Pumpkin Mac & Cheese: The New Thanksgiving Side Dish

mac n cheese

Mac & Cheese Please!

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and it will be time to gather with friends and family and indulge in all the delicious food. It’s very easy to make unhealthy choices during the holidays and we all regret them later on. Mac and Cheese is honestly one of my favorite side dishes during the holidays because it’s always so comforting. Who can resist the cheesy gooey delicious dish?! I certainly cannot but I also do not want to add on several pounds to the waistline from one serving.

One of the wonderful flavors of the season is pumpkin and it’s so delicious in baked goods and very healthy! Adding this to the classic dish gives it a wonderful flavor and adds so many wonderful healthy benefits. This dish is much lighter in calories thanks to the pumpkin but still has all the comforting flavors we are all used to. The pumpkin flavor isn’t very pronounced so for those that do not like pumpkin that much they will still enjoy this dish. I love serving this in mini dishes so it keeps the portions under control and they are just so cute! This recipe can also be served in a large dish too.


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  • 1 16oz can of Pumpkin Puree (not pie filling)
  • 1 1/2 cups of half & half
  • Whole Grain Rotini Pasta, 1 box
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • Fresh Thyme Sprigs, about 10
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 4oz plain cream cheese
  • Olive Oil spray
  • Small baking dishes
  • 1 cup of pasta water reserved after draining


  • Preheat oven to 350ºF and spray the baking dishes with the olive oil spray.
  • First cook the pasta according to the package directions, reserve 1 cup of the pasta water when draining, and set aside.
  • In a large pot melt the butter and add in the garlic to sauté for about 2 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to low, add the pumpkin puree, half & half, nutmeg, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Stir it well until combined.
  • Add the reserved pasta water, 1 cup parmesan cheese, and cream cheese. Stir well.
  • Let it simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add in the pasta and stir to evenly coat the pasta in the sauce.
  • Scoop the pasta into the dishes and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese.
  • Place in the oven for 10 minutes.  Finally, sprinkle the mac and cheese with fresh parsley before serving.

*This recipe serves 6-8 people

If you are looking for more delicious recipes with pumpkin see also ” Pumpkin Cookie Dough Bites

Avatar About Ilona Shabovta

Hi my name is Ilona and I'm a food/fashion/lifestyle blogger. I love creating new recipes with a healthier twist. I spend most of time hopping around NYC and cooking. You can find me on Instagram @ilonashabovta and on my blog!

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