Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese [Recipe]

by Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD on December 18, 2012

Post image for Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese [Recipe]

I realize this is my third macaroni and cheese recipe I’ve posted. The truth is I really don’t make it very often, but macaroni and cheese made with butternut squash sounded really good! I got it from the new cookbook Cooking Light sent me, The New Way to Cook Light.

This recipe is a keeper. It does take a little time to make, meaning it’s not something you would make rushing home on a weeknight. It’s more suited for a weekend dinner or something to make ahead of time and just plop in the oven 30 minutes before you want to eat. It makes yummy leftovers.

I personally loved the flavor. My husband sounded like he could have been in a commercial when he said (no joke), “It tastes too good to be light.” Sadly, my macaroni and cheese lover, Little D, didn’t even try it as it was one of those nights at dinner. Big A took a bite or two, stating it was “okay” which is good for a child who steers clear of macaroni and cheese.

Here are the step-by-step instructions followed by the complete recipe:

Start with 3 cups butternut squash, cubed. I let Trader Joe’s do the work for me.

Add the butter squash with milk, broth and 2 gloves of garlic (I added 3) in a medium pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer until squash is tender, about 25 minutes.

Blend the squash mixture in a blender with yogurt, salt and pepper until smooth.

Mix squash mixture with cheeses until well combined. Add the squash and cheese mixture with cooked pasta.

Over medium heat, cook panko bread crumbs in oil for 2 minutes, until golden brown. Set aside and stir in Parmigiano-Reggiano. Top the mixture on top of the macaroni and cheese and bake at 375 for 25 minutes.


Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
  • 3 cups cubed peeled butternut sqaush (about 1 pound)
  • 1¼ cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1½ cups fat-free milk
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1¼ cups (5 ounces) shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) grated pecorini Ramono cheese
  • ¼ cup (1 ounce) finely grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
  • 1 pound unooked pasta (cavatappi or penne rigate work well to hold on to the sauce)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ½ cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  1. Preheat over to 375 F
  2. Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes.
  3. Place hot squash mixture in a blender and blend until smooth. Place squash mixture in a bowl and stir in Gruyere, pecorinio Romano, and 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano until combined.
  4. Cook pasta according to package directions. Add pasta to squash mixture; stir until combined. Spread mixture into a 13 X 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.
  5. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add panko; cook 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from heat and stir in remaining 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano. Sprinkle evenly over pasta mixture. Lightly coat top with cooking spray.
  6. Bake at 375F for 25 minutes or until bubble. Sprinkle with parsley; serve immediately.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie December 18, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Love this recipe…and awfully convenient that the vegetable of choice happens to be orange so the end result looks appropriately cheesy. I’m making this ASAP.

I do a variation on this idea using carrots. Recipe here if you are interested: http://www.momskitchenhandbook.com/uncategorized/creamy-carrot-mac-n-cheese/


Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD December 19, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Will have to try it Katie. One can never have too many macaroni and cheese recipes!


Lucie December 18, 2012 at 2:38 pm

I want to try it! I think that I will roast the squash, halved, and scoop its flesh in the milk and broth, then bring to boil and skip the 25 minutes of cooking. Peeling squash is just too dangerous for me! (I will either roast the garlic along with the squash or use garlic powder instead, since it won’t have time to cook). I usually cook butternut squash in a curry soup or in my signature chocolate squash cake (which made my DH change his mind from “a squash? But just what are you gonna do with that?” To ” it’s been a long time since we bought squash, hint hint!”), and this macaroni sounds like another great option!


Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD December 19, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Lucie — I like roasting squash too.


Amy December 19, 2012 at 5:00 am

We love this similar (earier & possibly healthier) version:

•Butter, for baking dish
•4 tablespoons olive oil
•2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
•Coarse salt and ground pepper
•2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
•1 pound small pasta shells
•1 package (12 ounces) frozen winter squash puree, thawed
•1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
•3 slices crusty baguette, cut into 1/4-inch cubes (1 1/2 cups)
1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions; season with salt and pepper. Cover; cook until onions are soft and release liquid, 15 minutes. Uncover; raise heat to medium. Cook, stirring, until onions are browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in 1 teaspoon rosemary.
2.Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water 2 minutes less than package instructions suggest. Drain, reserving 1 1/2 cups cooking water. Return pasta to pot.
3.Stir squash and reserved pasta water into onions; simmer 2 minutes. Toss squash mixture and 1/2 cup Parmesan with pasta. Transfer to prepared dish.
4.Combine bread cubes with remaining Parmesan, rosemary, and oil; season with salt and pepper. Top pasta with bread cubes; bake until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.


Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD December 19, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Thanks Amy. That sounds really good!!


Stacy December 19, 2012 at 8:52 pm

This was a huge hit tonight! I adjusted it a bit, but my super picky, vegetable adverse 4 year old finished dinner without getting out of her chair!

Happy holidays!


Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD December 19, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Glad to hear! What type of pasta did you use?


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