Pumpkin Cheddar Mac and Cheese

Pumpkin Cheddar Mac and Cheese

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Adjust Servings:
10 ounces Pipe Rigate Pasta
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 small, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup) Onion
1 large clove of minced Garlic
1 teaspoon Fresh or Dried Thyme
15 ounce can Pure Pumpkin Puree
2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
0.5 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
0.5 cup (or more) Pasta Water
1 cup, grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
0.5 cup, grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
0.3 cup Breadcrumbs

Pumpkin Cheddar Mac and Cheese

My healthier version of Mac and Cheese

  • 30 minutes
  • Serves 4
  • Medium


  • Topping



Salty and savory pumpkin cheddar mac and cheese to start the autumn season off right!

When fall season comes around, are you one of the first ones to go and get your pumpkin spice latte?

I love fall and everything pumpkin when it comes to food and drink. However, I’m not one to redecorate my home according to the seasons.

Though pumpkin on it’s own doesn’t really taste like much unless you add those pumpkin spices I still love to use is often.

For this recipe, I am not adding the typical warm spices, because the pureed pumpkin acts as my easy and quick sauce and gives this dish color.

I constantly try to make my beloved comfort food dishes healthier and cut out salt and fat as much as possible, pumpkin comes in handy this time.

Traditionally, mac and cheese includes butter, flour, and whole milk to make that cheese, salty, white sauce.

Don’t get me wrong, there is still cheese in this mac and cheese and you can add as much or as little as you like!


A couple of important notes about this recipe:

When you buy the canned pumpkin puree, make sure it is pure pumpkin and not pumpkin pie mix.

Read the ingredients on the back of the can, there should only be one ingredient – pumpkin.

About the cheese, I recommend buying a block of sharp cheddar cheese and grating it yourself with a box grater.

The quality of the cheese is much better than the pre-grated cheese.


Please leave your review for this pumpkin cheddar mac and cheese in the comment section below.



Bring Water to a Boil & Start The Sauce

First, preheat your oven to 375F.

Next, bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.

While the water comes up to a boil, heat up 1 tablespoon of oil (I like using olive or avocado oil) in a large skillet on medium-high heat.

Once the skillet is hot, add the finely chopped onion and sauté on medium heat until translucent, about 2-3 minutes.

Next, add the minced garlic and sauté for only about 1 minute then add 1 teaspoon of fresh or dried thyme. If you are using fresh, give it a rough chop before adding it to the skillet.


Add The Pure Pumpkin Puree

Now, add the pure pumpkin puree to the onion, garlic and thyme and stir to combine.

Next, add 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of ground black pepper.

Turn the heat off and cover the skillet with a lid. We do not want to continue cooking the sauce but just keep it warm.


Cook Pasta

By now, the water for the pasta should be boiling.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and give it a stir. Cook the pasta (uncovered) 2 minutes less than the suggested time on the box.

For pipe rigate pasta, cook it for 7-8 minutes only. The pasta should be al dente (still have a bite to it) as it will continue to cook once it is in the oven with the sauce.


Add The Pasta and Pasta Water To The Sauce

Once the pasta is al-dente, add it to the sauce using a slotted spoon. If some of the pasta water transfers into the sauce that is good!

Turn your heat to medium-low and stir in the pasta to make sure every piece of pasta is well coated in the pumpkin sauce.

If the sauce seems a bit dry and tick, add 1/4 cup of the pasta water to loosen it up.

Next, add 1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese and give your sauce a stir.

Once again, if the sauce looks a bit thick, add another 1/4 cup of pasta water and stir to combine.



If your skillet is oven safe, simply add the cheese and breadcrumb mixture on top and bake it in the skillet.

If your skillet is not oven safe (like mine), transfer the pumpkin pasta mixture to a baking dish. I recommend using something shallow so that you have more surface for that crispy and cheesy topping.

Once the pasta is in the baking dish, grab a bowl and combine the breadcrumbs and shredded cheddar cheese then sprinkle it over the top of the pasta.

Bake the mac and cheese in your preheated 375F oven for 15 minutes on the middle rack then switch the heat to broil and broil for 2-3 minutes so that top gets nice of crispy.

Be sure to keep your eye on it as it could burn!



After the pumpkin mac and cheese comes out of the oven, allow it to cool for a few minutes before serving.

Serve this mac and cheese as a side dish or a main with a side salad!

The leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to 4 days!


Hi guys, so glad you are here! My food blog is about easy, colorful and mostly healthy recipes. I grew up in Germany and have been in the states since 2002. Currently, I am living in sunny Miami, FL! Please leave me a comment if you have questions or recipe requests and also follow me on social media via @foodbyjonister. Happy cooking and eating!

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A healthy twist on the comfort food classic, your entire family will love this baked mac and cheese with pumpkin.
Yum :-)) Creamy, earthy and flavorful !!

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