Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese Recipe

Yields: 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45-55 minutes

Ingredients

For the Squash

  • 1 medium-large butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

For the Cheese Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk (whole milk adds extra creaminess)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded

For the Pasta

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni, cavatappi, or similar shaped pasta
  • ¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter (optional)

Instructions

1. Roast the Butternut Squash

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
  • Rub the squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place cut-side down on the baking sheet.
  • Roast for 40-50 minutes, or until very tender when pierced with a fork.

2. Make the Cheese Sauce

  • While the squash roasts, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more, until fragrant.
  • Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute to remove the raw flour taste.
  • Slowly whisk in the milk until smooth. Bring to a gentle simmer, then reduce heat and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened.
  • Stir in the Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheddar and Gruyère until melted and smooth.

3. Prepare the Squash Puree

  • Once the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and place it into a blender or food processor.
  • Puree the squash until smooth.

4. Combine Everything

  • Cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving about ½ cup of pasta water.
  • Add the squash puree and cheese sauce to the pasta pot. Stir to combine. If the sauce is too thick, add some reserved pasta water to loosen it.
  • Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed.

5. Optional Breadcrumb Topping

  • In a small bowl, combine the Panko breadcrumbs with melted butter.
  • Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the mac and cheese.

6. Bake

  • Place the mac and cheese in a baking dish and bake at 375°F (190°C) for 15-20 minutes, or until bubbly and lightly golden brown on top.

Enjoy! Let your butternut squash mac and cheese rest for a few minutes before serving.

Tips

Spice it up: Add a pinch of cayenne pepper for a touch of heat.

Herbs: Stir in some fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary while the cheese sauce simmers.

Crispy topping: Instead of breadcrumbs, use crushed crackers or crumbled potato chips.

No blender? Mash the squash with a fork or potato masher for a slightly chunkier texture.

Make it ahead: You can prepare the squash and sauce a day in advance. Assemble the mac and cheese and bake just before serving.

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