Butternut Squash Carbonara with Fried Sage and Caramelized Onions

Butternut Squash Carbonara with Caramelized Onions and Fried Sage {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Butternut Squash Carbonara with Caramelized Onions and Fried Sage {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

On Monday morning, lying in bed and catching up on my blog-reading after a happy and busy weekend with friends, I saw this post from Cookie and Kate, and was immediately obsessed. I spent the rest of the day thinking about various versions of the creamy butternut squash linguine, and by the time I stopped at the store on the way home from work I had reversed all of Kate’s healthy twists to the dish and it had morphed into a full-blown, decadent carbonara in my mind. Which, it turns out, is how the folks over at Bon Appetit had originally published it anyway. There’s no denying that I’m a fat kid at heart – give me the opportunity to cover pasta in fried salty bits and cheese and heavy cream and I’ll go all out  (and then hide the rest of the leftovers to help keep my vegan challenge going strong).

Butternut Squash Carbonara with Caramelized Onions and Fried Sage {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Butternut Squash Carbonara with Caramelized Onions and Fried Sage {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Now that it’s (finally) March, we only have a few weeks left where root veggies, kale, and heavy winter flavors are what we need to keep us going, so I’d suggest that you indulge in this dish now before all you can think about are radishes and asparagus and rhubarb. I’m not sure how best to convince you that it’s worth the calories, so I’m just going to ask you to trust me. If it makes you feel better, serve it with gently sauteed bitter greens, like broccoli rabe or mustard greens – the bitterness is a perfect counterpoint for the sweetness of the roasted squash and the saltiness of the pancetta. And enjoy it! One of winter’s redeeming qualities is the comfort food it inspires, so if eating food like this is what gets you through the lingering cold, go for it.

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More creamy pastas…

Creamy Mushroom Pasta

Cacio e Pepe with English Peas

Roasted Garlic and Shallot Mac’n’Cheese

Butternut Squash Carbonara with Caramelized Onions and Fried Sage {Katie at the Kitchen Door}


Butternut Squash Carbonara with Fried Sage and Caramelized Onions

Spaghetti carbonara gets a healthy-ish twist with a butternut squash sauce that’s as creamy and smooth as if it were made of eggs and cream! Well, there’s still a little bit of cream… 

Inspired by Bon Appetit and Cookie and Kate

  • Author: Katie at the Kitchen Door
  • Yield: 4-6 1x


  • 1 small butternut squash, about 1 1/2 – 2 lbs.
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper
  • 1/2 lb. slice pancetta, cut into small cubes
  • 1 small onion, peeled and sliced into thin half moons
  • 1 lb. fettucine
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 1 TBS butter
  • 1 small bunch sage


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Peel the butternut squash and cut into slices that are half an inch thick. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Flip slices with a spatula to coat with the oil. Roast until fork tender and slightly caramelized, about 20-25 minutes, checking and flipping after 10 minutes. When tender, remove from oven and place in a blender. Set aside.
  2. Heat a medium frying pan over medium heat and add the pancetta cubes. Cook until crispy and browned on all sides, stirring frequently. Once cooked, set aside on a paper-towel lined plate. Discard all but 2 TBS of the pancetta grease. Heat the 2 TBS of grease over medium-low heat, then add the sliced onions to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until thoroughly caramelized and slightly crispy, about 15 minutes.
  3. While the onions are cooking, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook the fettucine according to package directions and drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Place the cup of pasta water in the blender with the squash and the 1/4 c. heavy cream, and puree until very smooth. Toss the squash puree with the fettucine.
  4. Just before serving, melt the 1 TBS of butter in a small frying pan. Fry the sage leaves in the butter until crispy, about 2 minutes. To assemble, divide the pasta between the serving plates, and top generously with cooked pancetta, caramelized onions, and fried sage. Serve immediately.

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  1. Oh my goodness, this looks incredibly delicious!! And to tell you the truth, it doesn’t seem at all like a calorie binge. 1/4 cup of cream is pretty reasonable! At least that’s what I’m going to tell myself…

  2. I love the way you think… might as well eat all this rich, heavy, yummy winter food now… because really, it will be spring… someday… (soon!) Love your post… thanks!

  3. Just made this fantastic recipe. I used rosemary instead of sage as that’s what I had on hand. Really yummy.

  4. Hi Katie,

    This butternut squash pasta with sage just looks soo good! I’d love to include your recipe in a butternut squash round up I’m doing for Parade Magazine this month.

    If you’re fine with it, I’d love to use one of your photos with a link back to your original post (http://katieatthekitchendoor.com/2014/03/01/butternut-squash-carbonara-with-fried-sage-and-caramelized-onions/).

    Let me know your thoughts, and thanks so much!


    • Hi Felicia,

      That’s fine, thank you for checking. In the future, email is better for this sort of request!


  5. Hi, great recipe! As far as I know, what you mean is not “caramelized” but “glazed”, since caramelized means that you use sugar or any other sweet ingredient.
    Will try your recipe right tomorrow!

    • Hi Stella,

      Thanks for stopping by! The idea with “caramelized” onions is that you are caramelizing the naturally-occurring sugars in the onions, and purists will dissuade you from using any additional sugar… but I certainly don’t think a tablespoon of brown sugar hurts!


  6. Hi, I made this tonight 10/16/16 and it didn’t turn out. The sauce was like pumpkin puree, any tips? I guess I thought it would be more saucy, am I’m wrong?

    • Hi Sheila – do you mean the sauce was too thick? You can always thin it out with more pasta water. Depending on the size of your squash, the 1 cup of pasta water that the recipe calls for might not be enough. The sauce should be approximately the consistency of heavy cream before you toss it with the pasta. Hope that helps!

    • You could use coconut milk, but you might also be OK using just an extra 1/4 cup of pasta water to achieve the right consistency. A beaten egg yolk might also give the sauce a thicker, creamier quality (like in a traditional carbonara).

  7. I am literally eating this recipe as I type! It’s spectacular! I did make a few subs to lighten up even more (and it’s STILL delicious!) Came in >400 cal (HuGe serving), 37g protein, 15g fat, and only 9 net carbs!!
    *Subbed corn starch slurry (2 tbl + 1/4 c water) for cream…plus added 1 tbl butter
    *Subbed turkey bacon for pancetta
    *Subbed edamame noodles for pasta
    Required about 1/2 c extra pasta water in sauce….will DEFINITELY make this again! Thank you!!!

  8. Just make it for dinner today , it was wonderful!! Had to add more pasta water once combined , but over all the flavors are amazing!!