This cozy mac and cheese is all about classic fall flavors: earthy pumpkin and crispy sage.

Bonus: It’s almost as fast to make as the boxed stuff. Cooking the pasta in milk, without draining it, emulsifies the pasta starch and sauce together, resulting in a smooth cheese sauce. The sauce starts out looking quite thin, but after you stir in the cheese and let it rest, it thickens up to the perfect consistency. It’s an easy recipe to riff from—if you want a more traditional stovetop mac and cheese, leave out the pumpkin.

Pumpkin Sage Mac and Cheese |

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Pumpkin Sage Mac and Cheese |

Pumpkin Sage Mac and Cheese

This cozy mac and cheese is all about classic fall flavors.
Serves 4
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter 1/2 stick
  • 20-25 leaves sage
  • 2 cups milk whole preferred
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 8 oz ziti or macaroni noodle of choice
  • 2 1/4 cups cheddar grated
  • 3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin puree
  • salt and freshly ground pepper


  • Melt the butter in a large sauté pan or pot over medium heat. Add the sage leaves, being careful not to crowd the pan, and fry until crisp, 5 to 15 seconds, depending on the size of the leaves. Remove the crisp leaves to a paper towel to drain. Set aside.
  • Whisk the flour into the melted butter and cook, whisking constantly, until the flour is a blond color and the mixture is smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in 1 cup of the milk in a thin stream, continuing to whisk until any lumps are gone and the sauce is smooth and quite thick, 1 to 2 minutes. 
  • Add the remaining 1 cup of milk along with 2½ cups of water, as well as the garlic, mustard, and onion powders. Add the uncooked ziti and stir until wisps of steam come up, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low. Let cook, gently bubbling, until the ziti is tender and the sauce starts to thicken, 9 to 10 minutes. (It will still be quite saucy at this point—adding the cheese will thicken it up.)
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheese and pumpkin puree. Season to taste with salt and pepper and let stand for a couple of minutes; the sauce will thicken as it rests. Crumble the crispy sage leaves on top, and serve hot.


Top with freshly grated nutmeg and finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Estimated Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Pumpkin Sage Mac and Cheese
Amount Per Serving
Calories 667 Calories from Fat 341
% Daily Value*
Fat 37.9g58%
Saturated Fat 23g144%
Cholesterol 109mg36%
Sodium 527mg23%
Potassium 262mg7%
Carbohydrates 55.5g19%
Fiber 2.9g12%
Sugar 9.8g11%
Protein 27.9g56%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


  1. Sabrina says:

    5 stars
    nice for when I want to splurge calorie and carb wise (weekend) and not do it out of a box, bonus as you write is that it’s quick too, nice and nice about your forthcoming book, congrats and thank you!

  2. Chinese Food says:

    5 stars
    Hovever, I love foods with cheese :)

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