Stovetop Pumpkin Mac and Cheese with brown butter panko Parmesan sage topping is the perfect mac and cheese recipe for fall! It is easy to make and super comforting! Enjoy as a main dish or side dish!
Mac and cheese is a favorite meal at our house. Our boys ask for either stovetop mac and cheese or baked mac and cheese once a week. During the fall months, I like to mix it up and make them Stovetop Pumpkin Mac and Cheese. Pumpkin in mac and cheese? YES! You HAVE to try it! It makes the mac and cheese extra creamy and brings the perfect fall flavor to the classic dish!
I love that this is a stovetop mac and cheese recipe because it is easy to whip up on any weeknight. It is also a great side dish to add to your Thanksgiving feast because it is so easy to make. Plus, it is a good recipe to include for vegetarians. They will LOVE this one!
Brown Butter Panko Parmesan Topping
To make the mac and cheese extra special, I add a brown butter panko Parmesan topping with fresh sage leaves! It only takes a few minutes to make, so don’t skip the topping. It really makes the mac and cheese.
The nutty, crispy, salty, topping takes the mac and cheese to a whole new level! Use fresh sage leaves and not dried sage. If you don’t care for sage you could add a little fresh rosemary instead.
Sprinkle the topping on top of the mac and cheese right before serving! It will take your bowl of comfort to whoa to WHOA! I mean, brown butter makes everything better!
Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Tips
You only need 30 minutes to make this pumpkin macaroni and cheese! It will be your new favorite comfort food.
- I recommend using large elbow macaroni for this recipe. Shells are another good option. FYI-if you need the recipe to be gluten-free, you can use gluten-free pasta and gluten-free flour.
- Cook the pasta it in a large pot of salty water until it’s al dente. Don’t over cook or you will end up with mushy noodles and nobody wants that. Drain well in a colander.
- Use 100% pure pumpkin puree, Libby’s is a popular brand. You will need one cup for this recipe. You can also use homemade pumpkin puree, but I like to keep it easy!
- II add a little ground mustard, garlic powder, and pinch of nutmeg for flavor. When you add the nutmeg, make sure it is just a pinch because it is strong.
- Shred your own cheese for best results. The pre-shredded cheese at the store has a powdery coating and it doesn’t melt as well.
- I recommend sharp cheddar, but you could do a mix of sharp cheddar and Gruyere cheese if you wish. Sharp cheddar and Havarti would also be good or sharp cheddar and smoked mozzarella. Feel free to play around with the cheese!
- Serve warm with the brown butter panko topping and you will be in mac and cheese heaven!!
- If you don’t need the recipe to be vegetarian, you can add crumbled cooked bacon or pancetta to the topping as well. Josh has tried it and gives it two thumbs up:)
How to Store
Store your macaroni and cheese in a sealed, airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Keep the topping in a separate container so the panko stays crunchy. Reheat and enjoy! Mac and cheese leftovers are popular at our house, everyone wants them!
More Mac and Cheese Recipes
- Stovetop Mac and Cheese
- Baked Mac and Cheese
- Pesto Havarti Mac and Cheese
- Stovetop Avocado Mac and Cheese
- Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
- One Pot Vegetarian Chili Mac and Cheese
Stovetop Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
For the brown butter panko topping:
- 3 tablespoons butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
- 8 sage leaves
- 1 cup panko
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the mac and cheese:
- 16 oz large elbow macaroni
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 whole cups milk, at room temperature
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Pinch of nutmeg, optional
- In a medium skillet, heat the butter over medium heat, stirring and swirling the pan occasionally. When the butter starts to foam and smell nutty, add the sage leaves. Stir in the panko until moistened. Cook for about 30 seconds so the panko crumbs can get a little toasty. Remove from the heat. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook it just until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain the pasta set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter over medium heat in a large pot. Turn the heat to low and whisk in the flour, ground mustard, and garlic powder to create a paste. Whisk in milk until smooth. Turn the heat to medium and whisk until the sauce starts to thicken, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the pumpkin until smooth. Stir in the shredded cheese until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth.
- Add the drained pasta and stir until well coated with the cheese sauce. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste. Add a pinch of nutmeg, if using.
- Spoon the mac and cheese into bowls and top with the brown butter panko topping. Serve warm.
Have you tried this recipe?
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Photos by Dishing Out Health.
This looks great! I agree everything is better when you cover it in cheese.
This was seriously good. I normally find stovetop macaroni and cheese too rich and the pumpkin takes it down a half step and adds a very nice flavor. Don’t skip the breadcrumb topping. Absolutely worth the extra step.
I am so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for letting us know.
Made this tonight! Super easy to pull together and was a big hit. Very filling – perfect as dinner dish or a shareable side – without being overly rich. I made it a little too early for dinner and in keeping it warm the pasta soaked up the sauce, really muting the taste of the pumpkin. Perhaps I will compensate next time by adding more pumpkin with a bit of reserved pasta water. Previous reviews are correct regarding the sage-imbued panko – definitely a game changer! This will make its way to the table this Thanksgiving for sure – thank you!
My daughter has an allergic reaction to sage! Can I just leave it out or is there another spice you would suggest?
You can leave it out or use rosemary instead.
This sounds and looks delicious! Planning on making this for my family tomorrow. As far as storing leftovers, I know you said to store the mac and cheese in the fridge, but do you keep the panko topping in a separate container in the fridge or on the counter?
I keep it in the fridge too because of the Parmesan. I hope you love it! Enjoy!
This was really easy and so tasty! My family loved it! The panko topping really was a big hit. Thanks for sharing your recipes!
Hi Maria, this sounds amazing. Can almond milk be used instead of whole milk?
If we wanted to use sage powder instead of leaves how much wood we use?