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.
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 their mac & cheese… My Nana used to make a delicious recipe. And then my mom started making it. And now my dad has taken over the macaroni and cheese making with his own homemade baked recipe – so good, but soooo much butter.
Of course nothing wrong with a little indulgent mac & cheese every now and then. But I was intrigued by the healthy butternut squash mac & cheese recipes floating around the interwebz and wanted to give it a fair shot.
My verdict? I think it’s pretty damn good!
I can’t say the rest of my family would be on board with this because they’re mac & cheese freaks but I like to think they’d at least humor me.
Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese Recipe
So we’re going to get right to it and 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.
Here’s What You Need
- butternut squash – peeled and cubed
- milk of choice – I like unsweetened cashew here best
- ghee (or coconut oil) – or dairy free butter
- salt, garlic powder and onion powder – for flavor
- cheese of choice – I like to use a mix. I typically go for sharp cheddar,
- goat cheese – totally optional. Or sub cream cheese.
How To Make the Best Mac and Cheese
It’s actually quite simple. No baking necessary and you’ve got yourself delicious mac and cheese in about 30 minutes!
Butternut Squash Sauce
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.
Prepare the Pasta
While the squash is simmering you can prepare the pasta. I used regular cavatappi pasta, but you can also choose a whole grain or a gluten-free blend – just make sure you cook it al dente (slightly undercooked).
Here I used a blend of colby, sharp cheddar and gouda.
When combining cheese flavors, I’d 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.
Combine and Melt
All that’s left to do is stir everything together.
Add sauce to cooked pasta and stir in cheese until everything is melted.
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 moms 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, Ashley
- 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
Watch this video for how to cut a butternut squash. I also like to warm up the squash in a preheating oven (250ºF) for about 10-15 minutes, so it is easier to cut into.
- 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.
- 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.
- Once squash is tender add squash mixture, including all liquid, into a blender and purée until smooth. Or use immersion blender.
- 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!
*You could use a non-dairy milk here if you’d like, and then also dairy-free shredded cheese to make this recipe dairy-free/vegan.
**Sub with coconut oil if going for the vegan version.
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