Butternut Squash Sage Bacon Mac and Cheese

This Bacon and Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese features penne covered in a creamy, rich sauce of pureed butternut squash, parmesan, and sharp white cheddar with bacon and fresh sage.

butternut squash mac and cheese in blue dutch oven

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Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese Recipe

Homemade mac and cheese is one of my favorite winter comfort foods to make. It isn’t exactly diet food or anything that fits with January detoxing that everyone seems to be doing. Homemade mac and cheese is a bit sinful. Pasta loaded with rich, velvety cheese definitely gets my taste buds watering during these colder.

My latest obsession: Bacon Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese. I have been all about the squash these days. I added roasted butternut squash to black bean chili the other week. Sometimes we have it as a side dish.

Butternut squash is an easy way to add a little bit of extra vegetables, color and nutrition to many of my favorite cold weather recipes. So, I am adding it to everything, including this stovetop mac and cheese.

I’ve added cubed butternut squash to mac and cheese before, but this time I decided to puree it. I love the golden color it added to the dish and the extra creaminess of the sauce.

Another thing I love about stovetop mac and cheese recipes is their versatility. I’m always changing things up and I usually have the basic ingredients on hand to throw something delicious together.

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese Ingredients

For this butternut squash and bacon mac and cheese, you’ll need:

  • Penne pasta
  • Frozen butternut squash
  • Butter
  • Yellow onion
  • Garlic
  • Fresh sage
  • Nutmeg
  • All-purpose flour
  • Whole milk
  • White cheddar
  • Parmesan
  • Crumbled cooked bacon
  • Salt and pepper

What’s the Best Cheese for Mac and Cheese?

For this butternut squash mac and cheese, I opted to use a combination of sharp white cheddar and freshly grated Parmesan. In general, any cheese you add to stovetop mac and cheese should be able to melt easily.

Also note that you’ll want to grate a block of cheese yourself and avoid using pre-shredded bags of cheese. Pre-shredded cheese is often coated in cornstarch or something similar to prevent it from clumping, which can make for a grainy cheese sauce.

butternut squash mac and cheese garnished with fresh sage in blue dutch oven

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How to Make Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

The basic steps for making this butternut squash mac and cheese are quite simple:

  1. Steam the squash, then add to blender and puree with a splash of milk.
  2. Sauté the onion in some butter until softened.
  3. Add the garlic, sage, and nutmeg and continue to cook.
  4. Whisk in the flour, milk, squash, and cheeses, then stir until the creamy cheese sauce comes together.
  5. Gently stir in the cooked pasta and crumbled bacon.

How to Reheat Mac and Cheese

This butternut squash mac and cheese is best reheated on the stovetop over low heat. You may need to stir in a little milk to loosen up the pasta and prevent it from drying out.

Can I Omit the Bacon?

If you’re vegetarian or don’t have bacon on hand, you’re welcome to omit the bacon.

dutch oven full of butternut squash mac and cheese

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Tips for Making the Best Homemade Mac and Cheese

If you’d like to experiment on your own to come up with some fun flavor combos, follow these four easy steps to fancy mac and cheese.

It’s time to get creative in the kitchen. Try these four simple tips for making creative macaroni and cheese recipes. Sure we all love the traditional recipe, but it’s fun to mix things up once in a while and make fancy mac and cheese.

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. Penne is a favorite, like in this butternut squash bacon mac and cheese.

Fancy Up the Cheese

For this butternut squash white cheddar mac and cheese, I wanted to pair the flavors of sharp white cheddar and nutty parmesan. Lacking inspiration? Check out the Cheesecyclopedia for the wide variety of available cheeses. Then, look up some of your favorites cheeses in The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity to find complimentary combinations.

Add a Few Mix-Ins

Adding accent meats and vegetables turns macaroni and cheese into a delicious, one pot meal with lots of flavor and color. If bacon is your thing, the best way to prepare it for adding to mac and cheese recipes is by making Perfect Homemade Bacon Bits. You can make a whole package of bacon ahead of time and store the prepared bacon bits in the freezer.

In this butternut squash mac and cheese recipe, I’ve added bacon, my favorite meat mix-in, fresh sage, and pureed butternut squash. The sage and bacon pair so well together and with the cheeses. The squash adds just a hint of flavor and gives the dish a nice color.

Add a Topping

Crushed panko bread crumbs mixed with a little melted butter or crushed  Homemade Sourdough Garlic Butter Croutons make a nice, crunchy topping to any baked mac and cheese. You can add dried herbs or minced garlic for extra flavor, too.

butternut squash and bacon mac and cheese in white bowl next to blue dutch oven

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More Mac and Cheese Recipes:

Jalapeño Bacon Mac and Cheese is loaded with poblano peppers, jalapeños, pepper jack cheese, and of course lots of bacon!

Asparagus and sharp white cheddar cheese pair perfectly in this Asparagus and Bacon Macaroni and Cheese.

Craving Mac and Cheese and Mexican? Try this Southwestern Mac and Cheese.

Baked White Cheddar Mac and Cheese with Kale and Bacon is perfect if you like a little something healthy with your mac n cheese.

This Baked Mac and Cheese with Gruyere and Butternut Squash has cubed butternut squash in it for pops of color and flavor.

Fontina, Spinach, and Bacon Shells and Cheese is a fancier version of the classic shells and cheese.

Kids love this Homemade Mac and Cheese with Ham and Broccoli.

What is your favorite Mac n Cheese Recipe?

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Butternut Squash Sage Bacon Mac n Cheese

Butternut Squash Sage Bacon Mac n Cheese

Yield: serves 6 - 8
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Butternut Squash Sage Bacon Mac n Cheese features penne covered in a creamy, rich sauce of pureed butternut squash, parmesan and sharp white cheddar with bacon and fresh sage.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. box Penne Pasta
  • 12 ounce bag frozen Butternut Squash
  • 2 tablespoons Butter
  • 1 Yellow Onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon minced Garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced Fresh Sage
  • pinch Nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons Flour
  • 2 cups Whole Milk, divided
  • 4 ounces Sharp White Cheddar, grated
  • 4 ounces Fresh Grated Parmesan
  • 6 slices Center Cut Bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
  2. Drain and set aside.
  3. To prepare the butternut squash, add the frozen squash to a steamer basket over the stove and steam until cooked through and hot.
  4. Alternatively, you may purchase frozen butternut squash steamer bags that may be steamed in the microwave. Follow the package instructions accordingly for cooking.
  5. After cooking the butternut squash, add it to a blender with 1/2 cup of the milk and puree until completely smooth. Set aside.
  6. In a large French or Dutch oven, melt the butter.
  7. Saute the onion for 3 - 5 minutes over medium heat, or until tender and golden.
  8. Add the garlic, sage, and nutmeg and saute and additional minute.
  9. Whisk in the flour and cook over medium heat till golden.
  10. Slowly whisk in the remaining milk (1 1/2 cups) while cooking over medium heat.
  11. Stir in the sharp white cheddar, fresh grated parmesan and pureed butternut squash, whisking until the cheese is melted and the sauce is creamy.
  12. Bring to a slow simmer over low heat, and then stir in the pasta and bacon.
  13. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
  14. Serve immediately.

Notes

Try this method for making Perfect Homemade Bacon Bits when you cook the bacon for this recipe.

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