Easy Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
How to make extra creamy pumpkin mac and cheese in under 1 hour. Pumpkin puree adds savoriness and creaminess to cheesy macaroni. The perfect fall dinner! Jump to the Easy Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Recipe or watch our quick recipe video showing you how to make it.
Watch How We Make It
How to Make Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
Adding pumpkin puree to macaroni and cheese makes everything creamier and like velvet. Use homemade pumpkin puree or consider this recipe the perfect excuse for using up leftover canned pumpkin during the fall. We usually break out this recipe after making a batch of our pumpkin scones or pumpkin spice lattes.
Whenever fall hits, we’re on the lookout for every possible way to add pumpkin to our lives. We make pumpkin scones, cupcakes, pumpkin bread, and we even add it to our coffee. Our favorite savory way to use pumpkin is to stir it into a cheesy, velvety sauce and make pumpkin mac and cheese.
Just like our easy baked mac and cheese and this ultra creamy mac and cheese, this pumpkin spiked sauce is easy and made on the stove. To make it, melt butter in a large pan then whisk in flour until light brown and nutty. Pour in some milk and whisk until the sauce thickens.
Once you have a creamy sauce, it’s all about the seasonings. We add salt, pepper, nutmeg, mustard for a little zing, and of course, the pumpkin puree.
If you don’t have pumpkin on hand, but have other winter squashes, this recipe works beautifully with other varieties of squash. Try replacing the pumpkin puree with pureed butternut squash or other winter varieties.
For the cheese, we use extra sharp cheddar. It just tastes better that way. We also grate the cheese ourselves. After making many batches of mac and cheese, we’ve found that home-grated cheese melts more easily than the cheese sold pre-grated in bags.
When the cheese is melted, the sauce is ready for the pasta. For stovetop mac and cheese, you can just stop at this point, grab a bowl and dig in. Or for an extra cheesy crust, you can bake it. And that’s it, simple pumpkin mac and cheese! You’re going to love it.
More Easy Fall Pasta Recipes
- Easy Vegetable Lasagna — This recipe has so many happy reviews, we can’t keep up. In the recipe, we use summer squash, but for a fall inspired dish, try substituting with roasted cubed winter squash or pumpkin.
- Baked Spaghetti — Delicious at all times of the year, this baked spaghetti has a layer of creamy pesto in the middle.
- Parmesan Lemon Baked Spaghetti Squash — Easy baked spaghetti squash with butter cooked chicken, parmesan, and fresh lemon. Healthy and delicious!
- Easy Garlic Mushroom Pasta — Mushroom pasta with the most delicious garlic butter mushrooms. Thanks to our no-fail method for cooking mushrooms, this easy pasta comes together in under 30 minutes and tastes amazing!
Recipe updated, originally posted January 2012. Since posting this in 2012, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear and added a quick recipe video. Back in the day we were contributors for Betty Crocker. We shared this recipe with them. We loved it so much we had to share an adapted version with you. – Adam and Joanne
Easy Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
Pumpkin puree makes a velvety, rich mac and cheese. Use pure pumpkin puree for this, not the can labeled “pumpkin pie mix” since that has spices added. Homemade pumpkin puree is an excellent option, as well. Or swap pumpkin for another squash such as butternut squash. If you are able, buy a block of cheese, and then coarsely grate it instead of buying pre-shredded cheese. In our experience, home-grated cheese melts better and becomes more creamy than grated cheese out of a bag.
You Will Need
1 pound pasta, such as farfalle, macaroni or shells
Salt, as needed
4 tablespoons (55 grams) unsalted butter
1/4 cup (30 grams) all-purpose flour
2 cups (470 ml) milk, whole or 2% are best
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon finely grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 cup (230 grams) pure pumpkin puree, see our homemade pumpkin puree recipe
8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (about 2 1/2 cups)
- Prepare Sauce
- To Finish
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta as directed on package. (Usually between 7 and 10 minutes). Drain.
Melt butter in a large, high-sided pan over medium heat. When the butter begins to bubble, add the flour. Cook, whisking constantly 2 to 3 minutes until the butter smells fragrant and nutty — the color of the butter-flour mixture will turn light brown.
While whisking, slowly pour in the milk. Continue to cook, whisking constantly until the sauce bubbles and thickens. Season the sauce with a 1/2 teaspoon of salt, pepper, nutmeg, and mustard. Add the pumpkin puree and three-quarters of the grated cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth. Taste the sauce for seasoning and adjust with more salt or pepper.
Mix the cooked pasta into the sauce until well coated then spoon into the prepared baking dish, top with remaining cheese.
Bake the macaroni and cheese, uncovered, until golden brown on top, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- If you have one, make the sauce in an oven safe Dutch oven. This way, there is no need to dirty a baking dish. Instead combine the pasta and sauce right in the Dutch oven and bake.
- Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values.