This Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese is a lightened version of the recipe but with added servings of vegetables and less cheese - it's creamy and comforting!
I make a simple Baked Macaroni and Cheese recipe that my kids love. But I also love adding vegetables to mac and cheese in a way that is seamless in texture and flavor, like I did with my Cauliflower Mac and Cheese and now with this Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese. I use less cheese, less milk and no one notices!
How to cook the butternut squash
- Boil frozen butternut squash with milk/broth and blend.
- Roast fresh butternut squash in the oven, then blend with milk/broth.
- Sauté fresh butternut squash with onions and olive oil like I did and then blend it with broth and milk in the skillet.
I’ve tried all three methods and numero 3 is my fave. Once you puree everything, there’s a beautiful rich cheesy color that can totally be mistaken for cheese!
I do still add some shredded cheese in the end, but half the amount of the traditional recipe. It just helps to unify all the ingredients together and truly deliver that cheese flavor in this butternut squash mac and cheese. But you’ll save calories by not having cheese as the main ingredient!
How to make butternut squash mac and cheese
Start by boiling elbow macaroni al dente in a pot of salted boiling water.
Then peeling and chop the butternut squash into small cubes. You can also buy it pre-cut and peeled to make it faster.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, add the onions and sauté. Then, add the butternut squash, minced garlic and mustard powder and cook for a few more minutes until the garlic is fragrant and there’s some color on the squash. Next pour in the vegetable broth and milk and bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes or until squash is fork tender.
When the squash is soft, you’re ready to puree everything together. You can transfer it to a blender or use an immersion blender to make it faster with less clean-up. Make sure to puree until you see no more chunks of onions or butternut squash. You want it to be as smooth as possible. Then you can fold in the cooked pasta and shredded cheese.
Once you mix all the ingredients together, the cheese helps to bind the sauce to the pasta. And you’ve got the cheesiest most comforting pot of butternut squash mac and cheese!
Tips for making butternut squash mac and cheese
- Cook pasta al dente, or two minutes shy of the recommended cooking time. You want the pasta to be slightly under cooked because it’s going to continue to cook when we toss it in the warm sauce. This is especially true if you’re going to finish off the butternut squash mac and cheese in the oven before serving.
- Grate your own cheese for the cheese sauce. Store-bought shredded cheese has anti-caking agents which can prevent the cheese from melting efficiently and sticking together in the sauce. Since we’re using a small amount for the recipe, it’s best Also, it can sometimes have a powder residue or grainy texture from those caking agents.
- Use pre-cut butternut squash or frozen squash to make the recipe faster. Since we’re pureeing the butternut squash with the broth and milk, the texture and freshness doesn’t matter too much so feel free to substitute.
- Swap the vegetable broth for more milk. I like the combination of vegetable broth and milk for a mix of salty flavor and creamy richness. You can just use all milk, which will make it lighter in color and more creamy. Alternatively, you could just use vegetable broth to save on calories.
Frequently asked questions
Can you freeze butternut squash mac and cheese?
Yes you can! Freeze mac and cheese by placing it in a casserole dish and covering it with foil or placing into a freezer safe container. Thaw it in the fridge before reheating in the oven.
What do you serve with butternut squash mac and cheese?
You can totally eat this mac and cheese by itself, it’s delicious and there’s extra servings of veggies in it! You can also opt for a vegetable side like Oven Roasted Carrots or sautéed spinach.
How do you make butternut squash mac and cheese vegan?
To make it vegan, I would recommend using unsweetened non-dairy milk and adding nutritional yeast to the sauce instead of the shredded cheese. If you know of a good quality vegan cheese that melts well, you can also swap that in.
If you’re skeptical about adding butternut squash to your mac and cheese, just know that when pureed, butternut squash adds and incredible creaminess to the pasta. And that means that you don’t need as much cheese in the recipe. This is a great way to lighten up the dish without missing out on the flavor or comfort factor.
For more butternut squash recipes
- Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
- Butternut Squash Risotto
- Butternut Squash Noodles
- Baked Butternut Squash Fries
- Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad
For more pasta recipes:
If you’ve tried this feel good Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!
This Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese recipe was originally published on November 15, 2017. I’m re-sharing it today with more step-by-step photos, and a long-form video with me showing you how to make the recipe. Here’s the original photo!
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion diced
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3-4 cups butternut squash peeled and cubed
- 1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup shredded gruyere cheese or other cheese
- Chopped parsley for serving
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, then add the butternut squash, minced garlic, mustard powder and cayenne pepper, and cook for a few more minutes.
- Add the vegetable broth and milk to the skillet, bring to a boil and cook until the butternut squash is fork tender, about 10 minutes.
- Blend all the ingredients using a hand immersion blender until sauce is smooth and creamy. Alternatively, you can transfer the ingredient to a blender and blend.
- Fold the cooked pasta and shredded cheese into the pureed sauce and stir to combine. Stir in extra milk if you'd like to adjust the consistency.
- Sprinkle with chopped parsley, if desired and serve warm.
- To make it gluten-free, you can use any gluten-free pasta of your choice.
- To make the sauce more creamy, you can add some milk instead of some of the pasta water.
- Use other types of shredded cheese in place of gruyere you'd prefer.