Pumpkin Mac and Cheese is my ode to fall weather and flavors. This is a creamy mac and cheese with a nice blend of pumpkin and gouda cheese. Add a simple blend of seasonings for one tasty pasta dish.
❤️ Why you'll love this recipe
- The pumpkin puree adds fantastic creaminess to the mac and cheese combined with the Smoked Gouda for a velvety sauce!
- Pumpkin mac and cheese is a fun recipe to celebrate fall flavors.
- Make the casserole ahead of time and pop it in the oven 30 minutes before you are ready to eat for a fantastic dinner.
- milk: Makes a creamy sauce for the mac and cheese. Whole-fat milk can be used but I prefer 2% milk. The flavors are so similar and I cut calories whenever possible.
- unsalted butter: Butter and flour make a thickener for the pumpkin cheese sauce. Using unsalted butter lets you further control the salt.
- all-purpose flour: the recipe needs the flour to make the sauce thicker.
- pumpkin puree: Adds a nice sweetness to the mac and cheese. Be sure to use pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling.
- smoked gouda: Gives a nice depth of flavor to the mac and cheese and the smoky flavor pairs well with the pumpkin puree.
- smoked paprika: Compliments the smoky flavors from the cheese and the sweetness of the pumpkin.
- Dijon mustard: One of my favorite ingredients that adds a nice kick to the sauce.
- nutmeg: Spices add layers of flavor to a recipe. The nutmeg is another level of flavor.
- salt and pepper: These two condiments are adding an extra level of flavor to the mac and cheese.
- non-stick baking spray - ensures the pasta won't stick to the casserole dish.
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This is an overview of the recipe. The full instructions are below in the recipe card.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/176°C. Spray a 9" x 13" casserole dish with non-stick baking spray.
- Follow the instructions on the pasta box except for cooking time. Once the pasta is added to the boiling salted water, let it cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Then drain the pasta using a colander or your favorite way to drain pasta. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the butter to melt, then whisk in the all-purpose flour to make a rue. Whisk until the rue is smooth and the color becomes gold, this gets the raw flour taste out.
- Whisk in the milk and whisk until the rue is thick and bubbling, about 6 to 8 minutes
- The thickness of the rue should be able to coat a spoon.
- To the sauce, add the pumpkin puree, cheese, and spices Mix well. Taste for seasoning, If needed, adjust the seasonings.
- Combine the pumpkin mixture and pasta in the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle with Panko Breadcrumbs.
- Cover with foil. Bake at 350°F/177°C for 30 minutes. Eat and enjoy!
How to store, reheat, and freeze
- Leftovers can be kept in a covered airtight container for up to 2 days.
- Freezer Instructions, this is a great recipe to double and freeze one casserole for later.
- To freeze, I prefer using a throwaway aluminum pan, then follow the recipe instructions. Wrap the pan well in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil, or use a food saver to wrap the container. When using a food saver I find I can keep this for up to 4 months in the freezer. If using plastic wrap and aluminum foil, 2 -3 months is the timeframe to keep this casserole in the freezer.
- Reheat instructions: The frozen casserole can be cooked from the frozen state in a preheated 350°F/175°C for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the oven size.
- The casserole can be defrosted overnight in the refrigerator and then cooked according to the recipe card below.
- Always cook the pasta 3 minutes less than the manufacturer suggests since the pasta will be baked.
- Season the pasta water with salt. That will add a layer of flavor to the pasta.
- Use pumpkin puree - not pumpkin pie filling. They are different.
- Feel free to change your cheese for the recipe. Be sure to use a good melting cheese.
Expert Tip: When using precooked pasta in any casserole dish, for best results cook the pasta for 5 minutes, drain and use in mac and cheese or casseroles for perfect pasta.
Frequently Asked Questions
It is very important to use 100% pumpkin puree for this recipe. It is pure pumpkin without any spices added.
Pumpkin Pie filling has spices and sweetener added to it which can be used for a pie.
Please be sure you are using pure pumpkin for this recipe.
Butternut squash and acorn squash are both great substitutes in this recipe. Just substitute either Use the same amount of either butternut squash or acorn squash in lieu of the pumpkin puree for a variation to macaroni and cheese.
Do you want to change up this recipe? Here are some ways that you increase the flavor of this dish.
While this recipe is delicious, as with any savory recipe there are always ways to make it your own or use variations. Here are a few suggestions to change up this Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
- The cheese used is a great way to vary the recipe and get creative. Try mozzarella cheese, Swiss cheese, Havarti, Brie cheese, or any combination of these in lieu of Gouda cheese.
- Split the cheese and use a half cup of two different types of cheese for the cheese sauce.
- Add in cooked bacon for a really nice macaroni and cheese.
- Any of your favorite veggies can be added. If I had leftover broccoli, I'd add whatever is left into the recipe when it is ready to bake.
- If you have homemade pumpkin puree, feel free to use it instead of canned pumpkin.
- Use any of your favorite small tube pasta such a elbow, rigatoni, cavatappi, etc.
This is a great recipe on its own but we love easy salads and soups for a side to the pasta.
Weight Watchers Poblano Cesar Salad is tasty and would be a fantastic side dish for the pasta casserole.
Arugula Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette is so versatile and I make this often for an easy side salad.
If you are hosting a fall party or just want a great meal combo, marinated chicken drumsticks are perfect for a crowd and pair so nicely with the mac and cheese and pumpkin flavors.
Cajun Mac and Cheese is another favorite of my family. A bit of spice and a great combo of cheese for a great variation on a classic mac and cheese recipe.
Slow Cooker Hamburger Helper is an easy dinner that always keeps them coming back for more.
Classic Macaroni and Cheese is always welcome on any dinner table. This one is pure comfort food.
Wait till you try this yummy Copycat Chick FilA Mac and Cheese, it's an affordable meal to make at home.
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If you click on the number of servings in the recipe card you can adjust the measurements up or down for the exact number of servings you need.
If you love this recipe please give it 5 stars! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
- 1 pound penne pasta
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups 2% milk whole milk can be used
- 15 ounces pumpkin puree see note 2
- 8 ounces Gouda cheese
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ - 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt see note 3
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3 Tablespoon Panko Bread Crumbs optional topping
- Preheat oven to 350°F/ 177°C. Spray a 9"x13" inch baking dish with non-stick spray, and set the casserole dish aside.
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions but reduce the cooking time of the pasta to 5 minutes. Use a colander to drain the pasta. Set it aside.
- In a medium size saucepan, over medium heat, add butter to the pan and to melt. Add in flour and whisk together to form a rue, about 2 minutes. The flour mixture will turn a golden color.
- Whisk in the milk. Continue to whisk until the mix becomes thick and bubbly. The sauce can coat the back of a spoon, about 6 to 8 minutes.
- Stir in the pumpkin puree, Gouda cheese, Dijon mustard, black pepper, Kosher salt, smoked paprika, and nutmeg.
- Taste the pumpkin cheese sauce, if needed, adjust any seasoning.
- Add the pumpkin cheese sauce to the pasta. Mix well. Then pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
- Top with pasta with Panko breadcrumbs, optional. Cover casserole with foil. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. The pasta should be bubbly and cooked through.
- Serve, enjoy.