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This Pumpkin and Pesto Cheese Stuffed Shells is for nights when you’re craving Italian, but you’re also craving fall flavors. Jumbo pasta shells stuffed with a basil pesto and ricotta cheese mixture. Then baked in a spicy pumpkin vodka sauce that’s creamy and so delicious! This is a great fall pasta to serve any night of the week, or for your next Saturday night dinner party.

overhead photo of Spicy Pumpkin and Pesto Cheese Stuffed Shells in skillet

Can you guys tell that I’ve entered full on comfort food mode over here?

I know it’s only October and all, but with our major snowfall this week (if you follow on Instagram you saw all the photos) I really cannot stop these comfort food cravings. When it’s cold all I want to make is butternut squash pasta, homemade curries, noodle soup, and homemade pumpkin butter.

So, all the best fall food.

I have to say, even though I think it’s WAY too early for snow, I’m loving the coziness it brings. As well as the excuse to stay warm inside all day. I swear the chill in the air, and the snow on the ground, makes cooking even more enjoyable for me. Which is nice considering that I’ve been spending almost all my time in the kitchen lately.

But then I do kind of miss the fall leaves…

Spicy Pumpkin and Pesto Cheese Stuffed Shells in skillet before baking

Anyway, moving on to this pasta.

I was inspired to create these pumpkin stuffed shells after making this pasta last year and loving it so. This is kind of the fall version of that pasta dish, and as you can guess, it’s a new go-to for me.

This easy recipe uses a lot of pantry staple ingredients. And while it does take some time, it’s still very easy to make and comes together in just about an hour.

overhead close up photo of Spicy Pumpkin and Pesto Cheese Stuffed Shells

The details.

To start, make the spicy pumpkin vodka sauce. This is just a mix of spicy ground chicken sausage, pumpkin puree, vodka, and spices. I love using chicken sausage as it adds so much flavor. It also means you don’t have to add extra ingredients like onions and garlic to the sauce. One note, I prefer using lean chicken over pork sausage, which can be a little too greasy sometimes.

While the sauce simmers, make the stuffed shells. These are the almost too good…fresh ricotta, fontina cheese, and basil pesto, all stuffed into a pasta shell? Nothing not to love here.

Snuggle the cheese stuffed shells right into the spicy pumpkin vodka sauce, then top with mozzarella and bake until the pasta is golden and the cheese has melted.

Hello to cheesy, pumpkiny pasta perfection.

overhead photo of Spicy Pumpkin and Pesto Cheese Stuffed Shells

This is one of the best dishes to come out of my kitchen as of late, and that’s saying A LOT since I’ve been cooking A LOT.

I know it may seem a little odd to use pumpkin in such a savory way, but go with me on this one. It lends a creamy texture to the sauce while providing a hint of both sweetness and autumn flavors.

Just give it try. I know you guys will all love it!

close up photo Spicy Pumpkin and Pesto Cheese Stuffed Shells with spoon in skillet

Watch the How To Video:

If you make this pumpkin and pesto cheese stuffed shells please be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to also tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Spicy Pumpkin and Pesto Cheese Stuffed Shells

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings: 6
Calories Per Serving: 769 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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Ingredients

Instructions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish or dish of similar size.
    2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken sausage and brown all over, about 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the bell pepper, pumpkin, vodka, milk, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
    3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat and boil the pasta until al dente according to package directions.
    4. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, fontina, and 1/2 cup pesto. 
    5. To assemble, spoon 3/4 of the pumpkin sauce into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Working with one pasta shell at a time, spoon about 1 tablespoon of the cheese mixture into each shell, placing the filled shell into the baking dish as you go. Spoon the remaining pumpkin sauce over top of the shells and then drizzle the remaining 1/4 cup pesto evenly over everything. Add the mozzarella.
    6. Transfer the baking dish to the oven and bake 20-25 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is lightly browned on top. Cool 5 minutes before serving. Serve with fresh basil. Enjoy!

Notes

*If you'd like to make this vegetarian, no problem, just omit the chicken sausage and use a little more crushed red pepper flakes for heat, if you'd like.
*To make the pasta ahead, just do everything up until the final baking, cool, and store in the fridge until ready to serve!

horizontal photo of Spicy Pumpkin and Pesto Cheese Stuffed Shells in skillet

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    So so delicious!! I substituted water with lemon juice for the vodka and manicotti shells (my grocery store didn’t have jumbo shells). I was hesitant about the pumpkin but oh my goodness it was amazing! My husband was raving about this meal! Highly recommend making this!

    1. Hey Caitlin,
      Awesome! It’s so great to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks a lot for making it! Have the best weekend❄️ xTieghan

  2. 4 stars
    The taste is great but there is not enough filling for one pound of shells,nor would a pound fit well in a 9 x13 pan. Where I live shells are sold in 12 ounce boxes and that’s what I used. I had some unfilled shells left over.

    I didn’t have any vodka on hand so I increased the milk and pumpkin just a bit . Broth would work too but I didn’t have any. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Hey Kim,
      Thanks so much for giving the recipe a try, I am wondering if you used too much filling in your shells? Were there too many for the baking dish? Sorry let me know if I can help in anyway! xTieghan

  3. 5 stars
    Wow, this is an awesome spin on stuffed shells. Everybody loved it and it’s going into my fall and Winter recipe rotation. Thank you so much!

    1. Hey Amber,
      Yes, that will work well for you! I hope this recipe turns out amazing for you, please let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan

  4. 5 stars
    I have to preface my review by saying that we are not huge pumpkin fans, so I was skeptical about this recipe. BUT, my husband and I were drooling over your gorgeous photos, so we took a chance. WOW! It was creamy, spicy, cheesy — and OH SO good!! The pesto was an amazing flavor bomb! I made this a few weeks ago for dinner, and we enjoyed it that night, but I spilt the quantity in half to freeze some. We let it thaw yesterday and reheated in the oven according to your directions — PERFECTION! We will definitely be having this one again, Tieghan. Thanks so much for expanding our food horizons!!

    1. Hey Alexis,
      Thanks a lot for giving the recipe a go, I am so delighted that it was enjoyed! Have a great week:) xTieghan

      1. 5 stars
        This is top 3 favorite of your recipes, Tieghan! We made this multiple times last year and are making it again this year.
        My dad is a super picky eater, mom isn’t a pumpkin fan but they absolutely love this! Don’t be afraid to try even if you don’t like pumpkin.
        The spicy ground chicken sausage, I can only find at Whole Foods so I sometimes substitute it with regular ground chicken which still works fine. 10/10 recommend this recipe. It will always be a staple fall dish in our house. 🙂

  5. 5 stars
    This was amazing! Don’t hesitate to try it, even if you think someone doesn’t like pumpkin, or any of the ingredients! It was met with rave reviews, including half of the taste testers who do NOT like pumpkin! a delicious, homey dish that is still fancy enough for company.
    my tips: do NOT skip the fontina. this gives it that unique, rich flavor and the most luxurious creaminess. I found the 1 lb. of shells made extra, so don’t stress if you don’t have enough pasta. since this only uses part of a can of pumpkin, don’t hesitate to freeze the remainder and save it for the next time you want to make this tasty treat 🙂

  6. 5 stars
    LOVE!!! I made this dish for my anniversary dinner and it was better than anything we could have gotten at a restaurant!! Omg! So good! Served with fresh roasted broccoli and garlic bread. All the flavor combos and textures… Amazing. Due to the pandemic, I couldn’t find jumbo shells anywhere! Who knew those were so popular!? So I made it into a lasagna instead! I also doubled the pumpkin and added a dash of nutmeg and cinnamon… Bomb! Flavor explosion! Just made it again with the shells and it’s amazing. Feeling extra bougie, and made the chicken sausage, the pesto, and the pumpkin from scratch. Couldn’t find fontina cheese so just used a creamy havarti instead. Truly something to be proud of. I’ll keep this recipe forever! Thank you!

    1. Hey Rachael,
      Thank you so much for giving the recipe a try, I am so glad the pasta was enjoyed! Happy Holidays! xTieghan

  7. 4 stars
    We made this for our vegetarian main on Thanksgiving. Since we weren’t using the chicken sausage I added some extra seasoning. This recipe was very delicious and fairly easy to make. My only complaint is I wish there was more sauce! Maybe this isn’t an issue if you are using the sausage. If you are making this vegetarian I would scale the sauce up to use a whole 15 oz can of pumpkin puree. Honestly the pumpkin got a little lost in the whole dish.

  8. 4 stars
    This is delicious! Very rich flavor. Unfortunately I didn’t feel like the leftovers heated up that well (I just did microwave). Overall a great fall pasta!

  9. I’ve been wanting to make this all season long. I went to four grocery stores today but couldn’t find shells! Can you sub rigatoni for jumbo shells? How would you recommend altering this recipe for that substitution?

    1. Hey Katherine,
      I would actually use lasagna sheets and just spread the mixture on them and roll them up. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

    1. Hey Casey,
      I would add about 15 minutes to the baking time. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

  10. 5 stars
    These are awesome. I’ve made once with crushed tomatoes added and once just as directed, and both both times were amazing. I’m a huge advocate for making your own pesto and pumpkin purée, but I’m sure it’s still super delicious otherwise. Oh, and I have to add garlic to pretty much everything, but man, oh man. This is good stuff. Thank you for the recipe!

  11. I am so pumped (no pun intended haha) to make this tonight but went to three stores and couldn’t find jumbo shells. I’m going to just sub large rigatoni and do kind of a modified baked rigatoni. Who knew shells would be hard to find? Can’t wait to try it!

    1. Haha love that you are excited to make this one! I hope it turns out amazing for you, Ashley! Thank you so much! xTieghan

  12. This recipe was delicious 🙂 The pumpkin flavour was not overwhelming at all but definitely added to the amazing flavors in this dish. I did make a few changes:
    – couldn’t find spicy Italian chicken sausage so I used ground chicken and seasoned with paprika, chilli flakes and garlic powder.
    – couldn’t find fontina cheese so I used gruyere instead
    – didn’t have vodka on hand so I subbed with chicken stock
    – used half the amount of mozzarella as some of the comments mentioned the dish was really cheesy (no pun intended!)

    Overall my husband and friends said the dish was amazing and one of my friends doesn’t even like pumpkin! The sauce is really delicious so when I make this dish again I will probably increase the sauce a bit. However, by no means was there not enough sauce based on the recipe! Definitely adding this recipe to the fall roster 🙂 thanks for sharing!!

    1. Hey Jessica,
      I get mine from Whole Foods. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

  13. 5 stars
    I made this vegetarian using Morningstar Farms brand veggie Italian Sausage style crumbles (frozen section) – it worked well! I used the 10 oz whole bag. They don’t need to be cooked as long as real sausage so I shortened that step but otherwise I followed the recipe exactly.

  14. 5 stars
    I made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious! My 1 year old gobbled it up! Every piece lol. What a perfect, cozy fall dish. Thanks for the for all of the great recipes!

  15. Omg! Made this tonight and it was one of the best things I’ve ever cooked! Thank you! My boyfriend loved it too! Do you think you could adapt the sauce to be more like a stew to serve with a grilled cheese (his idea, lol)?

    1. Hey Brandi,
      I am so glad you both enjoyed the recipe! Lol I have tried that out but you could certainly give it a whirl. Please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

  16. 5 stars
    This recipe was amazing!! I ended up making lasagna roll ups instead of using jumbo shells (3 stores near me were out of jumbo shells!?!) and it still turned out great. Just wanted to let everyone know that this could be an option if you find yourself in the same predicament. 🙂 Thanks!!

    1. Hey Helen,
      You could do lasagna roll ups! I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

  17. 5 stars
    Made this last night it was fantastic! It came together with ease and tasted like I spent the entire day preparing this. It is now in my ‘go to’ recipe collection. ❤️

  18. 5 stars
    This meal was fantastic! Loved the cheese pesto mixture in the shells. Will make again and add more pumpkin to the sauce I think!!!

  19. Hi! I want to make this on a Wed. to serve on Friday, due to timing that’s all I got. You said we can make everything up until baking ahead of time- will the flavors/everything hold from Wed to Friday when I would actually bake it? This looks AMAZING and I can’t wait! 🙂

    1. Hey Misty,
      That will be fine to do. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

  20. Any suggestions on making this ahead? Could I stuff the shells and keep them in the fridge? Then make the sauce when I’m ready for dinner?

    1. Hey Austin,
      Yes that is fine to do! I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

  21. Was very good but had to adjust the sauce a little. Felt the vodka overpowered the sauce somewhat. Added more pumpkin and a little butter and Parmesan cheese, along with a little water to thin sauce out. That helped quite a bit. Overall a good recipe!

  22. 3 stars
    Call me a novice but stuffing those shells easily took me 25 minutes. Great recipe. But timing the chef is far different than timing yourself following the recipe first go.

    1. Hi! I am sorry it took longer than expected! I am really glad you enjoyed these though! Please let me know if there is anything I can help with! xTieghan

  23. Wjayvis the substitute for vegetarians for the chicken inbthw sauce,pls do publish such notes in your recipe ,makes it easier for us,thxs ,waiting to make it

  24. This recipe was seriously amazing and so easy to make! I was looking for the perfect, comforting fall dish and THIS was it. I reheated for leftovers the next day and it was even better. The mozzarella on top is a must and I added fresh basil and paired with a salad and fresh french bread. So so good!

    1. Hey Chantalle,
      Yes that will work! I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

    1. Hey Jana,
      Yes that would be a great idea! Let me know if you have other questions. Hope you love the recipe. Thank you! xTieghan

  25. 5 stars
    We made this the other night and it was so delicious! Flavorful, rich, and delicious. I think we may have over-reduced the sauce, or maybe just wanted a little bit more sauce.

    We have some dietary restrictions but found good substitutes.
    My roommate is gluten-free, but we weren’t able to locate gluten-free shells (they exist, but we couldn’t get them day-of) so we used Jovial brand manicotti. I think we used more like 10 ounces (1.5 packages – we ran out of filling for the last bit). She also has a harder time with lactose so we substituted a light goat gouda for the fontina, a hard sheep ricotta mixed with goat fromage blanc for the ricotta, and a goat mozzerella (the shreddable kind) for the mozzarella. It was so good!

  26. 5 stars
    Fantastic recipe! I am pregnant and not enjoying meat right now so I used mushrooms & onions instead of the chicken sausage. I also added cumin. Soooo yummy!

  27. 5 stars
    6 out of 5 stars! I love this recipe so much. I’ve made it twice and I’ll definitely make it again. I cannot legally buy vodka, so I substitute it for chicken broth. I also use extra cheese because… ya know… cheese is delicious! The first time I made this recipe, I stuffed the shells, which is amazing. The second time, I was lazy so I just put the shells in the vodka sauce and spread all of the ricotta mixture on top of it. Both ways are equally good. 110% recommend this recipe!

    1. Hi Allison! Thank you so much for trying this recipe! I am so glad it turned out so well for you! Haha that reminds me of when I would cook when I was younger and think of alcohol as just an ingredient… but you still have to be 21. I hope you continue to enjoy my recipes! xTieghan

  28. 5 stars
    I made this for the first time last night. So Delicious on a cold, rainy evening! I didn’t have any vodka on hand, so I subbed chicken broth. Pumpkin based pasta sauces and chili are my all time fave! You packed a lot of flavor in this dish. Don’t be afraid to add a few more pinches of red pepper flakes! 🙂

  29. 5 stars
    This was fantastic! I want to bottle that sauce and put it on EVERYTHING! So delicious! Used vegetarian Italian sausage and it was Amazing.

    Thank you,
    Cheryl

  30. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for sharing this amazing recipe with us. I made it this weekend and it was hands down the best dish ever. From now on this is gonna be my special dish for family and friends.

  31. 4 stars
    This was delicious ?! I had to use breakfast sausage due to the local grocery store not having ground chicken. The pumpkin wasn’t over powering!

  32. I’m going to make this for my vegetarian Thanksgiving option this week, it looks amazing! How far in advance could I make this? Thank you!

    1. HI Libby! You can prepare this up to 3 days ahead of time. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!! xTieghan

  33. 5 stars
    I too struggled with finding a chicken sausage I was comfortable using, so I used ground beef and threw in a bunch of random seasonings to bring up the spice level. I also used sweet potato instead of pumpkin because i had it on hand, and a slightly different cheese blend — I always feel guilty not following recipes exactly the first time, but this one literally came out so perfectly! 10/10 would recommend!

  34. 5 stars
    I made this with the stuffed shells last month and loved it, and then just modified the recipe last night by making the pumpkin, sausage, vodka sauce over whole wheat fettuccine with plenty of Parmesan over the top. Not quite as good without the stuffed shells, but it was still quick, easy and delicious – and maybe a little bit healthier without all the cheese!

  35. 5 stars
    Way easier and quicker than the finished product looks! Great for having guests over for dinner since you can make ahead and bake when you’re ready to eat. Never disappointed with any Half Baked Harvest recipe I’ve ever made! 🙂

    1. Hi Kori! I would actually just recommend omit the pepper and not replacing it with anything. the pasta will still be great! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you! xTieghan ??

    1. Hey Alex! Yes, this works great when baked in a 12-inch cake iron skillet. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you! xTieghan ??

  36. 5 stars
    Loved this! I left out the vodka and sausage and used a whole can of pumpkin instead of half, and was generous with spices and herbs. The bell pepper is genius. The homemade pesto is a must for me! Keeps my basil bushes at bay. Thank you for another amazing recipe!

  37. This looks delicious! Do you think it’s OK to nestle the stuffed shells into the pan you make the sauce in in steam of transferring everything to another dish?

    1. Hi Corey! Yes that would be just fine to keep them in the same pan. Less dishes! Let us know if you have any other questions. Hope you enjoy this recipe! X Kelly

  38. 4 stars
    I made this dish for our monthly girls night and everyone loved it. My husband came home later that night and ate the leftovers, came upstairs and woke me up out of a dead sleep to say, “That pasta was amazing!” it was a big hit. Love your recipes, site, and vibe.

  39. 3 stars
    The cheese filling was out of this world. I was hoping to love this dish but just didn’t like the sauce at all. Still love the site and will be coming back for more recipes. Should review more often the ones I have found that i have loved!

  40. 2 stars
    I was so excited to make this recipe but I have to say I found it kind of meh….not bad but I would not make it again. The stuffing of the shells was awesome but the sauce was just kind of weird. I also wish I left out the red bell pepper & spicy italian chicken sausage because I feel like they just didn’t go together with the pumpkin sauce.

    1. Hey Amanda! I would thaw the pasta overnight in the fridge and then warm in the oven at 350 for 20-30 minutes, covered with foil until warmed throughout. Please let me know if you have any other questions. So glad you love this recipe! Thank you! xTieghan

  41. Any recommendations to make meat free? This looks too delicious to not try, but I’m a pescatarian. Help!?

    1. Hi! Just omit the sausage, and use a pinch of both smoked paprika and crushed red pepper flakes to spice it up. You can also add 1 cup of your favorite veggie too. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you! xTieghan

  42. 5 stars
    Just made this-so delish!!! I didn’t have enough Fontina so I did part fontina and part mossarella!! So yummy!!! I absolutely love all these recipes!!

  43. 5 stars
    My husband’s exact words to my son: “you’re life is about to be changed when you take that first bite.” So good!

  44. 5 stars
    Loved this ! Made it last weekend and followed the instructions to a tee. It came out so well, and my boyfriend loved it too ! I had basically all the same ingredients in my fridge / pantry today, except ricotta and pesto – so I swapped the shells for rigatoni, added them to the cast iron of the sauce, and topped it with shredded fontina & torn mozzarella. SO GOOD !

  45. 2 stars
    The picture looks gorgeous and the recipe sounds like it would be delish but I have to say I found it kind of meh….not bad but I would not make it again. Loved the addition of pesto to the cheese stuffing however I did not care for the sauce at all. Family liked it well enough. Probably just a personal taste thing. LOVE your blog and have tried many of your recipes and totally enjoyed them.

  46. I made this dish last night and it turned out delicious! Received a lot of compliments from everyone that benefited from the leftovers 🙂

  47. 5 stars
    I made this on Monday without baking it and froze it for company that was coming the following Sunday. Took it lt of the freezer for 2 hours and then baked it and it turned out beautifully. So delicious and all of my guests wanted the recipe!

  48. I REALLY want to make this dish for Thanksgiving. Could you suggest a brand of Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage, and do I grind it? I don’t have an abundance of choices where I live.
    Thank you

    1. HI! I like to buy mine from whole foods meat counter. they make it fresh. If you can’t find a good brand in your local store, I recommend using ground chicken or turkey with a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes and smoked paprika for flavor. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe. Thanks so much! xTieghan

  49. Hi Tieghan, this recipe looks amazing!! I think i watched your Instagram video of this 3 times in a row! Any recommendations on where to buy ground spicy chicken sausage? I don’t eat pork so this recipe is a dream come true for me!

    1. HI! I buy mine from Whole Foods. They sell it both prepackaged OR they will make is fresh for you at the meat counter. The fresh is best! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe. Thanks so much! xTieghan

  50. 5 stars
    Oh wow, this recipe is out of this world. My meals this week consist of your latest butternut squash/apple soup, the smoothie bowls from HBH cookbook and this. I’m looking forward to every single one of them, thank you!

    For those who are wondering with what to replace the vodka, I subbed it for a mix of apple cider/lime juice and it worked great. I also used ready-to-bake cannelloni instead of shells.

    1. Hey Kate! Yes, fresh mozzarella is best! 🙂 Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe. Thanks so much! xTieghan

  51. The flavors were great, but we found this to be too cheesy (mainly the ricotta filling – and I LOVE cheese, especially ricotta). I would have liked to have tasted the pumpkin sauce more and just found it kind of got lost among all the cheese. I would definitely cut back on all of the cheese next time and make a little more sauce. Very yummy though.

    1. Hi Hayley! I am so glad you liked this recipe and feel free to cut back on the cheese the next time you make it! I hope it turns out better for you! ?

  52. I made this last night on a chilly fall evening! My husband and I both loved it and I am eating leftovers for breakfast! I love the sauce- definitely different than your typical stuffed shells in a good way! Tasted like the “fall” version of Italian food! I hid the pumpkin from my husband 🙂 and he kept saying how much he loved the sauce, haha.

    1. Hey Jordan! Yes, I cooked everything in my 12 inch skillet. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thanks! xTieghan

  53. This looks delicious and i can‘t wait to make it! I dont want to use vodka, should I replace it with something else or just leave it out?
    Thank you for all your wonderful recipies!

    1. Hi! I recommend replacing the vodka with water. That works great! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thanks! xTieghan

  54. 5 stars
    All your recipes looks so delicious. I just made this dish last evening and all I can say is YUMMMMMMM! I have to admit I wasn’t completely sold on the ingredients, but they came together to form a creamy, just slightly spicy dish of goodness. I even hid some of the ingredients from my notoriously picky husband although it didn’t matter he loved it so much he went back for seconds and asked that I keep it in the rotation. Can’t wait to try many more of your recipes…. Thank you for sharing.

  55. This looks delicious and i can‘t wait to make it! I dont want to use vodka, should I replace it with something else or just leave it out?
    Thank you for all your wonderful recipes!

    1. Hi! I recommend replacing the vodka with water. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thanks! xTieghan

  56. 5 stars
    Ugh, just made this on a regular Tuesday eve… and it made my week! Will be preparing this dish this season on repeat I guess ? Thanks for all your great inspiration! X

  57. 5 stars
    I made a modified version of this and it’s so fabulous I’m now frantically recommending it to everyone! My version didn’t use vodka or fontina, and I replaced the mince with a veggie version. It was amazing! Thanks so much for the recipe!

  58. I made this delicious dish last night!! My vodka sauce was a bit limited to fill all the shells, and yet throw some on top of the shells, so I had some leftover marinara and spooned that on top, followed by the cheese mixture, etc. It was perfect.

  59. I’ve been dreaming about this for days and given the gloomy rainy UK weather on my end, think I finally have the perfect excuse to make it! I like the idea of using a ground meat to give texture to the pumpkin sauce – would using diced mushrooms instead of a veggie mince be too strong a flavour, do you think?
    Thanks!

    1. HI! I think mushrooms would be delicious. Great idea! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe. Thanks so much! xTieghan

  60. 5 stars
    After a helluva week…dealing with Hurricane Michael…when I saw this recipe Wednesday morning I so needed comfort! We had evacuated and tonight am back home, no damage but in serious need of comfort. It’s decadent but comfort usually is!!! I did use mild Italian sausage instead of chicken sausage. I cut the recipe in half and should’ve added some pasta water to my sauce as I thickened it a little too much. BUT, it was delish!!!! Oh I had butternut squash puree in freezer so used it instead of pumpkin. Thank you !

    1. Hi Karen! I am so glad you are safe and doing well! I am so glad you loved this and could bring you some comfort on your first night home! Thank you!

  61. 5 stars
    The sauce is soooo good. Next time I want more sauce and less cheese and definitely don’t need the mozzarella on top. I only used 4 oz on top.

  62. I live in a small City and I’ve called every meat store and grocery store in town asking if they sell Ground Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage…. and nobody does. I’ve never even heard of that before. Can I simply use regular ground chicken and add some type of spice to compensate? Which spices would you suggest? This looks amazing.

    Thanks!

    1. HI! Yes, ground chicken with a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne will be just great! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe. Thanks so much! xTieghan

  63. 5 stars
    I am all about using pumpkin for savory dishes. This is just an amazing recipe! I can’t believe it’s snowing already! I live in southern California and we don’t get anything in the way of snow. Sometimes I wish we did for the exact reasons you stated!

    1. Hi! I recommend using water! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe. Thanks so much! xTieghan

  64. 5 stars
    This is incredible. I wouldn’t have thought to put classic Italian flavors with pumpkin like this but it really works. I may have overstuffed each of the shells because I didn’t get through nearly a pound of pasta, but it turned out amazing so I can’t be mad at a few leftover shells. This will go into rotation this winter for sure. 🙂

  65. 5 stars
    Ok so I made this and omg. The fontina, ricotta and pesto filling was the real star. I was hesitant not having any tomato in the vodka sauce, however it all worked together. The pumpkin flavor is very subtle. I think next time I’ll cut out the extra mozzarella on top. It truly is an ooey gooey cheese overload, but worth the splurge. I’ll definitely utilize the shell stuffing with other sauces moving forward.

  66. Oh gosh, I love Italian food, but this is taking it to another level. I have been daydreaming about this recipe since I have seen it in the mail a couple of hours ago. Pure italian / autumn perfection. Yum!

  67. 5 stars
    If I omit the sausage, then would onion and garlic compensate for those flavors? Making for my daughter for dinner and lunch leftovers for school. It’s cross country season and she needs the carbs!

    1. Hey Dana! Yes, onion and garlic will surely make up for the flavors. That will be delicious!! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe. Thanks so much! xTieghan

  68. This looks freaking amazing! That pumpkin vodka sauce sounds like something I could very much get in to. So cozy fall 🙂 xo

  69. HI Sandy! You can use chicken broth. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you! xTieghan