The ultimate comfort food for dinner tonight: One Pot Stovetop Pumpkin Mac and Cheese is about to become your new go-to 30 minute quick recipe for cozy autumn evenings. So grab a spoon (or fork) and let’s dig in! If you’re looking for an oven baked option my baked pumpkin mac and cheese recipe is also fantastic!
Fall is officially here, and with it comes the irresistible craving for warm and comforting meals. And what could be more satisfying than a piping hot bowl of creamy macaroni and cheese? But wait – there’s more! We’ve taken this classic comfort food to the next level by adding in some seasonal flair: pumpkin, well, it’s pumpkin season after all 🙂
I am absolutely in love with this creamy pumpkin mac and cheese recipe! It is so easy to make on the stove top and it is absolutely delicious. With just a handful of ingredients and minimal cleanup required, this meal is perfect for busy weeknights or lazy weekends. Plus, it’s sure to please even the pickiest eaters in your family. The pumpkin adds a lovely sweetness to the dish and the cheese is just so creamy and yummy. I highly recommend giving this recipe a try, you will not be disappointed!
- Macaroni pasta – Use macaroni elbows, or a similar short-cut pasta
- Butter – I always use salted butter, but unsalted butter can be used instead, if preferred
- Garlic Cloves, minced – Use fresh or jar garlic
- Pumpkin Puree – The key to this dish is using a good quality pumpkin puree. I like to use 100% pure pumpkin puree, not the kind that’s already sweetened or flavored. You can find this in the canned goods aisle of any grocery store. If you have some time on your hands, you can definitely make your own homemade pumpkin puree
- Vegetable Broth
- Milk – I always use half and half for this recipe. You can replace the half and half with milk or even evaporative milk – see FAQ details about both options just before the recipe card
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded – Use your preferred grated cheese, or even a combination of 2 or more cheeses
- Parmesan Cheese, grated
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Sage leaves – I had some fresh sage leaves, but you can use 1/2 teaspoon dried sage leaves, added at the cheese stage of this dish, or even leave them out all together.
- Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Start by cooking the macaroni in a large pot of boiling water according to package instructions. Drain the noodles and set them aside.
2. In the same pot, melt the butter on low heat, add fresh sage leaves and minced garlic. Cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes until they are fragrant. Remove sage leaves on a paper towel and set them aside.
3. Add the pumpkin puree, half and half, vegetable broth and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until the mixture comes to a simmer, whisking to get a creamy sauce.
4. Add cooked macaroni to the pot and stir until evenly coated with creamy pumpkin sauce mixture.
5. Add in gradually the cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, onion and garlic powder, paprika, nutmeg and stir until melted.
Fresh parsley – The fresh parsley is used as a garnish once the mac and cheese has been served into bowls, but is completely optional.
Crispy bacon bits – great option to add a savory and smoky flavor to the creamy pumpkin cheese sauce.
Toasted breadcrumbs over the top just before you serve it, to have a little bit of crunch
Chopped jalapeno peppers can give the mac and cheese a spicy kick.
Please scroll down to the recipe card for a list with all ingredients, quantities and step by step instructions
How to Store Pumpkin mac and cheese
Storage – To store pumpkin mac and cheese, first, let it cool down to room temperature, transfer the mac and cheese to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Freeze – If you want to store the mac and cheese for longer than 3 days, you can freeze it for up to 3 months.
Reheat – you can either reheat it in the oven or on the stovetop.
- To reheat on the stovetop: Start by transferring your mac and cheese from its container to a pot or skillet. Next, add a splash of milk, half and half, or cream and stir it in. Finally, heat the mixture over low to medium heat, stirring frequently, until it’s heated through and ready to serve. This method is a great way to bring back the creamy texture and delicious flavor of your mac and cheese without any fuss!
- To reheat in the microwave: First, transfer the mac and cheese to a microwave-safe dish. Then, add a splash of milk or cream to the dish and give it a good stir. This will help keep the sauce from drying out and give it a creamier consistency. Next, cover the dish with a microwave-safe lid or a damp paper towel to retain the moisture and prevent splatters. Pop the dish into the microwave and heat it on high for 1-2 minutes. If it’s still cold, continue reheating in 30-second increments until it’s heated through, stirring halfway through the process to ensure even heating. Enjoy your warm and gooey mac and cheese!
Be careful not to overheat the mac and cheese, as this can cause the cheese to become tough and rubbery. Check the mac and cheese frequently to make sure it’s not overheating.
Serving suggestions for pumpkin mac and cheese
Here are some serving suggestions to go with creamy mac and cheese:
- Serve the mac and cheese with a side salad of mixed greens dressed with a simple vinaigrette. This will help balance out the richness of the mac and cheese.
- Serve the mac and cheese as a side dish with your favorite protein, such as roasted chicken, grilled salmon, or baked tofu.
- For a fun and festive twist, serve the mac and cheese in mini pumpkin shells. Simply hollow out small pumpkins, fill them with the mac and cheese, and bake in the oven until heated through.
Tips for best creamy pumpkin macaroni and cheese
Here are some tips to make the best pumpkin mac and cheese:
- Use quality ingredients: The key to making great mac and cheese is to use high-quality ingredients, especially when it comes to the cheese. Choose a good-quality cheddar cheese for this recipe, and if possible, use freshly grated cheese instead of packed shredded cheese.
- Don’t overcook the pasta: Overcooked pasta can turn mushy and ruin the texture of the mac and cheese. Cook the pasta until it’s al dente, which means it’s still firm to the bite.
- Add the cheese gradually: Add the cheese gradually, stirring constantly, until it’s fully melted and incorporated into the sauce. This will help prevent the cheese from clumping together or separating from the sauce.
- Use a mix of spices: Adding spices like nutmeg, paprika, or cayenne pepper can help enhance the flavor of the pumpkin and give the mac and cheese some more flavor.
- Taste and adjust seasonings: Be sure to taste the mac and cheese as you go and adjust the seasonings as necessary. Depending on the saltiness of the cheese and the vegetable broth, you may need to add more or less salt to the dish.
Can I use half and half instead of milk for pumpkin mac and cheese?
Yes, especially if you love extra creamy and rich mac and cheese recipe! I highly recommend trying half and half as a substitute for regular milk. Some people actually prefer it because it can give the dish a more luxurious texture and flavor.
However, keep in mind that using half and half will also add more calories and fat to the dish. If you’re looking for a lighter version, you can use low-fat milk or a non-dairy milk alternative like almond milk or soy milk.
When substituting half and half for milk, use the same amount called for in the recipe. The recipe calls for 1 cup of milk, so you can use 1 cup of half and half instead.
Can I use evaporative milk instead of regular milk for pumpkin mac and cheese?
Yes, just be aware that it’s more concentrated than regular milk, so you may need to mix it with a bit of water or broth to get the desired consistency. Give it a try and see how it enhances your mac and cheese dish!
To use evaporated milk, simply replace the same amount of regular milk with it in the recipe. The recipe calls for 1 cup of milk, so you can use 1 cup of evaporative milk instead.
Which is the best option for creamy mac and cheese: half and half or evaporative milk?
Oh, let me tell you, when it comes to making the creamiest, dreamiest mac and cheese, there’s really only one option you should consider: half and half! Sure, evaporated milk might be a popular choice for some, but if you want your mac and cheese to be ultra-rich and velvety smooth, half and half is the way to go. Trust me on this one – your taste buds will thank you!