Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese! A healthier, lightened up version of your childhood favorite. A simple and quick recipe – no baking required! Gluten-free friendly using your favorite pasta. Kid-friendly, mom-approved.
Post updated November 2020 with more information and new photos. Originally published November 2017, same delicious recipe!
Guys, I did a thing…
I put butternut squash in my mac & cheese… And it. Is. AWESOME.
I come from a family who gets pretty particular about mac & cheese, but I was intrigued by this healthy butternut squash version. The sauce is so creamy and it’s a great way to get some added vegetables into mac and cheese.
Why You Should Make This
- Sneaky added vegetables, thanks to the butternut squash sauce
- You can use your favorite gluten-free pasta – I’ve tried Banza brand, Barilla, Ancient Harvest and Aldi and they all hold up well. Just make sure you cook the pasta “al dente” according to box instructions
- You can make this a vegan mac and cheese recipe, by using plant based shredded cheese alternative and plant based butter.
- Both kids and adults love this one!
- No baking necessary for this homemade mac and cheese
- Ready in 30 minutes!
What You Need
- butternut squash – peeled and cubed
- milk of choice – I would go for a creamy option like full fat oat milk if possible, which keeps this recipe nut free.
- ghee, coconut oil or dairy free butter – use whatever you have on hand
- salt, garlic powder and onion powder – for extra flavor
- cheese of choice – I like to use a mix, I typically go for sharp cheddar cheese and gouda
- goat cheese – totally optional. Or sub cream cheese.
Butternut Squash Sauce
So I’m gonna give it to you straight: you can still taste the butternut squash a tiny bit… but it’s delicious!
The butternut squash sauce makes this mac and cheese recipe extra creamy in the best way.
To make the sauce you’re just simmering the cubed butternut squash in milk and vegetable stock. That takes about 15 minutes or so.
Once slightly cooled you blend together everything that was in the pot in a blender or food processor until smooth. You can also use an immersion blender.
Meanwhile Cook the Pasta
While the squash is simmering you can prepare the pasta. I used regular cavatappi pasta, but as noted above, you can also choose a whole grain or a gluten-free blend. And again, just make sure you cook it al dente (slightly undercooked).
What Kind of Cheese to Use
Here I used a blend of colby, sharp cheddar and gouda.
When combining cheese flavors, I recommend one of the varieties to be sharp or medium cheddar.
If you are dairy-free you could certainly sub a dairy-free shredded cheese blend as well. I bet it would work wonders.
Stir It All Together
Now all that’s left is to stir everything together!
Add the butternut squash sauce to the cooked pasta and stir in cheese until everything is melted.
What to Expect from this Recipe
I really enjoyed this butternut squash mac & cheese. I mean no, it’s not the real deal made with heavy cream and butter and allll the cheese. But it’s a great healthy alternative to when you’re craving mac and cheese but want something a little bit lighter.
I’ve gotten great feedback on this recipe that parents and kids love it!
- Can this recipe be made vegan? – Yes if you use a vegan friendly milk and shredded cheese blend, that is the easiest way to make this recipe vegan friendly.
- Can this recipe be made gluten-free? – Yep! Just use your choice of pasta and cook according to instructions.
- Can I use another type of squash? – Absolutely. You just want to make sure you have 4 cups of cubes.
Have another question? Be sure to leave a comment on this post.
Don’t forget to let me know if you make this recipe by leaving a comment and rating below! It helps others learn more about the recipe too! Xx, AshleyPrint
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese! A healthier, lightened up version of your childhood favorite. A super simple and quick recipe here – no baking required! Gluten-free friendly using your favorite pasta. Kid-friendly, mom-approved.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Category: entree
- Method: stovetop
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegetarian
- 4 cups butternut squash; peeled, seeded and cut into 1” cubes
- 1 cup low sodium broth (vegetable or chicken)
- 1 cup milk of choice*
- 1 lb macaroni pasta– whole grain, gluten-free, your pick (I used cavatappi shape)
- 2 TBS butter or ghee**
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 4oz goat cheese (could omit if you dislike)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 TBS tapioca starch (optional but adds thickness)
- 6oz shredded cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)– choose your favorite. I used part colby, part gouda
- For the pasta, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the cubed butternut squash, broth, and milk. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook until squash is tender – test with fork. This should take about 10-12 minutes. Once squash is tender add squash mixture, including all liquid, into a blender and purée until smooth. Or use immersion blender.
- Meanwhile add pasta to large pot of boiling water. Cook according to package instructions, but 1 minute less than fully cooked. You want the pasta to be slightly undercooked, or al dente. Drain in colander and set aside.
- In the large pot that was used to cook the pasta, add ghee or coconut oil. Melt over medium heat then add the squash purée. Add goat cheese, onion powder, garlic powder and salt. Stir until combined and goat cheese is melted. Then add tapioca starch if using. Stir until smooth.
- Add shredded cheese and pasta into pot with sauce, gently stirring until combined.
- Dish mac and cheese into bowls garnishing with pepper, breadcrumbs and parsley if desired. Enjoy!
Vegan Friendly – Use a non-dairy milk, plant based butter and dairy-free shredded cheese to make this recipe dairy-free/vegan.
Store leftovers in container in fridge, enjoy within 3-4 days.
- Serving Size: 1/6th
- Calories: 539
- Sugar: 7g
- Sodium: 496mg
- Fat: 19g
- Saturated Fat: 12g
- Unsaturated Fat: 2g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 67g
- Fiber: 7g
- Protein: 22g
- Cholesterol: 48mg
Keywords: healthy mac and cheese recipe, butternut squash recipes, kid friendly mac and cheese