This pumpkin macaroni and cheese is ultra creamy with subtle hint of pumpkin. It’s warm, comforting, and ready in less than 30 minutes.
The weather has finally cooled down in San Diego and rather abruptly too. On Saturday I was wearing a summery dress and today I was wearing pants and a light jacket. Rainy weather always makes me want to just stay indoors with a hot bowl of soup or pasta. Which is why I was really craving this pumpkin macaroni and cheese.
It’s basically regular macaroni and cheese, but with the addition of pumpkin puree which adds some extra nutrients to the dish, and a dash of nutmeg. Have you noticed that in tv and movies, whenever they talk about a family recipe with a secret ingredient, that secret ingredient is always nutmeg? I don’t know why, but whenever I see that, it annoys me. It’s not so secret if the answer is always nutmeg! Nonetheless, nutmeg is pretty awesome and it helps bring out the subtle pumpkin flavor.
I’ve got quite a few go-to macaroni and cheese recipes, depending on my mood. Ultra cheesy, quick and easy, super creamy, etc. For this one, I chose to make a super creamy one. I didn’t want the pumpkin puree to be too chunky and I also didn’t want the cheese to completely overpower the pumpkin. I’m pretty happy with how this turned out. The pumpkin flavor is there, though it’s not very strong, but it does add vitamins and a pretty shade of orange to the dish.
Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese
- 2 cups (8-oz) elbow macaroni
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup low fat or fat free milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese (see note)
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp dry mustard
- Fill a medium pot with water and bring to a boil. Add in macaroni and cook until just done. Drain and pour back into pot.
- In a separate small pot, add butter and flour. Cook on low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth slurry forms. Add heavy cream, cheese, pumpkin, nutmeg, mustard and pepper and continue to stir until smooth cheese sauce forms. I prefer to use fresh shredded cheese rather than buying pre-shredded, to keep the sauce from getting gritty. Once cheese sauce is uniform, stir in approximately 1/4 cup of milk to thin out sauce. If you feel your sauce is still too thick, you can add another 1-2 tbsp of milk.
- Pour 2/3 of the cheese sauce into macaroni pot, reserving about 1/3 of the sauce, and stir until all noodles are completely coated. Dish out pasta and pour remaining sauce on top. Eat immediately. (The sauce gets clumpy when cold. The best way to reheat is on the stovetop, adding a little milk to smooth out the sauce again.)
- For a smoother sauce, I recommend using block cheese and grating yourself instead of using packaged shredded cheese.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.
Haha I won’t tell you that my secret ingredient in pretty much every white sauce I ever make is nutmeg. This looks amazing, love autumn-ifying classic dishes 😉
haha! it’s not that I have anything against it- I get what nutmeg can do to a dish– I just hate when it’s a storyline in a movie/show where they make this big thing about the secret ingredient and the other person is supposed to guess it and I’m just screaming “it’s nutmeg! It’s always nutmeg!”