Kelsey’s Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

Put an October twist on a year-round favorite.


6 tbsps. unsalted butter

3 cloves garlic

2 tsp. kosher salt

3/4 tsp. ground black pepper

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 lb. cavatappi pasta

6 sage leaves

1/2 medium yellow onion

2 tbsps. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. ground mustard

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

2 cup whole milk

1 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree

8 oz. shredded fontina cheese

8 oz. shredded smoked gouda cheese


  1. Prep by dividing the butter into tablespoons, grating the yellow onion, garlic, and parmesan, and shred the fontina and gouda cheeses if needed. 
  2. In a small nonstick skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add 1 grated garlic clove and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the panko breadcrumbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Toast, stirring frequently, until the panko is golden brown.
  3. Pour the mixture into a small bowl and cool for five minutes. Stir in the parmesan cheese.
  4. In a large pot, bring water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and salt to taste. Cook, stirring the pasta, until just under al dente, 5-to-6 minutes. Drain the pasta once finished, reserving a 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
  5. In the same pot, melt the remaining butter over medium heat. Toss in the sage leaves, stirring frequently until the sage is lightly fried and the butter is deeply golden and smells toasty. Remove the sage leaves to a paper towel-lined plate and add the onion to the butter. Cook the onion for 3-4 minutes or until soft and translucent, then add the remaining garlic and cook until fragrant, around 30 seconds. Whisk in the flour, mustard, nutmeg, cayenne, and remaining salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the raw flour smell disappears. Gradually whisk in the milk until smooth, then whisk in the pumpkin puree and cook until very thick, around 5 minutes.
  6. Remove the pot from the heat and gradually add the shredded cheese, whisking until fully melted before adding more. Add salt to taste.
  7. Fold in the drained noodles, adding a tablespoon of pasta water at a time until the sauce coats the noodles.
  8. Serve your pumpkin mac & cheese hot, sprinkled with the toasted panko breadcrumbs and crumbled sage.