This Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese is almost as quick and easy to make as boxed! Mixed all in one pot, it comes together fast thanks to butternut squash puree. Add some peas at the end for an extra boost of veggies or enjoy as is!
Like many of us, boxed mac and cheese holds a special place in my heart. In my early 20’s, it was kinda 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 and tastebuds so stinking happy.
And luckily, it doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. Or skimp on flavor.
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.
This creamy, dreamy butternut squash mac and cheese is so easy to make and veggie-loaded! One the table in 20 minutes or less (depending on your pasta), it uses butternut squash puree so that there is no chopping or blending. Just whisk the puree in with some milk, butter, cheese, salt, garlic powder, and a little flour and stir until a lovely sauce is made. Pour in the cooked pasta, stir and dinner is served! Naturally vegetarian and easily gluten free when you use gluten free pasta, this recipe is wonderful for the kitchen newbie and is a great place to start your veggie-loaded journey!
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I originally made this mac & cheese for a potluck play date with one of my daughter’s classmates.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?
Quick & Easy Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
- 8 ounces small shaped pasta
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- ½ cup milk plus extra for thinning, if needed
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
- ½ cup butternut squash puree
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 cup peas optional
- 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 and turn on medium heat. Add the butter and let it start melting. Once it starts to melt, sprinkle in the flour over the butter and whisk together. Stir in milk, cheese, butternut squash puree, salt, and garlic powder. Over low heat, stirring often, cook mixture until thickened and smooth in texture. About 3 minutes.
- Add the pasta back into the pot with the butternut squash/cheese sauce. Mix until all the pasta is coated. Stir in peas, is using, 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!