Rachael Ray's Quick Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

For mac and cheese that’s as easy to make as the stuff in the blue box (but much better for you), try this sweet add-in that kids love: canned pumpkin puree!
Publish date:
pumpkin mac and cheese topped with chives

Recipe by Rachael Ray

  • Serves 4 as an entrée, or 8 as a side dish or starterServings


  • Salt

  • 1 lb. macaroni, medium pasta shells, or elbow pasta

  • 4 tbsp. butter

  • 4 tbsp. flour

  • 2 cups whole milk

  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) pure pumpkin

  • 1 tsp. (about 1/3 palmful) granulated garlic

  • 1 tsp. (about 1/3 palmful) dry mustard

  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne

  • White pepper and a little freshly grated nutmeg (no more than 1/8 tsp. each), to taste

  • About 3 cups freshly grated yellow cheddar (3/4 lb.)

  • 2 oz. (about 1 cup) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

  • Finely chopped chives, for serving


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water and add the pasta. Cook until 1 to 2 minutes shy of the package directions.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet or medium pot, melt the butter over medium to medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour, then slowly whisk in the milk. Bring to a bubble. Cook, whisking often, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Whisk in the pumpkin. Add the granulated garlic, dry mustard, cayenne, white pepper, and nutmeg; season with salt. Add the cheeses. Stir in a figure eight motion until the cheeses melt into the sauce, a minute or two.

3. Scoop out 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the sauce. Add the cooking water a little at a time if the sauce is too thick. Top with the chives.