This easy pumpkin mac and cheese is like a bowl of cozy that hugs you back! It’s packed with pumpkin flavor, easy to make in one pan and super creamy! Pumpkin add more nutrition and texture to every bite!
The first time the weather dips below 60 degrees here in Chicago, I am ready for all the cozy, warm and hearty pumpkin meals like this mac and cheese recipe!
If you follow me on Instagram then you know I’ve been celebrating pumpkin season since August, but once October rolls around I am ready for all things squash and even more pumpkin (if that’s possible!)
Pumpkin mac and cheese is the perfect meal to cozy up with and watch Hocus Pocus with on a chilly fall night. Light a few pumpkin candles and set the mood for a spooky night in with a delicious bowl of cozy noodles to warm you up!
Pumpkin puree adds more vitamin A, C, E and fiber to each bite, not to mention flavor! I use canned pumpkin in this recipe and often will make it with chickpea or lentil pasta.
To up the nutrition even more I decided to add extra veggies to the pumpkin mac and cheese. Seasonal veggies like delicata squash, butternut squash and spinach or Tuscan kale would all be great mixed in with the noodles.
Growing up I was hard core into the shells and spiral shapes of the mac and cheese in the blue box from Kraft, which is why I chose to use shells in once upon a pumpkin mac and cheese recipe. You can of course use any pasta you already have in your pantry!
Pasta made from chickpeas or lentils add even more fiber and protein to this dish, so if you like those too they would work great in this mac and cheese recipe.
The exclamation point on this meal is the toasted pumpkin seeds. Take the extra two minutes to toast them, trust me! Toasting pumpkin seeds brings out their creamy nutty flavor, and I’m betting they are easier to digest toasted versus raw.
Ingredients for Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
- 1 box dry pasta shells (can use gluten free or chickpea pasta if desired)
- 2 tbsp. butter
- ¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour (can use regular flour or GF all purpose flour)
- ½ tsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
- 1/4 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 2 tbsp. parmesan cheese for topping
- 2 tbsp. toasted pumpkin seeds
- roasted veggies like delicata squash, butternut squash or spinach (2 cups) to eat with the pasta when it’s done (optional)
Baked White Cheddar Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
- For the pasta:
- 10 ounces rigatoni cavatappi or pasta of your choice
- 2 cups fresh spinach
- For the pumpkin cheese sauce:
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 cups non-dairy milk or milk of your choice
- ½ cup white cheddar cheese grated
- ½ cup gruyere cheese
- 3/4 tsp. salt plus more to taste
- freshly ground black pepper
- pinch of nutmeg
- pinch of cinnamon
- 1 cup Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin Puree
- For the topping:
- 2 tbsp. cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp. walnuts roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon butter melted
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Heat a medium saucepan over low to medium heat. Add in 2 tablespoons of butter minced garlic, stir and heat until fragrant. Once butter is melted, whisk in a little bit of the flour and then slowly add in milk, a little bit at a time, alternating with the flour and vigorously whisking away any lumps. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and stir every so often, until the sauce thickens up.
- Once the sauce has thickened up turn off the heat and stir in cheddar cheese and gruyere cheese, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the pumpkin puree.
- Stir in the noodles and spinach until noodles are well covered and spinach has slightly wilted.
- Add mixture to a 9X9 baking dish.
- In a small bowl, mix chopped walnuts and breadcrumbs with melted butter. Sprinkle mixture on top of of the pasta and bake for about 25 minutes until breadcrumbs are golden brown.
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