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a plate of pumpkin mac and cheese with a casserole dish and spices in the background

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

This Pumpkin Mac and Cheese is an easy, healthy baked pasta dish that's perfect for a weeknight dinner! Lighter than your average mac and cheese thanks to the addition of pumpkin, it's a vegetarian meal the whole family will love. 
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Cheese, pasta, Pumpkin
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 532kcal


  • 16 oz whole wheat rotini or penne pasta 454 g
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 4 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 bay leaf optional
  • 1 cup grated cheese eg sharp cheddar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper


  • 4 Tbsp bread crumbs I used panko
  • 4 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil


  • Preheat your oven to 200°C/ 400°F. If you don't have a cast iron casserole that can go from stove top to the oven, butter the bottom and sides of a 9 x 9 or deep 9 x 6 oven proof dish, and set aside. 
  • Bring a large pot of water to boiling over high heat, and cook pasta until just barely tender. Drain and set aside.
  • While the pasta is cooking, heat the milk, butter, flour, and bay leaf over medium-high heat in medium-sized heavy-bottomed sauce pot. 
  • Once the milk comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the sauce has begun to thicken stirring frequently with a whisk, careful to not burn the milk. 
  • Once the sauce has thickened (it should coat the back of a spoon), remove the bay leaf, and using a whisk to combine, melt in the grated cheese. 
  • Add the pumpkin puree, smoked paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until smooth.
  • Combine the cooked pasta and the sauce, and spoon into the prepared dish. 
  • In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, grated Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. Sprinkle the bread crumb topping over the pasta, and toss into the oven.
  • Bake, uncovered, for 20 - 30 minutes until the top is browned and crispy, and the sauce is bubbling up the sides. 
  • Let stand for 5 minutes prior to serving.


  • Nutrition values are an estimate only. 
  • What kind of pumpkin does this recipe use? You can opt for solid pack pumpkin from a can (NOT pumpkin pie filling) or make your own pumpkin puree from scratch! 
  • What kind of pasta is best for this recipe? I like to use either corkscrew noodles or a hollow noodle with some texture on the outside to grab hold of the sauce (penne rigate or ziti, for example).
  • Does this mac and cheese taste super pumpkiney? I think the pumpkin flavour is pretty subtle. It'll be dialled up or down a bit depending on what kind of cheese you choose. 
  • What's the best kind of cheese for this recipe? Go for something with a bit of bite to it, like a sharp cheddar for example. 
  • Can this mac and cheese be made in advance? Yes! You can make the pumpkin cheese sauce, stir in the pasta, and then throw the whole thing into the fridge (or freezer!) until you're ready to bake. 
  • Can I freeze this recipe? You bet! You can freeze portions of the mac and cheese once cooked (and cooled!) or you can freeze the whole casserole unbaked. 


Calories: 532kcal | Carbohydrates: 73g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 45mg | Sodium: 313mg | Potassium: 385mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 7000IU | Vitamin C: 1.7mg | Calcium: 322mg | Iron: 4.1mg