topping Ideas for Spicy Brown Butter Pumpkin Rigatoni

While I love this creamy pumpkin pasta dinner as-is, straight from the pan, you can dress it up with toppings if you like.

I usually just add kale, but for extra spice, color and texture, you can try:

  • Chopped nuts, such as toasted pecans or walnuts
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Black olives
  • Sliced jalapeños for a bit more heat
  • Toasted bread crumbs

If you discover a new favorite topping idea, be sure to let me know in the comments section below!

What Are Delicious Foods to Pair This Pasta With?

When it comes to most pasta dishes, I often enjoy them with a side of bread of some sort. Most times, I make my own homemade Garlic Bread, however, you can choose to spruce things up with many other options such as:

  • A delicious Salad
  • Sautéed Greens
  • Grilled Veggies
  • Toasted Bread

Two plates of Spicy Brown Butter Pumpkin Rigatoni

Can I Make Dairy-Free Spicy Brown Butter Pumpkin Rigatoni?

Yes! To make this sauce dairy-free, simply use vegan butter instead of the regular butter. Then swap the cream with full-fat coconut milk or coconut cream. And use your favorite dairy-free shredded cheese or nutritional yeast instead of parmesan.

When it comes to most of my vegan pasta dishes, I usually use cashews as a base to making the entire dish creamy. However, with the pumpkin flavored pasta, I didn’t need to use cashews due to the pumpkin puree acting as a creamy base when paired with canned coconut milk and veggie stock.

Once you have the sauce simmering on the stovetop, the MOST IMPORTANT thing is to ensure that you whisk constantly. This prevents any clumping together and keeps everything smooth as the sauce thickens.

Can I Make Gluten-Free Pumpkin Rigatoni?

Absolutely! To make this creamy pumpkin rigatoni gluten-free, simply substitute the pasta for a gluten-friendly version of rigatoni or any other shape that you like.

Also, ensure that the heavy cream and other ingredients are GF-friendly.

Storing Leftover Pasta

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. This makes a great meal prep recipe for a satisfying lunch! Reheat in the microwave or on the stove to serve.

Overhead shot of a plate of Spicy Brown Butter Pumpkin Rigatoni

My Top Fave Meatless Comfort Food Recipes


If you make this Spicy Brown Butter Pumpkin Rigatoni, be sure to tag me on Instagram @orchidsandsweettea!

Skillet of Spicy Brown Butter Pumpkin Rigatoni

Spicy Brown Butter Pumpkin Rigatoni

September 12, 2022
4.91 from 11 votes
This Spicy Brown Butter Pumpkin Rigatoni is the perfect way to enjoy a good plate of creamy pasta for the entire family. Enjoy pasta that comes completely loaded with pumpkin flavor married with savory spices, a nutty brown butter flavor, and of course with the amazing texture of rigatoni.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Serves: 4 servings



  • 1 (16 oz.) package organic rigatoni pasta (You can use your fave pasta shape/type; See Notes for GF option.)
  • 1 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil


  • 4 Tbsps unsalted butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup organic heavy cream
  • ¼ cup vegetable stock
  • 2 Tbsps white cooking wine
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (Plus, more if needed)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground Allspice
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 cup kale, chopped
  • 1 cup 100% pumpkin puree (Not pie filling!)
  • ½ cup grated parmesan



  • To begin, cook pasta according to packaging. NOTE: rigatoni pasta doesn’t take a long time to cook, usually 8-10 minutes (however, you should cook at 6-8 minutes or so—‘al dente’).


  • In a large 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter, stirring occasionally and letting it cook for 3-4 minutes, until dark bits begin to form and the entire butter becomes fragrant and darker. Set aside and let cool completely.


  • In the same skillet, add the minced garlic, sautéing until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add the salt, cinnamon, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, and allspice, stirring everything together. Whisk in the heavy cream, veggie stock, white cooking wine, and pumpkin puree, until everything thickens and becomes smooth with no lumps visible. Stir in the chopped kale.
  • Reduce the heat to low and let the sauce simmer for 3-4 minutes until it thickens more and the kale has wilted and cooked. Stir in the grated parmesan until it has melted and the sauce is even more creamy.
  • Add in the cooked pasta and stir until everything is well coated.
  • Remove from heat and serve immediately with your favorite side or on it's own.
  • Bon Appetit!

Tips & Tricks

  • STORAGE: Any leftovers can be kept in a tightly sealed container and refrigerated for up to 3-4 days.
  • SPICES/HERBS: If desired, you can reduce the amounts slightly. Please know that this recipe is bold in flavor, so feel free to adjust based on your tastebuds.
  • GLUTEN-FREE OPTION: To make this dish GF, simply use Gluten-Free pasta and ensure that all other ingredients are GF-friendly. 
  • DAIRY-FREE OPTION: To make this sauce dairy-free, simply use vegan butter instead of the regular butter. Then swap the cream with full-fat coconut milk or coconut cream. And use your favorite dairy-free shredded cheese or nutritional yeast instead of parmesan. 
  • PASTA: You can use Jumbo shells or long pastas like Pappardelle, Fettuccine, etc. if desired, however, I would recommend tossing with tongs to ensure that pasta is fully manageable and fully coated. Otherwise, the traditional penne or rigatoni pasta works perfectly too!


Tag @orchidsnsweettea_ on Instagram and hashtag it #orchidsandsweettea



Script text: Xx, Shanika

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Love this Recipe?

  1. It says to set the butter aside and let it cool completely but then it says to add the garlic to the same pan. What do we do with the butter?

    • Hi Michelle! Thanks so much for reaching out! You'll let the butter cool so that once you reheat it when sautéing the garlic, it doesn't burn. Hope that helps! 🙂

  2. This was delicious! I had a butternut squash I needed to use up so roasted and pureed it, then subbed it for the pumpkin here. That extra step added some effort and time, but the recipe was still super easy. Can't wait to make this again with the pumpkin. This is a winner.

    • Hi Jennifer! I'm so thrilled to hear that you enjoyed this recipe! It's definitely a staple in our house! 🙂

  3. This comforting pasta dish is bursting with so much flavor! Can't wait to dig in to a big bowl of this deliciousness!

  4. This is such a comforting pasta dish that's perfect for autumn and winter. My family loved this and we will be having it again.