Chipotle Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

This incredibly creamy pumpkin mac and cheese uses two types of cheese and gets an extra kick from chipotles in adobo! Enjoy it straight from the stove or bake it with a layer of buttery breadcrumbs for an added crunch!

This autumny twist on the classic mac and cheese uses pumpkin puree for a bit of added creaminess and chopped chipotles in adobo for a hint of smoky spiciness! While we love to make this pumpkin mac for dinner, it also makes for a festive Thanksgiving side dish!

spoonful of pumpkin mac and cheese

pumpkin mac and cheese

Fall is here and we’ve been adding pumpkin to everything from Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies to these Ricotta and Pumpkin Pierogi and now our new favorite pumpkin mac and cheese!

Pumpkin is a great addition to mac and cheese for several reasons. First, it makes the cheese heavy dish a bit more nutritious! Along those same lines, it also allows us to keep the mac and cheese ultra creamy without the addition of heavy cream, extra butter or even cream cheese. And if you’re worried the pumpkin might overpower the mac and cheese, don’t be! The pumpkin flavor is incredibly subtle and really affects the texture of the dish more than the overall taste.

We used canned pumpkin for this version, but homemade pumpkin puree would also work great in this recipe!

pumpkin macaroni and cheese in baking dish

a little heat!

I always add a little spice to my mac and cheese and for this version I use canned chipotles in adobo sauce! They add a smoky spiciness to the pasta which results in a more complex depth of flavor that is incredibly delicious! I like to use 2-3 chopped whole chipotles and then spoon in several tablespoons of the adobo sauce. To make it a bit less spicy, try using just one pepper along with the sauce and, if you’re really spice averse, you can leave out some of the seeds as well.

If you don’t have chipotles on hand, you can definitely use your favorite hot sauce to add a bit of flavor — sriracha always works great! 

individual portion of macaroni and cheese

breadcrumb topping

While you can definitely eat this mac and cheese straight from the stove after mixing the pasta with the sauce, I like to add an extra layer of crunchy breadcrumbs. To do this, you’ll need to wait an extra 20 minutes while the pasta bakes, but it’s so worth it!

To make the topping, start by tearing up a bit of bread into small pieces or pulse it in a food processor for a few seconds. I prefer to tear it into chunks as I like my breadcrumbs to be almost the size of little croutons! Then just toss the bread with a few tablespoons of melted butter, sprinkle on top of your mac and cheese and bake! It’s so simple, but I just love the extra texture it brings to the dish.

individual portion of macaroni and cheese

Looking for more cheesy delights? Try these!

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spoonful of pumpkin mac and cheese

Chipotle Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

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  • Author: Brit Kapustina
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 6
    • Prep Time: 10 minutes
    • Cook Time: 30 minutes
    • Category: Dinner
    • Method: Stovetop
    • Cuisine: American


Chipotle Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

  • 16 ounces (450 grams) pasta shells
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 cups (480 ml) milk
  • 1 cup (250 grams) pumpkin puree
  • 6 ounces (170 grams) sharp white cheddar cheese*
  • 6 ounces (170 grams) gruyere cheese
  • 23 chipotles in adobo + plus 3 tbsp adobo sauce from can
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • kosher salt to taste

Breadcrumb Topping

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups (100 grams) bread, torn into bite-size pieces


  1. Preheat oven to 375F (190C).
  2. Cook the pasta until al dente according to package instructions. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, grate the cheddar and gruyere. Finely chop the chipotles. Set aside.
  4. Melt the butter in a dutch oven over medium-low heat.
  5. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Cook for one minute.
  6. Gradually pour in the milk, continuing to whisk until smooth. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens slightly (about 3 minutes)
  7. Stir in the pumpkin, cheese, chipotles, adobo sauce and garlic powder. Continue stirring until the cheese has melted.
  8. Remove from heat and mix in the pasta until evenly coated.
  9. Make the breadcrumb topping. Tear the bread into small pieces or blitz in a food processor. Melt two tablespoons of butter and toss with the breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the pasta. Add extra grated cheese on top if you like.
  10. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.


Cheese: Avoid pre-shredded cheese for this recipe. Pre-shredded cheese doesn’t melt as well due to added preservatives so it’s best to grate your own.

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