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Try Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese to Lighten Up a Classic

Nutritional Info

41 grams
6 grams
28 grams
23 grams

Note: These values represent one serving of four.

Butternut squash mac and cheese. Photo by Casey Barber.

Mac and cheese is a beloved anytime comfort classic. While we wouldn’t dare recommend messing with grandma’s ooey gooey mac and cheese recipe, having a more nutritionally dense version is a good option when the craving hits but you want to stay on track with your fitness goals.

The good news is that this recipe still provides plenty of cheesy satisfaction. You’ll swap out regular flour noodles for chickpea pasta shells, which comparatively increases protein and fiber, says John Christie, registered dietitian and Tonal’s Director of Curriculum. Butternut squash puree is a low-prep way to add creaminess while keeping the dish on the lighter side.

“Butternut squash is chock full of vitamins A and C, antioxidants that help with immune function,” Christie says. 

Along with adding a nice crunch and pop of color, broccoli florets provide even more vitamin C and fiber, to help keep you feeling satiated. 

Ready to dig in?

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
35 min


Note: Fresh, canned, or frozen butternut squash puree all work well in this recipe. If using canned puree, the 15-ounce can will be enough—don’t worry about opening a second can to get that remaining ounce.


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spritz a 9×13-inch baking dish with olive oil or baking spray.

Bring a large (8-quart) pot of water to a boil. 

Add the pasta, stir, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the broccoli and cook for 4-5 minutes more, according to pasta package directions. Drain and return to the pot.

While the broccoli and pasta cook, melt the butter in a large (10- to 12-inch) skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat.

Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for about 2 minutes until the flour is golden and bubbling.

Whisk in the milk and stir until the flour is dissolved. Bring the milk to a simmer and cook, whisking occasionally, until thickened. Turn off the heat and whisk in the grated Parmesan cheese.

Whisk in the squash puree. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and a few grates of fresh nutmeg if desired.

Stir the sauce into the broccoli and pasta, then transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish.

Evenly sprinkle the shredded Gouda over the pasta. 

Bake for about 20 minutes, until the cheese topping is bubbling and browned.