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Looking for a comforting fall dinner idea that is ready in under 30 minutes? Make this Pumpkin Mac N Cheese, plus you will only dirty one pot! While this post is sponsored by Florida Milk, my love of healthy and snack recipes and Florida Milk are my own.
Fall is here and that means it’s time to break out all of your favorite fall recipes. The colder months of the year are the perfect time for warm and hearty casseroles, soups, and stews. Fall is also the perfect time for all things pumpkin! Yes, I know I live in Florida and it doesn’t get all that much cooler, but that doesn’t mean we don’t like to jump on the All Things Pumpkin train!
Not only are pumpkins delicious, they are also really good for you. Did you know that pumpkins are actually a fruit and not a vegetable? Pumpkins are a fruit and they are packed with beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium, and iron.
During the fall season, you can find pumpkin spice coffee, cookies, ice cream, hummus, cereal, marshmallows, and more. This recipe isn’t pumpkin pie spiced, but it does use pumpkin as an ingredient. I actually cook with pumpkin all year long due to it’s many health benefits…you can add a can of pumpkin puree to homemade soup (any kind!) and you can’t taste it, but you are getting all those nutrients. Score!
I have seen pumpkin mac n cheese all over social media and I was soooooo excited when Florida Milk challenged me to make it.
This recipe for Pumpkin macaroni and cheese is a simple one-pot meal. You can have it on the table in just about 30 minutes so it’s perfect for any night of the week. It is a hearty and comforting dish perfect for a cool fall evening.
The pumpkin flavor in pumpkin macaroni and cheese is not overwhelming, in fact, it just gives the dish a subtly sweet flavor that pairs perfectly with the homemade cheese sauce. Don’t worry homemade cheese sauce is not hard to make, and once you have made it and tasted it, you will always want to make it from scratch!
So what do you need to make pumpkin macaroni and cheese? Don’t worry, you probably already have most of the ingredients in your pantry!
Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese Ingredients
Milk – You will need milk to make your cheese sauce from scratch. Be sure to use Florida Milk, of course 😉 Not sure if you are buying Florida Milk, here’s how to know: Look for the number 12 on the series on numbers on your milk jug.
Cheese – You are going to need some shredded sharp cheddar cheese for your homemade cheese sauce. You can also add gouda, gruyere, or parmesan cheese to your cheese sauce if you would like to. If possible shred your own cheese, and the sauce will turn out much creamier and smoother. Store-bought shredded cheese has potato powder in it and the end result is not as good.
Butter – You need butter to work as your fat content to make your homemade cheese sauce. To make bechamel, which is just a fancy name for cheese sauce, you need equal parts of fat (butter) and flour.
Pasta – You’ve got to have pasta to make pumpkin macaroni and cheese, but you don’t have to use elbows if you don’t want to. Some alternatives are shells, fusilli, cavatappi, rotini, or penne. I found those cute little pumpkin shells at Trader Joe’s for under $3.
Pumpkin Puree – You will need a can of pumpkin puree to make this amazing pumpkin macaroni and cheese. You can also use roasted pumpkin or butternut squash in place of the canned pumpkin puree if you have it on hand.
Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese Variations
You can make this pumpkin macaroni and cheese your own with a few simple variations, here are a few ideas:
- Cooked chopped bacon would go great in this dish.
- You could also add caramelized onions to take the flavor up a notch.
- Top your pumpkin macaroni and cheese with Panko bread crumbs and toss it in the oven for a few minutes to brown them up.
- Add some diced green onions.
- You can also add a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, or clove to the pumpkin puree if you want to give this dish a pumpkin spice flavor.
- Like it spicy? Add extra red pepper flakes, top with hot sauce or add in some diced jalapenos when you are sauteing the onion and garlic.
This pumpkin macaroni and cheese is a flavorful fall dish that people may be surprised at how much they love. The pumpkin puree flavor is very subtle.
You can serve this hearty dish as a main meal or as a side dish with a main course, veggies, or a salad. Don’t forget the Florida Milk!
This would be an amazing dish to bring to a potluck or you could serve it as a side dish for Thanksgiving dinner.
Can you make Pumpkin Mac n Cheese ahead of time?
You might be wondering if you can make this dish ahead of time, and while it is delicious fresh and hot you can certainly make it ahead of time if you need to. You can store it in the refrigerator for up to five days and then heat it in the oven when you are ready to serve it.
What do you think? Are you ready to try this fall-flavored pumpkin macaroni and cheese? Of course you are! Let’s get cooking, shall we?
Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
- 1 Large pot or dutch oven
- 2 tbsp salted butter
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup sweet onion diced
- 3 springs fresh thyme
- 8 leaves fresh sage
- 1 pound pasta
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 ounces cream cheese softened
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese – I used a cheddar mix
- 1 cup shredded creamy gouda cheese
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- Melt the butter with the garlic, diced onion, thyme, and sage in a large pot set over medium heat. Saute for about 2-4 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant.
- Remove the sage leaves and set aside.
- Add the uncooked pasta to the pot and stir well so that the pasta gets covered with the butter.
- Add 3 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Add pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for approx. 8 minutes. Do not drain the water.
- Stir in the milk, cream cheese, and pumpkin, and cook until the pasta is al dente, about 4-5 minutes.
- Add shredded cheese, paprika, red pepper flakes, and stir until melted and creamy. Remove from the heat.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Top with black pepper and the reserved sage if desired.