Recipe Box, Loaded Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

Thank you for all the well wishes and prayers as Hurricane Michael approaches the Gulf Coast… we had a normal, fun, summer like weekend just a few days ago, when Hurricane Michael was barely a blip on the radar near Belize…

But with favorable conditions, things can quickly escalate, and we spent Sunday securing everything as well as possible and headed north

This photo was taken yesterday morning from my neighbor’s pier showing how high the water was already…our pier was  almost under water then, no telling what’s going on now!

We are lucky, we have another home to go to, we have insurance, and at this point there is really nothing we can do but hope and pray…hurricanes are very tricky, you never know what can happen…

Please keep everyone in harm’s way in your prayers this week, and this is a great time to enjoy some fall comfort food!

Oh lordy lordy, this can almost make me forget that our beloved paradise is in a hurricane’s path

There are a couple of simple prep steps that really take this dish over the top in flavor

First, poach the chicken in chicken broth by bringing it to a boil, then covering the pan and turning off the heat.  As the burner cools down the chicken will gently poach and after 20 minutes, it will be juicy and tender

Note: you must use chicken tenders, or cut boneless breasts into smaller pieces or it will take longer to cook.  If your chicken doesn’t quite cook all the way, no worries, it will finish during baking

While chicken is cooking, cook the bacon on a parchment lined baking sheet, for 15-20 minutes until crisp and cooked through.  Use a spoon to scoop up about 1 Tablespoon of bacon fat and set it aside

Remove chicken from broth, but don’t discard broth.  Add the pasta to the broth in the sauce pan with additional kosher salt.  Bring to a boil, stir, and cover.  Again, turn off burner and let pasta sit on the burner.   As the burner cools down the pasta will gently cook.  You can leave your pasta like this for 10 minutes or up to an hour or more, and it will be perfectly cooked whenever you are ready for it

You won’t believe how much flavor the pasta gains by cooking in the broth!  It’s good enough to eat plain, I kept sneaking bites!

If you use a multi surface pasta like rotini, it really grabs and holds the sauce, making the pasta taste even better

The dreamy, creamy, pumpkin sauce is simple to make, melt the reserved bacon grease in the bottom of the sauce pan {use the same one you’ve been using, no need to wash it}.   Pour the broth from the pan into another container and set aside

You can use 1 cup of this same broth for the sauce or use a fresh cup of broth.  Discard or save the extra broth for another use

Once the bacon grease has melted, add the rest of the sauce ingredients

Season the sauce with cinnamon and nutmeg.  Stir to blend and thicken, then add the cheese

Chop the chicken and bacon

Now put the pasta, chicken and bacon {save some bacon for garnish if desired} into the sauce in the pan

Stir it well and transfer it to a deep casserole dish {3 quart with lid}

Sprinkle with more cheese and cover.  Can be refrigerated at this point for up to 24 hours

Bake at 325, covered for 45-60 minutes or until hot and bubbling.  Baking time will depend on temperature of dish

Don’t be put off by the length of the recipe, it’s very easy to make, and oh so worth it!

Loaded Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6


  • 8 oz macaroni rotini, or spiral pasta
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 1 lb boneless chicken tenders
  • 4 cups chicken broth divided
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 T kosher salt
  • salt & pepper
  • 4 oz. Italian blend grated cheese or Parmesan


  • Roast bacon on a parchment lined baking sheet at 350 for 15-20 minutes, checking often near the end of cooking time, and remove from oven when crisp. Drain on paper towels and reserve 1 T bacon drippings from pan by using a spoon to scoop it up from the parchment.
  • While bacon is cooking, put 3 cups of chicken broth in large sauce pan.
  • Add chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to boil. Cover pan and turn burner off, leaving chicken on the burner.
  • After 20 minutes remove chicken from broth and put it on a safe cutting surface.
  • Add 1 T of kosher salt and pasta to broth in sauce pan and bring to a boil. Once pasta is boiling, cover pan and turn burner off, leaving pan on burner. Let pasta sit for at least 10 minutes to soften and absorb broth.
  • While pasta is cooking chop the chicken and bacon.
  • Drain pasta and set aside. Place reserved bacon grease in pasta pan.
  • Put pan back on burner on medium heat. When grease has melted add remaining 1 cup chicken broth, pumpkin and cream.
  • Stir to blend and thicken. Season with cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • Add 3 oz. cheese and stir until melted.
  • Return pasta to pan with sauce and stir in cooked chicken and bacon. Transfer mixture to a greased 3 quart baking dish. Top with remaining cheese. Cover and refrigerate until baking.
  • Bake covered at 325 degrees for 45-60 minutes until hot and bubbly. Cooking time will depend on temperature of dish at baking time. Reheat leftovers covered at 300 degrees or microwave individual portions.
Keyword mac & cheese, macaroni and cheese, pumpkin mac & cheese, pumpkin pasta, pumpkin puree

This recipe was inspired by Chicken Bacon Pumpkin Pasta Bake from A Pinch of Yum, I added chicken and bacon to my own original pumpkin sauce which was first used in another delicious pasta dish,

Pumpkin Pasta with Italian Sausage & Ham


๐ŸŽƒ   ๐Ÿ   ๐ŸŽƒ   ๐Ÿ   ๐ŸŽƒ

I will be joining these fabulous parties and blogs:

Hauntingly BeautifulMeal Plan Monday

Dishing it & Digging it,   Between Naps on the Porch,

Merry Monday   Make it Pretty Monday    Celebrate and Decorate,

Delicious Dishes Recipe Party   Oh My Heartsie Girl  Full Plate Thursday

Thursday Favorite Things  Creatively Crafty   Home Matters 

Weekend Potluck   Sweet Inspirations   Happiness is Homemade

30 Responses to “Recipe Box, Loaded Pumpkin Mac & Cheese”
  1. OH, so glad you are away from the coast right now! I hope your home weathers the storm on the coast.

  2. Sharon Mann says:

    Mother Nature certainly has her own agenda. I’m glad to hear you and your family are safe.

  3. Kitty says:

    I’m happy to know that you’re safe and sound, Jenna. Hurricanes must always be on your mind, though, I’m sure. I’m glad you were able to secure everything before leaving. Your pumpkin mac and cheese sounds like a perfect Fall comfort food dish. Thank you for your inspiration.

  4. I hope that the storm stays well to the east of Alabama! This recipe looks so tasty. I want to cook it for myself! I’ve been craving pasta lately.

  5. says:

    Looks like a yummy dish. You always come up with the best dishes! I am praying for you all. As of right now looks like we will be hit with heavy rains and winds. We are prepared as much as can be. Praying for all. Asking the Lord to take that dang Michael and flutter him out. Hugs and blessings, Cindy

  6. Jodi says:

    This looks SOOO amazing! Hope the storm misses you! Glad you have insurance and somewhere to go! Be safe!!!

  7. Rosie M. says:

    As soon as I saw the weather map, I thought of you, Jenna. I’m so glad you headed north. Take care!!

  8. Mary says:

    Comfort food at its finest Jenna…I love the flavors here! Keeping my fingers and toes crossed your beach property is safe! I know it must be hard to batten down the hatches and drive away hoping for the best. โ™ฅ

  9. Rita C. says:

    You are the best at taking ordinary kitchen pantry items and making extraordinary dishes out of them. This looks good – pinned, and thank you!
    Keep us posted once you know the extent of Michael’s path in your specific area.

    • thank you Rita, this is a great flavor combo, I hope you give it a try. Thank you for worrying about me, we got lucky this time, I am shocked at how fast the storm escalated and the devastation it left behind

  10. pattyanneart says:

    This looks like a yummy dish! Iโ€™m so glad that you and your family are safe.

  11. I am glad you came back north, Jenna and I hop your home on the coast weathered the storm. This dish looks amazing, pumpkin and pasta are perfect!

  12. Hope you weather the storm well – the pics on the news of the panhandle are so sad to watch. The pasta looks delish!!

  13. Hope all works out for you. I’m Carole from Carole’s Chatter. I’ve been following your blog for a while now. I think you do really creative things with food. I wondered if you would like to join the group of bloggers who share their posts on a monthly basis via Food on Friday. I host this link up on the second Friday of each month. Every month there are a few different themes. This month they are Holiday Favorites, Tomatoes, Using Leftovers and Brussel Sprouts. If you would like to check it out just hop on over to Carole’s Chatter. We would all love to see you there. Cheers

  14. Miz Helen says:

    Hi Jenna,
    We have had you in our thoughts and prayers, the hurricane was horrible. I can sure see how your Pumpkin Mac & Cheese would be a great comfort food to help get through the storm. Thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and have a great week!
    Miz Helen

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] Bacon Pumpkin Pasta Bake from A Pinch of Yum inspired this very tasty Pumpkin Mac & Cheese which was featured on Marilyn’s Treats, Thursday Favorite […]

  2. […] Loaded Pumpkin Mac & Cheese features everyone’s favorite macaroni and cheese with the addition of bacon and chicken all coated with a creamy pumpkin and Parmesan cheese sauce and it’s pretty much TDF, you know, to die for… it’s dreamy good! […]

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