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Deliciously cheesy Pumpkin Mac and Cheese is easy to make with tender macaroni noodles tossed in a creamy, rich pumpkin cheese sauce. Perfect for a comforting vegetarian main, or to serve as a festive side dish this fall.

Top view wooden spoon in pumpkin mac and cheese in pan.
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Homemade Pumpkin Mac and Cheese is the ultimate comforting fall recipe! It’s savory with a hint of sweetness from the pumpkin and irresistibly decadent, exactly the way you want a fall version of macaroni and cheese to taste. This dish is perfect for any cozy dinner, and it definitely deserves a spot on your Thanksgiving menu.

Why you should make this recipe

  • Full of fall flavor: This recipe uses a full can of pure pumpkin puree and a bit of nutmeg, so you’ll taste an infusion of fall in every bite! However, don’t worry, the pumpkin flavor is not too much.
  • Versatile: Serve this with a variety of main entrees! It’s great paired with anything from chicken, turkey, and steak to pork chops. And, of course, be sure to save a place on the table for this during the holidays.
  • Family-friendly: Just like our classic baked mac and cheese, this dish is always a major hit! Both kids and adults gobble it up!
Wooden spoon stirring cheesy pasta shells.

Ingredients needed

This pumpkin mac & cheese recipe is made with a joining of simple pantry staples and our favorite seasonal ingredient, pumpkin! Here’s what you’ll need to make it:

  • Pasta: For macaroni & cheese, we recommend elbow noodles, shells, cavatappi, orecchiette, or fusilli to hold onto the cheesy sauce.
  • Pumpkin puree: Use canned pumpkin purée (NOT canned pumpkin pie filling!) or make your own.
  • Milk: You can use any milk you like best. Whole milk will make for a richer sauce, or use unsweetened almond milk for a lighter option.
  • Cheese: We’re using two types of cheese (sharp cheddar cheese and parmesan cheese) for a wonderful depth of flavor.
  • Spices: Nutmeg adds warmth, chili flakes are optional for a bit of heat, and salt & pepper brings all of the flavors together.
Uncooked pasta, shredded cheese, olive oil, pumpkin puree, milk and spices.

How to make this easy mac and cheese recipe

Making this pumpkin macaroni and cheese recipe is super simple. The main steps are boiling the noodles, making the sauce, and baking until warm, bubbly, and golden brown on top. Here’s the process:

  1. Boil the pasta: Cook the pasta in salted water according to package instructions. Once the pasta is cooked to al-dente, drain and rinse under cold water.
  2. Make the sauce: Heat the oil in a deep pan over medium heat. Add the nutmeg and sauté for 20 seconds, until it starts to release its flavor. Stir in the pumpkin puree and milk. Stir continuously until the sauce is smooth. Once you start to see little bubbles, reduce the heat to a low and stir in the cheese.
  3. Add seasonings: Season the sauce to your taste and remove from heat once all the cheese has melted.
  1. Combine the pasta and sauce: Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir well to coat. Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese and chili flakes.
  2. Bake: Place in the oven and bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top.

Expert Tips

  • Boil pasta to al dente: The macaroni noodles will continue to cook in the oven, so it’s important to only boil until al dente (slightly undercooked) to keep them from becoming mushy.
  • Freshly grated cheese: We highly recommend shredding and grating your cheese from a block, so that the cheese gets nice and melty. The bagged pre-shredded cheeses are coated in anti-caking agents and just don’t melt as smoothly. They also aren’t as flavorful!
  • Keep it warm: If you’re serving this as part of a holiday spread, keep it warm by transferring it to a crockpot set on warm. Spray the crockpot insert with nonstick cooking spray to prevent the noodles from sticking to the bottom.
Baked pumpkin Mac and cheese in a pot.

Frequently asked questions

What kind of cheese goes well with pumpkin?

We always like to use more than one type of cheese when making mac and cheese. It will give your recipe maximum flavor and great melting. In this recipe, we’re using sharp cheddar cheese and parmesan cheese which keeps the pumpkin flavor from being too overwhelming.

How to spice up mac and cheese?

This recipe tastes amazing as-is, but you can always add additional texture and flavor by adding a sprinkle of breadcrumbs or cooked and crumbled bacon over the top before baking. Also, feel free to garnish the finished dish with fresh sage or chopped parsley.

Should I cover mac and cheese with foil when baking?

We don’t cover this while baking because it’s even more delicious when the top gets slightly crispy and golden brown.

Storage recommendations

  • Storing: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
  • Reheating: Before reheating, stir in a bit of milk to make the pasta creamier. Reheat in the microwave in small increments, covered until heated through.
Stirring pumpkin Mac and cheese with a wooden spoon in a pot.

More pumpkin recipes

Top view wooden spoon in pumpkin mac and cheese in pan.

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5 from 3 votes

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

By: Rena
Servings: 4 servings
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
0 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Top view wooden spoon in pumpkin mac and cheese in pan.
Deliciously cheesy Pumpkin Mac and Cheese is easy to make with tender macaroni noodles tossed in a creamy, rich pumpkin cheese sauce. Perfect for a comforting vegetarian main, or to serve as a festive side dish this fall.

Ingredients

  • 12 oz whole wheat or gluten-free macaroni
  • 1 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 15 oz canned pure pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups milk of choice
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes, or to taste

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta in salted water according to package instructions. Once the pasta is cooked to al-dente, drain and rinse under cold water.
  • Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
  • Heat the oil in a deep pan over medium heat. Add the nutmeg and sauté for 20 seconds, until it starts to release its flavor. Stir in the pumpkin puree and milk. Stir continuously until the sauce is smooth. Once you start to see little bubbles, reduce the heat to a low and stir in the cheese.
  • Season the sauce to your taste and remove from heat once all the cheese has melted.
  • Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir well to coat. Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese and chili flakes.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top.

Notes

  • Storing: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
  • Reheating: Before reheating, stir in a bit of milk to make the pasta creamier. Reheat in the microwave in small increments, covered until heated through.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 715kcalCarbohydrates: 80gProtein: 34gFat: 29gSaturated Fat: 15gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 71mgSodium: 1213mgPotassium: 657mgFiber: 6gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 17516IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 744mgIron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
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