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creamy butternut mac and cheese in pot with wooden spatula
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5 from 8 votes

Creamy Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Creamy, healthy butternut squash mac and cheese is cozy, comforting and so much better than regular mac and cheese. You’ll need less than 30 minutes to make this healthy comfort food! Kids LOVE it!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Entree, Main Course, mains
Cuisine: Italian, Pasta
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 463kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 10 sage leaves
  • 1 medium shallots or onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 5 thyme sprigs
  • Salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 1 medium 15 oz butternut squash, diced
  • 1 lb shells pasta
  • 1 ½ cup vegetable stock
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 ½ cup good quality sharp cheddar I used a mix of 1 cup cheddar and ½ cup mozzarella cheese

Instructions

Cook Butternut Squash –

  • Bring a large pot of water to boiling.
  • Melt butter in large pot. Add sage leaves and fry in for few seconds until it crisps up. Immediately remove crisped sage leaves from butter and keep aside until use.
  • Saute onions and minced garlic in butter until onions turn soft and garlic releases it’s fragrance. Do NOT brown onion or garlic. Cook until just translucent.
    step 2 saute onion, garlic in butter
  • Add thyme sprig, salt and fresh ground pepper to taste to the pot. Give it a mix.
    step 3 add thyme stems, salt and pepper
  • Roast diced butternut squash along with onion-garlic and seasoning for few minutes. This will help squash caramelize slightly by roasting in butter.
    step 4 roast diced butternut squash in the pan
  • Pour vegetable stock and milk. Stir
    step 5 pour vegetable stock and milk
  • Bring it to boil.
  • Reduce heat, cover and cook until squash is tender. About 10 minutes.
    step 6 cover and simmer until squash if tender

Cook Pasta –

  • While butternut squash is cooking in large pot cook pasta in salted boiling water according to packet instructions until al-dente. Don’t overcook pasta.
    step 7 cook pasta in salted boiling water to al-dente
  • Time it accordingly. Add pasta to boiling water and just when butternut squash sauce is ready.
  • NOTE – reserve 1 to 2 cups of pasta cooked starchy water. You’ll need it.

Blend it –

  • Once squash is cooked tender it’s time to blitz.
  • Remember to remove sage stems from the pot before you blend.
    step 8 remove sage stems from pot before blitzing
  • Using immersion blender, blitz until squash turns smooth.
    step 9 blitz squash in creamy smooth mix using immersion blender

Stir It All Together -

  • Reduce heat to simmer add in grated cheese.
    step 10 simmer heat, add grated cheese
  • Stir until cheese is melted.
    step 11 mix until cheese melts into smooth creamy sauce
  • Add in cooked pasta shells into the butternut squash sauce.
    step 12 add cooked pasta shells
  • Gently mix it until pasta is coated in sauce.
    step 13 mix it until everything comes together
  • Serve immediately warm topped with crispy sage leaves, sprinkle of ground pepper and little grated cheese.
  • Note: as pasta cools, sauce will thicken. If you have to thin it down, add little pasta water at a time until sauce is at right consistency. Compared to normal water, pasta water will keep the sauce thick and creamy without diluting it much and losing the flavors (exactly what will happen when normal water is used)

Video

Notes

  • It’s best to use pasta shapes that will help it hold the magical cheesy sauce.  Shell pasta, macaroni(elbow pasta), orecchiette, cavatappi, rotini, farfalle, rigatoni or radiatore are best noodle to use for any mac and cheese recipe.
  • Use good quality sharp cheddar. The flavors of sharp cheddar and butternut squash goes perfectly together. I like (used in this recipe) a mix of 1 cup sharp cheddar and 1/2 cup mozzarella for my pasta. Stick to just cheddar if you don't want to use mix of cheeses.
  • Use whole milk (full fat milk) for better results. Full cream milk makes the sauce richer and creamier. 
  • Sage and thyme are optional.
  • For healthier or vegan option substitute butter with olive oil and use plant based milk (like almond milk or oats milk).
  • Reserve 1 to 2 cups of pasta cooked water. This starch water will be used to thin down the sauce if it thickens. 
 
Nutritional Info – Please keep in mind that nutritional information provided is only a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 463kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 44mg | Sodium: 467mg | Potassium: 272mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 630IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 273mg | Iron: 1mg