Enjoy the perfect fall dish with this creamy pumpkin mac and cheese! Made with cheddar and Gruyère, this pumpkin pasta features a luxurious, decadent cheese sauce and is finished with a buttery Ritz cracker topping and fresh sage for an extra touch of fall flavor. Comfort food doesn't get better than this.
12-inch cast-iron skillet or 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish
1pound dried elbow macaroni
4garlic clovesminced or grated
Pinch of ground nutmegpreferably freshly grated
1 ½cupsshredded Gruyèredivided
1 ½cupsshredded cheddardivided
1cuppumpkin puréenot pumpkin pie filling
1cupcrushed Ritz crackers
Chopped fresh sage
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the macaroni two minutes less than what the package directions dictate. Drain and reserve.
Melt the butter in the pot over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Continue to whisk constantly for two to three minutes. In the last 30 seconds, add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly.
Slowly pour in the milk and heavy cream, whisking constantly to create a smooth mixture. Stir in the Dijon mustard, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer.
Turn off the heat. Stir in 1 cup Gruyere and 1 cup cheddar until melted, and then stir in the pumpkin purée until it becomes one cohesive mixture. Add the cooked macaroni to the pot and stir to coat. If you prefer a stove-top Mac and cheese, serve immediately. Otherwise, proceed to the next step.
In a small bowl, stir together the crushed Ritz crackers and melted butter.
Pour the mac and cheese into a greased 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish or 12-inch cast-iron skillet. Top with the remaining ½ cup Gruyere and ½ cup cheddar and then sprinkle the Ritz cracker mixture on the cheese. Bake until hot and bubbly, about 20 minutes. Let the macaroni sit for five minutes before serving. Enjoy!
Make-ahead directions for baked mac and cheese: After cooking the pasta two minutes under the package directions, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Let the pasta and sauce cool completely before combining, and then pour into the baking dish, sprinkle the extra cheese and cracker mix on top, tightly cover with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to two days.Before baking, remove the dish from the refrigerator and let it sit in room temperature for an hour and bake in a 375-degree oven until hot bubbly. This should take a bit longer than if you were to make it when still hot, so plan for 30-40 minutes of baking time.
I recommend freshly grating your own cheese gather than buying grated cheese in a bag. The bagged cheese is coated in a substance that doesn't melt quite as well as freshly grated cheese.
Do not let the milk mixture boil. This can cause the milk to separate.
For best results, don't use cold milk and cream straight out of the refrigerator. Room-temperature milk melds more effectively into the roux. I like to warm the milk and heavy cream in the microwave for about a minute, or you can let it sit out for 30 minutes before using.
Love mac and cheese bites? You can turn this into a fun fall appetizer by spooning the mac and cheese into greased mini muffin tins and baking in a 375-degree oven until they're hot and bubbly, about 12-15 minutes. Give them a few minutes to set in the muffin tins before serving.
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.