Smoky Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

Welcome to the wonderful world of fall flavors. This Smoky Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese recipe is a unique, refreshing twist to a beloved classic all bundled up in a creamy, comforting dish. The smokiness from the paprika and the subtle sweetness from the pumpkin puree blend effortlessly with the rich cheesiness, creating a truly delectable experience.

Smoky Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
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Photos of Smoky Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

While most of the ingredients for this recipe are likely already in your pantry, one that may require a trip to the supermarket is pumpkin puree. Pumpkin puree is commonly found in the baking aisle of the supermarket, usually in cans. It's a smooth blend of fresh pumpkins and is used extensively in fall and winter recipes. Another ingredient that might be new is smoked paprika, a type of paprika that gives a wonderful smoky flavor. You can usually find this in the spice aisle.

Ingredients for Smoky Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese

Evaporated milk: A concentrated form of milk that's slightly caramelized in flavor.

Pumpkin puree: A smooth blend of fresh pumpkins. It adds a subtle sweetness and creamy texture.

Eggs: Used as a binding agent in the recipe.

Paprika: A spice made from ground peppers. It gives the dish a smoky flavor.

Salt: Enhances all other flavors in the recipe.

Ground black pepper: Adds a touch of heat and depth of flavor.

Cayenne: A fiery hot chili powder that adds a spicy kick.

Pasta: Acts as the primary base of this dish. It soaks up the sauce and provides a satisfying bite.

Cheese: Gives the dish its rich, creamy, cheesy flavor.

Parmesan cheese: A hard, flavorful cheese that adds a salty and tangy flavor.

Breadcrumbs: Creates a crunchy top layer to contrast the creamy pasta underneath.

One reader, Kaitlyn Hyland says:

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This smoky pumpkin macaroni and cheese recipe is a game-changer! The smoky flavor adds a unique twist to the classic mac and cheese. The creamy pumpkin puree makes it rich and indulgent. It's a perfect fall comfort food that's easy to make and absolutely delicious. Highly recommend trying it out!

Kaitlyn Hyland

Techniques Required for Making Smoky Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese

How to prepare the pumpkin puree: Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds. Place the pumpkin halves, cut side down, on a baking sheet and roast in a preheated 400°F oven for about 45-60 minutes, or until the flesh is tender. Scoop out the flesh and puree in a food processor until smooth.

How to shred the cheese: Use a box grater or a food processor with a shredding attachment to shred the cheese into fine, even pieces.

How to cook the pasta until al dente: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then add the pasta. Stir occasionally and cook according to the package instructions until the pasta is tender but still has a slight firmness to it when bitten.

How to make the breadcrumb topping: In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with a pinch of salt and pepper, and mix well.

How to thicken the sauce: Cook the pasta and evaporated milk mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until the sauce comes to a simmer and thickens.

How To Make Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese

You’ll love this delicious and creamy pumpkin macaroni and cheese mixed with pumpkin puree! The fun twist is you can cook this from the stovetop or oven!

Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooking: 45 minutes
Total: 50 minutes

Serves:

Ingredients

  • 12oz2% evaporated milk,2 cans
  • 15ozpumpkin puree,1 can
  • 4large eggs
  • tsppaprika,smoked
  • 1tspsalt
  • ½tspground black pepper
  • tspcayenne
  • 1lbpasta,dry, such as large elbow macaroni
  • 16ozcheese,shredded, such as aged cheddar cheeses, or your choice of cheese
  • ¼cupParmesan cheese,plus extra for garnish
  • ½cupbreadcrumbs,such as Panko

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with a cooking spray.

  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, and then return the pasta back to the pot.

  3. Meanwhile (while the pasta is cooking), in a separate bowl, whisk together the evaporated milk, pumpkin puree, eggs, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, and cayenne until combined. Once the pasta is cooked and drained, pour the evaporated milk mixture into the pot with the pasta and stir until combined.

  4. Continue cooking over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until the sauce comes to a simmer and thickens.

  5. Remove the pan from heat and stir in about 12 ounces of the shredded cheese and the Parmesan until melted and evenly distributed.

Recipe Notes

This would also be also awesome if baked and/or sprinkled with roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds).

  • To bake the macaroni and cheese with breadcrumbs, continue onto these final steps. Or serve the macaroni as-is at this point from the stovetop.
  • Pour about half of the pasta into the prepared baking pan, then sprinkle with half of the remaining cheese. Pour the remainder of the pasta to make a second layer, then sprinkle with the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and the breadcrumbs are toasted. Remove and serve immediately.

Nutrition

  • Calories: 597.90kcal
  • Fat: 27.40g
  • Saturated Fat: 14.81g
  • Trans Fat: 0.68g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 7.23g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.92g
  • Carbohydrates: 57.19g
  • Fiber: 3.85g
  • Sugar: 8.29g
  • Protein: 30.29g
  • Cholesterol: 166.33mg
  • Sodium: 572.25mg
  • Calcium: 602.48mg
  • Potassium: 472.19mg
  • Iron: 2.56mg
  • Vitamin A: 651.17µg
  • Vitamin C: 3.07mg

Technique Tip for Perfecting Smoky Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese

When making your smoky pumpkin macaroni and cheese, it's important to cook your pasta until it's al dente. This means it should still have a slight bite to it and not be overly soft. If the pasta is too soft, it will become mushy when baked in the oven. Also, when adding the cheese, make sure to remove the pot from the heat. This prevents the cheese from overheating and becoming grainy. Instead, the residual heat in the pot will gently melt the cheese, resulting in a smooth and creamy sauce.

Time-Saving Tips for Preparing Smoky Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

Plan ahead: Prepare all your ingredients and kitchen tools before you start cooking to save time and avoid last-minute rushes.

Use pre-cut ingredients: Utilize pre-cut vegetables and pre-shredded cheese to cut down on prep time.

Multi-task: While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce or work on other components of the dish to maximize efficiency.

One-pot cooking: Consider making the entire dish in one pot to minimize cleanup and save time.

Make extra: Prepare a larger batch and store leftovers for quick and convenient meals later in the week.

Organize your workspace: Keep your kitchen organized and clean as you cook to avoid wasting time searching for ingredients or tools.

Follow the recipe: Stick to the recipe to ensure that you don't waste time making unnecessary adjustments or corrections.

Substitute Ingredients For Smoky Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

  • 2% evaporated milk - Substitute with whole milk: Whole milk has a similar creamy texture and richness that can replace evaporated milk in the recipe.

  • pumpkin puree - Substitute with butternut squash puree: Butternut squash has a similar sweet and nutty flavor profile to pumpkin, making it a suitable substitute in this recipe.

  • eggs - Substitute with silken tofu: Silken tofu can provide a creamy texture and binding properties similar to eggs in this recipe.

  • paprika - Substitute with smoked paprika: Smoked paprika will add a smoky flavor to the dish, enhancing the overall smokiness of the macaroni and cheese.

  • pasta - Substitute with whole wheat pasta: Whole wheat pasta adds a nuttier flavor and extra fiber to the dish, while still maintaining a good texture.

  • cheese - Substitute with smoked gouda: Smoked gouda cheese will contribute a rich, smoky flavor to the macaroni and cheese, complementing the pumpkin and adding depth to the dish.

  • breadcrumbs - Substitute with panko breadcrumbs: Panko breadcrumbs will provide a crispy and light texture, enhancing the overall mouthfeel of the dish.

Presentation Ideas for Smoky Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

  1. Elevate the plating: When presenting the smoky pumpkin macaroni and cheese, focus on creating an elegant and visually appealing presentation. Consider using a combination of fresh herbs and edible flowers to add a pop of color and freshness to the dish.

  2. Incorporate texture: Add a crunchy element to the dish by sprinkling a mixture of toasted breadcrumbs and crispy bacon bits on top of the macaroni and cheese. This will provide a delightful contrast in texture and elevate the overall dining experience.

  3. Utilize high-quality serving ware: Opt for sophisticated ceramic or porcelain plates to showcase the macaroni and cheese. The use of elegant serving ware will enhance the visual appeal and elevate the dining experience for the esteemed culinary professionals.

  4. Emphasize precision: Pay attention to the placement of each component on the plate, ensuring that the dish is meticulously arranged to showcase the rich colors and textures of the smoky pumpkin macaroni and cheese. Precision in plating demonstrates attention to detail and culinary finesse.

  5. Incorporate a garnish: Finish the dish with a delicate sprinkle of microgreens or a drizzle of truffle oil to add a touch of sophistication and elevate the flavor profile. The garnish should complement the dish without overpowering the smoky pumpkin and cheese flavors.

Essential Kitchen Tools for Making Smoky Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese

  • Food processor: A food processor is a versatile kitchen appliance that can be used for chopping, slicing, shredding, and pureeing ingredients. It's great for quickly and efficiently processing the pumpkin puree for the recipe.
  • Mixing bowl: A mixing bowl is essential for combining the ingredients, such as the pumpkin puree, evaporated milk, eggs, and spices, to create the macaroni and cheese sauce.
  • Whisk: A whisk is used for blending and mixing the ingredients together, ensuring a smooth and well-combined sauce for the macaroni and cheese.
  • 9x13-inch baking pan: This baking pan is used to bake and serve the smoky pumpkin macaroni and cheese. It provides the perfect size and depth for the dish.
  • Large pot: A large pot is needed for boiling the pasta until al dente. It's an essential tool for cooking the pasta before combining it with the sauce.
  • Cooking spray: Cooking spray is used to grease the baking pan, preventing the macaroni and cheese from sticking to the pan during baking.
  • Oven: The oven is used for baking the smoky pumpkin macaroni and cheese, melting the cheese, and creating a golden-brown crust on top.

Storing and Freezing Smoky Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

  • Let the smoky pumpkin macaroni and cheese cool completely before storing it in an airtight container. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  • To freeze the macaroni and cheese, portion it into individual servings or freeze the entire casserole. Wrap the portions tightly in plastic wrap, followed by a layer of aluminum foil. Label the package with the date and contents.
  • Frozen macaroni and cheese can be stored in the freezer for up to 2-3 months.
  • To reheat the frozen macaroni and cheese, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. Remove the plastic wrap and foil, then bake it in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for about 20-30 minutes, or until it's heated through and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  • If reheating individual portions, you can use the microwave. Place the thawed portion on a microwave-safe plate and heat it on high power for 1-2 minutes, or until it's heated through. Stir the macaroni and cheese halfway through the reheating process to ensure even heating.
  • If the reheated macaroni and cheese seems a bit dry, you can add a splash of milk or cream to help restore its creamy texture.

How To Reheat Leftover Smoky Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Transfer the leftover smoky pumpkin macaroni and cheese to an oven-safe dish and cover it with aluminum foil. Place the dish in the preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the mac and cheese is heated through. Remove the foil for the last 5 minutes of baking to allow the top to crisp up slightly.

  • For a quicker method, reheat individual portions of the smoky pumpkin macaroni and cheese in the microwave. Place a single serving in a microwave-safe bowl and add a splash of milk or cream to help maintain the creamy texture. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the mac and cheese is heated to your desired temperature.

  • If you have a stovetop available, reheat the smoky pumpkin macaroni and cheese in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add a small amount of milk or cream to the pan and stir frequently to prevent sticking and burning. Heat the mac and cheese until it reaches your desired temperature, stirring occasionally to ensure even heating.

  • For a crispy top, transfer the reheated smoky pumpkin macaroni and cheese to an oven-safe dish and sprinkle with additional breadcrumbs and grated cheese. Place the dish under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and crispy. Keep a close eye on the dish to prevent burning.

  • If you have an air fryer, you can use it to reheat and crisp up leftover smoky pumpkin macaroni and cheese. Preheat the air fryer to 350°F (175°C) and place a single serving of mac and cheese in the basket. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until heated through and slightly crispy on top.

Random Fact About Smoky Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese

Pumpkin puree is a great source of fiber and vitamins, including vitamin A and vitamin C.

Is Making Smoky Pumpkin Mac and Cheese at Home Cost-Effective?

The smoky pumpkin macaroni and cheese recipe is quite cost-effective for a household. The use of pumpkin puree and evaporated milk as the base ingredients keeps the cost low, while still delivering a rich and flavorful dish. The addition of paprika and cayenne adds a smoky and spicy kick, enhancing the overall taste. The approximate cost for a household of 4 people is around $15, making it a budget-friendly option. Overall Verdict: 9/10

Is Smoky Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese Healthy or Unhealthy?

The smoky pumpkin macaroni and cheese recipe, while undeniably delicious, leans more towards the unhealthy side due to several factors:

  • High calorie density from the evaporated milk, cheese, and pasta
  • Significant amount of saturated fat from the cheese
  • Refined carbohydrates from the pasta
  • Relatively low fiber content

However, the recipe does incorporate some healthier elements, such as:

  • Pumpkin puree, which provides vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
  • Eggs, offering high-quality protein
  • Smoked paprika, adding flavor without extra calories or fat

To make this recipe healthier, consider the following suggestions:

  • Swap the regular pasta for a whole grain or legume-based variety to increase fiber and nutrient content
  • Reduce the amount of cheese and opt for lower-fat varieties, such as part-skim mozzarella or reduced-fat cheddar
  • Incorporate additional vegetables, such as sautéed spinach, kale, or mushrooms, to boost the nutrient profile and add volume without excessive calories
  • Use a combination of whole milk and Greek yogurt instead of evaporated milk to lower the fat content while maintaining creaminess
  • Experiment with plant-based cheese alternatives made from nuts or soy to reduce saturated fat
  • Serve smaller portions and pair the mac and cheese with a side salad or roasted vegetables to create a more balanced meal

Editor's Thoughts on This Smoky Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Recipe

This smoky pumpkin macaroni and cheese recipe is a delightful twist on a classic comfort food. The combination of pumpkin puree and smoky paprika adds a unique depth of flavor, while the blend of cheeses creates a rich and creamy texture. The use of evaporated milk and eggs in the sauce provides a velvety consistency. The addition of breadcrumbs on top adds a satisfying crunch. Overall, this recipe offers a perfect balance of smokiness, creaminess, and comforting flavors, making it a standout dish for autumn gatherings or cozy nights at home.

Enhance Your Smoky Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Asparagus: Toss asparagus with olive oil, garlic, and parmesan cheese, then roast until tender and crispy.
Honey Sriracha Glazed Brussels Sprouts: Coat Brussels sprouts in a sweet and spicy honey sriracha glaze, then roast until caramelized and delicious.
Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Jalapenos: Fill jalapeno peppers with a creamy cheese mixture, wrap them in bacon, and bake until the bacon is crispy and the filling is bubbly and golden brown.

Alternative Recipes Similar to Smoky Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese

Spicy Black Bean Soup: This hearty and flavorful soup is packed with protein and fiber, making it a satisfying and healthy meal option. The combination of spices and vegetables creates a delicious and comforting dish.
Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon: This sweet and tangy glaze adds a burst of flavor to the tender and flaky salmon. It's a simple yet impressive dish that is perfect for a special dinner at home.
Mango Coconut Chia Pudding: This creamy and tropical dessert is a refreshing and guilt-free treat. The combination of ripe mango and coconut milk creates a luscious pudding that is perfect for a light and satisfying ending to any meal.

Appetizer and Dessert Pairings for Smoky Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese

Appetizers:
Savory Stuffed Mushrooms: These savory stuffed mushrooms are the perfect bite-sized appetizer for any occasion. Filled with a flavorful mixture of herbs, cheese, and breadcrumbs, they are sure to impress your guests.
Crispy Zucchini Fries: These crispy zucchini fries are a delicious and healthier alternative to traditional french fries. Coated in a seasoned breadcrumb mixture and baked to perfection, they are the perfect appetizer for any gathering.
Desserts:
Chocolate Mousse: Indulge in a rich and velvety chocolate mousse, topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder. This elegant dessert is perfect for a special occasion or a romantic dinner.
Apple Crisp: Savor the warm and comforting flavors of baked apples, cinnamon, and a crispy oat topping. Pair it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a delightful contrast of textures and temperatures.

Why trust this Smoky Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese Recipe:

This recipe is a must-try for all pumpkin lovers. The combination of creamy pumpkin puree and smoky paprika creates a rich and flavorful sauce that will elevate your traditional mac and cheese. The addition of evaporated milk and eggs ensures a luscious and velvety texture. Plus, the use of breadcrumbs adds a delightful crunch to the dish. With a perfect balance of savory and sweet, this macaroni and cheese recipe promises to be a comforting and satisfying meal for any occasion.

Share your thoughts on the delicious Smoky Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese Recipe in the Recipe Sharing forum section.
FAQ:
Can I use a different type of pasta for this recipe?
Yes, you can definitely use a different type of pasta for this recipe. Feel free to use your favorite pasta shape, such as penne, rigatoni, or shells.
Can I use a different type of cheese?
Absolutely! You can experiment with different types of cheese to suit your taste. Cheddar, Gouda, or even a smoked cheese would work well in this recipe.
Can I make this recipe ahead of time?
Yes, you can prepare the macaroni and cheese ahead of time and refrigerate it. When you're ready to serve, simply reheat it in the oven until it's warmed through.
Can I omit the cayenne if I don't like spicy food?
Of course! If you prefer a milder flavor, feel free to omit the cayenne. The dish will still have a delicious smoky flavor from the paprika.
Can I use fresh pumpkin instead of canned pumpkin puree?
Yes, you can use fresh pumpkin puree if you prefer. Simply roast or boil the pumpkin until it's soft, then puree it until smooth.

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