If your family loves creamy, cheesy pasta and you’re looking for a simple way to up their veggie intake—because aren’t we always?!—this super simple 5-Ingredient Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese needs to be on your menu asap.
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
The beauty of this pasta recipe is that the squash adds that classic orange color and extra nutrients, but the kids get the cheesy pasta flavor and texture that they love. You don’t need to fuss with a flour-based roux or any complicated steps.
And the method is so simple since everything cooks in the same pot, so it’s a perfect option for a busy weeknight.
You can start with a whole butternut squash and cut it yourself, or pick up a bag of precut butternut squash and you literally just need to fill a pot with water to get this recipe started.
I love this toddler pasta recipe to share with the entire family, either as a vegetarian meal or as an easy dinner alongside chicken or fish and a salad.
The flavor of the squash isn’t super strong, but I do like to tell my kids what’s in the recipe so they always know what they’re eating.
Your toddler won’t eat? Help is here!
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Ingredients You Need
To make this recipe you’ll need the following ingredients.
- Peeled and cubed butternut squash: You can start with a whole squash or pick up a precut bag at the store.
- Milk: I use whole milk for maximum creaminess.
- Shredded cheddar cheese: I like to use yellow so it matches the color of the squash.
- Unsalted butter
- Pasta: A small, classic mac and cheese shape like elbow macaroni or mini shells works nicely here.
TIP: Learn more about how to cut butternut squash here or use precut diced squash from the store.
- Gluten-free: Use a favorite type of gluten-free pasta if desired.
- Sub in plain unsweetened nondairy milk if preferred.
- You could also use cubed frozen butternut squash or sweet potato too.
Here’s a look at how to make this easy dinner. Scroll down to the bottom of the post for the full recipe.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the squash until tender. Transfer to a blender using a slotted spoon. (Leave the water in the pot since you will use it for the pasta!)
- Add the milk, butter, and cheese. Blend super smooth.
- Cook the pasta in the same pot of water. Drain it.
- Stir the sauce into the pasta and serve.
TIP: You can make this more or less saucy, so start with only some of the sauce and see what your kids think.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can make this with any pasta shape that your family prefers—elbows would be a great choice if your kids are used to the classic boxed variety—and you can add in broccoli or peas if you want to up the veggie intake even more.
This recipe is easy to scale up too to make it with a full pound of pasta. Just click the 2x in the recipe card at the bottom of the post to double all of the amounts.
If you have a can of butternut squash, you can sub that in and skip the step where you’d otherwise need to cook the squash. Simply add it to the blender and blend it up.
Sure, if you have some leftover roasted squash, you can add it right to the blender with the milk, butter, and cheese.
What else can I use the cheese sauce for?
The simple butternut squash cheese sauce is also a wonderful topping for Roasted Broccoli, green beans, asparagus, or any other veggie that your kids might need a little extra encouragement to gobble up!
How to Store
Serve any leftovers in an airtight container or dish in the fridge for 3-5 days and heat for 30-60 seconds in the microwave to warm. You can also make the cheese sauce and store it, then use it as you need it throughout the week with smaller servings of pasta.
Warm it in brief increments, whisking it back into a creamy, well-combined sauce as needed.
Freeze the sauce in an ice cube tray for easy portions, then once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag to freeze to use in the future.
Best Tips for Success
- Use the type of pasta or macaroni your family prefers, whether whole wheat, gluten-free, bean-based, or traditional.
- Try serving the cheese sauce as a dipping sauce for other cooked vegetables.
- You can use canned butternut squash puree if desired.
- Use orange cheese (like mild or sharp cheddar cheese) for the most vivid orange color.
- Stir in frozen peas (which will thaw in the warm pasta) to add another easy veggie.
- Add a pinch of garlic powder or crushed fresh rosemary for more flavor.
- My kids like this with a little less sauce than the recipe makes, though I prefer it saucy. You can stir in as much or as little as you like and store the leftover sauce in an airtight container to use on another day. It has such a creamy texture!
I’d love to know how your family enjoys this recipe, so please comment below to share!
5-Ingredient Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
- 1 cup peeled and cubed butternut squash
- 1/3 cup milk
- 3/4 cup grated yellow or white cheddar cheese
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 8 ounces pasta
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Add the squash and cook for about 10 minutes or until soft when poked with a fork. Use a large slotted spoon to transfer the squash to a blender, draining off all of the liquid.
- Add the milk, cheese, and butter to the blender with the squash and puree until completely smooth.
- Meanwhile, bring the water back to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to the pot.
- Stir in the cheese sauce, season to taste with salt, and serve warm.
- Serve any leftovers in an airtight container and heat for 30-60 seconds in the microwave to warm.
- To make this for 6-8 people, simply double all the amounts using a full pound of pasta. You can also add more cheese if you’d like.
- Use the type of pasta your family prefers, whether whole wheat, gluten-free, bean-based, or traditional.
- Try serving the cheese sauce as a dipping sauce for other cooked veggies.
- You can use canned butternut squash puree if desired.
- Use orange cheese for the most vivid orange color.
- Stir in frozen peas (which will thaw in the warm pasta) to add an easy veggie.
- Try with sweet potato or another favorite winter squash.
- Trade in cauliflower for the squash to make Cauliflower Mac and Cheese.
- Double the recipe to make a larger batch.
This post was first published September 2018.
If I am using a frozen sauce cube…What is the best way to defrost it?
Thaw it in the fridge, at room temp, or stir it right into hot pasta.
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