Damn Delicious

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese - Mac and cheese at it's finest! So creamy, so rich + so amazing yet it's so much healthier than traditional mac and cheese!

Mac and cheese at it’s finest! So creamy, so rich + so amazing yet it’s so much healthier than traditional mac and cheese!

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese - Mac and cheese at it's finest! So creamy, so rich + so amazing yet it's so much healthier than traditional mac and cheese!

Holy moly of mac and cheeses.

This is seriously one to make throughout the entire year. And you know what? You can actually make this 365 days out of the year because this recipe uses canned butternut squash puree!

Did you guys know this even existed? I had no idea they had these convenient cans at the grocery store – I’d always puree butternut squash myself, almost losing a finger or hand in the process of cutting up those difficult squashes.

Oh and here’s another fun bonus for you guys. You can swap out the butternut squash for sweet potato or pumpkin puree so you can have the trifecta of mac and cheeses this season.

So again. I say, holy moly of mac and cheeses.

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese - Mac and cheese at it's finest! So creamy, so rich + so amazing yet it's so much healthier than traditional mac and cheese!


Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese at it’s finest! So creamy, so rich + so amazing yet it’s so much healthier than traditional mac and cheese!

15 minutes20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces medium pasta shells
  • 6 slices bacon, diced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped sage
  • 1 1/4 cups half and half
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 (15-ounce) can butternut squash puree*
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 10 ounces shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese, about 2 1/2 cups
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Directions:

  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Drain excess fat; transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.
  3. Melt butter in the skillet. Add garlic and shallot, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Whisk in flour and sage until lightly browned, about 1 minute.
  5. Gradually whisk in half and half, milk, butternut squash and Dijon. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced and slightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes.
  6. Stir in pasta and cheese until melted, about 2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  7. Serve immediately, garnished with bacon and chives, if desired.

Notes:

*Sweet potato or pumpkin puree can be substituted.

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40 comments

  1. Rated 4 out of 5

    Recipe is good, however you need WAY more noodles than 8 oz for the quantity of sauce that you end up with. I used a full 16 oz box of noodles, a head of broccoli, and a package of chicken sausage and still had plenty of sauce. And that makes ALOT of food, so if you don’t want so many leftovers, I’d cut the recipe in half.

  2. Rated 5 out of 5

    Hi, I made this and it was delicious! but just curious how much pasta shells are really supposed to be used… it calls for 8 ounces medium pasta shells? which was barely anything.

  3. Rated 5 out of 5

    Great tasting recipe with lots of room to customize. It’s too sweet to replace traditional mac n’cheese, and we didn’t have any sage, so we used dill, but it was still delicious!
    Another reviewer commented that the sauce to pasta ratio was very high and we had the same experience – but it there was also plenty of sauce to fully coat the broccoli and chicken we added. Next time we may add some diced adobo peppers to give it more depth, offset the sweetness, and add a little kick.

    Another winner! Thanks, Damn Delicious Ladies!

  4. Rated 5 out of 5

    Do you think I could make this with almond milk or coconut milk?  I’m allergic to dairy.

  5. Rated 5 out of 5

    Totally excellent recipe. Great way to get non-veggie eaters to eat squash. My family loved it. I used leftover roasted delicata squash instead of butternut squash. Used gruyere instead of cheddar, as that is what I had on-hand. It was terrific. Made it all in my Instant pot. Great.

  6. Rated 5 out of 5

    Made this today and it is delicious…I could not find canned puree butternut squash, so I used pumpkin; but it really is very good…Highly recommended…I suspect it would be even better with butternut squash (which we love)…I keep finding new wonderful recipes on this site – it’s becoming my go-to site for trying new recipes because we’ve had such good luck with the ones we’ve tried so far…

    • We love that, Mike! We hope you’ll continue to find recipes you love here! 🙂

    • It’s very easy to make your own butternut squash puree! Halve a butternut squash, place halved sides down on a baking sheet. Roast in preheated oven for about 45minutes. When it’s done and cooled, scoop out the seeds then scoop out the insides and puree!

  7. I’m a vegetarian. Is the bacon flavor really important?  I’m wondering how it would be without bacon. 

  8. Looks delicious. Does it reheat well in a microwave or crockpot to bring to an office potluck? Or could it be served at room temp?

    • We cannot answer with certainty since we haven’t tried that ourselves, but please use your best judgement when making modifications. And keep in mind that the pasta might get overcooked when kept on a warm setting for too long.

  9. I made this last night with some butternut squash that I roasted and pureed. Since this was post Thanksgiving, I added sautéed onions and diced ham, and even scooped what was left of the pumpkin pie. Sweet and savory! 

  10. Rated 5 out of 5

    Delicious recipe! Lots of flavor! I substituted eat banza pasta and couldn’t even taste the difference!

  11. Can I use pumpkin instead of squash puree?

  12. Dont know now how this is healthy with the bacon, whole milk, half-and half, butter and cheese, but I’ll eat it. Fat equals flavor in my book.

  13. Can you please provide an instant pot version?

  14. I made it and ate too fast for a picture. Sorry .

    Is there a calorie guestimation for this bad boy? In my fitness pal I just put 800, because that seemed like two servings to me?

    • Nutritional information is provided only for select and new recipes at this time. However, if it is not available for a specific recipe, I recommend using free online resources at your discretion (you can Google “nutritional calculator”). Hope that helps, Kelly!

  15. Nice recipe, but I ended up with a lot of sauce. I think if I used the whole box, 16oz, of shells, that would work fine. Or 8oz shells and a similar amount of cooked broccoli.

    The sage is very subtle, I might play with increasing it a bit.

    The chopped bacon is important.

  16. I cannot agree more with you that this recipes is much more heathier than the original one. Honestly, I’m kinda bored of eating a bowl full of only mac and cheese. But adding bacon and butternut truly brings the dish to a higher level! YummY
    – Natalie

  17. About how large is one serving? A cup? 

  18. I love butternut squash, this is my dream mac and cheese!

  19. Can I sprinkle some cheese over the top and bake it? 
    If yes, what  oven temperature should I use
    and for how long should I bake it for? Thx!! 

  20. About how much puree would that be? About 1.75 cups I am guessing? I roasted 2 large butternut squash this weekend just waiting to make yummy recipes like this. I have a ton of it!

  21. Could we use half butternut squash and half pumpkin puree?

  22. I will try this yummy sounding recipe but want to swap out sage for something else.  I just don’t care for sage at all. Any suggestions?  Dill? Thyme? Basil? 

  23. I can’t wait to try this recipe! Can I substitute a milk alternative for the 1 cup of whole milk?

    • What a great idea! But unfortunately, without having tried this myself, I cannot answer with certainty. As always, please use your best judgment when making substitutions and modifications.

    • I never have dairy in the house and always use soy milk as an alternative.  Depending on the brand, ( I like Silk) it can be very creamy.  Makes nice creamy soups too!