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With pumpkin season in full force, the time is just right for this creamy Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese. With sharp cheddar cheese, cream cheese and autumnal pumpkin flavor, this pasta dish is so heavenly!
But what really takes it over the top is the lager beer. It adds an earthy, hoppy flavor that’s just perfect for fall.
Mid November and the fall vibes are strong around here! I’m already forgetting why I was sad that summer is over. Life is just so cozy right now and I love it.
This easy pumpkin macaroni and cheese recipe is the ultimate comfort food on its own, and makes an amazing side dish at Thanksgiving dinner!
What’s in this Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
Here is what you’ll need to make this uber-cozy fall meal:
- Short-cut pasta
- Sharp cheddar cheese
- Cream cheese
- Quality lager beer
- Pure pumpkin puree
- Dry mustard
You might notice that we’re not using any whole milk or heavy cream in this recipe. This is because the combination of beer and cream cheese adds enough moisture to create a perfectly creamy cheese sauce.
And to get that authentic fondue flavor, milk is not required.
What type of beer to use for this Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
The beer you choose matters in this recipe. A quality lager is important because it adds so much flavor, but don’t go crazy with expensive ones.
That said, if you are a beer lover, you might have fun with a darker beer like Guinness. The darker the beer, the more you’re going to taste it in this dish.
Guinness is kind of amazing, in my humble opinion. But choose what you like.
What type of pasta to use for this Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
Classic elbow macaroni noodles are always a good option, and check out these other fun pasta shapes if you want a twist on the traditional:
- Cavatappi: This spiral-shaped pasta offers a playful twist on the classic mac and cheese. Its nooks and crannies allow the sauce to nestle in, delivering an awesome texture.
- Pumpkin-Shaped Pasta: For an extra touch of festivity, try using pumpkin pasta. These little pumpkins not only fit thematically but also add a fun element to the dish.
- Pipette: These are like elbows, but a little fancier. My current favorite pasta shape.
What kind of cheese to use for this Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
For the boldest cheese taste, use the sharpest cheddar you can find. My favorite cheese for mac and cheese is Cabot.
It doesn’t matter if it’s white or yellow cheddar, but the yellow kind helps to boost the vibrant flavor of this dish.
And whenever possible, grate your own cheese. Pre-shredded cheese, although convenient, has an added anti-clumping agent which makes it harder to melt smoothly.
How to make Pumpkin Cheddar Lager Mac and Cheese
Cheese fondue is a very rare treat, and one that I savor. This pumpkin mac and cheese gives all the feels of a decadent fondue, plus pumpkin cause, you know – fall.
Traditional fondue starts with garlic and either wine or beer, and that’s exactly how we’re making this pumpkin cheese sauce.
First, make a roux with the butter, garlic and flour. Once the roux starts to bubble, pour in the beer and get it sizzling.
Then, stir in the dry mustard and pumpkin.
The sharp cheddar and cream cheese go in last.
It should only take a minute or two to get a smooth, creamy consistency. Once you do, it’s time to toss your cooked pasta into the pumpkin cheese sauce.
The last step is to pop this pumpkin mac and cheese into the oven for a few minutes. This is an optional step. You can absolutely serve it directly from the stove top.
Baking it for 10 or 15 minutes just sets the dish and allows the top to develop a yummy “crust”. It’s really your personal preference.
Variations on this Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
- Give it a Spicy Kick: Add a pinch of cayenne pepper or chopped jalapeños to give your mac and cheese a spicy twist. The heat complements the creamy, savory elements of the dish.
- Bacon Lovers Special: For a smoky, savory dimension, stir some crispy bacon into the cheese sauce and crumble more bacon over the top. The salty bacon pairs wonderfully with the sweet pumpkin and beer-infused cheese sauce.
- Add Seasonal Herbs: Create more earthy dimension by adding fresh herbs like chopped rosemary, thyme, or sage. These herbs provide a lovely contrast to the richness of the sauce.
How to Store Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
Place any leftover mac and cheese in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for up to 3-4 days.
If you want to store it for an extended period, it can also be frozen. Transfer it to a freezer-safe container or zip-top bags. For best results, be sure to squeeze as much air out of the container as possible. Your pumpkin pasta can be stored for up to 2-3 months in the freezer.
When you’re ready to enjoy your leftover pumpkin mac and cheese, reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop. If the texture looks too thick, you can add a splash of milk to help bring back its creaminess.
When you make this Pumpkin Mac and Cheese recipe, I’d love to hear about it! Drop a rating or leave a comment below. Enjoy!
For more creamy pasta recipes, try these:
- Spicy Cajun Alfredo Recipe
- Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta (Easy Crockpot Recipe)
- Easy Cream Blush Sauce (Pink Pasta Sauce Recipe)
For more pumpkin recipes, try these:
- Creamy Pumpkin Spice Martini
- Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
- Burrata Toast Appetizer with Fig Syrup, Pumpkin Butter and Sage
Creamy Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Recipe with Lager Beer
- 1 lb. elbow macaroni
- 3 cups sharp cheddar cheese grated
- 4 oz. cream cheese
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 bottle (12 oz.) lager beer
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
- 2 tsp. salt
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water according to package directions for al dente. Drain pasta and set aside.
- In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat.
- Whisk in the garlic and flour. Whisk until bubbling, about 1 minute.
- Whisk in the beer, pumpkin puree, dry mustard and salt.
- Lower the heat and stir in the cheeses. Stir until smooth. Add the pasta.
- Transfer the mixture to a baking dish. Bake 10-15 minutes, until bubbling. Garnish with fresh sage leaves and cracked black pepper, if desired.