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-in-bowls

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.

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Ingredients You Need

To make this recipe you’ll need the following ingredients.

ingredients in butternut squash mac and cheese
  • 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.

Ingredient Substitutions

  • 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.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here’s a look at how to make this easy dinner. Scroll down to the bottom of the post for the full recipe.

how to make butternut squash mac and cheese step by step.
  1. 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!)
  2. Add the milk, butter, and cheese. Blend super smooth.
  3. Cook the pasta in the same pot of water. Drain it.
  4. 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.

butternut-squash-mac-and-cheese-with-shell-pasta

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of pasta works best in this healthy mac and cheese?

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.

Can I make this with canned squash?

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.

Can I use roasted butternut squash?

Sure, if you have some leftover roasted squash, you can add it right to the blender with the milk, butter, and cheese.

butternut-squash-mac-and-cheese-in-bowls
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.

butternut-squash-mac-and-cheese-in-bowl

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!

Related Recipes


I’d love to know how your family enjoys this recipe, so please comment below to share!

butternut-squash-mac-and-cheese-with-shell-pasta

5-Ingredient Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Use your family’s favorite shape and type of pasta in this recipe. (We like elbows or mini shells!)
5 from 45 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Dinner
Calories 152kcal
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Video

Notes

  • 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.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 152kcal, Carbohydrates: 8g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 32mg, Sodium: 464mg, Potassium: 359mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 4299IU, Vitamin C: 11mg, Calcium: 201mg, Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

This post was first published September 2018.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    HOLY COW. My two year old is in the classic “will-only-eat-max-n-cheese-hotdogs-or-nuggets” phase of life and it’s killing me trying to to get veggies into her. Followed this recipe almost to a Tee and I can’t stop eating it myself! While it’s not the *most* healthy meal, we believe in moderation and are just so appreciative of ways to get any nutrient dense foods into her. I will admit I used heavy cream instead of whole milk simply because I had it in the fridge and it needed to be used. Also love that it’s one pot!! I cooked an entire bag of Trader Joe’s elbow macaroni and this sauce covered it nicely. 10/10 will make again!!

  2. I’m thinking to make this for my 13 months old baby. May I ask which cheddar cheese do you like the most (with lower sodium) for young baby? Thanks! =)

    1. You could look for a cheddar labeled low-sodium, or use mozzarella, which is often lower. Or you could reduce the amount slightly. You can also simply look at this one recipe in the context of the other foods your kiddo is eating and not stress about it too much. More on kids and cheese/sodium here: https://www.yummytoddlerfood.com/cheese-for-baby/

  3. 5 stars
    This was really good! So fast and easy! I doubled it thinking we would need more, and we have a ton of leftovers. 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    This is so delicious! I used sweet potato and carrots instead of squash, and added about a tbsp of goat cheese in addition to the grated cheddar. I seasoned it with herbes de Provence, garlic, onion powder, and kosher salt and it was perfect. I’ll definitely make this again!

  5. 5 stars
    My 3 1/2 year old suddenly went from eating every veggie in sight to only eating broccoli and corn, so we’ve been trying to sneak things in where we can. We prepped and prepared this together last night, so she knew every ingredient that went into it, including the butternut squash. I did make more pasta than was in the recipe (about 12 oz) to stretch it and it was still enough sauce. I ended up adding about 1 tsp salt to finish. She ate every bite on her plate. Hubby and I loved it too!

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