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Butternut squash mac and cheese

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 6 to 8 as a main, 10 to 12 as a side 1x


This creamy, dreamy butternut squash mac and cheese is so tasty! It boasts less cheese and more fiber and vitamins than the standard.


  • 1 pound small pasta shells* (gluten free or legume pasta as desired)
  • 4 cups peeled and diced butternut squash** (about 1 medium squash: not frozen!)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
  • 2 cups vegetable broth 
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded smoked gouda cheese (or sharp cheddar cheese, or equal parts cheddar and Monterrey Jack)
  • Seasoned Italian breadcrumbs or plain breadcrumbs, optional


  1. Prep the squash and garlic: Peel and dice the butternut squash. Mince the garlic.
  2. Cook the pasta: Start a pot of well salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta until it is just al dente. Start tasting a few minutes before the package recommends: you want it to be tender but still a little firm on the inside; usually around 7 to 8 minutes. Drain the pasta. (If it finishes before the sauce, add it back to the pot with a drizzle of olive oil so it doesn’t stick.)
  3. Make the sauce: In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat; add the garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, or just until the garlic is fragrant but not browned. Carefully add the squash and vegetable broth to the skillet and stir to fully combine. Add the chili powder, nutmeg, kosher salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Cover and bring it to a high simmer, bubbling constantly, then cook 20 minutes until the squash is tender. 
  4. Blend the sauce: Carefully add the squash and all liquid to a blender. Add the milk and blend until smooth. Pour the sauce back into the pot. Stir in the shredded cheese and stir with a spoon until it is melted (gently heat it over low heat if it doesn’t melt right away). Taste and add additional salt as desired.
  5. Serve: Pour the sauce onto the pasta. Taste and add a few more pinches salt as necessary. Serve immediately, sprinkled with breadcrumbs if desired.


*We like making half the pasta (8 ounces) and saving half the sauce for later to make with fresh pasta.

**Using frozen squash is not nearly as flavorful. To save prep time, peel and dice the squash in advance, and refrigerate it until making the recipe (up to 2 days).

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian