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Sheet-Pan Mac & Cheese With Pumpkin & Brown Butter by Food52


Sheet-Pan Mac & Cheese With Pumpkin & Brown Butter by Food52

September 17th, 2019
Sheet-Pan Mac & Cheese With Pumpkin & Brown Butter by Food52

This month, we’re tackling the nitty gritty, tough conversations that come with marriage.

Like most relationships, marriage isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes we have to get a little uncomfortable when talking about reality and making compromises. But what’s the one particular conversation that’s equally dreaded by everyone, always? The Money Talk. 

We’re of the opinion that uncomfortable money chats should be approached with cozy surroundings, your favorite beverage (it’s hot buttered rum season!), and maybe a comforting meal to reward yourself after such an arduous task. This chapter of our Food52 recipe series checks at least two of these off the list. Along with our guide for money questions to ask before you getting married, we’ve chosen a cozy, fall-inspired sheet-pan meal to accompany you during this uneasy moment. 

A spin on the classic American favorite, this mac and cheese recipe gets an autumnal upgrade with the addition of pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, and the nuttiness and richness of browned butter. After a hot bowl of this mac and cheese, your money talk will feel like ancient history. 

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Sheet-Pan Mac & Cheese With Pumpkin & Brown Butter


  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more for pasta water
  • 1 pound cavatappi (or other twisty pasta shape with lots of nooks for cheese to nestle into)
  • 6 tablespoons butter, plus more to grease the pan
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper (you can substitute black or rainbow if you prefer)
  • 1 pound sharp cheddar, grated, roughly divided into about three-quarters (12 ounces) and one-quarter (four ounces)
  • 4 ounces Pecorino Romano, grated
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/4 cups plain panko
  • 1/2 cup shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas), raw


1. Heat oven to 475°F. Grease a 11×17-inch sheet pan with rimmed edges.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook for only 4 to 5 minutes, so they’re quite al dente—just soft enough that if you taste one, there’s no audible crunch. Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water and drain the pot of pasta.

3. In the same pot you used for the noodles, brown 6 tablespoons of butter: Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, until it foams. The foam will recede, and the butter will be golden-tan. (If your pot is dark, you’ll know it’s ready when it starts to give off a deeply appealing rich, nutty scent.) Turn the heat down to low, add back the noodles, and immediately toss so your butter doesn’t stay on the bottom and burn. Drizzle in a few tablespoons of the hot, reserved cooking water. Add the salt, pepper, three-quarters of the cheddar (about 12 ounces), Pecorino, and milk, and stir until you have a homogenous, creamy sauce. Mix in the pumpkin puree, adding a little more reserved water if needed to thin slightly. Turn off the heat.

4. Transfer to the sheet pan, and sprinkle the remaining 4 ounces of cheddar, the panko, and the pumpkin seeds over the top. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the panko is nice and toasted, and some of the cheesy noodles sticking out around the edges are tinged with amber spots.

Final Thoughts

We’re so inspired by making the beginning of married life a breeze for couples, and simple, but satisfying eats is one way to ensure to get off on the right foot. This recipe is part of our newlywed recipe series with our partners at Food52. Try out more recipes and let us know what you think on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!

This recipe and featured images were originally published on Food52.

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