I’m just going to put it out there, front and center: this is a seriously decadent recipe. Maybe that’s obvious – it’s a mac and cheese recipe, after all. Or maybe it’s less obvious, because it’s got butternut squash in the sauce – and quite a bit of it.
But make no mistake. This Stove-Top Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese recipe is over-the-top rich, creamy, and – yeah – pretty divine, too.
I threw this recipe together with what I happened to have on hand. I was attempting a butternut squash white bean soup in the slow cooker (it was a bit of a fail), and I had some squash cubes left over. I was also craving some mac and cheese, dangit, so I thought, why not put that squash to use?
I was out of milk, so I used heavy whipping cream (and not a small amount). I didn’t have much in the way of seasonings – just some fresh thyme sitting in the fridge, starting to look little withered. It needed to be used. And then a little scoop of Dijon mustard, for giggles. I pureed the cooked squash together with the jazzed-up whipping cream mixture, and then stirred in the cheddar.
Sweet holy velvety sauce!
I knew this was going to be good, but when I took my first bite, my eyes opened wide. Oh, it was good. TOO good. I devoured the entire (generous) bowl. I’m not proud.
I decided this gloriously decadent macaroni and cheese was going to have to be reserved for special occasions. Luckily, my birthday was a couple of days away. So I made it again.
Confirmed: There will always be a special place in my heart for that other mac and cheese recipe, but, yeah. This is my new favorite. And – I’ve got to admit – way easier to make.
Next up: Thanksgiving. I can hardly wait for more cheesy goodness.
P.S.: If you want to sneak more veggies into your family’s diet, this is the dish to do it with.
Stove-Top Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese
- 1/2 pound 8 ounces pasta (macaroni, rotini, penne, or shells)
- 4 cups butternut squash (peeled, seeded, and cubed (about one 2 1/2 pound squash))
- 1 pint 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt + more for cooking the pasta and squash + more to taste (if desired)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper + more to taste
- 4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (16 ounces)
- Cook the pasta until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain the water and set the pasta aside.
- While the pasta cooks, make the sauce. Fill a medium pot halfway with water and add a pinch of salt. Set on the stove over high heat. Add the butternut squash and bring to a boil. Cook until tender, 5-6 minutes. Drain the water and set the cooked squash aside.
- Reduce heat to medium and return the pot to the stove. Add the heavy whipping cream, thyme, Dijon mustard, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring frequently with a whisk, until thickened slightly, 3-4 minutes. Add back the butternut squash. Remove from heat and either (carefully!) use an immersion blender to completely puree the sauce, or pour into a blender to puree. Return to the pot. Add the cheese, stirring until melted. Taste the sauce and add additional salt and pepper if desired. Add the pasta to the sauce and stir gently until all of the pasta is coated. Serve.
More macaroni and cheese recipes:
- The Best Macaroni & Cheese Recipe Ever – THE most popular recipe on Kitchen Treaty (for a reason)!
- Jalapeno Mac & Cheese – smoked cheddar and fresh peppers = yesss
- Southwest Mac & Cheese (with optional chicken) – uber-cheesy pasta with black beans, corn, and chilies. A one-dish-two-ways recipe that can satisfy both vegetarians and carnivores
- Super Creamy Vegan Stovetop Mac & “Cheese” – proof positive that, surprisingly, you don’t actually need cheese to get a super-satisfying mac!