Butternut squash mac and cheese is a flavorful and delicious fall twist on classic mac and cheese. Tender shell pasta is tossed in a rich and creamy sauce that is secretly loaded with veggies (hello butternut squash!). Butternut squash puree adds nuttiness and slight sweetness to this pasta, as well as making it healthier by loading it up with extra nutrients. The best part? You can make this warm and cozy comfort food in just 15 minutes. Perfect for busy weeknights this fall.
Why You’ll Love Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
- It's hidden with veggies. This is not your typical Mac and Cheese. It's extra special, thanks to the addition of butternut squash puree which adds a delicious natural nutty sweetness to this pasta dish. AND butternut squash is packed with nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to keep your body healthy.
- Sharp cheddar for balance. When it comes to making macaroni and cheese, sharp cheddar is the reigning champion. With its earthy flavor and unique tang, sharp cheddar balances the sweetness of the squash in this mac and cheese.
- Quick and easy. Although butternut mac and cheese may seem like a fancy and complicated meal, it only takes 15 minutes to make—and it isn’t much different from a regular mac and cheese recipe. In fact, it takes just as long to make a boxed mac and cheese, but it tastes way better and is healthier (only real ingredients here and no artificial flavors).
Ingredients and Substitutions
To make this easy butternut squash mac and cheese, you will need the following ingredients (full quantities in recipe card below):
- pasta - you can use any shape of pasta in mac and cheese, just opt for smaller ones that hold a lot of sauce. I use shells or elbow pasta.
- butternut squash puree - feel free to use store-bought puree or homemade. See box below for instructions on how to make homemade.
- butter - you can substitute this with olive oil.
- all-purpose flour - helps to thicken the sauce
- whole milk
- sharp cheddar cheese - you can use yellow cheddar, white cheddar, or marble cheddar.
- salt and pepper
How to Make Butternut Squash Puree
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Cut a medium butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Lightly brush the cut sides with olive oil. Place on a quarter sheet baking pan cut side up and bake 1 hour or until very tender.
- Scoop out the flesh of the roast butternut squash and place in a large mixing bowl. With a potato masher, mash until smooth. If the butternut squash is too chunky for your liking, transfer it to a blender and puree it until desired consistency is achieved.
How to Make the Best Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
- Make pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add and cook pasta according to package instructions, until al dente, about 8-10 minutes. Reserve one cup of the pasta water and drain the rest in a colander.
- Make the mac and cheese sauce. Heat butter in another large pot or large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk to combine, about 1 minute. Pour in half the milk and whisk until there are no clumps in the mixture. Then, add the remaining cup of milk and whisk to combine.
- Add butternut squash and cheese. Whisk in butternut squash puree. If the butternut squash is too chunky, use an immersion blender to blend the sauce until smooth. Stir in cheese until it has melted. Season with paprika, salt, and pepper.
- Toss in pasta. Add the drained pasta and toss together. Sprinkle with more seasoning if needed, to taste.
How to Serve
Serve this butternut squash mac and cheese with a side that is light to balance everything out. My favorites are:
- Air Fryer Broccoli
- Garden Salad
- Roasted Garlic Green Beans
- Arugual Salad with Apple and Pecan
- Roasted Cauliflower
- Skillet Dinner Rolls
You could also turn it into a baked version by transferring it to a 9x13-inch casserole pan and top it with Panko bread crumbs. Pop it into a 350 F preheated oven for 10-20 minutes until golden brown (similar to our Baked Mac and Cheese).
Storing and Freezing Instructions
- How to store: After allowing the butternut squash mac and cheese to cool, place any leftovers in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
- How to freeze: Mac and cheese is a great freezer-friendly food. Portion and freeze it in meal prep containers or freezer bags and label it. Freezer for up to 3 months.
- Reheating mac and cheese: If frozen, thaw mac overnight in the fridge first. Then, reheat in the microwave, covered on medium heat in 30-second intervals, stirring in between. You can also reheat on the stove over medium-low heat until warmed through. Add a splash of water if the mac and cheese has thickened too much when stored.
More Butternut Squash Recipes
- 20 Easy Butternut Squash Recipes
- Butternut Squash Carbonara Pasta
- Stuffed Butternut Squash with Wild Rice
- Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
- Roasted Butternut Squash
- Fall Harvest Salad with Butternut Squash
Did you make this recipe? I would greatly appreciate a comment and rating below, letting me know what you thought of the recipe. You can also snap a picture and tag me on Instagram @aheadofthyme or share it on the Pinterest pin so that I can follow along.