This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese is creamy, dreamy, cheesy pasta love, gone deceptively light (and ultra-festive for fall and the holidays too).  

a bowl of creamy pumpkin mac and cheese

Get pumped: there’s a new mac and cheese recipe in town, and it’s everything you want (and more) in this famous comfort food classic.

  • It’s outrageously decadent, creamy, and delicious.
  • Fits right in alongside a holiday spread of Sweet Potato Pie, Roasted Carrots, and Crockpot Wild Rice Stuffing.
  • AND you can take a second (or third) helping because this luscious pasta happens to be made with healthier ingredients too.

This is pumpkin mac and cheese, and it’s going to be the star at your next holiday gathering or dinner party.

a casserole dish with pumpkin mac and cheese

5 Star Review

“I just found this recipe a couple days ago and I made it last night and it was so good!! My family totally loved it! ”

— Sharice —

While I can’t promote pumpkin mac and cheese (or Gourmet Mac and Cheese) as a health food per se, you will be hard-pressed to find another healthy mac and cheese recipe that tastes this rich, while actually being a reasonably healthier option (this Tuscan Chicken Mac and Cheese is a close second).

We owe this cheesy miracle to two super ingredients: pumpkin puree and my favorite healthy cooking weapon, Greek yogurt.

  • The pumpkin puree adds fiber, iron, vitamin A, and a luscious, smooth texture.
  • While the Greek yogurt adds guilt-free depth, body, and creaminess to the sauce (as Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese can attest!).
a close up shot of tasty pumpkin mac and cheese with bacon and breadcrumbs

Fear not, cheese still represents here—a blend of sharp cheddar and Parmesan brings a big cheese taste that mellows the pumpkin flavor so it isn’t too overpowering (we’ll save the BIG pumpkin flavor for this Healthy Pumpkin Bread).

This is macaroni and cheese after all.

How to Make Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

Tender pasta cooked in a velvety smooth homemade pumpkin cheddar sauce is speckled with caramelized onions, crisp smoky bacon, and a touch of spice before being finished with a crunchy Parmesan-panko topping.

a bowl with the best pumpkin mac and cheese

The Ingredients

  • Macaroni. Classic elbow macaroni is my go-to pasta style for this healthy pumpkin mac and cheese. I typically opt for whole wheat pasta to sneak in some whole grains too. Looking for the same cheesy goodness without the pasta? Check out my Cauliflower Mac and Cheese.

Substitution Tip!

Any short-cut pasta will work for this recipe. Rigatoni, penne, or rotini are all great options. Trader Joe’s often has adorable pumpkin-shaped pasta in the fall to make this a fun pumpkin mac and cheese for toddlers and kids (kids love this Spicy Pizza Mac and Cheese too).

  • Pumpkin Puree. Rich in fiber, vitamin A, and other nutritious vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, pumpkin turns everyday mac and cheese into a superfood (I love it for this Alfredo-style Pumpkin Pasta Sauce too).
  • Bacon. Even healthy mac and cheese needs a liiiiittle bacon. You can of course omit it if you want to trim the fat and calories further.
  • Onion. Sweet caramelized onions complement the sweetness of the pumpkin and the smokiness of the crisp bacon.


Let your onions continue to caramelize on low heat while you prepare the rest of the mac and cheese components. You double your productivity, and the longer the onions cook, the sweeter they become.

a casserole dish with healthy pumpkin mac and cheese
  • Low-fat Milk + Chicken Broth. Makes the sauce creamy without feeling heavy.
  • Greek Yogurt. My secret ingredient for making a “healthy” mac and cheese that’s lower in fat and calories while still tasting rich and creamy, just like in this classic Instant Pot Mac and Cheese.


While I’m usually all for nonfat Greek yogurt in my recipes (as in these Healthy Pumpkin Muffins), I like to use a yogurt with at least a little fat in this recipe to give the sauce a bit of richness. It is also less prone to curdling.

  • Spices. A blend of mustard powder, nutmeg, and cayenne gives the sauce depth of flavor.
  • Cheddar Cheese. I recommend using sharp cheddar for max flavor impact. You don’t need as much to create a bold, cheesy taste.
  • Parmesan Cheese. Tastes heavenly when sprinkled on top and toasted in the oven with the panko.


Feel free to try other blends of cheese in this pumpkin mac and cheese recipe. When selecting cheese, choose varieties that are aged or have a sharp flavor for best results. Gruyere, Aged Gouda, Emmental, Asiago, or Romano would all be suitable alternatives.

  • Panko Breadcrumbs. Creates an insanely crunchy crust that blankets the cheesy, pumpkin pasta as it bakes in the oven.

The Directions

  1. Cook the bacon.


Try one of these easy bacon cooking methods: Oven Baked Bacon or Air Fryer Bacon.

sliced onions in a skillet
  1. Saute the onions until softened.
sautéing onions in a skillet
  1. Continue to cook onions until caramelized.
stirring pumpkin puree into milk and broth
  1. Simmer the pumpkin, stock, and milk until thickened.
creamy homemade pumpkin pasta sauce for macaroni and cheese
  1. Season with mustard, salt, pepper nutmeg, and cayenne.
Stirring cheese, Greek yogurt, and pumpkin sauce into cooked pasta for pumpkin mac and cheese
  1. Cook the pasta till al dente. Drain, then pour pumpkin sauce over the top and stir in the cheese and Greek yogurt.
stirring sautéed onions into pumpkin macaroni and cheese in a glass bowl
  1. Fold in all of the caramelized onions and reserved bacon.
A casserole dish of healthy pumpkin mac and cheese ready to be baked
  1. Transfer to a greased casserole dish. Top with breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and a drizzle of olive oil.
  2. Bake until lightly browned and crisp on top. Serve immediately and ENJOY!

Dietary Note

If you’re wondering how to make pumpkin mac and cheese vegan, here are my tips to adapt the recipe (if you try it, I’d love to hear how it goes!):

  • Substitute the milk for your favorite dairy-free milk.
  • Swap the Greek yogurt for either soy, almond, or coconut milk yogurt.
  • Opt for cheddar-style vegan cheese shreds.
  • Choose vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.
  • Omit the bacon or fold in a vegan bacon of your choice.

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Leftover pumpkin mac and cheese may be stored in a covered airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • To Reheat. Warm pumpkin mac and cheese in the microwave, covered, until steaming. Alternatively, you may rewarm the mac and cheese in a 350 degree F oven until heated through.

Meal Prep Tip

Make room for pumpkin mac and cheese on your holiday menu with these meal prep tips for make-ahead pumpkin mac and cheese. It’s an easy, low-fuss side dish to add to your spread.

  • Grate your cheese, cook your bacon, caramelize the onions, and toss together your breadcrumb mixture up to 1 day ahead. Store in individual containers in the refrigerator.
  • Precook the macaroni up to 1 day ahead. Drain, drizzle with a little olive oil (prevents the noodles from sticking together), and then store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.
  • Prepare the sauce as directed, let cool completely, then store in an airtight container in the fridge up to 1 day ahead.
  • When ready to cook, fold together the cooked pasta, pumpkin sauce, cheese, onions, and bacon. Then transfer to a casserole dish and top with breadcrumbs. Bake as directed.

What to Serve with Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

  • Pasta Pot. Makes it easy to boil and drain your perfectly cooked al dente pasta.
  • Casserole Dish. This beautiful Le Creuset dish will be the centerpiece on your table.
  • Mixing Bowls. This durable, everyday set of dishwasher-safe glass mixing bowls should be in everyone’s kitchen.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Taste Like Pumpkin?

It depends. Some pumpkin mac and cheese recipes go heavy on the cheese and spices which can often mask the slightly sweet squash flavor of the pumpkin. Others let the pumpkin really shine. In this recipe, the pumpkin flavor is quite mild and is complemented by the nutmeg and touch of cayenne.

Is Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Healthy?

Relative to other mac and cheese options, this particular recipe is healthier than most thanks to Greek yogurt and plenty of pumpkin puree. With that being said, I would not consider pumpkin mac and cheese to healthy in the same way I would consider this Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad to be healthy.

Can I Use Pumpkin Pie Filling Instead of Pumpkin Puree?

No. When a recipe calls for pumpkin puree, you cannot substitute pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin pie filling contains a lot of added sugars, spices, and other stabilizing ingredients that would affect both the taste and texture of this pumpkin mac and cheese.

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

4.89 from 9 votes
Healthy pumpkin mac and cheese made with Greek yogurt. PLUS bacon and caramelized onions make this the BEST pumpkin mac and cheese recipe!

Prep: 35 minutes
Cook: 55 minutes
Total: 1 hour 30 minutes

Servings: 4 – 6 servings


  • 4 ounces bacon cooked (4–5 pieces)*
  • 3 teaspoons  extra-virgin olive oil divided
  • 2 cups yellow onion thinly sliced (about 1 large)
  • 1 can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) (15 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups nonfat milk
  • 1 cup low-sodium canned chicken stock (if homemade, skim off fat)
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 13 ounces whole wheat elbow macaroni or other short pasta, such as penne or rigatoni
  • 4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt (I use Chobani)
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 1/4 cup), divided
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs


  • Cook the bacon until crisp (try one of my easy methods listed below). Once cool enough to handle, chop into rough pieces and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large skillet, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté just beginning to soften; about 3 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook onions until caramelized and tender, stirring occasionally. Let the onions cook for at least 10 additional minutes, or up to 30 minutes as you prepare the rest of the recipe.
  • In a deep, wide saucepan, combine pumpkin, stock, and milk, then bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until sauce thickens slightly; about 8 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, then stir in mustard, salt, pepper nutmeg, and cayenne.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and 1 tablespoon kosher salt, then cook just until al dente according to package instructions. Drain, then transfer noodles to a large bowl. Pour pumpkin sauce over the top, then stir in the cheddar, Greek yogurt, and 2 tablespoons Parmesan.
  • Fold in all of the caramelized onions and reserved bacon.
  • Lightly coat a 9-inch square, deep baking dish or a 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Transfer the pumpkin noodle mixture to the dish. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, the remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan, and the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the noodles.
  • Cover dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until lightly browned and crisp on top; 30 to 35 minutes more. Serve immediately.


  • *Easy bacon cooking methods: Oven Baked Bacon or Air Fryer Bacon.
  • TO STORE: Leftover pumpkin mac and cheese may be stored in a covered airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Warm pumpkin mac and cheese in the microwave, covered, until steaming. Alternatively, you may rewarm the mac and cheese in a 350 degree F oven until heated through.


Serving: 1(of 6)Calories: 500kcalCarbohydrates: 63gProtein: 24gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 37mgPotassium: 571mgFiber: 3gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 11401IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 343mgIron: 4mg

Join today and start saving your favorite recipes

Create an account to easily save your favorite recipes and access FREE meal plans.

Sign Me Up

Related Recipes

Is it pumpkin palooza in your home right now? Try one of these other fabulous pumpkin recipes that are perfect for the fall and winter seasons.

Did you try this recipe?

I want to see!

Follow @wellplated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!

You May Also Like

Free Email Series
Sign Up for FREE Weekly Meal Plans
Each includes a grocery list, budget, and 5 healthy dinners, helping you save time, save money, and live better!

Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

Learn more about Erin

Leave a Comment

Did you make this recipe?

Don't forget to leave a review!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


Leave a comment

    1. Mandie, I am soooo excited that you like this recipe! Hearing from readers who enjoy what I post makes my day, so I really appreciate your sharing your review. Thanks so much!!

      1. Made this tonight except with light cream instead of milk. I also added browned ground turkey so I didn’t have to cook anything else and almost doubled the sauce. Pretty awesome casserole type thing. Thanks for the recipe. I never would’ve thought to use pumpkin and the kids loved it5 stars

        1. Hi Kevin, I’m so happy to hear that you and your family enjoyed this mac and cheese! Thanks so much for taking time to let me know how it turned out, and the ground turkey is a great idea. Enjoy the leftovers too :)

  1. Made this today for seven people and they all loved it! The best part is that there is some left for tomorrow. thank you so much for this yummy recipe.5 stars

    1. Jonna, I am so SO excited to hear that! Thanks so much for letting me know, and I hope you enjoy the leftovers too :)

  2. I made this for a fall harvest party that we had two weeks ago. It was such a success that I made it again last night for family dinner. Now my mother-in-law says that I will have to bring it to Thanksgiving dinner. You don’t taste the pumpkin, it is just rich and creamy. My husband couldn’t believe it as he was originally adamant about not wanting pumpkin in his mac and cheese. It is amazing, thank you so much for the wonderful recipe.5 stars

    1. Rebecca, I can’t tell you how happy this comment makes me! I would be honored if this dish became a part of your Thanksgiving dinner, and I’m so glad that you and your family enjoyed it. Thanks for letting me know, and have a great day!

  3. I just found this recipe a couple days ago and I made it last night and it was so good!! My family totally loved it! I used 2% milk instead of skim, and I didn’t have any panko so I left it out, but this was still such a delicious meal! My husband and I both feel that this would be an awesome dish served with fried chicken (although that would defeat the purpose of this being a healthy dish LOL)! I served it with a side of broccoli and it was a great meal. Thanks sooooo much for your awesome healthy dinner recipes. I am such a huge fan of yours and check your website all the time!5 stars

  4. My mom and I made this for my birthday dinner! (Sans the bacon, I’m not a fan of bacon.) My dad thought it was weird, but my older sister, mother and I absolutely loved it! The pumpkin added a squash-y flavor, not a sweet one like my mom initially expected when I showed her the recipe. I absolutely love everything I’ve made from this site so far and I’ll continue using it to encourage my family to eat healthier. Oh! And, the amount of cheese wasn’t too much, either. Using too much cheese makes things greasy, in my opinion, so I’m glad that it wasn’t greasy.5 stars

  5. Sounds delish!  Only concern I have is the pasta itself.  We are eating a keto based diet and I’m Thinking I could likely sub out the Pasta for cauliflower crumble instead?  Has anyone tried it that way?  Also using heavy cream instead of milk?  

    1. Hi LeanneKen! I haven’t tried this swap, so I’m not sure how it might turn out. If you decide to experiment, I’d love to hear how it goes!

  6. Our family absolutely LOVED this recipe! I have now made so many of your recipes, and my family loves them all! I’m definitely serving this pumpkin mac and cheese as a side for Thanksgiving! I substituted turkey bacon for bacon, and it was absolutely delicious! I also doubled the parmesan breadcrumb topping. Thank you so much for this amazing recipe!5 stars

  7. This came out really good! My husband and I were skeptical of savory pumpkin but we ended up really enjoying it.4 stars