Made with cheddar and parmesan cheeses, this baked pumpkin mac and cheese recipe is sure to please everyone! The ultra creamy sauce is made in a blender, so it’s easy to make for a weeknight dinner.
When the temperature drops, I’m craving all the warm, comforting, and carb-focused meals. Anything from hearty soups, pesto pasta, and mac and cheese will hit the spot!
This baked pumpkin mac and cheese is a seasonal and lightened-up version of regular mac and cheese. Instead of butter and milk, canned pumpkin adds lots of moisture, creamy texture, and a delicious earthy fall flavor to the recipe. It pairs perfectly with sharp cheddar and parmesan cheeses.
If you love pumpkin and mac and cheese, you’ve got to try this easy recipe!
What’s in baked pumpkin mac and cheese?
Here are all the ingredients you need to make this baked pumpkin mac and cheese recipe:
First, cook your pasta according to package instructions. Be sure to salt the pasta cooking water. Cook the pasta to an al dente texture, knowing it will continue to cook a bit once you put it into the oven to bake.
Shred the parmesan and cheddar cheeses using a box grater.
Make the pumpkin cheese sauce by blending together the canned pumpkin, almond milk, vegetable broth, shredded cheeses, salt, nutmeg, smoked paprika, lemon juice, and rosemary. Blend until everything is completely smooth and creamy – it will be thick like a pureed soup.
Toss the pasta and the pumpkin cheese sauce together in a mixing bowl. Be sure to thoroughly mix everything, so all the noodles are evenly coated in the sauce.
Transfer the pasta to an 8×11 baking dish. Sprinkle the panko breadcrumb/parmesan cheese mixture over the top.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are toasted golden and the edges of the pasta bake start to brown.
What kind of pasta is best for pumpkin baked mac and cheese?
The best pasta shapes to use for mac and cheese recipes will have plenty of surface area to make sure each bite is full of cheese sauce. Also, pasta shapes with lots of nooks and crannies are great, because they hold onto the cheese sauce very well.
Avoid long, strand-like pastas when making mac and cheese, such as spaghetti, linguine, or bucatini. Pasta shapes that work well for baked mac and cheese include elbows, shells, campanelle, rigatoni, and rotini.
Tips for making this recipe perfectly
Use canned pumpkin puree – NOT pumpkin pie filling. You’ll end up with a very sweet mac and cheese if you mix these two up.
Shred your own cheese instead of using pre-shredded. Pre-shredded cheese shreds come with a coating on them that don’t melt as smoothly. Shredding your own cheeses ensures the sauce is as smooth and creamy as can be, and also adds more cheesy flavor.
Don’t overcook the pasta when you boil it on the stovetop. Make sure you stop cooking the pasta on the stovetop right when it reaches that chewy al dente texture. It will continue to cook in the oven, and this ensures you avoid soggy noodles.
12 oz rotini pasta (or other mac and cheese pasta shape)
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup vegetable broth
3/4 cup + 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese, divided
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tbsp olive oil
Cook pasta to an al dente texture according to package instructions.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare the pumpkin cheese sauce: add the canned pumpkin, almond milk, vegetable broth, 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese, rosemary, paprika, nutmeg, salt, and lemon juice to a high powered blender. Blend until completely smooth and creamy and no chunks of any ingredients remain.
Drain the cooked pasta and add it to a mixing bowl. Pour the pumpkin cheese sauce over the pasta and mix well to combine.
Transfer the pasta to an 8×11 baking dish and spread it all out into an even layer.
Mix together the remaining 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, panko breadcrumbs, and olive oil. Sprinkle the mixture over the pasta.
Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Breadcrumbs should be turning golden brown, and the edges of the pasta bake beginning to brown.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Keywords: pumpkin baked mac and cheese, vegetarian
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