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pumpkin mac and cheese with bacon on a plate

Spinach Bacon Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

Creamy pumpkin mac and cheese with savory bacon and a boost of veggies from spinach. This easy pumpkin mac and cheese bake is filled with delicious pumpkin spice flavors for a sweet and savory dinner the whole family will love!

Course Dinner, Gluten Free, Lunch, Nut Free
Cuisine American
Keyword pumpkin mac and cheese
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 489 kcal
Author Monique Volz of AmbitiousKitchen.com

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces dry cavatappi (or shells, or whatever pasta you have on hand, even gluten free!)
  • 12 ounces bacon
  • 6 ounces fresh spinach
  • For the pumpkin cheese sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour (or whole wheat flour or all purpose gluten free flour)
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or cashew milk or regular milk)
  • ½ cup finely grated (not shredded) parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • For the topping:
  • ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs, gluten free if desired
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Spray a 2-quart baking dish or 9x9 inch or 11x7 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray, or grease with olive oil or butter.
  2. Boil the noodles until al dente, according to the directions on the package. Once done cooking, drain and place in a large bowl.
  3. Cook your bacon: Add bacon to a large skillet or pan and place over medium heat, cook bacon on both sides until crispy and golden brown. If the pan starts to smoke at any point, simply lower the heat. I always cook my bacon on medium low heat. Once bacon is done, blot with a paper towel to absorb excess grease, then chop into bite sized pieces and transfer to the large bowl with the noodles
  4. Drain the grease from the bacon pan, then place the same pan over low heat and cook your spinach: add spinach to pan and cook until spinach wilts, the spinach will absorb any of the small amount of grease remaining on the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and transfer to the large bowl with the noodles and bacon.
  5. In the same pan, add in 2 tablespoons of butter and place over medium heat. Once butter is melted, whisk in a little bit of the flour and then slowly add in milk, a little bit at a time, alternating with the flour and vigorously whisking away any lumps. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and stir every so often, until the sauce thickens up.
  6. Once the sauce has thickened up a bit, turn off the heat and stir in garlic powder, parmesan and cheddar cheese. salt and LOTS of freshly ground black pepper. Finally stir in the pumpkin puree.
  7. Add the pumpkin cheese sauce to the bowl with the pasta, bacon and spinach. Season again with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir well to combine, then pour mixture into your prepared baking pan and spread out. Top with remaining ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese if you like extra cheesiness!
  8. In a small bowl, mix breadcrumbs with melted butter. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture on top of casserole and bake for 25 minutes or until breadcrumbs are golden brown. Serves 6.

Recipe Notes

Prep it ahead of time: simply make the recipe as directed, except do not add the breadcrumbs. Instead, cover with foil and place in fridge until ready to bake. Once ready to bake, add the breadcrumbs as directed and bake. You may need to add an extra splash of milk. Additionally, you make need to add 5-10 minutes of extra baking time.

Freezer friendly option: simply make the recipe as directed, except do not bake it with the breadcrumbs on top. Instead, put it in a freezer-safe container pan like these, cover and place in a freezer safe bag until you’re ready to bake. Once ready to bake, thaw out the pumpkin pasta bake in the refrigerator overnight. Once thawed, bake as directed!

Nutrition Facts
Spinach Bacon Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
Amount Per Serving (1 serving (based on 6))
Calories 489 Calories from Fat 209
% Daily Value*
Fat 23.2g36%
Saturated Fat 11.4g71%
Carbohydrates 49.1g16%
Fiber 4.1g17%
Sugar 3.3g4%
Protein 23.7g47%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.