Say hello to the best of fall comfort food! This Pumpkin Chili Macaroni and Cheese contains wholesome veggies, ground turkey, and pumpkin all packed into a hearty, cheesy, and oh-so-cozy dish.
Even though I consider this mac and cheese pure comfort food, it is packed with plenty of veggies like:
- jalapeno peppers
- red bell pepper
- black beans
- tomatoes w/ green chilies
As for the meat component, I used ground turkey for a lighter option. Feel free to substitute your favorite ground meat or leave it out completely for a yummy vegetarian chili mac. For the pasta, I usually opt for a whole wheat variety or a gluten-free macaroni option.
While this dish isn’t a one pot meal, I made it work successfully in two pots, one pot for the pasta and sauce and a larger Dutch oven-type pot for the rest. The first line of business is to get pasta cooking while the the turkey browns and the veggies sauté. When finished, drain the pasta and let it hang out on the sidelines with the meat and veggies while you make the most important part of this dish, the sauce that gives this macaroni and cheese its pumpkin chili name.
In the same pot used to boil the pasta (once the pasta is removed), you’ll combine canned tomatoes, cream cheese, spices, and a can of pumpkin. As it heats, stir it up until it becomes the most creamy and velvety cheese sauce. The cream cheese and spices give it that queso flavor and texture while the pumpkin does an amazing job of thickening the sauce.
Then, all components—pasta, sauce, and veggies/meat—come together in the Dutch oven and stir until the most luscious and bold macaroni and cheese forms. Topping suggestions include chopped cilantro, avocado, jalapeno slices for an extra kick, and shredded cheese!
This Pumpkin Chili Macaroni and Cheese is perfect for Sunday game days or for those chilly nights when you’re craving something warm in your belly.