Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese


Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese marries rigatoni and creamy smoked cheddar, with smokey bacon and velvety butternut squash!

If you’ve read one of my Friday Favorites posts in the last couple of months, then you probably know that I am completely, head-over-heels-obsessed with macaroni and cheese recipes.

What can I say, the bond between woman, pasta, and cheese is strong.

From Mediterranean and Greek, to Tomato Soup and Broccoli Chicken, my mouth literally starts watering every time I stumble upon a new and unique mac and cheese combo.

This fall I’ve been especially infatuated with mac and cheese recipes incorporating sweet and velvety butternut squash, pinning at least a dozen different ones over the past couple of weeks, so I finally decided to whip one up for a post I recently wrote for Better Homes & Gardens’ new blog, Delish Dish!

The post was to highlight in-season eats, so I decided to feature squash. Exciting, right?! ;)

I honed in on butternut squash, my favorite of course, combining it with smoked cheddar cheese, salty bacon, and hearty rigatoni in one of the best macaroni and cheese recipes I’ve had. EVER.

Between the silky butternut squash that’s cooked until its fall-apart tender in milk, and freshly shredded smoked cheddar cheese that’s melted into the sauce, you will not believe how creamy this mac and cheese recipe is.

And so sweet, too! Not obnoxious, I’m eating dessert for dinner, sweet, but, like, vegetable-sweet. You know? Not to fear though, as the sweetness is balanced out by the bacon and smoked cheese. Such a treat!

Start by cooking 12oz rigatoni in salted, boiling water until it’s just under al dente, then drain and set aside. I liked using thick and hearty rigatoni in this recipe because the sauce and squash clung really well to its large surface area. Or…yeah.

Meanwhile, cook 1-1/2lbs cubed butternut squash in 2-1/2 cups milk over medium heat until its very, very tender, stirring every once and while.

Once the squash is tender, stream in a slurry of 1/4 cup each flour and milk, then cook for a few minutes to remove the floury taste. At this point the sauce will begin to get uber thick and luxurious!

Finally add 8oz shredded smoked cheddar cheese and stir it in off the heat until creamy. I seriously don’t know if I can ever go back to regular cheddar, you guys. Smoked cheese is where it’s AT! I had some sliced up with a sweet Honeycrisp today, and it was basically to-die.

FYI – the original recipe called for smoked gruyere cheese but my regular grocery store only had smoked cheddar. I can’t imagine gruyere would make that big of a difference though, because it was really that good!

Pour the cooked noodles, along with a couple slices of cooked bacon, and the butternut squash-smoked cheese sauce into a big bowl then stir it all up. The butternut squash will be so soft at this point, that it should just melt right into the mixture. Yum. :)

FYI – the recipe also calls for sauteed onions to be added at this point, but I left ’em out ’cause I wanted Ben to be able to eat this.

Transfer the mixture into a non-stick sprayed baking dish, top with bread crumbs tossed with a little melted butter, and a little more smoked cheddar, then bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees.

The result is an absolutely irresistible, seasonal mac and cheese recipe that I know you’ll just love. I have seriously never had anything like it! Bonus points for re-heating well, too. Most mac and cheeses solidify into a brick if you put ’em into the fridge, but the butternut squash in the sauce keeps it nice and creamy.

Click here for the post and Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese recipe >

Enjoy! :D

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  1. Oh hellooo! This *will* be my dinner tonight. YUM!

  2. Looks so good! Although I have to say that I loathe peeling and chopping butternut squash. Maybe it’s just me, maybe I need better knives, but it’s HARD work! hah After last weekend I’ve decided I’m going to spend a little extra money and get the pre-chopped kind =)

  3. Ed 11.15.2012

    Daaang that looks like trouble…fun trouble ;)

  4. This looks awesome! I love butternut squash mac & cheese, I’ll have to look for smoked cheddar at the grocery store.

  5. Barbara 11.15.2012

    OMG I have been wanting to try butternut squash mac and cheese and this just made my mouth water so much! Can’t wait to try this!! Thanks for the post!

  6. This looks absolutely wonderful!

  7. I’ve made an Elie Krieger recipe that was similar- great reminder to remake! Looks awesome!

  8. Looks delish and I know if you made it, it is!! Going to grab that recipe now!

  9. Trisha 11.15.2012

    Even thought I am stuffed to the gills with Mexican food (and drinks) right now, I am literally drrrrroooooling over this! I kind of want to call my aunt who’s hosting Thanksgiving & tell her to skip the turkey and make 12 batches of this stuff!

    • Trisha 11.15.2012

      though*…I blame it on the second margarita.

  10. I’ve been chomping at the bit to try butternut squash mac ‘n cheese – thanks for the reminder!

  11. Becky 11.16.2012

    YUM! I have an excess of butternut squash and this is the perfect way to use it… cheese, squash, cheese, pasta AND MORE CHEESE!! Thanks for posting :)

  12. Oh. My. Gawd.

    I’ve never thought of cooking squash in milk like that to make a sauce. This looks soo sinfully good. I may have to make it to bring to my Grandma’s house on Thursday…I will most definitely be dubbed Queen of Thanksgiving.

  13. I’m thinking about making this and not telling my husband what’s in it – think he’d notice?

  14. luv what you do 11.17.2012

    All of your soups on the right look amazing. I can’t wait to explore them more. I made Mac n chees this week and added in some crab meat. It was SO GOOD!

  15. Mandy 11.19.2012

    Oh my goodness! Too good to be true!

  16. Jean 11.19.2012

    Okay so this was a “have to try” recipe that was put into motion this weekend. To say that it was a BIG HIT is an understatement! Hubby and 3 boys LOVED IT! I brought what litte was left to work today to give my co-worker a sampling. My husband was not too happy that I was sharing! This recipe will be filed in the “favorites” category for sure.
    Thank you for sharing!

  17. […] I was feeling all warm and cozy inside, I’d load up my plate with Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese from […]

  18. Christine 11.20.2012

    Question-About how many cups is 1-1/2 lbs of squash?

    I think I’m going to make this recipe this weekend but I’m not sure on the conversion there…thanks!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 11.21.2012

      Google says it’s about 3 cups, but if you aren’t able to weigh it out, I’d just use 1/2 of a medium-sized butternut squash!

  19. Kristin 11.22.2012

    I tried it but using acorn squash. Sad, but it tasted too sweet. Maybe I’ll try again w/ butternut.

  20. […] some of my favorites: Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes, Glazed Butternut Squash with Sage and Pecans, Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese, and Butternut Squash Salad with Farro and […]

  21. […] looks way too complicated. And homey don’t play that.I know I just linked you guys off to a mac and cheese recipe the other day but, like I said, the hamster wheel inside my brain keeps spinning all mac and […]

  22. […] Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese. Creamy, cheesy, sweet and savory goodness. You can’t go wrong with smoked cheddar, bacon and pasta. I’m excited to see how the squash cooked in milk creates a base for the sauce. Iowa Girl Eats […]

  23. Sadye 12.17.2012

    Gave this a test run, and I have to say that the sauteed onions were really critical for me — set off the sweetness perfectly.

  24. […] got this recipe from Iowa Girl Eats, the thought of using smoked cheddar drew me in.  So I decided to try it when my macaroni and […]

  25. Janie 01.20.2013

    I’ve been wanting to try and make butternut squash mac and cheese for the longest time and after finding your recipe while browsing on the internet, I finally made it today. It is so delicious! I like how creamy the squash makes it and I also like that you can use less cheese than you would in a traditional mac & cheese recipe and you don’t even miss it. I wish I had tried this long ago. Thanks for sharing. Your site is great!

  26. Megan 01.27.2013

    I love that you baked it afterwards! I just created a version of this where I simply poured the sauce over some macaroni. Next time I will bake it with some vegan cheese on top!
    Check out my version below.


  27. JD 01.27.2013

    Just made and it really is amazing!

    A few changes I made: added the sauteed onions (which are a MUST), added spices such a garlic, dried parsley, paprika, etc, and also used gouda.

    All around – all sorts of yes.

  28. […] There was an entire week in February where my parents weren’t home and I was able to experience living on my own again. After a shopping spree at Whole Foods I made my own Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese based off Iowa Girl Eats. You can find her post here. […]

  29. […] iowagirleats.com […]

  30. Rita 09.06.2013

    Do you think that I can use roasted butternut squash instead of the raw cubed ones?
    Thank you.

  31. […] Butternut squash mac ‘n’ cheese! […]

  32. mybluedolly 09.25.2013

    I took this and combined it with the Cooking LIght Butternut squash recipe. Roasted the butternut squash in garlic and rosemary. Made a roux with butter and flour, then added the milk and butternut squash, mashing the squash as it cooked and thickened. Added the cheese till it was gooey, then added the pasta and fake bacon. Needs more liquid, I might add more milk next time.

    This recipe provided the “bones” and it was delish!

  33. […] originally found this recipe on Iowa Girl Eats but modified it a bit to suit my own tastes. Below is my version of the recipe but the original one […]

  34. […] they posted this food-porn heavy post, all about what to eat in September. Of course “Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese” caught my eye, because, yeah, all those things are holy in my book. The following recipe is […]

  35. […] Recipe and Photos credit to iowagirleats.com […]

  36. […] to make this pasta dish soon.  And this one […]

  37. […] it Wednesday…yum), and it’s a really great combo.  In my search, I stumbled across this recipe  from Iowa Girl Eats that looked pretty interesting and I decided to give it a […]

  38. […] obsessed with butternut squash this past fall (maybe still am). Whether in quesadillas or soups or Macaroni and Cheese, the taste of cooked butternut squash brings a warmth to every dish it’s in.  The first time […]

  39. Riva 08.21.2014

    How did you cook in milk without burning the milk??

    • Kristin 08.22.2014

      Just keep the heat low enough to not scorch.

  40. […] mac and cheese with winter squash […]

  41. Theresa 09.15.2014

    This looks fabulous! Can it be made with a milk substitute? I’m on a restrictive diet right now, and while I can eat “hard cheese”, I should stay away from dairy milk. I was contemplating using almond milk, but I wonder if lactose-free would be better. Any thoughts or suggestions?

    • Kristin 09.16.2014

      I think plain almond milk would work just fine!

  42. Kat Sullivan 09.23.2014

    I want to try this with bacon or even pancetta added…

  43. […] Butternut Squash Bacon Mac n Cheese serves 8 adapted from Iowa Girl Eats […]

  44. Mary 11.22.2014

    I made this two weeks ago for a “trial run” in preparation for Thanksgiving… and it was awesome! It is definitely going on the menu for Thursday – thank you!

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