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Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese

Like most kids, my boys love macaroni and cheese. Unfortunately, they are a bit less enthusiastic about healthier foods. So I found a great way to sneak a vitamin-packed fruit into their favorite food. I took my recipe for baked macaroni and cheese—which I came up with by combining a few other recipes I’d found over the years—and added pumpkin to it. (Yes, pumpkin is a fruit. I was surprised, too!) And it turned out delicious!

The first time I served my new concoction, my boys gobbled up the mac and cheese like they always had. I don’t think they even noticed a difference! Bwahahahahaha—I’m so sneaky! My hubby and I could barely notice the pumpkin, either. It definitely makes the mac and cheese a bit creamier and maybe even a little sweeter. Now, we never make macaroni and cheese without it!

Here’s the recipe so you can trick—I mean, try it out on—your own kids!


1 lb. penne pasta (You can use whole-wheat penne.)
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 2/3 tbsp. flour
2 2/3 cups two-percent milk
1 cup pumpkin purée
1 1/3 cup shredded Colby/Monterey Jack cheese (You can use this blend or just Monterey Jack.)
1 1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2/3 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
1/3 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 cup panko breadcrumbs


1. Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 13×9-inch baking pan.

2. Cook the pasta in salted water according to package directions. Drain.

3. Meanwhile, melt 3 tbsp. of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour.

4. Slowly whisk in the milk; cook until thick.

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

5. Add the pumpkin purée and mix well. Remove from heat.

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

6. Add cheeses, salt, and black pepper.

Mac and Cheese

mac and cheese

7. Combine the sauce with the pasta. Pour into the baking pan.

mac and cheese

8. Melt the remaining 3 tbsp. of  butter in a saucepan and toss in the breadcrumbs.

Mac and Cheese

9. Top the macaroni with the breadcrumbs.

10. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, until golden and bubbly.

Mac and Cheese

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One Comment

  1. This is great! I try to add veggies whenever I can to my foods to make them healthier by boosting my veggie/fruit intake.
    Such perfect timing, I’ve been wanting Mac & cheese, staring at that pasta for a week and just thinking how to make a healthy version. I love adding pumpkin puree into soups, it’s great in mixed fruit smoothies, and in pasta sauce that can be too acidic for some children and adults. I never thought of pumpkin Mac & cheese.
    I’m retired and cooking for myself now tends to be a chore now and usually boring. You might not have planned this, but your site isn’t just for young families. I certainly enjoy your site very much. At 57,I can even relate to the “terrible twos” article – pretty much the same reactions but now due to menopause and some of the downsides of retirement. LOL! Yes, I know what your thinking, I never would have believed it myself, but there really are downsides.
    I look forward to your emails, they cheer me up and have great ideas! Thanks, I don’t know how you do it all!

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