Baked Mac n Cheese with Gruyere and Butternut Squash

Kid Friendly Recipes, Main Dish, Pasta, Vegetarian | 15 comments

Gourmet Mac n Cheese is definitely comfort food in our home. I love this easy recipe for Baked Gruyere and Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese - I can’t believe how many times we’ve made this in the last few months and I haven’t even shared it with you yet!

It was one of those quickly thrown together creations when I needed to get dinner on the table fast and such a hit that we kept making it. I served it at Madeline’s school Christmas potluck and along with their parents, a bunch of 3 and 4 year olds completely gobbled it up!

Now, you might be thinking – “Katie, how is this a quickly thrown together creation??” I hear you! But it really was quick and on the table within 30 minutes. I followed these 3 Steps to Fancy Mac n Cheese to fill in the dish with flavors, ingredients and textures.

3 Steps to Fancy Mac n Cheese

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It’s time to get creative in the kitchen. Try these three, simple ways towards creative mac n cheese recipes. Sure we all love the traditional recipe, but it’s fun to mix things up once in a while.

Fancy Up the Cheese

Master a basic cheese sauce and utilize that recipe over and over again, but each time you can experiment with different cheeses. Adjusting and tweaking the flavors to fit your mood at the time.

In this recipe for Baked Gruyere and Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese, Gruyere is accented by Mascarpone and Parmesan Cheese creates a rich, velvety sauce in this recipe. You could dream up infinite cheese combinations for your sauce.

Lacking inspiration?  Look up some of your favorites cheeses in The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity to find complimentary combinations.

Use Different Pasta Shapes

Embrace your inner child, or appeal to your own children with fun and different pasta shapes. Just because it’s “Macaroni” and Cheese, doesn’t mean you have to actually use macaroni pasta. In fact, I rarely do. I love shells, rotini, penne, wagon wheels and more.

Add a Few Mix-Ins

Adding accent meats and vegetables turns mac n cheese into a delicious, one pot meal with lots of flavor and color. I like to add steamed broccoli or chopped spinach to my mac n cheese, but this time I decided to experiment with squash. My two favorite meat mix-ins are ham and bacon. They both go so well with cheesy sauce, but experiment with others as well.

More Gourmet Mac n Cheese Recipes

p.s. Make sure you head over to take a look at the Deliciously Organic Meal Plan Deal and Cookbook Offer. Carrie is offering 50% off of her Organic Meal Plan subscriptions!

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Baked Mac n Cheese with Gruyere and Butternut Squash

Yield: serves 6

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10-20 minutes

Total Time: 30 - 40 minutes

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1 - 1 lb. box penne pasta
1/2 of a yellow onion, diced
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
3 cups whole milk
3 ounces mascarpone or cream cheese
5 ounces gruyere cheese, grated
1 ounce parmesan cheese, grated
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt, according to personal preference
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary
butternut squash, chopped into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs


Peel, remove the seeds, and cut the butternut squash into bite sized cubes, or however large you'd like them to be. Set aside.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta one to two minutes less than package instructions. Add the squash to the pasta water during the last 3-5 minutes, depending on the size of your squash. Drain and set aside.

In a large French or Dutch oven, melt the butter. Saute the onion in the butter for 4-6 minutes, or until soft and tender. Whisk in the flour and cook over medium heat till golden. Slowly whisk in the milk while cooking over medium heat.

Add the nutmeg, cayenne, black pepper, salt (if desired), and rosemary. Stir in the mascarpone cheese, whisking until melted and creamy. Then, whisk in the gruyere and parmesan until melted and creamy. Bring to a slow simmer, and then stir in the pasta and squash.

Transfer to an oven safe casserole dish. Top with 1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs and bake at 400 degrees F until the pasta is bubble and hot and the breadcrumbs are toasted, about 10-20 minutes. Serve immediately.


For quicker prep, purchase already prepared butternut squash from the grocery store. I like the pre-peeled, and chopped squash that Costco offers.

Katie Goodman

About the Author:

Katie’s lifelong interest in cooking good food has shown her that part of the goodness in life is enjoying delicious food with friends and family. She is: Mom. Writer. Photographer. Recipe Developer. Website Founder. Lover of all things good in life. A mix of great recipes, family memories, and yummy photography is what Katie serves up each week at GoodLife Eats™. Katie and her family reside in Colorado.

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  • 1
    Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies - February 10, 2012 @ 4:22 pm

    Oh man, I am all over this. I adore every single ingredient listed – especially gruyere!


  • 2
    Heather - February 10, 2012 @ 4:30 pm

    Those are the cutest ramekins I’ve ever seen!!!! I like your suggestion about using different shapes of pasta. When I make mac and cheese I use either elbow mac or cavatappi. Thanks for the recipe!


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — February 10th, 2012 @ 5:52 PM

      I got the ramekins at Cost Plus World Market. They come with the cutest little lids, too!

  • 3
    Maryea @ Happy Healthy Mama - February 10, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

    Gruyere is my favorite cheese to add to macaroni and cheese. It’s so good!

    I use The Flavor Bible in my kitchen almost every day. Indispensable.


  • 4
    j3nn - February 10, 2012 @ 8:36 pm

    That looks divine! Love the ramekins’ shade of blue. So pretty. :)


  • 5
    Candace - February 11, 2012 @ 6:26 am

    I am loving the mac n cheese recipes that you’ve shared here. We have a tried and true traditional one that is my husband’s favorite. I like to mix things up now and again though. This mac n cheese and the one with fontina, bacon and spinach look amazingly delicious! I’ve pinned both of them to try soon. Thank you!


  • 6
    Jen - February 12, 2012 @ 7:13 pm

    I love flipping through The Flavor Bible! I learn something new every time.


  • 7
    Cigall - February 14, 2012 @ 1:13 pm

    This sounds so delicious! All of my favorite things in one dish! Can’t wait to make it. Thanks for sharing.


  • 8
    Erin - February 15, 2012 @ 8:06 am

    I love butternut squash but haven’t tried it in mac and cheese yet, yum!


  • 9
    Erin @ Small and Simple Things - February 27, 2012 @ 7:28 am

    I tried making this last night and was sadly disappointed. What happens to the onions? They are not mentioned in the recipe (or I am truly blind). I sauteed them in the butter since it seemed logical. How does the butternut squash cook? 10-20 minutes was not long enough, although I did microwave mine first for about 5 minutes to facilitate peeling and chopping.

    I really wanted to love the recipe, but it didn’t seem worth the calories:(



    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — February 27th, 2012 @ 7:47 AM

      No, you aren’t blind…it’s my fault. I just check the recipe and I mistakenly left out the onion sauting in the butter and also that I added the squash during the last couple minutes of the pasta boiling to tenderize it. I sincerely apologize. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I have fixed the recipe. Wish I had realized it sooner though.

  • 10
    Emilee - March 04, 2012 @ 8:38 pm

    I’d really like to try this because it sounds delish! Just wondering – how much squash do you usually use – it’s the only ingredient without a quantity listed. Thanks!


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — March 4th, 2012 @ 9:10 PM

      It’s really up to your personal preference. I usually use about 1 medium sized squash, but if you like a lot of squash you can add more…or less, too. Enjoy!

  • 11
    Amy Pla - September 05, 2013 @ 9:40 am

    I want to make this recipe. Butternut squash comes in so many sizes. Mentioning small, medium or large doesn’t work for me. It would be helpful to include the volume in weight or cups sizes for this recipe. Any suggestions? Thanks.


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — September 6th, 2013 @ 12:03 PM

      I add a different amount every time depending on if I am in the mood for a lot of squash or just squash accents. It is really up to your personal preference. Start with 2 cups and add more if you like.

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