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 and have been dying to share the recipe ever since! I wanted to get some fall recipes ready to go because I usually think of the perfect recipe to share for something like Thanksgiving two days in advance and then it’s too late.
And now that I’ve made this mac ‘n’ cheese at least six or seven more 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 definitely should give this a try. It could change your life. And it’s easy to make!
When I first made this mac ‘n’ cheese, I actually made the sauce all one morning before work. I brought a pot of water to a boil while I got ready for the day, 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, reheat the sauce and add cheese, and then I could dive headfirst into a big bowl of noodles.
I always try to use the minimum amount of dishes necessary when I cook, but you do need to use a blender (or an immersion blender) to blend the butternut squash for the sauce. Fortunately, you can use the same pot to cook both the squash and the pasta to help 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. It’s pricy at some stores, but I always buy my pre-chopped butternut squash at Harris Teeter where it’s reasonably priced, about $4 for 2 pounds of pre-cut squash.
You can also buy cans of butternut squash puree (similar to canned pumpkin!), which I imagine would work, but haven’t yet tried.
It’s also pretty easy to peel and chop your own butternut squash 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!
Healthy Butternut Squash Mac ‘n’ Cheese
- 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
- 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper
- 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese (freshly shredded works best)
- Fill a medium pot 3/4 of the way with water and bring the water to a boil.
- Meanwhile, chop the top and bottom off the butternut squash, peel the squash with a vegetable peeler, and scrape the seeds out with a spoon. Chop squash into one-inch pieces and transfer into the pot of boiling water.
- Boil the squash, uncovered, until tender, about 12-14 minutes. Drain squash into a colander.
- For a one-pot meal, refill the pot you used to cook the squash with water and bring water to a boil to cook the pasta. Drain pasta once it's just short of al dente.
- 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.
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