Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese will make a terrific dish during these chilly months. Every now and then we crave a dish of mac and cheese, and this one is healthier and positively delicious. It contains 2 kinds of cheeses and one pound of butternut squash. The butternut squash is completely melted and hidden in this mac and cheese making it smooth and creamy.
I think you will all agree when I say mac and cheese = comfort food! …and, this dish is just that!
What is Butternut Squash?
- Butternut squash is winter squash. It is considered part of the pumpkin family, with a similar sweet and nutty taste to it.
- Only this squash has a very light-colored skin, almost pinkish or tan color, but with a deep orange pulp and flesh inside.
- Loaded with nutrients like all other squashes, butternut can be cooked in so many ways.
We have made delicious recipes using it, including our creamy butternut squash soup, butternut squash risotto, and a few different side dishes and healthy casseroles.
For this Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese recipe, you will need 4 cups of cubed butternut squash.
Here’s a Great Tip for Squash!
- Some supermarkets will sell butternut squash “already” chopped and cubed, and that saves a tremendous amount of time in prep work!
- So if you don’t see them on the shelves, ask someone in the produce section if they have any in the back. If not available, then you will have to do the chopping.
How to Make Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese?
Ingredients Needed for Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese…
To make this butternut squash mac and cheese, you will need for following ingredients:
1. Butternut Squash: 1 small butternut squash, about 1 pound, or 4 cups of diced or cubed.
2. Fresh Herbs: use only fresh sage, about 8 leaves to flavor the sauce. Fresh sage gives a lovely, subtle flavor to this mac and cheese. If you don’t like sage, you may use different herbs like basil, rosemary, or thyme for flavoring.
3. Kinds of Cheese: 2 kinds of cheeses, 8 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese grated, and 3 to 4 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese. I prefer to grate a block of cheddar, at least 75% of it, and then I finely chop the rest. Freshly grated cheddar melts instantly and tastes better than the already grated and packaged cheese.
4. Vegetables: one small onion and 2 garlic cloves are sauteed with the butternut squash.
5. Olive Oil: just enough to saute the vegetables.
6. Liquids: water, vegetable broth, and milk are needed to make the sauce. Don’t worry, if you don’t have any vegetable broth, you can use more water in its place when simmering the butternut squash.
7. Seasonings: salt, black pepper, and a dash of nutmeg (or more to taste) are all you need.
8. Pasta: I used semolina “mini” fusilli pasta, but you can use any small pasta.
Directions To Make Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese: (*full recipe card below).
First, use a large pot to make the sauce. Heat olive oil and saute the garlic and onion until softened. Toss in sage leaves and simmer on low heat sauteing for about 2 minutes. With a fork, fish and remove the sage leaves, discard them.
NEXT, toss in butternut squash and saute for one minute. Pour in the water along with vegetable broth and add the salt. Cover with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes. Butternut squash will be softened. Turn off the heat.
Pour in the milk, and use an immersion hand-held blender to puree the mixture. Or you can puree the mixture in your blender, doing it only in small batches and with a kitchen towel held on top of the blender while you pulse a few times.
Add both kinds of cheese to the pureed mixture, and stir until the cheese completely melts. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings with salt and black pepper, if needed.
Meanwhile, in a second large pot filled with water, add 2 teaspoons of salt; bring to a boil, and toss in the fusilli pasta. Cook the pasta until al-dente. The pasta must be tender to the bite. Use a large slotted spoon to scoop up the pasta and transfer it to the creamy cheese sauce. Continue until all the pasta has been transferred.
Stir the pasta, until it slowly absorbs the sauce. The sauce will appear to be on the watery side, but will slowly thicken as the pasta absorbs and the mixture cools down a little.
What kind of pasta can we use for Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese?
Our butternut squash mac and cheese is made with “mini” Italian semolina fusilli pasta (aka rotini pasta). Small curly pasta like fusilli cooks up quickly, and it absorbs and holds this luscious creamy sauce very nicely.
With that said, keep in mind you can use a variety of small kinds of pasta with this recipe, such as mini shells, mezzi rigatoni, elbows, and even mini penne.
*Make sure the pasta is “al-dente” (a little undercooked) since it will continue to cook as it mixes with the sauce.
Also...do not use egg noodles. They will not work because they will get too mushy and not hold up very well with the sauce.
Notes and Tips…
- It is best to serve this mac and cheese as soon as it is ready.
- Keep in mind, the longer this mac and cheese sit in the pot, the more the pasta will continue to absorb the sauce, therefore, reducing the creaminess.
- Do not overcook the pasta, or it will become too soft and mushy and will ruin the dish.
- It’s best to shred your own cheese, rather than using the pre-shredded packages that are loaded with cellulose and preservatives.
Your family will love our butternut squash mac and cheese.
This is a delicious dish! The flavors in this mac and cheese recipe are what make it so worth going the extra effort to make it!
It freezes well and reheats beautifully too!
An easy stove-top recipe that is ready in less than 30 minutes, makes this a great meal and a tastier version for mac and cheese; hey…what’s not to LOVE! …right?! 😉
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- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves - minced (approx. 1 Tbsp.)
- 1 small onion - diced (approx. 2/3 cup, or 37.4grams))
- 8 fresh sage leaves
- 4 cups (592grams) diced butternut squash ( about 1 pound)- diced into small pieces
- 1 cup (235grams) vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup (118grams) water
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 1 + 1/3 cups (321.3grams) of low-fat or skim milk
- 8-ounces ( 235grams) sharp cheddar cheese - grated
- 3 to 4 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
- dash of ground nutmeg
- fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
- 3/4 pound (340.19grams) uncooked small pasta ( I used mini fusilli )
- Bring a large pot filled with water, add 2 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile, in a second large pot, heat olive oil on medium heat and add the diced onion and garlic. Stir and saute for 1 minute to soften.
- Toss in the sage leaves and saute for 2 to 3 minutes to flavor the mixture. Use a fork to fish out and remove the sage leaves. Discard them.
- Toss in butternut squash, vegetable broth, and water and salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Butternut must be softened.
- Turn off the heat, and pour in the milk. Use an immersion hand-held blender to blend the butternut squash into a creamy mixture. Or use a blender, only doing it in small batches, and with a kitchen, towel held on top while pulsing a few times to puree the mixture.
- Stir in both grated cheddar and Parmesan cheeses, and a dash of nutmeg. Stir until the cheeses completely melt into the sauce. Taste the sauce and season with salt, to taste.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al-dente, tender to the bite. Mini fusilli pasta cooks up quickly, about 4 to 5 minutes, but you will need to keep an eye on it. When the pasta is ready, turn off the heat.
- Take a large slotted spoon and in small batches, transfer the pasta into the pot with the cheese mixture. Stir until well combined. The sauce will thicken as it starts to cool down. Season with fresh cracked black pepper to taste.
- Serve warm with some grated Parmesan cheese, at the table.
- Serves 4 to 6
Serving Size:1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 263Total Fat: 17.6gCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 2.2gSugar: 4.9gProtein: 12.7g
Additional Comfort Food Ideas…
You might also enjoy our Macaroni and Cheese with Pancetta and Caramelized Onions! It’s an easy and delicious mac and cheese with smoky flavors.
Also, our Pasta with Creamy Cauliflower, it too is a stove-top dish made quickly and easily. Best of all, the cauliflower is completely melted and hidden in this dish.
And, of course, our Easy Pimento Mac and Cheese!
And our Butternut Squash Ravioli with an Italian cheese sauce made with 4 ingredients!
Here is another easy dish for dinner, our Tortellini Mac and Cheese. It too is ready in minutes!
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Happy Cooking! 🙂
Thanks for stopping by!
xo Anna and Liz
Nutrition FactsServing size: 1 cup Servings: 6 … Calories263, Total Fat 17.6g23%Saturated Fat 8.8g44%Cholesterol 41mg14%Sodium 468mg20%Total Carbohydrate 15g5%Dietary Fiber 2.2g8%Total Sugars 4.9g Protein 12.7g Vitamin D 5mcg24%Calcium 376mg29%Iron 1mg6%Potassium 485mg10%