When the mac and cheese cravings hit, this lightened up butternut squash mac and cheese recipe will do the trick (and it’s ready on the stove in under 25 minutes!) It’s such a fall comfort food that can be prepared on the stove quickly and with just a handful of ingredients.
I was raised on mac and cheese. But for us, mac and cheese was something you made from the box. You had your dried pasta and your bag of dehydrated cheese product and together they formed my childhood.
But with the modern day being what it is, we like to hide vegetables in seemingly innocent dishes (no? just me?) So this mac and cheese has a healthy little secret. It packs in a few servings of veggies with pureed butternut, and is lightened up with rich and creamy yogurt! It’s a healthy pasta recipe that I think you’re going to love!
Why you’ll love this butternut mac
- It’s ready in 25 minutes
- It’s family-friendly (you don’t taste the hidden veggies!)
- It’s stovetop (with options for adding crunch in the oven)
- It makes good leftovers
How to make this butternut mac and cheese
Alright so making this butternut squash mac and cheese is super easy. You’ll need: 1 big pot, 1 medium pot, 1 blender. The process goes like this:
- Make your flavor base by sautéing garlic and onions
- Add you butternut and broth, cooking until it’s tender
- Cook your pasta in a separate pot
- Blend your butternut sauce carefully in a blender
- Mix it all together and serve hot!
How to cut a butternut
Honestly, the most difficult thing about this recipe is safely chopping the squash, so we made a guide for you! Here’s how to cut butternut squash 👈
How do you make healthy mac and cheese?
The secret to a healthier mac and cheese is all in the sauce (though you would never know it from tasting this rich and creamy butternut squash sauce)! To make this butternut squash mac and cheese sauce, you’ll need:
- Olive Oil: This heart-healthy oil forms the base of our flavorful mac. We’ll use it to saute those onions and garlic!
- Onion & Garlic: And good sauce needs a great flavor base. Onions and garlic are my go-to!
- Vegetable Broth: We’ll cook the squash in vegetable broth to infuse it with even more flavor (make your own vegetable broth with this guide!)
- Butternut Squash: This star ingredient brings a delightful nutty sweetness, balanced by its tender, creamy texture when cooked. It’s a versatile vegetable that lends both flavor and creaminess to the mac and cheese.
- Salt and Pepper: These essential seasonings act as flavor enhancers, ensuring a well-balanced taste. The salt heightens the natural flavors, while the pepper adds a subtle kick of heat.
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese: The shredded sharp cheddar contributes a bold, tangy flavor and a creamy texture.
- Plain Yogurt: The yogurt introduces a luscious creaminess that complements the richness of the cheddar.
Make It Baked
Prefer a baked mac and cheese because you like a little crunch? To make a baked butternut squash mac and cheese:
- Prepare this recipe as described above, being sure to cook the pasta just barely to al dente (it should still have a little bite to it)
- Transfer mac and cheese to a greased baking dish.
- Make a breadcrumb topping. Combine panko breadcrumbs with a little melted butter and spread it evenly over the mac and cheese.
- Broil! Place in the oven and set to “broil”. Watch closely, letting it cook just until breadcrumbs are golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes
Can I use a different type of cheese?
Absolutely! While sharp cheddar adds a bold flavor, you can experiment with other types of cheeses like Gruyere, fontina, or even a smoked cheese for a unique twist.
How do I store leftovers?
Store any leftover mac and cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Note that the texture may change upon reheating.
Can I make this recipe gluten-free?
Yes, simply swap out regular pasta for a gluten-free variety. Ensure the broth and any other ingredients you use are also gluten-free.
What can I substitute for yogurt?
The best replacement for the yogurt is cream cheese, though it does make this mac and cheese a bit more decadent. You can also use sour cream or a dairy-free alternative like coconut or almond yogurt.
Looking for a lower carb macaroni? Try this Spaghetti Squash Mac and Cheese or this one with hidden cauliflower! Ready to level up your meal? Try adding truffle oil to your macaroni! I’ve even done a vegan macaroni and cheese (oxymoron? maybe. delicious? absolutely.)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil 15 mL
- ½ cup diced white onion about ½ of a medium onion
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 ½ cups vegetable broth 354 mL
- 3 cups diced butternut squash about half of a medium squash
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1 lb uncooked pasta any shape, 453 g
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese 100 g
- ½ cup plain yogurt 120 g
- 1 tsp dijon mustard optional
- Flavor Base: Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to a large pot and set over medium heat. Add ½ cup diced white onion and 2 cloves garlic, cooking until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
- Butternut: Add 1 ½ cups vegetable broth, 3 cups diced butternut squash, 1 tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper. Cover and let simmer until butternut is tender, 7 to 10 minutes.
- Cook Pasta: Meanwhile, boil 1 lb uncooked pasta according to instructions on package, cooking until al dente.
- Blend: Using a handheld immersion blender (or working carefully with a countertop blender), puree the butternut mixture until smooth.
- Mix: Mix the butternut puree into the pasta. Add 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese and stir to evenly combine, then add ½ cup plain yogurt and continue stirring until evenly mixed. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed. Optionally stir in dijon mustard*.