Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

Updated 11.22.2018.

I wasn’t always a huge fan of pumpkin but began indulging in it quite a bit around the holidays as it started to pop up everywhere from coffee to scones to bread to granola and now mac and cheese.

My grandma sent me this recipe for pumpkin macaroni and cheese. I was immediately intrigued. I couldn’t decide if it sounded amazing or disgusting so I thought I’d give it a whirl despite the fact that I HATE pumpkin pie so much I refuse to eat it (even if it’s the only dessert being offered at Thanksgiving).


  • 16 oz uncooked penne pasta (or another shape that floats your boat)
  • 3 T. butter
  • 3 T. flour
  • 3 c. heavy whipping cream (or half and half or milk)
  • 1 15-oz can pure pumpkin (or use fresh pumpkin puree)
  • 1 ½ c. shredded Monterey Jack
  • 1 ½ c. shredded Comte or Gruyère cheese
  • ¾ c. parmesan cheese
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg (optional, but seems like it would go well with pumpkin, right?)
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 13×9-inch baking pan.
  2. Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. (I like to undercook slightly because the noodles will continue to cook when you bake the dish.) Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain again.
  3. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour. Slowly whisk in cream; cook until just slightly thickened. (Trust me on this one. By the time you add both the pumpkin and the cheeses the sauce will be plenty thick. Get your sauce too thick before you add these and you’ll want to thin it out a bit with additional cream.) Add pumpkin puree and mix well. Remove from heat. Add cheeses, salt, nutmeg and black pepper.
  4. Combine sauce with pasta. Pour into baking pan. If desired, top with an additional cup or two of shredded cheese.
  5. Bake uncovered 25 to 30 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper after removing from the oven.

Here’s what I said about this dish back in 2012:

All I can say about this dish is: Yum! If you’re worried about combining pumpkin and mac and cheese – don’t be. You can barely taste the pumpkin. It gives it just a hint of pumpkin flavor. This makes an excellent side dish for your Thanksgiving dinner if you’re looking for something different (and impressive) to put out on the table.

In 2018 I changed the recipe because I wanted pumpkin flavor to be front and center in the dish. In my head, I thought the recipe called for 3/4 can of pumpkin so I decided to bump it up to 1 full can. After re-reading the original recipe I see it called for 3/4 cup. Whoops. I just more than doubled the pumpkin called for in the recipe.  I also increased the amount of noodles (by 1/4) and cream and cheese and the remaining ingredients (by 1/2) but not at the same ratio as I did pumpkin (more than 2). Incidentally this is what gives the mac the atomic yellow Kraft macaroni and cheese color. In this new version, (recipe listed above) the pumpkin flavor is center stage so if you don’t like pumpkin, pass on this recipe.

Recipe rating: 

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