Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese is classic mac & cheese with a fall twist. It’s a delicious way to get extra veggies into your meals!
I’m serving you the one of the ultimate comfort foods today with an extra sneaky ingredient. It’s not sneaky to you because you’ve seen the title of this post and know there’s butternut squash here, but it’s sneaky to those that you choose not to tell for a variety of reasons.
Reason #1 — picky eaters
Reason #2 — some may view veggies in mac and cheese as “ruining” it
Reason #3 — some people think they don’t like butternut squash
That third reason is just plain crazy talk, because there’s nobody out there that doesn’t like butternut squash is there?
I don’t understand anybody not liking butternut squash — maybe they just think they don’t. It’s sweet and velvety, and can make every dish better. I love it in my butternut squash soup, butternut squash cornbread, and of course it’s amazing roasted.
This Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese was destined to happen a long time ago but unfortunately I never got around to it.
It was high on my list of things to make this fall, so here it is in all it’s creamy, savory-sweet, butternut squash glory.
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Let’s go back to the sneaky thing again. My kids love butternut squash, but I thought Reason #2 would be behind them possibly not liking it.
I was taking the photos for homemade butternut squash mac and cheese right after school, and my kids were in the room. I asked my youngest son to hold the spoon for me in the photo above, and I thought he would spy the butternut squash puree in the bowl and decide he didn’t want it.
I didn’t say a word about it, and neither did he. All he asked was “Can I eat this spoonful?” Of course I said yes because that’s one of the perks for helping me take photos.
He gobbled it up, then asked if he could eat that whole dishful for dinner. I said he was in luck, because that was dinner!
Both of my boys ate it with gusto and never commented that it tasted “different” or anything to that effect.
I roasted my own butternut squash for this recipe and pureed it, but you can also use canned butternut squash which I’ve found at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.
If you decide to make your own, simply buy a small butternut squash, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, and roast it cut side down in a 400 degree oven until tender, about 30-45 minutes. Remove the peel, and puree the flesh.
This can all be done in advance, which is the best part.
I typically make my mac and cheese on the lighter side, because I don’t have a tolerance for really rich food. I used skim milk because that’s what I had, which left room for plenty of full fat shredded cheddar. To me, the cheese makes more of a difference so I always use the real deal.
I used whole wheat elbow pasta in this dish for added nutrition and fiber, but you can certainly use your favorite pasta.
This Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese is creamy, slightly sweet and has plenty of fall flair. It’s living proof that veggies have a place in mac and cheese. 🙂
More butternut squash recipes you’ll love:
Butternut squash pie by House of Yumm
For the homemade butternut squash puree (or use canned puree):
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small butternut squash (or use 1 package cubed butternut squash, or canned puree)*
For the mac and cheese:
- 8 ounces whole wheat elbow macaroni or your favorite pasta
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 cups milk (I used low fat)
- 2 cups grated mild cheddar cheese*, divided
- 1/2 cup butternut squash puree
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
Roast the butternut squash:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a sheet of aluminum foil on a large rimmed baking sheet. Cut the top and bottom off of the butternut squash, then stand the squash upright on a cutting board. Cut in half from the top down, then scoop out the seeds. Brush with the olive oil, some salt and pepper, and place cut side down on the prepared baking sheet.
- Roast for 30-45 minutes or until tender.
- When cool enough to handle, remove the peel from the squash and place the flesh in the bowl of a food processor, pureeing in two batches if necessary. Process until smooth and set aside.
Prepare the mac and cheese:
- Cook the elbow macaroni according to package instructions, then drain.
- While the pasta cooks, heat the butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Once melted, sprinkle in the flour and whisk constantly until it's golden brown and bubbly and smells like shortbread, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and add about 1/3 of the milk in a slow steady stream while whisking constantly until the mixture resembles a smooth paste. Whisk in the remaining milk until smooth, and place back over medium heat. Whisk the mixture constantly to prevent burning, and cook until thickened and boiling, about 5-10 minutes longer.
- Remove from heat and stir in the 1 1/2 cups of cheese and butternut squash puree. Add salt and pepper to taste, then add the pasta and stir until combined.
- Place in a greased 8x8" casserole dish and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.
- Bake until bubbly and golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. If the top browns too quickly, cover with foil greased with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Serve and enjoy!
- I've found canned butternut squash puree at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's stores.
- I used mild cheddar cheese because that's what I had on hand, but fontina, gruyere, white cheddar and many other cheeses would also work well in this recipe.
- If baking in gratin dishes as shown in the photos here, baking time is only 15 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 549Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 57mgSodium: 494mgCarbohydrates: 65gFiber: 9gSugar: 3gProtein: 24g
Nutrition information is mean to be an estimate only. The numbers will vary based on the quantity consumed, brands used and substitutions that are made.