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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add the remaining butter and let melt. Stir in flour and dry mustard.
- Stir for one minute, or until it forms a thick paste.
- 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.
- Add 2 cups cheddar and half of the Parmesan cheese and stir off the heat until melted and the sauce is smooth.
- Add the roasted and mashed squash to the sauce. Mix to combine.
- Then. add the drained pasta. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
- Pour into a 9×13 pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
- To make the topping, melt butter in a small saute pan over medium-high heat. Add breadcrumbs and cook until toasted, about 3 minutes.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 //
- Buffalo Macaroni and Cheese Bites
- Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese
- Spicy Corn and Bacon Macaroni and Cheese
- Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese
- Macaroni and Cheese