This healthy butternut squash mac ‘n’ cheese is the world’s creamiest mac ‘n’ cheese that’s super easy to make all on your stovetop!
You may be thinking…”But why would I add butternut squash to my beloved mac ‘n’ cheese?! Vegetables have no place in mac ‘n’ cheese!!!”
I thought the same thing, until I actually tasted butternut squash mac ‘n’ cheese for the first time and it made so much sense.
- The butternut squash makes the sauce SO creamy, even without any cream or butter involved
- It feels fancy and gourmet– like grown up mac ‘n’ cheese (although I bet you could serve this to kiddos and they probably wouldn’t notice a difference
- The squash bulks up the sauce, adding a lot of extra volume without a lot of extra calories
- It’s a way to get in extra servings of veggies without even realizing
- Butternut squash mac ‘n’ cheese is super fun and festive for fall!
I actually made this healthy butternut squash mac ‘n’ cheese for the first time this summer when I was trying to get some fall recipes ready to go (I don’t always make blog recipes that far in advance but am trying to do it more often…because I usually think of the perfect recipe to share for Thanksgiving two days in advance and then it’s just too late), and I could not WAIT to make this a second time for test-tasting purposes 😉
And now that I’ve made it six or seven times, I could not recommend it more. It is SO CREAMY and super easy. I’m not saying you should add butternut squash to ALL of your mac ‘n’ cheese for the rest of your life (I love this regular version, too!), but I’m definitely saying you should give this a try. It could change your life.
And it’s easy to make! When I first made it, I actually made the sauce all one morning before work. I brought a pot of water to a boil while I showered, boiled the chopped butternut squash cubes while I packed my lunch, and then blended up the sauce while I made breakfast. After work, all I had to do was cook the noodles and reheat the sauce (and add the cheese to the sauce), and then I could dive headfirst into a big bowl of comforting noodles.You do need to use a blender (or an immersion blender) for the sauce, but can use the same pot to cook both the squash and the pasta, which helps cut down on dishes.
To make this even more quickly, you can buy packages of pre-chopped butternut squash, which cuts down 10 or 15 minutes of prep work. You can also buy cans of butternut squash puree (similar to canned pumpkin!), which I imagine would work, but haven’t yet tried.
I like to peel and cook my own squash since it’s the freshest, and it’s pretty easy to do if you have a sharp knife! Just cut off the top and bottom of the squash, then use a vegetable peeler to take off the skin. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and then slice into long vertical strips. Then dice those strips up into small squash cubes.
Promise me that if you love mac ‘n’ cheese, you’ll give this a try!
If you try out this healthy butternut squash mac ‘n’ cheese, feel free to let me know in a comment or take a picture and tag me @livbane on Instagram. Hope you enjoy!
- 3 cups butternut squash, chopped (1 small butternut squash, about 2 pounds)*
- 16 ounces short pasta
- 2 1/2 cups milk (I used almond milk)
- 3/4 teaspoon paprika, optional
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese (freshly shredded works best)
- Cook squash: Fill a medium pot 3/4 of the way with water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, peel the butternut squash with a vegetable peeler and scrape the seeds out with a spoon. Chop squash into one-inch pieces and transfer into pot. Boil the squash until tender, about 12-14 minutes. Drain squash into a colander.
- Cook pasta: Refill the pot with water and bring back to a boil to cook the pasta. Drain pasta once it's just short of al dente.
- Make sauce: While the pasta is cooking, transfer the cooked squash to a blender and add milk, paprika, salt, and pepper. Blend until a smooth sauce forms. Add sauce back to the now-empty pasta pot and heat on medium heat until warm. Add cheese and stir until melted. Add noodles, stir, and serve immediately. If sauce becomes too thick, add another splash of milk.
- Store leftovers in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.