This easy, creamy Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese recipe is packed with flavor from roasted squash and a bit of goat cheese. With plenty of tips for riffs and substitutions!
If you're not on the butternut squash mac and cheese bandwagon yet, please consider this your official invitation to HOP. ON. UP.
This easy butternut squash cheese sauce is rich, creamy, and slightly earthy - and we'll show how to customize it for your own schedule and pantry!
First things first: There's more than one way to roast a butternut squash.
In this recipe, we call for roasted squash that's been mashed or puréed. But that's not the only option! Here are a few of our favorite methods - use whichever technique best fits your schedule and preferences!
- Roast the squash in halves. Slice the squash in half vertically, scoop out the seeds, drizzle with a splash of olive oil + salt + pepper, then place cut-side down on a sheet pan and roast at 375 degrees F for 45-60 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork. (See how to do this here!) This is our favorite way to roast squash for recipes like this, because it's easy to prep and keeps well in the fridge (use any extra for our Butternut Squash Risotto or a Butternut Squash Soup!)
- Cut into cubes and roast. A great option if you want some extra roasted squash cubes to throw into salads, tacos, or pastas throughout the week. Peel squash, cut in half vertically, then scoop out the seeds and cut squash into cubes. Drizzle with olive oil, salt + pepper and bake on a sheet pan at 425 degrees F for 30-40 minutes until soft and lightly browned. (See a helpful tutorial here!)
We love the flavor roasted squash adds here, but you can skip the roasting step if you need to. A few other alternatives:
- Use frozen butternut squash. Frozen cubed butternut squash is my meal prep secret weapon. You can roast it right out of the freezer if you like, or just throw the cubes into the sauce as it cooks to let them soften and then blend it all up!
- Cook butternut squash right in the sauce. Cut fresh squash into small pieces and add along with the milk. Cook until squash is easily pierced with a fork, then blend and proceed normally. We recommend reducing the flour by half if you go this route, because the squash will thicken the sauce quite a bit.
- Lighten up this recipe by using our Magic Cauliflower Cream Sauce instead of milk. Swap half the cauliflower in our Magic Cauli Cream for cubed butternut squash for a silky, lightened-up sauce.
PS - For another colorful pasta idea, try our baked ziti with peppers!
Riffs and Substitutions
This creamy butternut mac and cheese recipe is a great blank canvas - customize it with whatever you have on hand! Some of our favorite riffs, additions, and mix-ins:
- Add fresh herbs! We love this sauce with sage (use ¼ - ½ teaspoon dried sage or add a few thinly sliced fresh sage leaves when you melt the butter! Bonus points if you top the mac with a few pieces of fried crispy sage *swoon*) but it's also great with a bit of thyme or rosemary.
- Dial up the protein by topping with crispy bacon or pancetta, Italian sausage, grilled chicken, or garlicky baked shrimp.
- Add your favorite veggies. We love steamed or roasted broccoli, caramelized onions, fresh kale, peas, or spinach here. You can also swap the butternut squash for canned pumpkin puree if you want!
- Use whatever cheese you have on hand. Gruyere, fontina, and white cheddar are all excellent in this recipe in place of (or in addition to!) goat cheese.
A quick mac and cheese primer
There are two main styles of macaroni and cheese: The French-leaning version builds a creamy sauce using a basic stovetop béchamel sauce (a flour-and-butter base - called a roux - with lots of milk). Southern mac and cheese is typically baked and sometimes features eggs or evaporated milk in addition to a blend of cheeses and seasonings.
The "right" way to make mac and cheese is different for everyone. Our mac and cheese recipes have plenty of riffs and mix-ins, and they lean towards the French style: excellent right off the stovetop or baked with breadcrumbs or extra cheese on top.
Easy, creamy roasted butternut squash mac and cheese recipe.
- 1 pound pasta (I used large shells)
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 Tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk
- ⅔ cup roasted butternut squash purée (see recipe notes)
- 6 ounces goat cheese, plus extra for garnish
- salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley (optional) for garnish
- Cook pasta in very salty water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- In a large saucepan (I use the same pot I just cooked the pasta in!) melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk together to form a roux. Let cook for about a minute until fragrant and slightly darkened in color.
- Add milk a little bit at a time, whisking constantly to work out any lumps. Cook until milk has thickened slightly and mixture is not quite simmering, about 5 minutes.
- Whisk butternut squash puree and goat cheese into sauce. Whisk until cheese is melted, then add salt and pepper to taste. Don't be shy - seasoning is important!
- If the sauce has any lumps of squash, blend with an immersion blender for a few moments to smooth it out.
- Return pasta to saucepan and stir to coat all of the noodles with the sauce.
- Top pasta with a few crumbles of goat cheese and a sprinkle of chopped parsley. Serve immediately.
How to roast your butternut squash. Cut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet cut-side down and roast at 375 degrees F for 45-60 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork. Let cool, then scoop squash out of its skin and puree with a food processor until smooth. See a full tutorial here. This isn't the only way to roast your squash - read the post above for a full walkthrough of several other options! You can also use canned butternut squash or canned pumpkin purée here.
Additions and Substitutions. Add crispy bacon or pancetta, Italian sausage, grilled chicken or shrimp for extra protein. Add roasted broccoli, caramelized onions, peas, spinach or kale to make it a bit heartier. Use fontina, gruyere, or white cheddar in place of (or in addition to) goat cheese. See the post above for more ideas!
This sauce is very forgiving - add extra butternut squash if you like! If sauce is too thick, thin it out with a splash of milk, cream, pasta water, or chicken stock.
For a healthy twist, swap the butter, flour, and milk in this recipe for our Magic Cauliflower Cream Sauce. You may need to add a splash of stock or pasta water to thin the sauce a bit if you go this route.
To bake this mac and cheese, cook the pasta until a few minutes less than al dente, then follow the rest of the recipe as directed. Transfer to a baking dish and top with ⅓ cup of butter-toasted breadcrumbs. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25-35 minutes until sauce is bubbling and top is lightly browned. For tips on how to perfectly bake mac and cheese, check out Mac and Cheese 101!
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 489
- Sugar: 7 g
- Sodium: 173.7 mg
- Fat: 15.6 g
- Carbohydrates: 68 g
- Protein: 18.6 g
- Cholesterol: 36.5 mg
Keywords: vegetarian, autumn, macaroni and cheese