Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

This Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese is a cozy and hearty vegetarian macaroni and cheese scented with savory sage. It’s a family-friendly meal perfect for any chilly fall evening or as a side to your Thanksgiving spread.

baked squash and sage macaroni and cheese in white baking dish

Macaroni and cheese hits the spot every time. But what if I were to tell you there was a way to sneak some veggies into this classic meal without even realizing.

Say hello to butternut squash mac and cheese. I got the recipe inspiration from BBC Good Food.

When I made it for the first time, my husband and kids couldn’t get enough. It’s a stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal for cold fall and winter nights.

Ingredients //

The ingredients include the mac and cheese casserole, along with the optional breadcrumb topping.

You will need butternut squash, olive oil, salt and pepper, butter, onion, garlic, sage, flour, dry mustard, half-and-half, whole milk, shredded mild and sharp cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese and cavatappi noodles.

For the breadcrumb topping, gather together more butter and Italian seasoned breadcrumbs.

cubed butternut squash, pasta, butter, cream, cheese, rosemary, dry mustard, salt, pepper

Butternut Squash. Butternut squash is available year-round, but becomes extremely popular around September. One medium (1-pound) squash is a good size. You can peel, deseed and cube it yourself or purchase the already prepared squash at the store. Canned butternut squash is a nice shortcut for the mashed squash in the recipe.

Shopping Tip: Feel free to substitute kabocha, two small acorn squash or a few specialty honeynut squash during peak squash season.

Sage. Sage is incredibly savory and earthy and balances out the sweet orange vegetable. Look for leaves that are big and sturdy, with no signs of wilting or bruising.

Half-and-Half. Half-and-half is simply a mix of whole milk and cream. If unavailable, use 1 cup milk and 1 cup cream instead.

Dry Mustard. Dry mustard is found in the spice aisle of the grocery store. If you can’t find the dried powder, use 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard instead.

Cheese. My family’s favorite combo is a mix of mild and sharp cheddar cheese, along with nutty Parmesan cheese. Gruyere or smoked Gouda would be divine.

Noodles. I absolutely adore cavatappi for their unique corkscrew shape, but use any short-grain pasta you prefer. Penne, ziti, rigatoni or elbows would all work. Cook according to the package directions.

Breadcrumbs. The breadcrumb topping is completely optional, but I love crunch on my mac and cheese. Get ready to swoon.

How to Make // The Steps

The oven and stovetop come into play with this macaroni recipe. Although a few extra steps are required, the effort is totally worth it.

  • Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
  • Toss two-thirds of the squash with oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, or until mostly done. It will continue to cook in the mac and cheese. 
cubed butternut squash on parchment lined baking sheet
  • With the remaining squash, add to a microwave-safe bowl with ⅓ cup water and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on HIGH for 8 minutes, or until very soft. Drain and mash with a fork.
mashed butternut squash in glass bowl with fork
  • Cook pasta according to package directions.
  • In a large saute pan, melt 2 Tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sage leaves and cook for an additional minute. Season with salt and pepper. 
sauteed onions, garlic and sage in skillet
  • Add the remaining butter and let melt. Stir in flour and dry mustard.
sauted onions and garlic with flour and dry mustard in skillet
  • Stir for one minute, or until it forms a thick paste.
thickened sauteed onions, garlic and sage in skillet
  • Pour in half-and-half and milk a little at a time while whisking constantly. Cook until the sauce has come to a bubble and is thick. 
half and half with sauteed onions in skillet
  • Add 2 cups cheddar and half of the Parmesan cheese and stir off the heat until melted and the sauce is smooth. 
shredded parmesan and cheddar cheese with half and half in skillet
  • Add the roasted and mashed squash to the sauce. Mix to combine.
cubed butternut squash in cream sauce in skillet
  • Then. add the drained pasta. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
corkscrew noodles and cream sauce in skillet
  • Pour into a 9×13 pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. 
butternut squash mac and cheese in baking dish
  • To make the topping, melt butter in a small saute pan over medium-high heat. Add breadcrumbs and cook until toasted, about 3 minutes. 
toasted breadcrumbs in skillet with wooden spoon
  • Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the macaroni and cheese. Top with remaining cheese. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling. Garnish with sage leaves.
breadcrumb and cheese topped macaroni and cheese in white casserole dish

What Makes This Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese So Good?

My husband and kids adore mac and cheese in all forms, but they are especially fond of this one because:

  • Squash and sage are an unexpectedly sweet and savory combination that is incredible.
  • It’s a wonderful way to sneak in extra veggies while still being kid-friendly.
  • It’s the best make-ahead recipe for meal prep, the freezer or your Thanksgiving spread.
butternut macaroni and cheese on white plate garnished with sage

Serving Suggestions

It’s a really cozy and hearty vegetarian macaroni and cheese. Serve it any night throughout the week with a simple green salad or green veggie.

It makes a beautiful spot on your Thanksgiving table, along with savory vegetable crisp and make-ahead mashed potatoes.

Make-Ahead // Fridge & Freezer-Friendly

You can make this ahead of time, you can get it all ready and keep in the fridge overnight. Then, bake it the next day.

To freeze it for later, assemble as instructed, double-wrap in plastic-wrap, label, date and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the fridge and bake as instructed.

butternut macaroni and cheese on two white plates garnished with sage

How to Store Leftovers

If you’ve already gone ahead and baked the mac n cheese, leftovers will keep wrapped in the same casserole dish or transferred to an airtight container for up to 5 days in the fridge.

To freeze leftovers, cool completely and cut into large squares. Place on a baking sheet and freeze for 2 hours. Transfer the frozen individual portions to an airtight container, label, date and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the fridge.

Reheating Instructions //

When ready to reheat the baked mac and cheese casserole, cover with foil and bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes, or until warmed through. Alternatively, scoop out a portion and reheat in the microwave (tented with paper towel) in 30-second intervals.

To reheat individual squares, bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 10-12 minutes in a 350-degree oven, or until warmed through. If reheating from frozen, add 5 minutes to the baking time.

More Mac and Cheese Recipes //

If you make this recipe, I’d love to know how it goes! Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, too!

baked squash and sage macaroni and cheese in white baking dish

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Yield: serves 6
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes

This Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese scented with savory sage is a cozy vegetarian meal or side, and the best make-ahead recipe.

Ingredients

Macaroni and Cheese:

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, and cut into chunks
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 (1-lb) box cavatappi noodles
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 12 sage leaves, finely chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 6 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Breadcrumb Topping:

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
  2. Toss two-thirds of the squash with oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, or until mostly done. The squash will continue to cook in the mac and cheese.
  3. With the remaining squash, add to a microwave-safe bowl with ⅓ cup water and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on HIGH for 8 minutes, or until very soft. Drain and mash with a fork.
  4. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  5. In a large saute pan, melt 2 Tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sage leaves and cook for an additional minute. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Add the remaining butter and let melt. Stir in flour and dry mustard. Stir for one minute, or until it forms a thick paste.
  7. Pour in half-and-half and milk a little at a time, whisking constantly. Cook until the sauce has come to a bubble and is thick. Remove from heat.
  8. Add 2 cups cheddar and half of the Parmesan cheese and stir until melted and the sauce is smooth.
  9. Add the drained pasta, along with the roasted and mashed squash to the sauce. Mix to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
  10. Pour into a 9x13 pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
  11. To make the topping, melt butter in a small saute pan over medium-high heat. Add breadcrumbs and cook until toasted, about 3 minutes.
  12. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the macaroni and cheese. Top with remaining cheese. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling. Garnish with sage leaves. 

Notes

Make it ahead, store it covered in the fridge overnight and bake it the next day.

To freeze it for later, assemble as instructed, double-wrap in plastic-wrap, label, date and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the fridge and bake as instructed.

Leftovers will keep wrapped in the same casserole dish or transferred to an airtight container for up to 5 days in the fridge.

To freeze leftovers, cool completely and cut into large squares. Place on a baking sheet and freeze for 2 hours. Transfer the frozen individual portions to an airtight container, label, date and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the fridge.

To reheat the baked mac and cheese casserole, cover with foil and bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes, or until warmed through. Alternatively, scoop out a portion and reheat in the microwave (tented with paper towel) in 30-second intervals.

To reheat individual squares, bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 10-12 minutes in a 350-degree oven, or until warmed through. If reheating from frozen, add 5 minutes to the baking time.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 868Total Fat: 63gSaturated Fat: 36gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 171mgSodium: 1301mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 3gSugar: 11gProtein: 36g

All information and tools presented and written within this site are intended for informational purposes only.

Oh hey there!

Well, hello there! I’m Bree Hester, the Boston-based blogger and food photographer here at Baked Bree. Here you can get lots of weeknight meal inspiration, eat more plant-based meals, and still indulge in a decadent sweet treat. Baked Bree is a place where you will find great recipes and inspiration for your next family adventure.

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