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Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

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This healthier Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese recipe is made with lots of good-for-you squash, it’s easy to make in just 30 minutes, and it’s SO cozy and creamy and delicious.

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Happy first day of autumn, everyone! I thought it only appropriate to celebrate with a warm pot of healthy-ish, seasonal, cozy comfort food…

…this butternut squash mac and cheese! ♡

I’ve been tinkering around with this recipe all month and think that I finally got it just right. First off, I’m happy to report that there is an entire pound of butternut squash hiding in here, with its subtle nutty sweetness that perfectly balances the rest of the savory, creamy sauce. I’ve also lightened up the sauce a bit by using milk instead of cream and using a small-but-mighty handful of flavor-packed sharp cheddar cheese, all of which still somehow magically yields the most luxurious, silky, creamy butternut cheddar sauce. If you happen to have some fresh sage on hand, I also highly recommend taking the extra 2 minutes to fry up some crispy sage leaves to add to the mix. Or of course, as always, you’re more than welcome to add any other extra veggies (maybe broccoli or mushrooms), proteins (chicken, bacon, sausage), herbs (rosemary, thyme) or nuts (walnuts, pepitas) that sound good too.

That said, we totally just served this plain with a side salad and some roasted broccoli and absolutely loved it. That butternut squash cheese sauce is endlessly rich and comforting. (And also a great way to use up some leftover butternut squash, be it raw, canned, or roasted!)  If you happen to have some mac-and-cheese-loving kiddos in the house too, I am certain this recipe would also be a great way to sneak some extra squash onto their plates.

Let’s make some butternut squash mac and cheese!

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese Ingredients:

To make this easy butternut squash macaroni and cheese recipe, you will need the following:

  • Pasta: Whatever type (semolina, whole-wheat, gluten-free, etc.) and shape (shells, noodles, ziti, etc.) of pasta you prefer.
  • Butter (or oil): Which we will use to sauté the garlic and sage.
  • Garlic: I used 3 cloves in the recipe, but feel free to add more if you like a really garlicky pasta.
  • Butternut squash: You can either make this recipe with raw butternut squash (peeled, seeeded and diced into small cubes), already-roasted butternut squash (cubes or puree), or canned butternut squash. See notes below.
  • Veggie stock: Or chicken stock, whichever you have on hand.
  • Milk: I used and recommend whole milk for this recipe. That said, you’re welcome to use lighter cow’s milk or half-and-half instead. Or you could also sub in a plain plant-based milk, such as almond milk or oat milk.
  • Good-quality sharp cheddar cheese: Since this recipe only uses a small amount of cheese, I highly recommend investing in the good stuff to really make it count! I used an extra-sharp white cheddar cheese, which I loved. But any good cheddar cheese will be great. And as always when making a melted cheese sauce, I recommend purchasing a block of cheese and then grating it yourself. This will help it to melt well and not get clumpy.
  • Salt and pepper: Always. ;)
  • Fresh sage leaves (optional): If you can pick up some fresh sage leaves, I highly recommend giving them a quick sauté with the garlic until they’re nice and crispy. Then you will have a bit of extra sage flavor in the sauce, plus a fun crispy topping. (That said, if you don’t have any, the recipe will still be delicious without the sage.)

Full ingredient amounts/instructions included in the recipe below.

How To Make Mac and Cheese

How To Make Mac and Cheese:

To make this mac and cheese, we will…

  1. Cook the pasta. Heat a pot of generously-salted water until boiling. Then for optimum timing, I recommend adding in the pasta after you have pureed the squash (see below). Be sure to also reserve a cup of the starchy pasta water for later.
  2. Fry the sage (optional). Sauté the sage leaves in melted butter for a minute or two until crispy. Then transfer the sage to a separate plate and reserve for later.
  3. Cook the sauce. Sauté the garlic in the remaining butter. Then add in the butternut squash and vegetable stock, bring the mixture to a simmer, reduce heat, cover and cook until the squash is tender. Transfer the mixture to a blender and stir in the milk. Then very carefully (I recommend slightly opening the cap on the blender lid so that excess steam can escape) pulse the mixture until smooth. Return the pureed mixture to the sauté pan, and stir in the cheddar cheese until melted. Taste and season with S&P.
  4. Put it all together. Once the pasta is drained, return it to the stockpot, pour in the sauce and give it all a good toss until combined. If the sauce seems to thick, just stir in some of that reserved starchy pasta water.
  5. Serve. Serve warm, garnished with the crispy sage leaves.

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese Recipe

Possible Variations:

This recipe is really meant to just be a base recipe — it’s the perfect blank canvas for adding in anything else that sounds good! For example, you could…

  • Add a protein: Cooked chicken, ground beef, steak, sausage or bacon would all be delicious mixed into this butternut mac and cheese recipe too.
  • Add extra veggies: Cooked broccoli, cauliflower, peas, asparagus, mushrooms, onions, or bell peppers would all be delicious added in.
  • Add extra herbs: Fresh rosemary, thyme or bay leaves would also be delicious simmered with this cheese sauce.
  • Add extra seasonings: A touch of Dijon mustard, old bay seasoning, or nutmeg are also additional seasoning options.
  • Add nuts or seeds: Toasted walnuts, pecans, pistachios, almonds, pepitas or pine nuts would be delicious sprinkled on top.
  • Use a different kind of cheese: Feel free to experiment with different cheeses in this recipe. A good gruyere or smoked gouda would be delicious with the butternut squash. Or I always also love adding some Parmesan to my mac and cheese if I happen to have some on hand.
  • Make it gluten-free: The sauce is naturally gluten-free, so just be sure that you use certified GF pasta.

Healthy Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

What To Serve With Mac and Cheese:

I would recommend serving mac and cheese with…

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese with Crispy Sage

More Mac and Cheese Recipes:

A little more mac and cheese recipe inspiration, just in case you need it. ;)

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Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese Recipe

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

  • Prep Time: 25 mins
  • Cook Time: 5 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: 6-8 servings 1x


This healthier Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese recipe is made with lots of good-for-you squash, it’s easy to make in just 30 minutes, and it’s SO cozy and creamy and delicious.  See notes above for possible ingredient add-ins.


  • 2 tablespoons butter (or olive oil)
  • 12 fresh sage leaves (optional)
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound (about 4 cups) diced butternut squash*
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
  • 1 pound uncooked pasta (I used shells)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 8 ounces good-quality sharp cheddar cheese, shredded*
  • fine sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper, to taste


  1. Bring a large pot of generously-salted water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a separate large sauté pan until melted.  Add the sage leaves (if using) and sauté for 1-2 minutes until crispy.  Transfer the sage leaves to a separate plate and set aside.
  3. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.  Then add in the butternut squash and vegetable stock and stir to combine.  Continue cooking until the stock reaches a simmer.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender and mashes easily with a fork.
  4. Transfer the squash mixture to a blender.  Add in the milk and give the mixture a quick stir.  Then very carefully (I recommend slightly opening the cap on the blender lid, so that excess steam can escape) pulse the mixture until smooth.
  5. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package instructions until al dente.  Reserve 1 cup of the starchy pasta water for later.  Then drain the pasta.
  6. While the pasta is cooking, return the butternut squash mixture back to the sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add in the shredded cheddar cheese, and stir until it has melted into the sauce.
  7. Taste and season the sauce with salt and pepper as needed.  (I used about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.)
  8. Then once the pasta is drained, return it to the stockpot.  Pour the butternut cheese sauce on top of the pasta, and toss to combine.  If the sauce is too thick, add in some of the hot starchy pasta water to thin it out.
  9. Serve warm, garnished with the crispy sage leaves if desired.


*Butternut squash options: The recipe above is written for raw butternut squash.  But if you happen to have pre-cooked butternut squash or canned butternut squash on hand, you can use it to save yourself some time!  You will need 1 pound of cooked squash, which is about 2 cups mashed cooked squash or one (15-ounce) can of butternut squash.  Just stir it into the garlicky butter, skip the step where you cook it for 10 minutes, and transfer the butternut mixture straight to the blender and continue on with the recipe as written.

*Shredding the cheese: I highly recommend purchasing a block of cheese and then shredded it yourself.  This will help the cheese to melt well.  (Pre-shredded cheeses are often made with an added coating that can cause clumping when added to a sauce.)

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74 comments on “Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese”

  1. Hi! Do you think this would freeze well?

    • Yep, you can freeze this dish! I would just recommend freezing it in individual portions so that it can reheat a bit more evenly. :)

  2. I just bought an acorn squash. I wonder if it would yield the same results as butternut. Thoughts?

  3. This looks absolutely delicious! For some inexplicable reason, I bought four bags of frozen butternut squash. What’s the best way for me to use that in this recipe? Roast it first? Steam it first? Just add it to your recipe frozen? I really want to make this butternut squash macaroni & cheese soon!

  4. Hi! Can you use an immersion blender for the squash instead of a regular blender? Or is the squash too thick for that?

    • Absolutely! Just use your judgement about how much sauce you’re making to avoid any splatter. ? (We’ve all done it.)

    • I made this tonight using my immersion blender. Those things sure are handy. I’ve also used it for a butternut squash soup. This recipe came out just perfect. Would definitely make again!

  5. I love this healthier version of mac and cheese! Can’t wait to try it!

  6. Made this tonight after the kids had football practice. This is the ultimate comfort meal, and is almost guilt free thanks to the hidden veggies. Don’t tell the kids though!

    • I’ve recently tried butternut squash for the first time and have been obsessed. Made this tonight for dinner and absolutely delicious! I added some pecorino Romano grated cheese and bacon bits too! The perfect fall mac and cheese!

  7. Simply amazing! Quick, easy, and so delicious!

  8. Going to try this tonight! Could I sub canned pumpkin instead of squash? Also, what would I omit if I used canned? Just the cubed squash/pumpkin and the stock?


    • Super soupy. Definitely cut down the amount of milk. I think I could have gotten away with 1/2-1c to the cheese and squash.
      One reviewer decreases the milk to one cup
      And adds 3-4 cups of cheese!!! I will try decreasing the significantly milk next time and making a cheesier stronger sauce.

  9. This was delicious and easy to make! I will definitely be making it again!

  10. My husband said this was the best Mac and cheese ever! I also took your suggestion and made Brussels sprouts as a side and it’s delicious. Off for seconds!!

  11. I am making this for the first time right now. Went to taste the sauce and holy yummy!! My kids are going to love this so so much! Thanks for the great recipe. ?

  12. Girl this one was yum yum YUM! Also I appreciate how optional (the sage) really means optional – not really necessary on a monday night, but adds something extra if you want to make it a little special sometime. Squash is such a great vegetable too, great recipe!

    • Hi Fil,

      I’m preparing this dish on a Saturday, and was wondering what level of sage you recommend on the weekends?

      Best wishes,


  13. Can’t wait to try this! I’ve tried another squash mac and cheese recipe that was a total fail, but I’ve loved all of your recipes that I’ve tried so far so I’m hopeful! Have you made this with whole wheat pasta before? Wondering if that would change the taste much…Thanks!

  14. Wow!!! I stumbled across this blog when I saw a different recipe get shared on Facebook. I’m so glad I checked the other recipes out. This is absolutely amazing!! I really enjoy cooking, but usually anytime I try anything out with squash it is a total flop. So I was a little worried going into this, but pleasantly surprised with the outcome. The sage adds some awesome fall notes. The butternut squash helps give it a great flavor and texture! I love mac n cheese, and think this might be a new favorite! And I’ve already been raving about the recipe to friends and family!

  15. SO GOOD!
    I didn’t have any sage, which I was really bummed about because I love sage + butter + butternut squash, but even just the squash (Costco sells frozen organic butternut, peeled & cubed already!), broth, cheddar, and a little nutmeg is fantastic! Going to make this a lot! Thanks! Also, an immersion blender makes this such a breeze. If you have only one kitchen gadget, make it an immersion blender.

  16. Wow, this was really good. Used gluten free pasta and 2% milk rather than whole milk (it’s all I had in the house). Loved it. The sage was a nice touch.

    I ended up with some leftover sauce, so I’m going to drizzle it on some steamed broccoli tomorrow for lunch. Thanks for a great recipe!

  17. These crispy little sage leaves are a gift from heaven. Just sayin. The pasta isn’t bad either! Highly recommend.

  18. Just want to say that I made this for some friends and they all loved it and were super impressed. My fiancé also loved it and he doesn’t even like mac and cheese normally! Definitely a winner and crowd-pleaser.

  19. Amazing! I swerved this to two 8 year olds and they both loved it; I had seconds myself. I omitted the sage (b/c I didn’t have any) but otherwise followed recipe as written. It’s creamy and satisfying without being heavy. Definitely a recipe to save and share. Thank you!

  20. This was delicious! I halved the recipe. I loved that it came out extra saucy,

  21. Made this for the first time tonight. Only change I made was to leave out the sage leaves.

    My thoughts:
    – Taste is spot on. Loved the addition of the squash – it adds just a hint of sweetness, but if you didn’t tell anyone there was squash in it, they probably wouldn’t know.
    – My sauce was very runny so there was no need to add any of the pasta water. In fact, I probably should have added a bit of arrowroot powder to it to thicken it up. My other option would have been to put it in a casserole dish and bake it in the oven to tighten it up some. I’ll probably do that next time and get a crispy crust on the top.
    – Be sure to thoroughly blend the sauce (step before adding in the cheese). I should have blended mine a little longer because it was slightly ‘grainy’.

    I’ll definitely make this one again, but as mentioned above, blend the sauce longer and then bake in the oven

  22. I just made this and it taste great. I would like to make it into a casserole. How long would you recommend baking it for and at what temperature?

  23. I made this yesterday, and the flavor was wonderful but the cheese did not melt right….it was still quite grainy. I bought block cheddar cheese (light) and shredded it, and added it all into the milk mixture on the stove once it was hot. Anything I should try differently to make it creamy and melted the way you have it?

  24. Should I use the veggie stock if I’m using canned (pumpkin, in this case)? I see that I skip the simmering step but I’m not sure about making it liquid enough.

  25. I’m excited to try this recipe! I absolutely love your recipes and make them all the time. I enjoy cooking and tend to cook dinner 5-6 nights a week. In 2019, I resolved to make at least one meatless dinner every week. Now at the start of 2020, I’m planning to up it to 2 meatless dinners each week. All that to say, this meal is on the list for this week!

    I’m wondering if I could use almond milk instead of whole milk? I’m sensitive to lactose so I try to sub out cow milk when I can!

  26. I think maybe the squash should be drained before adding it to the blender? My sauce was more of a liquid… had to boil it down quite a bit to get to sauce consistency. Definitely didn’t need any pasta water reserved! Otherwise, not a bad way to sneak a veggie into the kids… we’ll see if they actually eat it now! ?

  27. This recipe is AMAZING! It’s so creamy and easy to make. Even my 2 year old picky eater can’t get enough. It’s officially added to our favorite recipe collection!

  28. I’m trying to replace my favorite foods with healthier alternatives since I have many stomach problems so I made this with steak and steamed broccoli, my husband and I Iove it!

  29. So good. Easy. My husband knew it needed crumbled bacon…. yummy.

  30. So the only thing I’ve ever used butternut squash for was to make muffins. I gave this recipe a try hoping it would be as delicious as regular mac and cheese. I noticed that it definitely needs Dijon, for my tastes. I followed the recipe exactly except for the sage leaves and it was really just kind of bland. But not in a bad way! In a blank canvas kind of way. The only thing I’m really dissatisfied about is that for some reason the cheese and the sauce did not combine very well. I’m wondering if I did something wrong.

  31. yeeeeessssss this is so good!! and so easy to make. :)

  32. Yum! Sweet and creamy. Delish! I might reduce the milk a bit so it’s cheesier and thicker. Great flavor though. I also think microwaving the chopped squash and broth might help it cook faster. I didn’t use the sage leaves, but added a little sage powder to it.

  33. Could I turn this recipe into a baked mac & cheese?? If I cook the pasta less and top with breadcrumbs and bake? Any tips :)

  34. This recipe is perfect!!! My daughter and I loved it. Thank you so much for this nutritious idea.

  35. Hi! I am wondering if it would be possible to make this a baked mac and cheese at the end, with bread crumbs on top? What size baking dish would you suggest I use and how long would you suggest I bake it for and at what temperature, ect.? Thanks so much!

  36. This recipe was fantastic, my two young daughters thought it was delicious and they avoid vegetables at all costs!
    I found that the sauce was quite thin, so popped it in a casserole dish with parboiled pasta and topped with a cheesy crumb and it came out absolutely perfect. It also heated up so well the next day – I usually find reheated pasta becomes congealed, but this was much better.
    Lovely family meal, thank you for the recipe!

  37. I made this but subbed out the cheddar for a nice baby swiss and also added some fresh grated nutmeg. It came out wonderful!

  38. Thank you so much for this recipe. I love the added butternut squash to the sauce. Like a few others my sauce was a bit runny but still had a wonderful flavor. I added cooked broccoli and mojo chicken to our bowls and then topped with the noodles and sauce.
    Super yummy
    Next time I will use less milk and I think it will be just perfect.

  39. Areyou opposed to drain the stock before moving it to the blender? I left it in and added the milk and it became quite runny.

  40. This is love you 3rd time making this recipe. Love all the flavors; it tastes decadent, delicious! It has become a dish you crave ☺️

  41. I’ve made this one about 5 times. I freaking love it. I like it more than classic Mac and cheese because the flavors are so much more interesting.
    I usually use 3-4 cups of cheese and mix it up different kinds (because comfort food). I also only use one cup of milk instead of 2. It’s too soupy for me with two cups. I use an immersion blender after adding the milk to blend it together easily.

    Great recipe thanks!

  42. So so good! I’ve made this twice and it’s such a comforting autumn dish. I halved it, using a whole honey nut squash the first time, and half a Koginut the second time. My immersion blender worked well. I keep the extra sauce in the fridge and just warm it in a saucepan while the pasta boils. The sauce recipe halved makes 3-4 substantial servings. I think lots of different cheeses work in this dish.

  43. This was okay, not sure I’ll make it again. Ratio of milk to squash favored milk way too much. Barely tasted butternut squash with the main base you blend in beginning. I would put 1 cup milk and maybe substitute vegan milk. This was too heavy made me feel like I gained 5 lbs after eating it

  44. Absolutely delicious! I added some American cheese to amp up the cheesy flavor and then topped with crumbled bacon. Perfect Fall dish.

  45. OMG! This recipe is the yummiest I have tried! Blending the sauce definitely made the difference.
    Saving this recipe! Thank you <3

  46. Is it possible to substitute coconut milk (or fat free milk) in for whole milk? Thanks for the great recipe!

  47. this was so nice, I nearly ate it as a soup! Even my Butternut squash hating 9 year old liked it!

  48. The recipe as is makes quite a lot of sauce for 1 c of dried noodles…I recommend either having additional noodles or add in other things…to help balance the sauce to pasta ratio I added a pack of imitation crab and it turned out really good!

  49. So delicious it’s « haut de gamme « 

  50. Good flavor, but came out very runny. Was able to thicken it with some cornstarch. Also, the prep time is way underestimated. More like 40-45 minutes by the time you peel and cut the squash, etc.