Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese is the perfect fall dinner! It’s creamy, family-friendly, easy to make and ready in under 30 minutes. Make the simple pumpkin cheese sauce while the pasta cooks. Or, make in the Instant Pot for an easy one-pot dinner. Amazing on its own or top with some toasted breadcrumbs for an added crunch.

Pumpkin Mac and cheese topped with toasted breadcrumbs in a bowl

What You’ll Need for this Recipe:

  • Pasta – I like using elbow macaroni or medium shells. But you can use any short shaped pasta
  • Evaporated Milk
  • Pumpkin Puree – from a can, not pumpkin pie filling
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese – I like to use a sharp or extra sharp cheddar, but you can use your favorite! Or even swap in another cheese.
  • Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • Nutmeg
  • Garlic Powder
  • Dried Mustard
  • Salt and Pepper

Tips and FAQs!

What is Evaporated Milk and why use it?

Evaporated milk is an easy thing to keep in your pantry. Evaporated milk is essentially milk that has been heated so some of the water evaporates. The result is a dense, creamy, concentrated milk. Using it in Mac and Cheese makes the cheese sauce less liquidy but still rich and creamy.

Bowl of pumpkin Mac and cheese with can of Libbys pumpkin puree

Undercook your pasta!

Make sure to cook your pasta to just al dente, or even a minute under al dente. When you add the cooked pasta to the pumpkin cheese sauce, it will continue to cook so you want to leave a little wiggle room so the pasta isn’t overcooked and mushy.

Creamy pumpkin Mac and cheese in deep skillet

Save some pasta water!

The starchy water from cooking the pasta is like liquid gold! You’ll want to reserve some of it to add to your pasta. This helps thin out your sauce (the pumpkin puree makes the sauce pretty thick). And the starch helps the pasta and sauce stick together.

Does this keep well for leftovers?

Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. With the chill and reheat cycles, the sauce will lose some of its smoothness and be thicker. I think it still tastes great, but the texture is best right after making.

Can this be made in the Instant Pot?

Yes! I included instructions in the recipe card. The ingredients remain exactly the same. Just cook the pasta in the instant pot, then stir in the remaining ingredients until creamy and dreamy and delicious.

What could I add to this recipe?

There are lots of ways to mix it up!

  • Toast some Breadcrumbs in melted butter until golden and then sprinkle on top for a little crunch.
  • Crumbled Bacon
  • Fold in some browned and Crumbled Sausage
  • Serve with cubed chicken

Some other Mac and Cheese Recipes:

Close up of a bowl of pumpkin Mac and cheese with breadcrumbs

Like this recipe? Sign up for my e-mail list so you get new recipe notifications straight to your inbox as well as occasional ‘bonus’ content not found on the blog! Click Here!

Print
clock clock icon cutlery cutlery icon flag flag icon folder folder icon instagram instagram icon pinterest pinterest icon print print icon squares squares icon
Bowl of pumpkin macaroni and cheese

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese


  • Author: Kathleen
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese is the perfect fall dinner! It’s creamy, family-friendly, easy to make and ready in under 30 minutes. Amazing on its own or top with some toasted breadcrumbs for an added crunch. Stovetop and Instant Pot Instructions Included!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1lb pasta, such as elbow macaroni or medium shells
  • 1 12oz can evaporated milk
  • 1 15oz can pumpkin puree
  • 8oz cheddar cheese, shredded. About 2 cups
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

Stovetop Instructions:

  1. Cook Pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until just al dente. The pasta will cook more when it’s tossed with the sauce, so you don’t want to overcook the noodles. Reserve 1-2 cups of pasta water. Drain pasta and set aside.
  2. Make the Pumpkin Cheese Sauce. While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. In a large deep sauté pan or dutch oven, add the evaporated milk and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the pumpkin, spices, and a pinch of salt and pepper, whisk until combined and smooth. Add the shredded cheeses and whisk until melted, smooth, and combined. Taste and add additional salt and pepper, if needed. Lower heat. 
  3. Combine Pasta and Sauce. Add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce. Toss to combine and add pasta water as needed to thin out the sauce and help everything stick together. I usually use about 1 cup, but it will depend on the moisture of your pumpkin puree. 
  4. Serve and Enjoy. Enjoy as is or top with some toasted breadcrumbs.

Instant Pot Instructions:

  1. Cook Pasta. Add pasta, 4 cups of water, and a heavy pinch of salt to the liner of your instant pot. Close the lid and set valve to sealing. Cook on manual high pressure for 3 minutes. Allow to natural release for 5 minutes before quick releasing the pressure.
  2. Stir in Ingredients. There is going to be some water leftover. You can leave it in the pot for an extra creamy and saucy Mac and cheese. Or, you can drain some of the water. With the instant pot still on the warm setting, stir in the evaporated milk, pumpkin, cheese, and spices. Stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is combined and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. If you want your pasta to cook more or the sauce to thicken, you can turn your instant pot to sauté for a couple of minutes.
  3. Serve and Enjoy. Enjoy as is or top with some toasted breadcrumbs.

Notes

Leftovers – Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. With the chill and reheat cycles, the sauce will lose some of its smoothness and be thicker. I think it still tastes great, but the texture is best right after making. 

Cheese – I strongly recommend shredding the cheese by hand (the shredding disc on a food processor is great for this). Pre-shredded cheese in the bag doesn’t melt as well, but if you’re in a pinch you can definitely use it. Remember to use the pasta water to thin and smooth out the sauce.

  • Category: Pasta, Meatless Monday
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Pumpkin Mac and Cheese, Stovetop Pumpkin Mac and Cheese, Cheesy Pumpkin Pasta



4 thoughts on “Pumpkin Mac and Cheese”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *