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Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

Creamy, cheesy, and secretly healthy pumpkin mac and cheese.

EASY Pumpkin Mac And Cheese Recipe

I’ve probably mentioned more than once on this blog how much I love macaroni and cheese.

I grew up on my Italian grandmother’s homemade version (seriously the best comfort food ever), and I also really loved both Velveeta and Kraft Mac and Cheese. My dad would make it with extra milk so there was twice as much cheese sauce, and I called it “cheese soup.”

It was one of my favorite Sunday lunches.

Also Try This Cauliflower Mac And Cheese 

Creamy Pumpkin Macaroni And Cheese

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Pumpkin Banana Bread

Pumpkin Cupcakes – Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Workout Brownies

For as long as I can remember, I have always chosen pasta over everything else.

Even when I’d find myself at a steak or seafood restaurant as a child, my first move would be to scan the menu for mac and cheese.

(Outback Steakhouse makes a surprisingly good mac and cheese. Who knew?!)

Secretly Healthy Pumpkin Mac & Cheese Recipe

Healthy Pumpkin Mac And Cheese

In this healthier take on mac and cheese, pumpkin stands in for the heavy cream, cutting way back on the calories and fat while giving you over 200% of your daily requirement for Vitamin A!

There are just 6 ingredients needed to make the sauce, and you can put it over anything you wish – pasta, rice, veggies, spaghetti squash (see how to cook spaghetti squash), quinoa—or eat it straight from the bowl with a spoon.

Easy Creamy Pumpkin Mac & Cheese Recipe
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Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

A creamy and secretly healthy pumpkin mac and cheese recipe.
4.84/5 (31)
Total Time 15 minutes
Yield 3 cups sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 cups pureed pumpkin or roasted butternut squash
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt, plus more if desired
  • 2 tbsp butter, such as Earth Balance or Smart Balance Light, OR 2 tbsp olive oil and a little extra salt if needed
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 1 cup shredded cheese, such as Follow Your Heart or Daiya OR 3/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • whatever you wish to go with your sauce (macaroni, quinoa, spaghetti squash, rice, veggies, etc.)

Instructions

  • Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Recipe: Combine all sauce ingredients in a medium pot and bring to a complete boil. Lower the heat, and stir until the buttery spread and shredded cheddar melt completely. I add a little extra salt, but taste and season to your preference. Sauce thickens as it cools and is much thicker the next day. Makes about 3 cups sauce. I cooked 8 oz dry macaroni for this recipe.
    View Nutrition Facts

Notes

Or try this pumpkin-free version: Vegan Mac And Cheese.
 

Have you made this recipe?

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More About The Cookbook

4.84/5 (31)

Rate this recipe

Published on September 11, 2019

Meet Katie

Chocolate Covered Katie is one of the top 25 food websites in America, and Katie has been 
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ABC's 5 O’Clock News. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating dessert every single day.

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111 Comments

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  1. Kathy says

    I also grew up on Mac & Cheese. During my 3 years in high school I ate the Morton Mac & Cheese that came in tins every single night after school. No Lie!! My mother bought them by the case and I had either one or two every night until I graduated. If I ever did deviate from the mac & cheese, I would eat french fries. But that was rare. Love Love Love cheese and it was hard to give up when I went vegan. (I do still occasionally cheat when I find some really good organic cheese) But, giving up the mac & cheese was my only hard spot in going vegan. So delic!

  2. Elaine says

    Hi Katie, does this taste like pumpkin? I have 2 picky kids and would love more ways to incorporate veggies into meals. Thank you so much for all you do!

    • Shelley says

      I couldn’t taste the pumpkin at all. It just tasted creamy and cheesy! I’d cut down on the salt next time, but thats it.

  3. EVA says

    AM I?! Actually, I wouldn’t eat mac and cheese if it WASN’T Kraft, haha. And if you made me the ones with the Pokemon shaped-noodles, I was yours forever. My twin sister and I are famous for being “pasta only” people; whenever we’d go out to a restaurant, we would never order anything other than mostacholli. Spaghetti, yes, but there was something more delectable about the spyglass noodles. And the day we discovered Noodles and Company at ten years old….our lives were changed for the better!

    Unfortunately now that I’m GF, pasta is an at-home specialty that I rarely have time to make, so now when we eat out, I’m famous for ordering a salad rather than pasta. Oh….sniff….how I miss thee, greasy spoon marinara….

  4. Gavin Larsen says

    No, I detest mac ‘n’ cheese, but this recipe sounds so good I might actually try it! Now, if you can get me to like macaroni and “cheese”, you can give yourself a big pat on the back because many people have tried, but none succeeded. 🙂

  5. Lindsey @ SimplyLindsey says

    I loveeee mac n cheese! The best mac n cheese I’ve ever had is at Virtue Feed & Grain in Old Town Alexandria. It’s made with smoked gouda and prosciutto and served in a cast iron skillet! 🙂

  6. Karlei says

    This sounds delicious! I absolutely love mac and cheese but usually avoid it because of the calories and lack of nutrition, but I cannot wait to try this! I’m going to make it this Friday and then if I like it, might add it to the Thanksgiving menu 😉

  7. Hailey says

    It depends on the mac and cheese… Kraft or other brands with lots of gloppy cheese sauce are absolutely disgusting to me, but I love my mom’s homemade kind. 🙂

  8. Molly says

    Hi Katie!!!
    Firstly, AOTD: YUS!!!!!!
    Secondly, I’m sorry if this is a really silly questions, but I was reading your nutrition info and i thought it was really low for mac and cheese including the noodles. Is it just for the sauce or for 1/2 of a cup including noodles?
    Finally, Your recipe looks amazing as always and I, along with everyone else, really appreciate the thought you put into them to make them healthy and delicious! Thank you!!

  9. Vanessa says

    Wow I can’t wait to make this even though the weather is warming up over here. I adore mac and cheese but I never have it because it’s just fat and carbs! Now I have a healthy version! Thank you !!

  10. Heather Mason says

    woa, what a crazy combo! I feel like it would have a weird flavor with the pumpkin, but your recipes have never disappointed in the past so I’m going to try it! Thanks Katie!

  11. jenna @ just j.faye says

    I love mac and cheese, but never eat or make it unless I’m up for a huuuggee splurge. This is definitely something I could make and feel satisfied with minus all the guilt. I will have to try it out!

  12. Kim Reid says

    I am in India at the moment and we have curry for breakfast, lunch and dinner! And i am over it. I am going to the city and get pasta and cheese and i am going to add sauted onion and green chilli, in pure mustard oil and perhaps some indian spice! I cannot wait. So i am going to have curry again!!

  13. Veronika says

    I adore mac & cheese! I’ve never had the dairy kind, but all the vegan recipes I’ve tried so far have been delicious. I can’t wait to try this pumpkin version, as pumpkin/squash is my favourite fall veggie!

  14. Jen says

    Katie, I made this last night and it was absolutely delicious! I followed the recipe exactly, except I sprinkled in some pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne at the very end for a little more zip of flavor. Very yummy! Even my skeptical boyfriend loved it – he even wolfed it down faster than me! Thanks for the wonderful recipe.

  15. jill says

    omg, katie, you brought this out at just the right time for me! i love mac n cheese (have loved the kraft version in the past, as well, and used to doctor it up with veggies), but lately have been into the dairy free/soy free/gluten free version that is available in the frozen food section. i’ve been wanting to get “off” of that, but didn’t know how to create a healthy version of it for myself. your recipe sounds delicious and perfect! i love pumpkin, too, so that will be a great addition! and i’ve been wondering how i’ll use the nutritional yeast i bought. i love the suggestion of putting the sauce over quinoa or veggies (or both)! i am totally making this one, and i can’t wait. thank you so much!

  16. Angela says

    Just whipped this one together with butternut squash and nutritional yeast. It is savor and delicious. I think it would be the perfect dish to take to a fall family gathering. Also added onion flakes and diced cherry tomatoes for zazz. Thanks for the recipe!

  17. Kim says

    Food world, Katie’s gone and done us a solid. The pumpkin is an excellent substitute for cream in a mac n cheese roux. I found it delightfully smooth and satisfying, not too pumpkiny but all the right flavours. Eating this is like consuming victory.

    11/10, would definitely nom again.

  18. Corrie says

    I made this with butternut squash and served it over steamed veggies. Amazing!! This is a staple in my rotation…I used nutritional yeast. Yum!

  19. Amber says

    I made this tonight, AMAZING! I added breadcrumbs and baked it for a bit too, I’m a fan of baked mac! It was a hit, thanks!

  20. Monica says

    Just made this and it is SO INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS! I sauteed onions and garlic first and then followed the recipe. It didn’t feel like just another alternative to mac & cheese but a healthy AND scrumptious delight where I didn’t even miss the full-fat version.

  21. Linda @ the Fitty says

    I think you’re an absolute genius for thinking of this, Katie. I also associated pumpkin with sweet things but you proved it to not necessarily be true!

    Is there a way I could make a low carb version of this?

  22. Ann says

    I made this not reeeeeeally expecting it to be incredible, but I turned out very, very surprised! It was similar to the moment after I tried out your chocolate chip pancakes for the first time. So, so, so surprisingly incredible! (by others’ recommendations, I added to the other ingredients a dash of nutmeg and en equal amount of onion powder as garlic powder) Thanks so much for this staple recipe, Katie!

  23. Maria says

    Hi! My name is Maria, and I am the editorial assistant at KrisCarr.com. We are stepping up our recipe game at KrisCarr.com, and we would love to feature your recipes regularly on the website (with credit and link to you, of course).

    It’s fairly simple. I would choose recipes you have already posted that are appropriate for our readers and post them on KrisCarr.com. They would then be posted in our newsletter and on our social media outlets for your increased exposure.

    Please e-mail me back at [email protected] if you’d like to be a regular contributor.

    Thank you!

  24. Amy says

    For those who are wondering, this doesn’t taste like pumpkin! I used Daiya cheddar and the sauce mostly tastes like that, but the pumpkin makes it super creamy. This recipe is a keeper for sure!

  25. Sarah Walker says

    This is the best thing to happen in my life haha. I missed Mac ‘n’ cheese so much, this tastes heavenly. Thank you!

  26. Michelle says

    My family camps a lot, and when I was pretty young, we got our first travel trailer with a stove, my mom would take box macaroni and cheese, since it was quick and easy to make. She would put ham cubes in it, making it one of our favorite treats on camping trips.

  27. Alexis says

    I made this with tofutti cream cheese and it turned out very smooth and yum! I from Australia and it’s very difficult to get any vegan cheese except tofutti.

  28. Stephanie says

    Katie, I LOVE your blog because your recipes are delicious, easy, healthy, and most importantly vegan! I’m wondering why in the “You might also like” section you have links to non vegan recipes from other websites.

  29. lulu says

    i tried this recipe and did the arithmetic of the proportions of the ingredients for a single serve microwave version. once again katie, you are very spot on when it comes to a healthy combination of ingredients which is easily adaptable for a single serve. thanks. here is the link to how i made the microwave single serve version including how to cook the single serve pasta in the microwave.
    http://lulucooksandtells.blogspot.com/2014/10/single-serve-microwave-pumpkin-mac-and.html

  30. Ann says

    Katie, you indicated that you have always have had a difficult time finding good vegan Mac n cheese dishes. You also referred before to Isa Chandra M., vegan recipe developer extraordinaire. Have you possibly tried her roasted red pepper Mac n cheese, that according to raving reviews, tastes like pizza?

  31. Jennifer Bonnell says

    Hi! This recipe looks absolutely delicious. However, I’m sensitive to certain dairy and am not able to handle milk. I was wondering if you thought this recipe would be okay with almond milk. I hope so, because I love pumpkin and want to make it soon. Thanks for your help, and your delicious recipes! One of the desserts will be making an appearance at my family’s Thanksgiving next weekend, but don’t tell anyone (either the Pumpkin fudge balls or chocolate peanut butter brownie bites). 😉

    • Unofficial CCK Helper says

      Milk of choice means whatever milk you wish to use. I know Katie is partial to almond milk in her recipes. She does not eat dairy either.

  32. Danielle says

    I tried this with nutritional yeast tonight. I am not going to totally write off the recipe though as I am going to try it again w/Daiya. (I thought I had Daiya but we didn’t have enough

  33. lori says

    Doubled the recipe for a party and it was devoured! Cooked for critical group who are predisposed to not liking allergy friendly recipes but massive success. And my new favorite version of the recipe!! Made several and this is the easiest and tastiest. I fried some sage in earth balance, mixed into gf panko and spread on top, baked for additional 20 mins for a crunchy topping. So yummy!!

  34. Kirsti says

    Hi,
    Just want to say I only recently came across your blog, tried this recipe yesterday and… Speechless. It was absolutely delicious! Not to mention so much lighter than normal mac and cheese (though I did use half fat cheddar instead of the vegan stuff). A really inspired recipe that my boyfriend and I have already decided we need to eat again… maybe tomorrow 😉

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  36. Anna says

    Tried this recipe over the holidays and it was the BEST mac and cheese I’ve ever had! From a former mac lover and current health conscious cook, WOW. Everyone needs to try this. The first savory recipe I’ve tried from Chocolate Covered Katie. So yummy. Thanks!

  37. jeanette says

    Holy Cow! I love mac & Cheese and I love pumpkin! I can’t wait to try this! It looks so creamy! I have tried so many healthy versions of macncheese that were just blah. This sounds fantastic! I can’t wait!

  38. Michelle says

    I just made this for lunch using nutritional yeast and it was so delicious! Even my husband really liked it and he normally doesn’t like pumpkin/squash based recipes because he thinks they are too sweet. Thanks for the great recipe!

  39. Abby says

    Hi Katie! Can this sauce be frozen? I made it and loved it – but my boyfriend didn’t – and now I have a ton of leftovers 🙁

  40. Kaela says

    Does anyone know how many cups the 125 g serving size would equal? We dont measure that way here, and I dont have a kitchen scale 🙁

  41. Lauren Berberich says

    This recipe was yummy. I added bbq seasoning, broc, sun dried toms, and did a three cheese blend (park, cheddar, asiago) plus nutritional yeast.

  42. Alyssa says

    Yum! Just tried it. I needed a quick dinner for tonight, but needed something healthy. I was dubious. I like pumpkin, I like mac and cheese…but together? I’ve heard of adding butternut squash to mac and cheese for picky kids, but not pumpkin. I was so glad I tried it. It’s delicious and it came together quickly. It took me longer to shred the cheese than it did to make the sauce.

    I used sharp cheddar (all I had on hand, and I’m a native Vermonter), cut down on the salt, and added a fair bit of pepper. I plan to bring some for lunch tomorrow and might try steaming some broccoli to mix in it. Definitely going into my dinner rotation.

    5/5

    5/5

  43. Melissa says

    Freakishly good. I made the sauce and served it over homemade vegan bread, with sliced tomatoes, as a kind of vegan Welsh rabbit. Really, really delicious, and perfect on a cool fall evening.

  44. Sarah Bishop says

    I recently made this for a fall-themed potluck at work. I made it the night before and reheated it in the morning on low in my crock pot- worked just fine. I doubled the recipe and used a can of pumpkin and a can of squash just because I already had those in my cupboard. I also added a squeeze of brown mustard because I was missing the “tang” of a regular mac and cheese made without pumpkin/squash. Delicious! I look forward to adding it to my permanent recipe repertoire.

  45. Lisa Cote says

    This was really good, and unique. I thought my toddler would love it, but as I’m really the one with the love affair with mac and cheese, it made sense that I’d enjoy it the most. Thank you!

    5/5

    5/5

  46. Monique says

    This is our absolute favourite recipe, EVER!!!!!
    We like it so much, that I’ve erased all other saved Mac & Cheese recipes. ?
    The only thing I add is Dijon mustard to taste. YUM!!!!!
    Thank you!!! Thank you!!! Thank you!!!

    5/5

    5/5

  47. Courtney K says

    I made this with the nutritional yeast instead of the cheese and it was delicious! I’ll definitely be making his again.

    5/5

    5/5

  48. althea says

    I was wondering: since butternut squash and sweet potato can often be substituted for pumpkin in recipes, would that perhaps work in here? Only because I live in a place of the UK that is so mundane, I can only find pumpkin (tinned) from one place, and it’s a bit too expensive for me to get..

  49. Elisa says

    I am the only one in our household who loves all things pumpkin. That said, we ALL adore this recipe! Makes a fabulous meal on a cold winter’s night. Even my little ones are asking for more. As usual… genius, Katie!

    5/5

    5/5

  50. R. T. says

    This recipe turned out super delicious! My two year old is lactose intolerant and had never previously experienced mac & cheese. She was SO excited about her “baby cheese” as she called it. Plus, what mama doesn’t love sneaking in some veg?! We will definitely be making this one again. We did sneak in a little extra cheese, though. 😛

  51. Jessica says

    Ok. So it’s different. I reminds me more of baked ziti then anything else. Maybe bc i used shredded cheddar. Next time i plan on using block of cheddar and melting it first in the milk and butter and then adding pumpkin. It’s all stretchy. I added broccoli and used real butter.

    And added extra milk and cheese….accidentally? So it stretched further I think. I don’t know. It still tastes pretty good. I may try it again.

    But it definitely does not taste like traditional mac n cheese, so fair warning.

  52. Azure says

    I’m going to try the vegan version tonight but since I’m avoiding concentrated fats, I will leave out the oil. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

  53. Cindy says

    This is amazing! I used nutritional yeast and a couple of slices of Daiya provolone (I did not like it so this is a good way to use it up). I also added some black pepper and some Turmeric paste (I add that to almost everything I can because it’s anti
    -inflammatory). The noodles are cooking, but I don’t know if there will be any sauce left. So fast and easy!

  54. Diana says

    Just a general question (that could apply to this recipe) – can nutritional yeast powder be used instead of nutritional yeast flakes, and if so, how much should be used? Thanks!

  55. Kathleen says

    This is amazing !! I used nutritional yeast, olive oil, and Ripple milk. The pumpkin and cheesy flavor work great together, and I topped my dish off with basil.

  56. Emily says

    Just made this recipe! I did not have Daiya shreds, so I had to use nutritional yeast which I think benefits from some modifications to tone the pumpkin down a little bit and up the “cheese” flavor (I’m sure with the Daiya shreds, these modifications wouldn’t be necessary! but I figured I would share in case anyone else is using nooch).

    I did one can pumpkin, one cup unsweetened soy milk, 3/4 cup nooch, light smart balance butter, and garlic powder and salt as recipe states. I blended this in blender, but also I added a splash of lemon juice, some Dijon mustard, a tsp of vegetable bouillion and about 1-1.5 tsp of red miso paste (and just a small handful of vegan parm). Then I heated this over the stove as directed. Just before my pasta was done (I used rigatoni), I added a splash of good quality EVOO to the pumpkin cheese sauce before mixing with the drained pasta. YUM thank you for the excellent recipe Katie!

  57. Kay says

    i loooove love love mac and cheese but i cant take cow milk anymore… Would plant based milk work? (my tummy is totally fine with cheese tho!)

    • Jason Sanford says

      This blog is actually vegan, so all recipes are tested with plant based milk 😉
      Katie likes almond or cashew milk usually, but use your favorite!

  58. Melissa says

    Just made a double batch of this, and it’s so delicious – thank you! I used your recipe as a base and made the following changes to suit my taste: used a blend of Swiss gruyère + monterey jack, added nutmeg (really compliments the pumpkin! I used butternut), and almond milk. I’m so happy that I have exciting freezer meals ready to go!

  59. Sarah says

    I received this recipe via email yesterday, opened it today and realized I have all the ingredients to make right now (nutritional yeast instead of vegan cheese). What a delicious lunch! I added some frozen peas to the pasta while cooking and diced seitan to the cheese sauce after cooking before mixing everything together. I’m already looking forward to eating the leftovers later!

  60. Kathryn says

    Your new pictures look great! I haven’t made this kind in forever 🙁 It’s fantastic, too! I may need to rekindle the love this weekend.

  61. Mahni says

    I made this last night and it was way too much sauce for the 8oz dry macaroni that you said you used (I did the same thing. I used brown rice spiral noodles). I ended up making 24oz and it was still way too much sauce! I think 40oz dry macaroni would have been the right ratio. I would describe it as a ‘Creamy, Savory, Pasta’ side dish. We were glad it didn’t taste like pumpkin. I added more cheese. It tasted good, but I think the title had me expecting a taste more akin to Daiya mac n cheese or the frozen dairy-free, gluten-free ones. Very creative!

    • Mahni says

      Ok, just added whole grain Dijon mustard like another reviewer said and WOW—so good! It does add that tang like regular Mac n cheese. I ended up using a 16oz package of Brown Rice Pasta Fusilli in total and that was perfect. I used pumpkin. Thanks for this recipe…it’s a keeper! I would share a pic but it’s gone LOL!

  62. Juliana says

    Mac and cheese soup! I use to have my mom add extra milk to Mac and cheese too! Whenever I have an itch to eat something nostalgic I’ll always turn to ‘Mac and cheese soup’ lol. Our variation also had frozen peas. Btw I loved your recipe for pumpkin sauce. So creamy and delicious.

  63. Avra says

    I have made a similar squash-based mac n cheese by cooking and pureeing butternut squash . . . but pumpkin is way easier cause you just open a can! Why didn’t I think of that?

    This is so simple and easy. I will say that it’s not super cheesy but it does have less cheese than my usual mac n cheese recipe–maybe I will add more next time. Either way it tastes good! Thanks for the recipe!

  64. Ellen Veltri says

    Just made this for the first time. DELICIOUS. I used a combo of nutritional yeast and cheddar, used almond milk, and Earth Balance buttery spread. I also added some red pepper flakes and peas. It’s on the regular rotation! Thanks Katie!

  65. Kat - the other 1 says

    Finely grated or pureed carrot also works. 🙂
    (Instead of pumpkin.)
    I use the nutritional yeast version.
    Onion powder instead of garlic, (allergy) a little mustard or dry mustard, a large pinch paprika, small pinch nutmeg, and a large pinch no salt chicken or veggie bullion. Whether using pumpkin, carrots, sweet potato, or squash, those spices seem to help create a “cheesy” like flavor. 🙂

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