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One Pot Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Oct 26, 2023 | 0 comments

This is the easiest butternut squash mac and cheese you’ll ever make. There’s no need to peel the squash OR blend it once it’s cooked. The soft, roasted flesh will break down as the pasta cooks, creating that gorgeous, silky sauce that sings of comfort food season.

Pink plate of butternut squash mac and cheese with a pan of more mac and cheese in the background.

I honestly was a bit sceptical of mixing butternut squash with pasta. I had visions of it being too sweet and cloying, but seriously? This is a wonderful combination. The sweet nuttiness of the squash is gorgeous with the cheese and roasted garlic, and I love the rich flavour you get by roasting it.

I’m using the same technique for the mac and cheese itself as I use in my spicy mac and cheese recipe, where everything, including the pasta, is cooked in one pot. There’s no need to make a bechamel, so no flour or butter is needed, and you still end up with a gorgeously creamy, rich sauce. As the pasta cooks, it releases starch into the sauce, helping it thicken and become lovely and glossy.

Roasting the squash might take a bit more time, but I promise it’s worth it. Plus, you can always roast the squash and garlic in advance (they’ll be fine in the fridge for a few days) which will make the mac and cheese super fast to make. All you have to do is add the rest of the ingredients to a pan, and it’ll be ready within 15 minutes. A gorgeous, comforting and cosy winner perfect for cooler evenings or as part of a holiday spread.


This is a brilliant recipe that uses minimal ingredients – and uses the squash two ways if you make the crispy smoky seeds too.

  • Butternut squash. One large butternut squash is all you need here – you’ll end up with about 2 cups of squash flesh after roasting. You could use frozen cubed butternut squash instead if you like.
  • Garlic. Because we’re roasting the squash, I love to roast whole garlic heads with it. The garlic becomes super sweet and mild after roasting, so it’s not super garlicky – but cut it down to one head of garlic if you prefer.
  • Pasta. Any short shape will do – I’ve used gigli which is a little spiralled cone-shaped pasta – but you can use what you have to hand.
  • Cheese. I’ve gone for a mix of mature cheddar and gruyere – both have a lovely strong flavour and melt well, but you could play around with your cheeses. Creamy blue cheese is great, as is parmesan or manchego. Just make sure you’re using something reasonably strong so the flavour cuts through the squash.
  • Fish sauce. The secret ingredient I add to so many recipes is incredible here to add a gorgeous hit of savoury umami flavour. It doesn’t taste fishy at all – but you can use soy sauce or miso paste instead if you’d like to keep this vegetarian.
  • Milk and stock. These provide extra flavour and richness to the mac and cheese, but you could use water if you like. I’m using vegetable stock, but chicken will also work well, and you can swap regular milk for your favourite plant-based alternative.

How to make it

Cut your squash right down the middle and scoop out the seeds (but don’t throw them away!) Drizzle the exposed sides of the squash with olive oil, then chop off the tops of your heads of garlic, then place them in the space where the seeds were. Place the squash and garlic cut side down on a lined baking tray, then transfer to the oven for about 45 minutes, to get super charred, roasted and caramelised.

While the squash roasts, make your crispy squash seeds and prosciutto for your crunchy topping. Once the squash is super soft, scoop out the flesh straight into your large, high-sided pan with the pasta. Squeeze the garlic from their skins, then add the fish sauce, salt, stock, milk and Dijon mustard.

Stir everything to combine well with the pasta, then cook, stirring occasionally for about 12 minutes, until the pasta is just al dente (cooked, with a little bit of a bite to it) and the sauce has thickened up. PRO TIP: Depending on the pasta you use, you might want to add a little more milk, stock or water.

Once your sauce is looking lovely and thick and the pasta is cooked, add both cheeses and a good grind of black pepper. Stir through the pasta as the cheese melts into the sauce, then top with the crispy seeds and prosciutto and dig in.

Got a question?

Can I make this in advance?

You can roast the squash and the garlic up to 3 days in advance, then just keep them in the fridge. That way, when you want to make the mac and cheese all you have to do is combine everything in your pot and stir occasionally.

If you want to make the whole thing in advance, take a couple of minutes off the initial cooking time of the pasta, so it’s still a little firm in the sauce when you add the cheese. That way, you’ll mitigate the problem of the pasta absorbing too much liquid and losing its texture while sitting in the sauce. You can do this one day in advance, then cover it with aluminium foil and reheat it in the oven at 180C/356F fan for about 15 minutes, until piping hot. I like to add a splash of water when I do this, just to help the sauce loosen up again.

Is the mac and cheese vegetarian?

The recipe uses fish sauce so it’s not vegetarian as written, however, you can use a vegetarian fish sauce (they’re often made with mushrooms) or use miso paste or soy sauce instead. You can also skip the optional crispy prosciutto.

Like this recipe? Here are more cosy favourites you might enjoy

If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear from you! You can leave me a comment below.

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Pink plate of butternut squash mac and cheese with a hand scooping up pasta with a small spoon.

One Pot Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

  • Author: Kate Alexandra
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian


This is the easiest butternut squash mac and cheese you’ll ever make. There’s no need to peel OR blend the squash once it’s cooked. The soft, roasted flesh will break down as the pasta cooks, creating that gorgeous, silky sauce that sings of comfort food season. Served with the discarded squash seeds, crisped up in the oven with prosciutto for a lovely crunchy topping.



For the mac and cheese –

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 2 whole heads of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 300g/10.5oz dried pasta of your choice
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup gruyere cheese, grated
  • Black pepper

Optional, to serve –

  • Discarded squash seeds (or pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 teaspoon flaky salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 slices prosciutto (or bacon)


  1. Roast the butternut squash and garlic. Heat your oven to 220C/430F fan and line an oven tray with baking paper. Chop the end (with the stem) off your squash, then cut it straight down the middle, so you’re left with two long pieces of squash. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds, then place them in a bowl and set aside. Slice the tops of your heads of garlic off, then drizzle the exposed sides of the squash with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Place the garlic in the cavity where the seeds were, then place the squash, cut side down, on the tray. Roast for about 45 minutes, until deeply golden and soft all the way through when you pierce it with a knife.
  2. Make the crispy seeds and prosciutto. While the squash is roasting, soak the discarded seeds in water and remove as much of the squash flesh as you can. Pat them dry with a piece of kitchen towel, then spread them out on another oven tray and scatter with 1 teaspoon of flaky sea salt and 1 teaspoon of paprika. Toss to coat the seeds, then push them to one side of the tray, and lay out the prosciutto slices on the other side. Transfer to the oven with the squash, for 5 or 6 minutes, until the seeds are lovely and toasted and the prosciutto is super crispy. Set aside.
  3. Add to the pasta. Once the squash is super soft, remove it from the oven. Pour the pasta straight into a large, high-sided pan or skillet, then scoop the squash out of its skin with a spoon, straight into the pan. Squeeze the garlic out of its skin into the pan too, along with 2 teaspoons of fish sauce, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, 1 cup of milk and 2 cups of vegetable stock. Stir to mix everything through the pasta, then set over medium heat. 
  4. Cook the pasta. The pasta will take about 12 minutes to cook (use your packet to guide you) until it’s al dente (cooked, but still with a little bite to it). Stir the pasta occasionally, so that nothing sticks to the bottom of your pan. You may need to add a little more milk, stock (or water), depending on the pasta you use and how saucy you like your mac and cheese.
  5. Add the cheese. Once the pasta is just al dente, add both cheeses and a good grind of black pepper, then stir them through the pasta as they melt into the sauce. Taste, then season with a little more salt if needed. Remove the pan from the heat, then scatter over the toasted seeds, crumble up the crispy prosciutto and scatter that on top too. Divide between plates and serve while hot and oozy. PRO TIP: If you like, you can pop the cooked mac and cheese under the broiler (grill) for 5 minutes at the highest heat, just to crisp up the top.


STORAGE INSTRUCTIONS: Like all pasta, this mac and cheese is really best right after cooking. When pasta sits in sauce, it continues to absorb the liquid and will cause the pasta to get very soft (and you’ll lose a lot of the sauce). You can reheat it if you like, but the texture of the pasta won’t be the same. Either reheat it in the microwave, at 30-second intervals or on the stovetop. I like to add a splash of water when I’m reheating pasta like this, just to help the sauce loosen up again. It will keep for 3 days in the fridge. 

INGREDIENT NOTES: You could use frozen cubed butternut squash if you like – just keep an eye on them in the oven as they may take less time to cook. Squash is sweet so it needs salt to help temper it (so you’re left with that lovely salty/sweet flavour combination I love so much) – I like using a mix of salt and fish sauce which gives a lovely savoury depth. I promise it doesn’t taste fishy! If you don’t like fish sauce (or want this to be vegetarian) you could use soy sauce or miso paste for a similar result. Skip the prosciutto if you like – or use streaky bacon or chorizo.

  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 60
  • Category: pasta
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: american


  • Serving Size: 350g

Keywords: pumpkin pasta, butternut squash pasta


I’m Kate, the creator behind Dished. I love creating flavour packed, simple (ish) recipes for you, designed for every day and special occasions.





This e-book includes my absolute favourite fakeaway recipes (popular takeaway dishes you can make at home!)

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