This creamy stovetop butternut squash mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. Roasted butternut squash, turned into a silky cheesy sauce, coating macaroni noodles and topped with crispy prosciutto. This easy butternut squash mac and cheese recipe is the perfect way to dress up an old classic.
Butternut squash is available year round, but is best in season from early fall into winter. For this recipe, we only need 1 pound of diced squash, so you can either buy already cut squash or buy a small one and prep. When buying a squash you want one that feels heavy and the smaller the round bulb at the bottom, the less seeds you have to deal with.
When cutting butternut squash, you want to make sure you use a very sharp large knife. Dull knives are dangerous. If the squash is slippery, you can secure it by using a dish towel to grip better.
- Cut squash in half, in between the bulb and the stem
- Using a spoon, remove the pulp and seeds
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel all the skin from the squash (the dish towel comes in handy here too if it’s slipping around). Slice.
- Cut into 1 inch cubes
Roasting the squash
Toss the cubed squash in olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper. Place on baking pan and roast at 425F for 25 minutes, flipping halfway through. You want the squash to be easily pierced with a fork and the caramelization adds an extra depth of flavor.
When making mac and cheese, one big tip is grating your own cheese from a block. Pre-shredded cheese has a caking agent to keep it from clumping, which also doesn’t allow it to melt into the silky texture needed. For this recipe I use gruyere, which is a great melting cheese.
Making crispy prosciutto is one of my favorite things to do. It makes the perfect salty garnish and bite to a dish. I love topping all sorts of pasta dishes with crispy prosciutto, like pesto! On 400F, place on a baking pan for 10 minutes until it shrinks and crisps up. It will easily crack by hand or you can use a knife to chop.
Making the sauce
- Melt butter in the skillet until it’s frothy and bubbling
- Add in shallots and sauté a few minutes until translucent
- Add in garlic and fresh chopped thyme and sage
- Add in your roasted squash and vegetable stock
- Add in half and half. If you do not have half and half you can substitute whole milk
- You can use an immersion blender to purée the squash or ladle into a a heat safe blender. If your immersion blender openings are showing when inserted in the pan, it’s too shallow and will spray everywhere. You can also ladle into a pyrex glass or bowl and immersion blend in that.
- Add in the gruyere
- Slowly stir until all the cheese is melted
- Allow to come to a gentle boil, sauce should be thick and will remain separated if you run your finger down a spoon
Pasta water is liquid gold. Get in the habit of always saving pasta water before draining you pasta. The starchy salty pasta water when added to your homemade pasta sauce, will help give it that silky luxurious texture. I use a pyrex glass to scoop a glass out to save on the side or you can directly scoop the pasta out directly into the sauce and you’ll have the whole pot of water to add from.
Stir the macaroni into the cheese sauce. It will begin to thicken up as you stir to coat the pasta.
As it thickens up, this is where your liquid gold pasta water enters the picture. Add a few splashes at a time, while stirring, until the perfect consistency is achieved.
When ready to serve, sprinkle the crispy prosciutto over the top of the butternut squash macaroni and cheese. The crispy prosciutto helps offset the sweetness of the butternut squash by adding a salty bite to the dish.
This butternut squash mac and cheese recipe is the perfect comfort food and a great way to sneak a vegetable in for your kids too!
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- Small butternut squash, cut into 1 inch cubes (1 pound)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 5 ounces grated gruyere cheese (about 2 cups) (see note #1)
- 4 slices prosciutto
- 3 tbsp shallot, minced
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
- 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1 cup half and half
- 12oz macaroni pasta
- 1 cup reserved pasta water
- Small pinch cayenne pepper (can omit if you do not want heat)
- ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Peel and cut the butternut squash into 1 inch cubes (see in post for how-to cut squash).
- Toss cubed squash in 1 tbsp olive oil, a pinch of kosher salt and ground black pepper. Arrange on a greased baking sheet and place in the oven. Roast for 25 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- Prepare 12oz macaroni according to package al dente instructions. *Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining.*
- In a high walled skillet over medium heat, add 2 tbsp butter. Once bubbling, add in the shallot and sauté for 3 minutes. Add in the sage, thyme, and garlic and sauté for an additional minute until fragrant. Add in the roasted butternut squash, cup of vegetable broth and cup of half and half. Allow to come to gentle boil.
- Lower oven temp to 400 F. On same pan you roasted the squash, place slices of prosciutto side by side. Bake for 10 minutes, until crispy, set aside.
- Using an immersion blender, blend the pasta sauce until smooth. If you do not have an immersion blender, you can ladle into a heat-safe blender. (see note #4)
- Lower heat to medium/low. Add in the shredded gruyere cheese and stir until cheese is melted. Add in the nutmeg and cayenne. Taste and add kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste. Add in the macaroni and begin to stir. As you stir the sauce will thicken. Begin adding splashes of reserved pasta water until sauce thins and desired consistency is achieved.
- Using your hands or a knife, break up the crispy prosciutto into small chunks. To serve, spoon into bowls and garnish with crispy prosciutto. Enjoy!
- I recommend grating your own cheese from the block. Pre-shredded cheese has a caking agent to keep it from clumping, which affects the melting into the silky texture needed.
- You can also purchase pre-cut and peeled butternut squash to use
- If you do not have half and half, you can substitute whole milk.
- If the immersion blender openings are exposed due to the liquid not being high enough, it will splash everywhere. You can transfer to heat safe glass/bowl and blend until smooth.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 402Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 68mgSodium: 946mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 20g
*Note: Nutrition information is an estimate. Values vary based on different brands and ingredients*