Halloween Mac and Cheese Recipe – Pumpkin Shaped
Halloween Mac and Cheese Recipe
This Halloween Mac and Cheese Recipe isn’t your typical Mac! It combines the creamy goodness of classic, cheesy macaroni with the enchantment of the Halloween season. Whether you’re hosting a haunted gathering or simply want to enjoy a memorable family dinner, this dish is sure to cast a spell on your taste buds and your Halloween festivities.
Ingredients for Spooky Halloween Mac & Cheese
Pumpkin Shaped Pasta: The star of the dish, these Halloween-shaped pasta pieces add a spooky twist to the recipe. It’s a festive way to change up the classic mac dinner. Novelty seasonal-shaped pasta is available in various spooky shapes and designs and easily found on Amazon or at your local grocery store. I used this Zucca Pasta, and here are some other cutes options I found:
- Pastabilities Ghost, Spider, and Pumpkin Pasta
- Pastabilities Black Cat Pasta
- Black and Orange Striped Bow Tie Pasta (SO PRETTY!)
- Butternut Squash Pumpkin Shaped Pasta (like mine, but orange)
- Halloween Novelty Shapes Pasta
Butter: Used to create the roux, which is the foundation of the creamy cheese sauce. It also adds a rich, depth of flavor and helps to thicken the sauce. I prefer salted butter, but unsalted is fine too.
Flour: Combined with butter to create the roux and a thickening agent for the cheese sauce. All-purpose flour ensures the sauce has the perfect creamy consistency. It needs to be measured with exactness– too much flour will make the sauce taste paste-y, but too little will make the sauce runny.
Milk: One half of the two liquids used to thin the roux into a sauce. The milk makes the sauce creamy, while the broth adds flavor. Which is why you can’t use all milk or all broth as the liquid. I use 2% milk, but you could also use 1% or Whole or even some dairy-free substitutions.
Chicken Broth: The second liquid component of the roux, which infuses the sauce with savory depth. It adds a subtle, savory note that complements the cheese’s richness and is a must-have ingredient in this recipe.
Sharp Cheddar Cheese: The star of the cheese sauce, offering a bold, tangy flavor and a vibrant orange color. The shredded cheese melts into the sauce, creating a creamy and cheesy texture that coats the pumpkin-shaped pasta.
Black Pepper: Black pepper on Macaroni and Cheese is such an underrated flavor combo. If you’ve never done more than add a pinch to the cheese sauce, try grinding a generous amount of fresh peppercorns on top of your pasta. Next level, I promise!
Cooking The Pasta: Al Dente
Learning how to cook pasta al dente, which means “to the tooth” in Italian, is an art that results in perfectly textured pasta. When making this pasta, it is especially important to not overcook it. If the pasta is cooked too long and becomes too soft, it will break apart and lose it’s pumpkin-y shape when you stir in the cheese mixture.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you achieve that delightful balance between firmness and tenderness in your pasta:
- Use a Large Pot: Choose a spacious pot with plenty of water. You want the pasta to have enough room to move around freely as it cooks, preventing clumping and sticking.
- Generously Salt the Water: Add salt to the boiling water before adding the pasta. A general rule of thumb is to use about 2 tablespoons of salt per gallon (4 liters) of water.
- Stir Immediately: As soon as you add the pasta to the boiling water, give it a good stir. This prevents the macaroni noodles from sticking together during the initial minutes of cooking.
- Follow Package Instructions: Read the cooking time recommended on the pasta package, but remember that it’s just a guideline. Start testing for doneness a minute or two before the suggested time.
- Taste Test: To determine if your pasta is al dente, taste a piece. It should be firm to the bite but not overly hard. You’ll notice a slight resistance when you chew it.
- Keep an Eye on It: Be vigilant as the pasta nears its recommended cooking time. It can go from al dente to overcooked in a matter of seconds.
- Save Some Pasta Water: Before draining the pasta, set aside about a cup of the pasta water. The starchy pasta water can be used to adjust the consistency of your sauce if needed.
- Shock It: If you’re not using the prepared macaroni immediately in a sauce, you can shock it by draining and rinsing it with cold water. This stops the cooking process and helps maintain the al dente texture.
- Finish in the Sauce: Since we’re preparing a pasta dish with sauce, we can finish the cooking process in the sauce itself. Add partially cooked pasta to the sauce and let it simmer together for a minute or two to absorb flavors.
- Practice Makes Perfect: Achieving the perfect al dente texture may take a few attempts. Practice and taste-testing are key to honing your pasta-cooking skills.
Here are some creative serving suggestions to make your Halloween Macaroni and Cheese the star of your *sPoOoKy* dinner table:
Pumpkin Dutch Oven
Serve your macaroni and cheese in a gorgeous dutch oven shaped like a pumpkin. You can make the sauce in it, then use it to keep the pasta warm until you’re ready to serve, and it makes a beautiful and festive presentation at the table. It’s a one pot wonder!
I found a few swoon-worthy pumpkin-shaped dutch ovens that I’ll list below. But they are all come in at a pretty high price point. And while I do feel like a dutch oven is a worthwhile investment for any home cook, I also acknowledge that purchasing an expensive (albeit high-quality) pot shaped like a pumpkin isn’t reasonable for every budget.
So if you’re looking for something that’s a little more versatile (year-round use!) and a little lower cost, this Velaze 6 qt. Dutch Oven in black enamel is the perfect option for you. Since it’s black, it will fit right in with your Halloween decor– it could definitely pass for a cauldron! And everyone knows that black never goes out of style, so it will fit in beautifully with your kitchen decor year-round.
I also found this lovely cast iron skillet with a lid (perfect for casseroles and one pot dinners) in orange. It’s very reasonably priced and an extremely versatile addition to any kitchen.
If you’re ready to invest in a beautiful, pumpkin-shaped dutch oven that will be the crowning jewel of your Fall decor (at least in the kitchen), look no further. Here are my top-3 picks from Amazon:
- Staub Cast Iron 5-Qt. Pumpkin Cocotte in Burnt Orange
- Le Creuset Cast Iron Enameled Figural Pumpkim Cocotte 4-Qt. in Sea Salt
- Le Creuset Stoneware Figural Pumpkin Baker* with Lid in Persimmon
*This one is not a dutch oven, but it would still work well for this Macaroni and Cheese dish. Plus, it’s cost-friendly!
Crock-Pot Oval Enamel Dutch Oven
Velaze 6 QT Enameled Dutch Oven
Pumpkin Spice Enamel Cast Iron Dish
Cauldrons for Dining
Originally, I wanted to present this creamy mac and cheese in a big, black witch cauldron! But I quickly discovered that all the cauldrons I could find online were cheap and plastic, and not something I’d want to use to serve a main dish like pasta.
Fortunately, my online shopping wasn’t fruitless. There are so many mugs and bowls out there that look like cauldrons! Which is the perfect dining solution I was looking for and such a fun way to add a little more Halloween pizazz to the table.
Here are a few great options found on Amazon:
Elevate the visual appeal at your next Halloween party by adding eerie garnishes like small plastic spiders or simple halloween food picks/toppers. It doesn’t have to be complicated! These small details will make your dish Instagram-ready, and (more importantly) your friends and family will love the presentation.
Creepy Table Setting
Set the mood by decorating your dining table with cobwebs, candles, and Halloween-themed tableware. Orange and black plates, spooky napkins, and themed centerpieces create an immersive dining experience.
Pair your macaroni and cheese with a vibrant green smoothie or juice labeled as “Witch’s Brew” for a complete Halloween meal. You can even add gummy worms for an extra spooky touch kids (and grown-ups) will love!
More Halloween Recipes on Keat’s Eats
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use regular macaroni instead of pumpkin-shaped pasta?
Absolutely! You can use any pasta shape you like for this recipe– even homemade macaroni. Pumpkin-shaped pasta simply adds a fun Halloween twist, but traditional macaroni or other shapes work just as well.
Can I make this recipe ahead of time?
Yes, you can prepare the macaroni and cheese in advance and then reheat it in the oven or microwave when you’re ready to serve. Just note that reheating may result in slightly softer pasta.
What’s the best way to reheat leftovers?
To reheat leftovers, use the microwave for individual servings or the oven for larger portions. You may need to add a splash of milk or broth to maintain the creaminess.
This easy dinner is a great way to celebrate the Fall season, Halloween or not. Whipping up this Pumpkin Shaped Macaroni and Cheese is a great way to add a little extra festivity to your Halloween week. It’s not only an easy dinner that’ll save you time for more spooky preparations but also one of our favorite ways to celebrate this bewitching holiday.
With its irresistible cheesiness and fun pumpkin shapes, it’s sure to become a repeated addition to your repertoire of spooky recipes. So, here’s to a happy Halloween filled with delicious delights and ghoulish gatherings!
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