Chicken Sausage and Penne in a Pumpkin Cream Sauce

Chicken Sausage and Penne in a Pumpkin Cream Sauce is a healthier take on a hearty pasta dish, with a secret ingredient to make the cream sauce!

Chicken Sausage and Penne in a Pumpkin Cream Sauce

From the title, and even the picture, you may think this a rich dinner made with heavy cream. I’m delighted to say that’s not the case – but it tastes like it is!

I saw this recipe on Cara’s Cravings last year and have made it several times. Cara ingeniously came up with the idea to make a puree using skim milk, canned pumpkin, and – get this – 1% lowfat cottage cheese! I was skeptical when I first made it, and a little worried when I added this ‘cream sauce’ to the pan and saw tiny bits of cottage cheese peppering the pan. But then, the most amazing thing happened: the tiny bits melted and created this creamy, slightly cheesy, sauce.

I really want to use this trick to make this Giada recipe again, because it was far too creamy for me the first time. This idea can also be adapted for other sauces, like a butternut squash cream sauce – mmm.

Recipe Notes

Bob and I both really like this recipe. I’ve made it using different kinds of chicken sausage, but the combo of the apple sausage and the pumpkin is quite nice. I’ve made a few slight modifications to the recipe, but Cara’s original version, which serves 2, is available through the link below. My version serves 3-4 because we like to have leftovers for lunch.

bowl of spinach, package of Trader Joes sweet apple chicken sausage, container of extra virgin olive oil and a bottle of rubbed sage

Here is the pumpkin sauce pureed with the cottage cheese and milk. You can see the little bits of cottage cheese that remain. Feat not, those will melt when the sauce is added to the pan, and the sauce will become smooth and creamy.

Pumpkin Cream Sauce

Gluten Free Chicken Sausage and Penne in a Pumpkin Cream Sauce

Use gluten free pasta for an entirely gluten free dish. Be sure to check your sausage packaging to make sure they are gluten free.

Looking for more Pasta Dishes?

Check out these other Pasta recipes:
Creamy Chicken with Bowtie Pasta
Creamy Orzo
Orzo with Parmesan and Basil
Baked Ziti
Baked Ricotta Cavatelli in a Mascarpone Cream Sauce

You may also like this Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash!

chicken sausage and penne in a pumpkin cream sauce

Chicken Sausage and Penne in a Pumpkin Cream Sauce

Pasta in a creamy pumpkin sauce with chicken sausage and fresh spinach.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 3


  • 6 ounces penne pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, grated (or more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
  • 3 sliced chicken sausage links (such as apple from Trader Joes)
  • 3/4 cup 1% low fat cottage cheese
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 5 ounces baby spinach (roughly chopped)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)


  • Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook for about 15-20 minutes, until softened and beginning to caramelize. Add garlic, sage, and chicken sausage; continue to saute.
  • Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. In a small food processor or blender, combine pumpkin, cottage cheese, and milk. Blend until smooth. Add to sausage mixture in the skillet and continue to cook over low heat. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  • Drain pasta and add to sausage mixture with the baby spinach. Toss together until the spinach is wilted. Raise heat if necessary to melt any remaining bits of cottage cheese, while continuing to stir until creamy. Top with Parmesan cheese, if desired.


Source: Adapted from Cara’s Cravings
You’re Gonna Bake It After All
Keyword chicken sausage, main dish, Pasta

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