This Easy Veggie-Loaded Mac and Cheese is going to get veggies in at mealtime in a whole new way! Super simple to make, family-friendly, and delicious!
Published March 26, 2015. Last updated July 6, 2021.
I don’t let dairy into my life very often, but when I do it is usually in the form of mac and cheese.
Cheese itself, in all its many forms and textures, gives me heart eyes for days. Brie, Gouda, extra sharp cheddar, Gorgonzola. Okay, now I’m drooling. You get the point, I love all cheese.
But mac and cheese. Well, now that is just EXTRA close to my foodie heart.
Like most of us, I grew up on boxed mac and cheese. And in my early 20’s, it was a major food group in my diet. And, while there is a time and place for the simplicity of the boxed kind, homemade mac and cheese makes my heart so stinking happy. And it is SO easy to make…almost so easy that you will be tempted to ditch the boxed M&C for good and stick to nothing but the homemade stuff!
Are you all ears? Excited to see what I am serving up? Well hold onto your hats, TNNers….because I also just made mac & cheese VEGGIE-LOADED.
Oh yes….I went there
I originally made this mac & cheese for a potluck play date with one of my daughter’s classmates. I was trying to think of something easy to transport, easy to reheat, and would interest kids and adults alike. Yet, I am still me and was determined to make sure the dish had some veggies in it to balance it out.
I opted for butternut squash because it has this lovely, naturally creamy texture to it when puréed and then added peas to the dish because I remember loving them in mac & cheese of my younger years. The result? No leftovers and multiple requests for the recipe.
Why this mac and cheese is magic in a bowl!
- It’s VEGGIE-LOADED. In case you missed that fact in the title. This mac and cheese is the *perfect* place to start your veggie-loaded journey because it is easy, adaptable and the veggies are mild in flavor and quantity.
- A veggie-packed version of a classic comfort food. Full of flavor, but also full of vegetables.
- Adaptable. As always, TNNers, I’ve shared tips and tricks for how to make this mac and cheese work for you in the Suggested Adaptations section below.
- It is kid-approved. My 9-year-old daughter is (painfully) honest when I have missed the mark on a veggie-loaded recipe (she takes her job vetting them for your family very seriously). She adores this mac and cheese and thinks you will too!
- No butternut squash? If you don’t have butternut squash on hand, puréed sweet potato, pumpkin and even pureed cooked carrots would go beautifully as well!
- Replace the peas with sautéed kale, chopped spinach, cooked broccoli, or shredded carrots.
- Up the veggies. If you and your crew are simple *loving* this veggie-loaded mac and cheese, feel free to go wild with the vegetables in it. Add more butternut squash puree. More peas. Toss in some roasted broccoli. Rice cauliflower will make this sauce extra creamy and veggie-loaded!
- Reduce the veggies. If you and your crew are new to veggie-loading, feel free to ease into it by adjusting the veggies in this mac and cheese. Maybe add just 1/4 cup butternut squash. Or skip the peas. Make it your own and know some veggies (even a little amount) is better than no veggies.
- Make this gluten free ease peasy by using your favorite gluten free pasta and using gluten free flour blend.
- Enjoy these veggie-loaded mac and cheese as leftovers. Make a nice big batch as part of meal prep and reheat it in minutes whenever hunger strikes.
- Add some extra protein but using lentil or chickpea pasta to make this veggie-loaded mac and cheese. Or add some cooked chicken or even cooked shrimp to the pot!
Other veggie-loaded recipes that are going to make you a vegetable lover
- Butternut Squash Banana Blender Muffins
- Asparagus and Pea Risotto
- Veggie-Loaded Turkey Lasagna
- Gluten Free “Superhero” Waffles
- Veggie-Loaded Quinoa Black Bean Casserole
- Spinach Chickpea Baked Feta Pasta
Did you try this veggie-loaded mac and cheese recipe and now you’re hungry for more?
Easy Veggie-Loaded Mac and Cheese
- 8 ounces small shaped pasta
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 cup milk plus extra for thinning, if needed
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup butternut squash puree
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 cup peas
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook to package directions. Once cooked, drain and set aside in a separate bowl.
- Return the pot to the stove. Combine milk, cheese, butternut squash puree, salt, flour, and garlic powder in the hot pot. Over low heat, stirring often, cook mixture until thickened and smooth in texture. About 3-4 minutes.
- Add the pasta back into the pot with the butternut squash/cheese sauce. Mix until all the pasta is coated. Stir in peas and let them "cook" in the hot pasta for a few minutes. Add a tablespoon or two of extra milk if needed to thin out cheese sauce.
- Taste and add extra salt or extra cheese if desired. Enjoy warm
The nutritional information is provided as an estimate only and may vary based on the product type, servings and other factors. If you are following a diet, please consult with a professional nutritionist or your doctor. Stay healthy!