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One Pot Creamy Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Recipe

Posted October 24, 2017 by Stephanie
One Pot Creamy Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Recipe - www.iamafoodblog.com

One pot pumpkin mac and cheese is my new fall favorite meal and maybe it will be yours too. As much as I love baked mac and cheese (or even waffled mac and cheese) there’s something about a one pot, stovetop recipe that gets me every time. This one is the one guys, it’s the mac and cheese you’ve been looking for!

It’s been raining buckets outside – rainfall warning style – and Mike and I have been holed up at home, unwilling to venture out into the wind and rain. Although I claim that I’m a homebody, loud and proud, I don’t really remember the last time we spent the whole day at home. But, it happened! We spent the entire day in. It was super productive. I made a veggie lasagna, got a bunch of work that I needed to get done, and even had time to relax underneath our kotatsu.

japan travel guide - hoshinoya fuji - www.iamafoodblog.com

If you’ve never kotatsu-ed, I hope you get a chance to! Kotatsu is a magical Japanese invention: essentially it’s a low wooden table with a heating element underneath, covered by a thick blanket, then a tabletop. It’s so cozy, especially if you open up all the windows so you have mix of crisp outside air and cozy warmth. Sometimes we’ll eat dinner right at the kotatsu, and I must say, it is luxurious!

But, you know what? There is a down side – I can’t even count how many times I’ve fallen asleep underneath it, only to wake up in a stupor, wondering where I am and how much time has past. Luckily, that didn’t happen last night, but it was probably only because I was looking forward to dinner, which was pumpkin mac and cheese leftovers.

One Pot Creamy Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Recipe - www.iamafoodblog.com

I have never made a one pot mac and cheese before this one but I think I’m hooked. Draining pasta is never fun and this turned out so creamy and cheesy. It was delicious before I stirred in the pumpkin, but after it was even better, especially with a bit of freshly grated nutmeg. Call me basic, but come October, give me ALL the pumpkin things. The more pumpkin, the better.

One Pot Creamy Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Recipe - www.iamafoodblog.com

So, before you head out and make this, here are a couple of notes! This tastes equally delicious with or without pumpkin, so if you’re not into pumpkin, make it without, it’s an awesome recipe.  I prefer weighing out the pasta, just because it’s more precise, since different pasta shapes measure out differently in cups. You may think that the one pot is just a gimmick, but cooking the pasta in milk makes it tender and you get the bonus of the starches mixing and emulsifying with the sauce, making it nice and silky. Also, right when your pasta is cooked, the sauce will look very thin. You’ll be adding in cheese, so don’t worry, it’ll thicken up  – it’s always better to have too saucy pasta than too dry, in my books.

pumpkins and cheese,
xoxo steph

One Pot Creamy Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Recipe - www.iamafoodblog.com

One-Pot Creamy Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Recipe
serves 4-6

  • 3 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • dash of nutmeg, if desired
  • 2 1/2 cups macaroni or noodle of choice (250 grams)
  • 2 1/4 cups shredded cheese combo of choice
  • 1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • salt and pepper to taste

adapted via Recipe Tin Eats

In a large sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Pour in 1 cup of the milk in a thin stream while whisking – it will be quite thick. Whisk in the rest of the milk and 2 1/2 cups of water, mustard, garlic, and onion powder. Add in the nutmeg (if using). Add in the macaroni, stirring occasionally, until wisps of steam come up as you stir. Turn the heat down to medium low.

Stir occasionally as the pasta bubbles away, gently, for about 9-10 minutes, or until the macaroni is tender and the sauce starts to thicken. It should be quite liquid/saucy at this point as adding in the cheese will thicken it up.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheese and pumpkin quickly. Season with salt and pepper and let stand for a couple of minutes. The sauce will thicken as it rests. Enjoy!


  1. Jessica says:

    That picture of the macaroni falling into the milk is so cool!

    1. Stephanie says:

      thank you! action shots are the best :)

  2. Paige says:

    Which type of cheese did you use? Trying to think of what would go best with the pumpkin. Maybe a blend?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi paige,
      i used a mix of white and regular cheddar :)

  3. Anna says:

    Where did you get your kotatsu in particular? It looks AMAZING

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi anna,
      i wish that one in the pic was mine, but it’s a photo from when we were traveling! here’s the post if you want to see more of it :)

  4. Benja says:

    You mentioned the mustard powder in the directions, but didn’t mention the onion, or garlic powder. Do we whisk those in at the same time that we add the mustard powder and the nutmeg?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi benja! yes – thanks for the heads up, i’ve updated the recipe! :)

  5. Maschell says:

    This sounds super good! Will doubling all the sauce ingredients for 1 pound of pasta work?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi maschell,
      i haven’t tried, but yes, i think that would work!

  6. Stephanie says:

    This recipe is awesome! The pumpkin makes the texture amazing. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Emily says:

    This recipe was awesome! I used penne pasta which takes a long time to cook (aka. extra creamy from cooking it down so much) but, it still turned out good. I’d definitely add 1tablespoon of salt, a bit more garlic powder, and a bit more pumpkin to give it an extra pop, though. Super easy, simple instructions, and my Dutch oven was perfect for the mac! Great comfort food recipe!

    1. Stephanie says:

      so happy you liked it and made it your own emily!

  8. J says:

    Just made it! This is definitely a great recipe! I added an additional 1/2 cup of pumpkin to mine to allow it to shine through the sharp cheddar I used.

  9. Wendie Bell says:

    Pumpkin needs to be cooked ahead of time, which is a bit annoying. Can’t I chuck it straight in?

    1. Stephanie says:

      it’s canned pumpkin so you can put it right in

  10. Kimberly says:

    Any idea on calories per serving?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi kimberly,
      i haven’t done the calorie count in depth on this one but a quick check says it’s about 500 calories per serving. hope that helps :)

  11. Emily B says:

    Just made this! Turned out perfect. I doubled the recipe and used fusilli pasta which was great. I only had dijon on hand and it worked fine. Added a bit more of each spice + aleppo pepper/cayenne pepper to give it a kick – highly recommend! Use whatever cheese you have. I did gouda + cheddar mix. Add more pumpkin to pump up the pumpkin flavor. Yum!

  12. Jamie says:

    Made this today and it was very good! I messed up some of the measurements but still came out great. I used smoked cheddar and parmesan. Thanks for the recipe – might be my preferred way of making mac-and-cheese now :)

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi jamie,
      so happy that it worked out in the end :) nothing beats easy mac and cheese!

  13. Rachel Lefebvre says:

    Could this be made dairy free? Maybe lactose free milk and cheese??

    1. Stephanie says:

      i haven’t tried but i’ve used lactose free milk in other recipes that call for milk and it works great so i think it’ll be okay!

  14. Lindsay says:

    5 stars
    Made this tonight with cavatappi – we doubled everything to use 1 lb of pasta and it was a hit! Next time I think I’d add more pumpkin and perhaps use some cayenne to kick it up a bit, but we loved how creamy and comforting it was. Also, it was easy! Doubling it did make it take longer to come to the steaming/bubbling point, but that gave us time to grill some asparagus to use as a side. :) Yum! Will be making this again!

    1. Stephanie says:

      ooh i love cavatappi! good idea on the cayenne and yes to stirring in more pumpkin! i would do it after after the pasta has cooked already, it’ll probably cut down on the bubbling time :)

  15. Taryn says:

    What type of meat/protein would you recommend adding to this? Sausage? Bacon?

    1. Stephanie says:

      bacon would be awesome!

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