Creamy Butternut Mac & Cheese

It certainly looks like mac & cheese.

When I saw the Cooking Light recipe for macaroni and cheese with butternut squash, I was intrigued. I’m always looking for ways to make favorite comfort foods a little less heavy and more nutritious, but without sacrificing that special something that makes them comforting to begin with.

I showed the photo to the Tiny Kitchen Assistant, who didn’t catch the whole butternut squash thing. “It looks good, but it needs cheddar. It’s not mac & cheese without cheddar.” Easily fixed, my boy. So behold, the modified recipe that meets the TKA’s exacting specifications.


  • 3 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (I pre-cut the night before, and it was about one quart baggie full)
  • 1 1/4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni, shells, or whatever your favorite mac pasta may be
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) or seasoned Italian breadcrumbs

As strange as it seems, this is the base for the cheese sauce.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine squash, broth, milk and garlic in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat.

Carefully pour the hot squash mixture in a blender. Add salt, pepper and Greek yogurt. Cover and blend until smooth. Pour squash mixture in a bowl. Stir in Gruyère and cheddar until combined.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.

Add pasta to squash mixture, and stir until combined. Spread mixture evenly into a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with bread crumbs.

Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Serve immediately.

This, however, does look like a proper cheese sauce.


I love any night where the Tiny Kitchen Assistant says, “Mmmm, something smells delicious!” His official analysis is that it’s “super tasty… and that’s really all I have to say about it. Tasty.”

It takes more than an hour, but if you do some prep work the night before, it can be a weeknight meal.

It can stand alone as a main dish, but would probably be better suited as a side.

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