Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

Seasonal ingredients can put the perfect twist on a classic favorite. So we turned to SideChef, the step-by-step cooking app that brings together recipes from 100 top chefs and bloggers, for this tasty Pumpkin Mac and Cheese recipe by Jonathan Melendez of The Candid Appetite.

Here’s how to make delicious pumpkin mac and cheese.

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
Serves 6-8; 1 hour preparation time

2 Tbsp Butter
¼ cup Plain breadcrumbs
¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp Fresh sage
¼ cup Fontina cheese
½ cup Parmesan cheese
2 cups Cheddar cheese (Substitution: Gruyere cheese)
¾ Pumpkin puree (Substitution: Canned pumpkin puree)
½ tsp Paprika
½ tsp Garlic powder
½ tsp Onion powder
½ tsp Dried thyme
1 tsp Freshly ground pepper
1 tsp salt
4 cups Whole milk
3 Tbsp All purpose flour
3 Tbsp butter
1 lb. Penne paste (Substitution: Any cut of pasta)


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and place a 9 x 13 baking dish on a baking sheet, or arrange 6-8 individual ramekins on a baking sheet. Set aside.

2. Grate the parmesan cheese (1/2 cup), cheddar cheese (2 cups), and fontina cheese (1/4 cup). Thinly slice the fresh sage (2 Tbsp).

3. Bring a large pot of cold water to a boil. Season with salt (to taste) and add the penne pasta (1 lb). Stir often and cook 2 minutes under suggested cooking time. It should not be overly soft. Drain and set aside.

4. To make the pumpkin cheese sauce, heat a large pot over medium heat. Add butter (3 Tbsp) and melt. Add the all purpose flour (3 Tbsp) and whisk together. Cook for a few minutes until the mixture smells nutty.

5. Stream in the whole milk (4 cups) while whisking the entire time. Bring to a simmer and allow the milk to thicken. You will know the sauce is ready when the back of a wooden spoon is coated and you can leave a line with your finger.

6. Once thickened, season with the Dijon mustard (1 Tbsp), salt (1 tsp), freshly ground black pepper (1 tsp), dried thyme (1/2 tsp), onion powder (1/2 tsp), garlic powder (1/2 tsp) and paprika (1/2 tsp). Stir in the pumpkin puree (3/4 cup).

7. Turn off the heat and add the cheddar cheese (reserving a bit), parmesan cheese (reserving a bit) and fontina cheese. Stir until the cheeses melt and the sauce is evenly incorporated together. Add the cooked penne pasta and stir.

8. Pour pumpkin mac and cheese into the baking dish or portion out into the individual ramekins. Top with reserved cheddar cheese and parmesan cheese.

9. To make the sage breadcrumb topping, heat a small pot over low heat. Add butter (2 Tbsp) and melt Add the fresh sage and cook until crispy. Remove from heat and allow to slightly cool.

10. In a small bowl, combine the panko breadcrumbs (1/4 cup) and plain breadcrumbs (1/4 cup). Add the crispy fresh sage and butter. Stir with a spoon and sprinkle evenly over the mac and cheese.

11. Bake pumpkin mac and cheese on the center rack for about 25-30 minutes until golden brown and bubbling. Serve right away and enjoy.

For step-by-step directions, photos and more seasonal recipes, download the SideChef app and visit The Candid Appetite.

Image(s): Jonathan Melendez, The Candid Appetite for SideChef

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