Go Back
+ servings

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

The easiest, creamiest homemade pumpkin mac and cheese is ready for the table in just 30 minutes!
Course Dinner, Lunch, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword mac and cheese with pumpkin, pumpkin mac and cheese
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 8 people
Calories 559kcal
Author Blair Lonergan


  • 16 ounces mezzi rigatoni (or other short cut pasta shape)
  • ¼ cup salted butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk or half-and-half, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • Dash of ground nutmeg
  • Dash ground black pepper
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pure pumpkin puree
  • 2 ½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 10 ounces)
  • ½ cup grated gouda cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)
  • Optional garnish: fresh sage and thyme; additional Parmesan; crispy bacon; toasted pumpkin seeds; additional ground black pepper or crushed red pepper flakes


  • Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions. Drain.
  • Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add flour; cook, stirring until the mixture is golden brown, about 2 minutes.
  • Gradually whisk in the milk, salt, ground mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, ground nutmeg, and black pepper. Reduce heat to medium; whisk continually until the mixture bubbles and thickens slightly, about 4-5 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat; gradually whisk in the pumpkin, cheddar, gouda, and Parmesan until the sauce is smooth. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
  • Add cooked pasta; stir to coat. Garnish with fresh herbs, Parmesan cheese, and crushed red pepper flakes, if desired.


  • To cut down on the prep time, get the pasta water boiling while you prepare the rest of the ingredients (such as grating the cheese). Then, as the pasta cooks, you can whisk together the cheese sauce. This way the pasta isn't sitting around getting cold while you prepare the sauce, and everything comes together quickly at the end.
  • Use cheese that you grate by hand. Do not use pre-shredded cheddar cheese in a bag or a can of pre-grated Parmesan, because those packaged cheeses include a powdery coating with stabilizers that prevent the cheese from melting as smoothly into the sauce.
  • Salt the water before boiling your pasta. This is your chance to season the noodles for a flavorful dish!
  • Remove the pot from the heat before adding the cheese (or keep the flame very low) so that the sauce stays creamy and smooth. When cheese gets too hot, it separates and gives the sauce a grainy texture.
  • Cooking for a smaller family? You can scale the recipe down to serve just 2 or 4 people. For instance, cut the recipe in half for 4 people, or cut the ingredients in fourths for 2 people.


Serving: 1/8 of the recipe | Calories: 559kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 81mg | Sodium: 784mg | Potassium: 432mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 9062IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 522mg | Iron: 2mg