Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese is creamy, cheesy, and absolutely delicious. If you haven’t added pumpkin to your macaroni and cheese you are missing out on a fall favorite recipe!
Many thanks to Heather from Food Lovin’ Family for sharing her pumpkin mac and cheese recipe with us. It’s the time of year for all things pumpkin, and Heather puts a delicious twist on traditional macaroni and cheese by adding pumpkin and sage to the mix. Mac and cheese with pumpkin is the perfect fall dish. It is exactly what you want in comfort food when you’re wrapped up in a warm blanket on a cool day.
When it comes to cooking with pumpkin, many people associate using it with sweet things like pies and the always popular pumpkin spice latte. Pumpkin, however, also makes a wonderful ingredient in savory dishes. Macaroni and cheese made with pumpkin can stand alone as the main course or be served as a side dish.
One of my favorite ways to use pumpkin in savory meals is with pasta. Pumpkin gives this macaroni and cheese dish an extra creamy sauce. It does not add a very strong pumpkin taste but just enough to keep your taste buds happy.
For this recipe, I am using two different kinds of cheese, Fontina, and sharp cheddar. Fontina is a mild, creamy cheese, and when paired with sharp cheddar is a home run. If possible try to shred your cheese for optimal freshness.
To spice up the pumpkin mac and cheese I add some sage and a pinch of ground nutmeg, giving it some extra fall flavor.
I used medium shells for the pasta because I love how the cheese gets all up in the shell. Though, elbow macaroni, cavatappi, and rigatoni would be great substitutes. This pumpkin macaroni and cheese is then topped off with a golden Panko bread crumb and Parmesan crust.
You’ll also like this Pumpkin Soup.
Why You’ll Love Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese
- The addition of pumpkin provides more nutrients for a healthy mac.
- Pumpkin macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food!
- It’s a more grown-up mac that the kids will love too.
- This pumpkin pasta dish has a smooth, velvety sauce!
- If you have any, the leftovers are amazing!
- A delicious holiday side dish!
- Pasta – Medium shells, cavatappi, elbows, fusilli, and rigatoni are all good options because the little grooves hold the creamy sauce.
- Fontina cheese – Has a mild, nutty flavor, and is a great melting cheese.
- Sharp Cheddar cheese
- Butter – I typically use unsalted butter so I can control the amount of sodium in a recipe.
- All-purpose flour
- Salt and black pepper
- Heavy cream
- Milk – I prefer whole milk because it makes a creamier sauce.
- Pumpkin – Use pure pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling which has spices.
- Dried sage
- Panko bread crumbs – The crispy panko bread crumbs topping is a nice contrast to the creamy pumpkin mac.
- Grated Parmesan
How to Make Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese
This pumpkin macaroni and cheese is so simple to make! Here’s what you need to do:
- Step One: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Step Two: Cook pasta shells according to package directions in a large pot of salted water. Drain cooked pasta and then return to pan.
- Step Three: In a medium pot, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat and stir in flour.
- Step Four: Gradually stir in cream, milk, salt, and pepper and cook until it starts to thicken and bubbles.
- Step Five: Mix in pumpkin, sharp cheddar cheese, Fontina cheese, sage, and nutmeg.
- Step Six: Pour over cooked shells and stir to coat.
- Step Seven: Transfer to a 2 or 3 qt. casserole dish.
- Step Eight: In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of melted butter, panko, and Parmesan. Sprinkle over top of the pasta.
- Step Nine: Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
This post contains affiliate links.
What to Serve With Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese
Of course, when I think of fall recipes with pumpkin, my mind immediately goes to Thanksgiving dinner! Below are a few of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes:
- Mashed Potato Casserole
- Green Bean Casserole
- Broccoli Casserole
- Cheesy Brussels Sprouts
- Mom’s Simple Stuffing
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water until it is al dente. Don’t overcook the pasta or your noodles will be mushy be sure to drain the pasta well.
- For a lighter sauce, you may use 2% or 1% milk.
- It is worth a second mention to make sure you are using pure pumpkin puree, and not pumpkin pie filling which has added spices.
- Shred your own cheese for best results. The pre-shredded cheese you buy from the store has a coating that helps prevent clumping in the bag, but it will prevent your cheese from melting as well.
- If you can splurge and use fresh-grated whole nutmeg, I highly recommend it. I use mine a lot during the fall and winter months, but remember a pinch of nutmeg goes a long way.
Variations and Substitutions
- If you don’t need this to be a vegetarian dish, you could add some crumbled cooked bacon, diced ham, or pancetta.
- Feel free to use all Cheddar cheese or a different cheese blend. I have made this with Gruyere cheese and it turned out just as delicious.
- Anytime you are making a dish that has CHEESE in the title, it is worth the extra effort to use good cheeses.
- Roasted vegetables would be a wonderful addition, and I particularly like the combination of Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and onion.
Leftover pumpkin macaroni and cheese will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Reheat in the microwave for 2-3 minutes.
Can I use homemade pumpkin puree?
Yes, you can use an equal measure of homemade pumpkin puree, though I like to keep it simple.
Can I make this ahead?
Yes, you can make pumpkin macaroni and cheese up to 3 days ahead. Keep it well covered or in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Wait to add the bread crumb topping just before you are ready to bake.
More Mac and Cheese Recipes
If you make the recipe, rate it on the recipe card below and tag me on Instagram and use #simplystacie. I like sharing the photos on my Instagram stories!
- 1 16oz box medium shells
- 1/2 cup shredded Fontina cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup milk
- 1 15oz can pumpkin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Cook pasta shells according to package directions. Drain and then return to pan.
- In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat and stir in flour.
- Gradually stir in cream, milk, salt and pepper and cook until it starts to thicken and bubbles.
- Mix in pumpkin, sharp cheddar cheese, Fontina cheese, sage and nutmeg.
- Pour over cooked shells and stir to coat.
- Transfer to a 2 or 3 qt. baking dish.
- In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons melted butter, panko and Parmesan. Sprinkle over macaroni and cheese.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 348Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 79mgSodium: 516mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 11g