Pumpkin spice mac and cheese is creamy, full of fall flavors, and a nice spin on the classic dish. The cheese sauce is made with a blend of pumpkin puree, milk, spices, and cheddar cheese giving it warm and earthy tones without being overpowering. It may seem a bit off-kilter, but it really accents the savory flavors of the season and is the best pasta recipe to put you in a fall mood!
If you love pumpkin spice lattes or a bowl of creamy pumpkin soup (with canned pumpkin), then this recipe for macaroni and cheese with pumpkin was made with you in mind! You can serve it during the holidays, but it’s also a great way to use up leftover pumpkin puree after you’ve made a batch of pumpkin streusel coffee cake or pumpkin swirl cheesecake. Not to mention it beats the heck out of Kraft macaroni, and is somewhat healthier.
This mac and cheese would be delicious alongside air fryer Cornish hens, roasted beef tenderloin, or our pot roast recipe. You could also serve it with air fryer salmon or air fryer boneless chicken breasts for an easy weeknight meal. Because the pumpkin spice brings a unique taste, it’s best to pair it with main courses that don’t have overly prominent flavors, so the meal is balanced.
Why You’ll Love This Pumpkin Pasta Recipe
- It’s cheesy, delicious, and comforting.
- Pairs well with most main courses and great for the fall and winter.
- Uses up leftover pumpkin puree if needed.
- Can easily be doubled for larger crowds.
What Ingredients do I Need for Pumpkin Spice Mac and Cheese?
- macaroni – I prefer to use small elbow macaroni
- salted butter – if you use unsalted butter you may need to add a little more salt at the end
- all-purpose flour
- pumpkin pie spice
- whole milk
- pumpkin puree
- cheddar cheese
- Salt and black
Pro Tip: If you have fresh pumpkin you could can use fresh puree versus canned.
How to Make Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
PREP: Preheat the oven and cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain then set aside.
MAKE CHEESE SAUCE : Melt the butter and whisk in the flour and pumpkin pie spice. Stir until brown and bubbly. Add the pumpkin puree and cheese. Stir in the cheese a little at a time. Remove from the heat once it’s melted and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
LAYER: Add a layer of cheddar cheese to the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Add half the macaroni, half the sauce, and half cheese then repeat.
COOK: Bake until the mac and cheese starts to brown on top and is bubbly, then serve!
- Feel free to add additional seasonings and herbs such as sage as a garnish, mixed in, or sprinkled on top once the mac and cheese has finished baking.
- Fontina and/or Gruyere cheese are other variations that would go great in this dish.
- For an easier option, mix the macaroni and pumpkin cheese sauce in one pot, then spread it in the baking dish and top with cheddar. This will cut down on the time it takes to layer.
Mac and cheese became popular towards the end of the Great Depression because it was cheap.
Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. When reheating, you may want to add a little water.
This kind of mac and cheese uses pumpkin with other ingredients like milk, butter, flour, and cheese to make the sauce. Then it’s tossed in your favorite pasta, similar to regular mac and cheese.
Pumpkin Spice Mac and Cheese
- 1 pound small elbow macaroni cooked and drained
- ¼ cup salted butter
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 2½ cups whole milk
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 16 ounces medium cheddar cheese grated
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Cook macaroni in a large pot of salted, boiling water according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- Melt butter in a large saucepan or skillet over medium heat.
- Add the flour and pumpkin pie spice. Stir and cook with a rubber spatula for 1-2 minutes until the mixture is bubbly and beginning to brown slightly.
- Adding just a little at a time, slowly whisk in the milk and simmer until the mixture begins to thicken.
- Whisk in the pumpkin puree.
- Add half of the grated cheese to the sauce mixture (¼ cup at a time), whisking between each addition until the cheese is melted and smooth.
- Remove the sauce from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- In a greased 9×13 glass baking dish, sprinkle a handful of the remaining cheese across the bottom.
- Layer ½ of the macaroni, ½ of the sauce, and half of the remaining cheese, and then repeat with a final layer of macaroni, sauce, and cheese.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until mac and cheese is beginning to brown on the top and is bubbly.
- Serve immediately.
- You can add additional herbs and seasoning, such as chopped fresh sage (mixed in or sprinkled as a garnish over the top.)
- Other cheese variations that would work well with these flavors include fontina and/or Gruyere.
- The pumpkin spice flavors are not overpowering; they give this classic cheddar mac and cheese some warm, earthy tones of flavor.
- For quicker prep, you can mix together the macaroni and cheese sauce in one big pot and then spread it into the casserole dish and top with cheese – rather than layering the ingredients.