Healthy Baked Mac and Cheese with Pumpkin

A healthy twist on the comfort food classic, your entire family will love this baked mac and cheese with pumpkin.
Pumpkin Mac and Cheese - The Lemon BowlFriends, if you saw how much pasta my 2 year old consumed in 15 minutes you would think he had never tasted mac and cheese before.

Oh wait.

Enough about that… this pasta dish is the bees knees. It is the best of both worlds: it satisfies your craving for warm and hearty comfort food but doesn’t leave you feeling like you just ate two sticks of butter. In fact, there is absolutely no butter in this dish at all. You can thank me the next time you’re in the fitting room trying on jeans.Mac and Cheese with Pumpkin - The Lemon BowlHere is how I turned this traditionally rich and caloric dish into a healthy, every-day type of luxury:

  • Eliminate White Pasta: By using whole wheat pasta instead of bleached white-flour pasta you not only add vitamins and nutrients but you incorporate protein and fiber which helps keep you satisfied. White pasta, on the other hand, is basically like eating pure sugar. We have ice cream for that.
  • Boost Nutrition with Pumpkin: Pure pumpkin not only adds a delicious, creamy texture but it is a low calorie source of vitamins including Vitamin A, Potassium, Vitamin C, Iron and Folate. Boom.
  • Swap Out Butter for Olive Oil: You see that gorgeous, deep brown crust on that baby? Traditionally that is created by adding butter to the top of the bread crumbs before baking. Well guess what? Olive oil accomplishes the same goal without the saturated fat and bad cholesterol that comes with butter. Added bonus: olive oil is a source of omega-3 fatty acids which actually lower cholesterol.

What is your favorite comfort food dish? Are there any that you’d like to see lightened up? I’d love to hear from you.

Your fork is waiting.

4.8 from 4 reviews
Healthy Baked Mac and Cheese with Pumpkin
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A healthy twist on the comfort food classic, your entire family will love this baked mac and cheese with pumpkin.
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 6
  • 12 oz whole wheat elbows - cooked al dente
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose)
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1½ cups shredded sharp cheddar - 2% reduced fat
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon dijon
  • 1 garlic clove - grated
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ⅓ cup plain yogurt - low fat
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees and have a medium-sized casserole dish ready.
  2. Place prepared pasta in a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Add milk and flour to a medium sauce pot and continuously whisk over medium heat until it begins to thicken, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Stir in shredded cheese, pumpkin, dijon, grated garlic, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Whisk mixture until cheese is melted and sauce thickens even further, about 5 more minutes.
  5. Pour pumpkin cheese sauce over the pasta in the bowl and mix until pasta is evenly coated. Stir in plain yogurt then pour entire mixture into baking dish.
  6. Sprinkle bread crumbs, parmesan and olive oil evenly on top of the pasta then bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes until the contents bubble and the top forms a nice crust.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 2 cups Calories: 366 Fat: 8.7 g Saturated fat: 4 g Unsaturated fat: 4.7 g Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 54.5 g Sugar: 2.5 g Sodium: 594 mg Fiber: 5 g Protein: 18.3 g Cholesterol: 21 mg

Be sure to check out these other delicious ideas for the Food Network’s “all things pumpkin” #FallFest this week!

Napa Farmhouse 1885Thai Pumpkin and Coconut Soup
Red or GreenPizza with Red Chile Pumpkin Sauce, Black Beans and Fresh Corn
DevourEasy Pumpkin Cream Sauce
Feed Me PhoebeCreamy Vegan Pumpkin Soup
Virtually HomemadeStarbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino 
WeeliciousPumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
The Lemon BowlHealthy Baked Mac and Cheese with Pumpkin
The Heritage CookChile-Pumpkin Hummus
Dishing: Pumpkin Browns/ Pumpkin Hash Browns
In Jennie’s KitchenPumpkin Scones
Cooking With EliseHearty Pumpkin Pasta
And Love It TooPaleo Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
Blue Apron BlogBaked Pumpkin Stuffed with Millet and Caponata
Dishin & DishesPumpkin Pancakes with Maple Cinnamon Pecan Syrup
Domesticate MeHarvest Pumpkin Soup with Candied Bacon
The Sensitive EpicurePumpkin Panna Cotta with Pumpkin Seed Brittle
Taste With The EyesSweet and Spicy Pumpkin Apple Soup with Dried Fruit, Pine Nuts and Ancho Chile
Creative CulinaryPumpkin Beer Bread with Pumpkin Butter Spread
FN DishCook Pumpkin from the Patch


  1. says

    I LOVE this recipe! I made something like this last year, but never got it quite right. I really like that you list your nutritional info and explain how you lightened up the recipe! I may do the same on my blog. Great job and beautiful work!

  2. says

    My husband, unfortunately, passed on his tradition of Kraft Mac & Cheese to my almost four year old (ugh) – you couldn’t pay me enough to eat that stuff! Maybe because I grew up in South Africa and never acquired a taste for it. (I don’t know if we even got it there – but I never saw it in my family!) Anyway, if I can get Mr. Picky and little Miss Picky to eat this instead I will be FOREVER grateful! Look forward to trying it – I’ll let you know how it goes!

    • Liz DellaCroce says

      Please try it!! My husband is also very picky and HATES mac and cheese because of too much boxed stuff growing up. He devoured it and so did my 2 year old!

  3. Robbie says

    HI.. Little confused for me.. U jusy say — Add milk and flour to a medium sauce pot and continuously whisk over medium heat until it begins to thicken, about 5-7 minutes without any butters? It will take thick?

    • Robbie says

      Hi again.. I did made them yesterday — w/o butter for roux… Tastes WONDERFUL!! I am sure that I will make them again for Thanksgiving dinner with big family! Thank you so much because I trust that food for big family.. =)

  4. Kari says

    is the Dijon nessecary? my family doesn’t usually eat Dijon and I’d hate to buy it for such a small amount? or is there a spice or something else I could maybe use? thanks so much, I’m excited to make this and bring it to school to share!

  5. says

    I have a tried and true Mac & Cheese recipe already, but I had pinned this on Pinterest a few weeks ago and decided to look up the ingredients to see if I had everything to make it. Well…I had to make some modifications according to what I had since there’s no way I was going to the grocery store. I used regular elbow pasta, 2% milk, sour cream instead of yogurt, and sharp cheddar instead of reduced fat. I had a date with the gym after cooking, so I didn’t try any, but my fiance did when he got home from work. He really liked it! It’s way different than my regular recipe, but he liked it. He started asking me what I put in it. I made sure I told him about the pumpkin once he admitted to liking it. 😉 I knew he would never suspect it! Thanks for sharing this! Got a healthy mac & cheese recipe now…well, when I have the proper ingredients that is. :)


  1. […] Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino Weelicious: Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls The Lemon Bowl: Healthy Baked Mac and Cheese with Pumpkin The Heritage Cook: Chile-Pumpkin Hummus Dishing: Pumpkin Browns/ Pumpkin Hash Browns In […]

  2. […] Whole Grain Apple Scones with Peanut Butter Glaze Breakfast Flatbread Pizza Peanut Butter Vegetarian Chili Pumpkin Corn Muffins w/ Honey Sage Butter Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bars with Crumble Topping Crispy Kale Croque Madam w. Smoked Gouda & Avocado Parmesan & Toasted Almond Green Beans Maple Spice Ginger Cookie Breakfast Risotto DIY Taco Seasoning Grilled Cider Marinated Pork Chops Healthy Baked Mac & Cheese with Pumpkin […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe: