Ultimate Brown Butter-Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
- Prep Time 0:15
- Cook Time 0:30
- 5 Comments
Brown Butter-Pumpkin Mac and Cheese is probably my best-known recipe, thanks to its rich texture (despite the comparatively-minimal amount of cheese called for) and unique pumpkin flavor. It makes for a great side dish or vegetarian main year-round, but on Thanksgiving, I like to make it a little extra-decadently. I add sweet caramelized onions, extra cheese, use half-and-half instead of milk and give the whole thing a crunchy breadcrumb topping. Every year it’s a unanimous favorite at my Thanksgiving table—I hope this year you’ll share it at yours.
- 8 oz. elbow macaroni, penne, shells or other small pasta shape $1 for 14 oz.
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter plus more for the pan $1 for a stick
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped $0.50 for a whole onion
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour Pantry
- 3/4 cup whole milk or half-and-half $1 for a pint
- 3/4 cup unsweetened canned pumpkin $1.50 for a 15-oz. can
- 1 cup plus 4 tbsp shredded aged white cheddar cheese $3.50 for 8 oz.
- dash nutmeg $1.50 for 1 oz.
- salt and pepper to taste Pantry
- 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs $2 for 8 oz.
Total Cost of Ingredients $12
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly butter an 11“x13” baking pan or 4 ramekins/oven-proof bowls
Cook macaroni in salted boiling water according to package directions.
While macaroni cooks, melt the butter in a medium pot over low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, to allow the onions to caramelize. Turn heat up to medium and cook, just until butter begins to brown. Add the flour and whisk until you have a very sticky dough. Continue whisking the butter-onion-flour mixture for 1 minute.
Slowly whisk in the milk or half-and-half a little at a time, to form a thick sauce.
Continue whisking as you add the pumpkin and the cup of the white cheddar. You should have a very creamy orange sauce. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Drain the pasta and return it to its pot. Use a rubber spatula to scrape all of the sauce over the pasta and stir to coat the pasta evenly.
Scrape the sauced pasta into the prepared pan(s) and top with the reserved cheddar and the breadcrumbs.
Bake for 18-22 minutes or until the cheese is very bubbly and the breadcrumbs are lightly browned. Serve hot.