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Vegetarian Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

I am a mac and cheese fiend-it's my comfort dish. I have hit and miss memories on food and childhood but I do remember watching my mother make mac and cheese. She didn't use a recipe (and still doesn't) but makes the simplest, but amazing, mac and cheese. So amazing that every time I've tried to make it the way I like to make it, my husband looks at me and asks when I'm going to my my mother's version. (I'll be sharing this soon- once I nail down the right proportions.)

My love of mac and cheese + fall is quite evident on this site. I've made a quick butternut squash version and a gooey sweet potato version. I've mixed it up a bit by making mac and cheese from sweet potato gnocchi (delicious) and even made a dish that looked like mac and cheese with Brussels sprouts but was actually a delicious cheesy millet bake.


Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

  • Author: Erin Alderson
  • Yield: 3-4 1x


  • 1 small pie pumpkin
  • 3 cups (8 oz.) pasta
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¼ cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. fresh minced thyme
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 ½ cup 2% milk
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 pieces wheat bread
  • ¼ cup hazelnuts (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Slice pumpkin in half, scoop out seeds and place both halves cut-side down in a baking dish. Pour enough water in the pan to form a ¼" layer. Place pumpkin in the oven and roast until tender, 45-55 minutes. Let cool slightly and scoop out flesh. Measure 1 cup and set aside.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add pasta and cook until just tender, 6-7 minutes. Strain and set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, heat butter until melted. Mince garlic and add to the pot. Cook for 1 minute. Whisk in flour, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook and whisk for another minute. In a blender, combine pumpkin puree and milk, blending until smooth. Pour mixture into the saucepan and whisk until well combined. Cook, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens, 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and add in shredded cheese, stirring until cheese melts.
  4. Combine pasta and cheese mixture into an 9x9 baking dish or a pan similar in size. In a food processor, pulse together slices of bread and hazelnuts. With the food processor running, pour in olive oil. Sprinkle mixture over the macaroni and cheese.
  5. Bake in the 400F oven for 20-25 minutes until the top is browning and cheese is bubbling. Serve warm.

*This recipe originally appeared as a guest post on Cup of Jo