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Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

A creamy, healthy homemade Mac & Cheese that kids of all ages will love! Make this better-for-you macaroni and cheese dinner with a burst of Fall flavor using canned pumpkin puree and cheddar cheese for a bubbly good weeknight meal.

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Kid-Friendly, Healthy, Homemade Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

Ready in about 30 minutes, this healthy macaroni and cheese recipe is full of pumpkin flavor and creamy, cheesy goodness, just waiting to make your dinner easy as pie!

ABOUT THIS RECIPE (per serving)

Gluten FreeQuick & EasyHealthy Choices
Servings:  4
AVG. Maker RATING: 
5 from 2 votes
Write a Recipe Review
Prep Time :5 minutes
Cook Time :25 minutes
Total Time :30 minutes
Course : Dinner, Entrée, Lunch
Cuisine : American
Diet : Gluten Free
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.
Calories 543
Fat 29.3
Carbohydrates 54.9
Protein 22.4

IMPORTANT UPDATE: November 1, 2022

Please note that some ingredient links in this post may have been removed or changed from our original recipe published to reflect new affiliate partnerships.

If you have been searching for Fall-inspired recipes, stop right now, and add this Pumpkin Mac & Cheese to your comforting list of autumn dishes to make before pumpkin season is over.

Who knew pumpkin with macaroni and cheese could taste so good?

I’ll admit that at first, I was skeptical about the combination. But being a somewhat adventurous eater, I was all in for giving it a try. And I’m glad I did!

I found a creamy, cheesy easy 30-minute meal full of vitamins and great taste that is simply divine. It will forever be in my collection of must-make autumn foods. I promise you that you’re going to fall in love with just how tasty it is!

And it’s perfect for making when the days and evenings turn chilly, and we’re craving hearty meals.

Fall in LOVE ❤ with this #PumpkinMacAndCheese #OnePanMeal ! #EasyCleanup #gluten-free #dinner #CookingGfreeDeliciously @GfreeDeliciously

The Star Ingredient

With its slight hint of sweetness from the recipe’s star ingredient pumpkin and the inclusion of cheddar cheese and salt-free garlic herb blend seasoning, this healthy macaroni and cheese recipe has everything you could want in a dinner.

Of course, if you’re looking for a little more substance, the sweet and savory elements of this dish also lend itself to adding chicken or bacon.

Here’s what you’ll need to make it:

I like using Tinkyada gluten-free, organic brown rice penne pasta for this pumpkin mac and cheese over corn or bean-based gluten-free pasta but feel free to use any pasta you may have in your pantry. You can also use any shape of pasta. I prefer penne pasta because of the large hole in the center to hold the creamy sauce, but standard shells, large elbows, or any other pasta shape will work in this recipe. For gluten-eaters, any wheat-based pasta will work too!

You’ll add two tablespoons of butter to make the pumpkin cheese sauce. My preference is to use unsalted butter so that I have complete control of the overall taste. Without the added salt in the unsalted butter, the butter’s pure sweet cream taste comes through, and I’m able to add the exact amount of salt that I want in the recipe.

A little all-purpose flour will help thicken the cheese sauce. In gluten-free all-purpose flours, my top choices are Gf-Jules or King Arthur gluten-free, measure-for-measure flour. For gluten-eaters, you can use your favorite wheat flour.

I’ve used 2% milk that we always have on hand for the milk, but you could also use unsweetened almond milk, cashew milk, whole milk, or lactose-free milk in this recipe.

The starring role for this cheese sauce is 100% pumpkin puree! You can use your favorite canned pumpkin puree or make it yourself following this step-by-step how-to.

What could be better than the bold flavor of Wisconsin Sharp Cheddar Cheese in your Mac & Cheese?

I can’t talk about this recipe without highlighting the Garlic & Herb Blend seasoning that brings this recipe together. This seasoning blend adds a simple, delicious burst of garlicky flavor combined with the fresh good taste of basil, dill, and parsley in an outstanding supporting role to the pumpkin and cheese to finish the dish. With no unhealthy ingredients or additives, it’s a quick way to add robust flavor to this and so many other recipes!

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I touched on this above, talking about unsalted butter. In cooking, there’s a right and wrong way to use this kitchen seasoning staple called salt. And while I can write a whole post just about salt, getting the right amount of salt in a dish can be tricky. For most foods, salt comes down to personal taste, but it has to do with how and when it absorbs the salt. Here are a few tips:

  • As all experienced Italian cooks will tell you, it’s key to add the salt to the water before the pasta when cooking it. Then, use a ratio of one box (or bag) of pasta to one gallon of water and between two to three tablespoons of kosher salt unless you’re making homemade pasta, where the salt should go in the dough, not in the water.
  • Add salt at the beginning of the cooking process when cooking vegetables and meat so that it has time to penetrate it.
  • When making something that will reduce like sauces, soups, or stews, hold off on adding the salt until the liquid reduces to distribute the seasoning throughout it evenly. By holding off, the salt does not become more concentrated as the liquid reduces.
  • Sometimes it’s perfectly acceptable to wait until the very end to salt your food so that you get the exact flavor profile you like.
  • Lastly, here’s a little tip I learned when visiting the CIA at Greystone in St. Helena, CA, a few years back. When you add salt to anything, you’re just not adding saltiness, you’re adding a compound that acts to magnify the other flavors of your dish, and some of those flavors we just wouldn’t be able to taste without salt.

A sprinkle of the slightly nutty umami (pleasant savory) taste of parmesan cheese raises this mac and cheese above amazing for serving!

Just when you thought this recipe couldn’t get any better. Flavorful and delicious Pumpkin Mac & Cheese is a one-saucepan meal option that makes for easy cleanup too!

This recipe is also freezer-friendly for cooks in smaller households or anyone making lunchbox or dinner meals ahead. Cook the full recipe now (or double or triple it). Then divide the amount you’re not eating right away into freezer-safe microwave-safe containers in portion-size servings for an easy ready to heat and eat lunch or dinner. Before you want to eat it, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight, and heat in the microwave for 2-3 minutes!

Picture the recipe step-by-step...

Do you LOVE Mac & Cheese?

Try these other macaroni and cheese options:

Creamy Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese Four Ways

However much you make, creamy, cheesy, healthy, homemade Pumpkin Mac & Cheese is a quick and easy comforting autumn meal. I know you’re going to LOVE this healthier version with its naturally delicious ingredients. Enjoy!

Kymberley

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Learn how to adjust the serving size, CLICK HERE

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Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

A creamy, healthy homemade Mac & Cheese that kids of all ages will love! Make this better-for-you macaroni and cheese dinner with a burst of Fall flavor using canned pumpkin puree and cheddar cheese for a bubbly good weeknight meal.
Kymberley @GfreeDeliciously
5 from 2 votes
Tried this recipe? Please leave a comment and/or ★ rating!
This recipe may contain affiliate links. For more information, visit our Affiliate Disclosure.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Dinner, Entrée, Lunch
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 543 kcal

EQUIPMENT

  • Saucepan
  • Strainer
  • Can Opener
  • Grater
  • Utensils (Measuring cups and spoons, whisk, rubber spatula)

INGREDIENTS
 
 

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INSTRUCTIONS
 

  • Prepare pasta according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in milk until smooth. Bring to a simmer (do not boil).
  • Whisk in pumpkin puree, cheddar cheese, and the garlic and herb blend. Stir frequently until the cheese is completely melted.
  • Gently fold in the cooked pasta — season with salt.
  • Serve with Parmesan cheese.
Tried this recipe?Please consider Leaving a Review.

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YOUR OWN NOTES

Nutrition

Calories: 543kcalCarbohydrates: 54.9gProtein: 22.4gFat: 29.3gSaturated Fat: 16.2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1.6gMonounsaturated Fat: 8.3gTrans Fat: 0.6gCholesterol: 81.1mgSodium: 731mgPotassium: 497.7mgFiber: 5.5gSugar: 10.5gVitamin A: 1258.7IUVitamin C: 9mgVitamin D: 0.7µgCalcium: 589.5mgIron: 2.4mg
Keyword cheese, Mac n' Cheese, Macaroni and Cheese, pasta, pumpkin

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(Nutritional values are an approximation. Actual nutritional values may vary due to preparation techniques, variations related to suppliers, regional and seasonal differences, or rounding.)

Copyright © 2017-2024 Kymberley Pekrul | GfreeDeliciously | gfreedeliciously.com | All content and photographs are copyright protected. The sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. However, copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited. Please read my Photo Use Policy for detailed guidelines and further clarification.

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A match made in heaven. It’s time to indulge your senses and say bye, bye to your ole’ macaroni and cheese sidekick, and hello to savory smoked cheesy goodness with our Smokey Grill-Baked Lobster Macaroni & Cheese. Minced garlic, fresh peppers, imitation lobster, Colby, and Asiago cheeses get hitched for a rustic grill-baked skillet that’s full of flavor!

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Kymberley @gfreedeliciously

Hi, I'm Kymberley, the creator of GfreeDeliciously and the Amazing, Glorious Journey Programs. I pray that my work will inspire you to honor your body through God and Good Food from the inside out, all while enjoying your Amazing, Glorious Journey!

Take a peek at the behind GfreeDeliciously

Being creative, cooking, fresh veggies, the violin, decorating for holidays, sewing, hand-quilting, cowgirl boots, country music, fresh herbs in pots, blowing dandelions to the wind, walking barefoot in the grass, hanging out with eclectic interesting people, reading, writing, warm lazy summer days, and yoga!

Gluten, cilantro, mixed vegetables (the frozen kind I grew up with), negativism, rudeness, narcissism, overstaying a welcome,
not helping out, liars, promiscuity, cockiness, know-it-alls, being overly-dramatic, goal-less-ness, poor hygiene, chauvinism, lacking a sense of humor, excessive competitiveness, Laziness, horrifying spellers, people-bashing, criticism and mockery of others and their beliefs, flakiness (because flaky people are really unappealing), more swagger than substance, people who constantly manage others (those folks who think they have all the answers…)

Lambrusco, my iPad, popcorn suppers, dark chocolate, cookbooks, Almond-Rocca, historical romances, sun-bathing, weekend coffee with a good book in bed, PBS cooking shows, romantic comedies, cozy sweaters, fuzzy socks, and fragrant bubble baths with soft music and wine…

Say please and thank you, LAUGH, Pray often, ENCOURAGE others, Be KIND, HONEST, HAPPY, Keep your PROMISES, Be GRATEFUL, Wash your hands, FORGIVE yourself and others, LISTEN, Have FAITH, Be CONFIDENT, Honor your parents, CHERISH your children and grandchildren, TREASURE your family, ABIDE in GOD’s love, Be POLITE, Guard your HEART, SEEK your purpose, FEED your mind, body and soul, Be HOPEFUL, Resist temptation, Lay your burdens down, TRUST your gut, CONNECT with nature, Know that GOD made you perfect just the way you are, SERVE others, LIVE to love, Be COURAGEOUS, Shine bright, OPEN your mind, RESPECT differences, HONOR your inner hunger, SING loud, Be PROUD of who you are, Practice PATIENCE, Never give up, WEATHER the storms of life, Say I love you, LOVE one another

  • I’ve traveled to 32 states in the USA where I’ve enjoyed the food, history, people and the local culture while visiting.
  • Among the states, I’ve lived in are Arizona, California, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
  • My favorite island is Maui.
  • I’ve also been to Canada and Mexico.
  • I rode horses as a kid, and barrel-raced.
  • I broke my neck when I was 18 and went to senior prom in a neck brace.
  • As a little girl, I grew up living next door to my grandma and grandpa on a small lake in rural southern Michigan.
  • The first thing I learned to cook was pancakes.
  • The craziest thing I ever made was mint-flavored green cupcakes when I was 13. My family didn’t like them much…
  •  

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Kymberley @gfreedeliciously
Coach | Cook | Creator | Publisher

Meet Kymberley [Upson] Pekrul

A professional writer and self-taught Gfree lifestyle expert on [most] gluten-free things, I’ve always loved cooking and creating delicious foods from scratch for myself and those I love.

My journey began when everything I thought I knew about cooking and eating suddenly changed one day when I discovered I was celiac. So, I re-learned how to eat, cook, and navigate through life gluten-free – trusting God and His plan for me.

I live in what’s known as the Holylands of Central Wisconsin. All the recipes you’ll find here are gluten-free and inspired by the people and places I love most. Whenever possible, I cook with seasonal ingredients using whole foods – Making dishes suitable for everyday life and all food lovers gathered at the same table.

Gfree cooking, health, and wellness ARE my life. And this little corner of the internet is where I share what I’ve learned – Where my passion IS to nourish everyday GfreeDeliciously!

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