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Dec 11, 2012 05:44 AM

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Hello all, I would like to serve butternut squash mac and cheese at my family's Christmas Eve brunch. I've seen recipes off and on for several years, and it always sounded so delicious. Now that I've decided to make it though, I'm having trouble identifying which of the myriad recipes out there would be best (i.e. best tasting). In general, I prefer a baked mac and cheese with a nice crust on top. I'm also leaning towards ones that have chunks of roasted BNS mixed in, rather than just pureed into the sauce. Does anyone have any recommendations for any recipes that are particularly good? Also, it would be fantastic if I could find one that is able to be assembled the day before, so I could just pop it in the oven that morning. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

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  1. I have made the martha stewart one with the squash pureed in and we love it. I use freshly roasted squash. The caramelized onions are key. We add stock to make it wetter, but it is a big hit. I also use smaller bread crumbs than she suggests for the topping.

    Have never made chunky kind, so can't address this, but for me the smoothness is preferable.

    Have fun!

    6 Replies
    1. re: magiesmom

      Thank you very much! I imagine I could just add chunks of roasted squash to the Martha Stewart one, if I really wanted to. Do you have any experience making it ahead of time?

      1. re: charmedgirl

        no, though that;s what I will do for my work holiday party
        next week. i plan to add even more liquid.

        1. re: magiesmom

          Ooohhh, if you remember, please come back and let me know how that goes!! I'm not making mine until the 24th.

          1. re: charmedgirl

            reporting back as requested:
            I made the recipe as written except I used canned pumpkin and I added 1 c sour cream and an extra cup of liquid in the form of vegetable stock and I used panko instead of the bread squares.
            I assembled it the night before except for the topping. In the morning I checked for enough liquid and poured over another half cup or so of stock and than added crumbs and dotted with butter,
            I then baked it for 20 minutes at 400 from room temp.
            It was a big hit.

            1. re: magiesmom

              Thank you so much! Good to know. And glad your meal was a success!

              1. re: magiesmom

                I've made this before, and we liked it. Glad to know it can b done in advance

      2. I love butternut squash, and I adore Mac & Cheese, but I was underwhelmed by the one I made from Cooking Light awhile back. If you had told me it was butternut baked ziti, I'd have enjoyed it. But my brain wanted it to taste like my traditional macaroni and cheese, and it wasn't getting that.
        That said, other than my personal semantics peccadillo, I would make that CL recipe again.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jmcarthur8

          I came across both the Martha one and the CL one in my searches, so good to hear your experience with the CL one, jm. Thanks!!

        2. I wonder if bread crumbs mixed with crumbled up biscotti cookies would be a tasty treat. Anyone have thoughts on that?

          Maglesmom's idea of carmelized onion sounds magnifico!

          Maybe some fontina and parm in there... Of course bacon.

          I would think roasting the squash first would be ideal. Nutmeg. Cream cheese in the mix to get that creamy feel... but not too strong so it does not overpower the squash taste. Otherwise maybe creamy goat.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Sal Vanilla

            Definitely on the nutmeg. Forgot that crucial ingredient.

            1. re: Sal Vanilla

              can't take credit for the onions; they are in the Martha Stewart recipe.

              I don't think I'd want sweetness of biscotti in the crumbs, personally. Cream cheese, maybe. I am making it with canned pumpkin this time because I love it.

              I don't really think of this as a mac n cheese sub, it is its own dish.

              1. re: magiesmom

                "I don't really think of this as a mac n cheese sub, it is its own dish."

                That's how I'm thinking of it too. I'm not making it as a "lighter" version of mac and cheese or because I want to sneak fiber/vegetables into the dish. I just love pasta, cheese, and roasted butternut squash. I figure, put them all together, how could it not be good??

              2. re: Sal Vanilla

                That's what we do, we roast cut up chunks of squash in a hot oven and then toss them into the ready to go mac and cheese. Then, the whole batch is baked off in the oven.

                On cheeses we use a combo of cheddar, fontina and jarlsberg.

                On spices/herbs we add the nutmeg and thyme to the squash while its roasting but nothing to the mac n cheese part.

                Panko breadcrumbs on top but not a heavy coating.

                We also use the leftovers on burgers as a topping. Cut cold mac n cheese into slabs, warmed on a flat stove top pan and topped on your just prepared beef burger-so good!

              3. I'm sorry I don't have an exact recipe to offer, but I've had really good results by making a classic bechamel, adding some good cheese (aged Gouda is great here, along with some Parm Reggiano, in additional to the usual cheddar), some pureed (ideally roasted) squash, and some fall herbs (fresh sage, a touch of rosemary). Top with buttered panko and bake until heated through and golden on top. You could definitely add some roasted chunks of squash as well. I think if you assemble it the day before, the sauce is likely to sink to the bottom, and the noodles might get kind of dense from the cold. Maybe make just the sauce ahead of time, but cook the pasta, assemble, and top with breadcrumbs the day of?

                1. Reporting back, for anyone interested in the future! I decided to go with the Cooking Light recipe, with some tweaks. I also decided not to assemble it the night before, after reading copious threads on this site on the topic. Instead, I prepped a bunch of the components the day before, which made assembly on the day of easy peasy.

                  I was serving Monday, so on Sunday I roasted off some butternut squash, just with olive oil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. I also prepared the butternut squash puree, but did NOT add the cheese. I even measured out the panko and mixed it with the parmesan. On Monday morning, while the pasta was cooking, I brought the puree to temp and added the cheeses. (About 1.5x the amount called for in the recipe, since I wasn't actually looking for something "light.") Once the pasta was done, I mixed it, the roasted squash and the sauce all together, poured it in the baking dish, and topped with the panko/cheese mixture. It then sat for about 30 minutes before the pork loin came out of the oven and it could go in.

                  I thought it was DELICIOUS. A teeny tiny bit dry, so next time I'd likely make a bit more sauce and cut down on the panko, but, really that's a minor quibble. My guests, adults and kids alike, also raved. Had three requests for the recipe. Thanks to all who contributed ideas and aided in the brainstorming. Helps so much to have a sounding board!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: charmedgirl

                    Your analysis is exactly what I thought too when I made the CL one. A bit dry, but delicious to me! My BF hated it because I told him it was mac and cheese, and like someone mentioned above, I think he would have liked it more if I had just called it a squash pasta bake or something like that.

                    1. re: charmedgirl

                      Just wondering, is this the Cooking Light recipe that you used?