Creamy Butternut Squash and Gouda Mac & Cheese
This creamy butternut squash and gouda mac & cheese is oh-my-gawd delicious and definitely an instant favorite in my house. It’s creamy, slightly sweet with a hint of salty smokey bacon goodness. If you’re looking for a fall flavor twist on a classic this is all you will need!
I’m so excited to share this with you today! I came up with this idea as I was walking aimlessly around the grocery store and when I made it, I was instantly in love with all of the flavors. I had no intention of this being a post for a Thanksgiving dish because it’s still October and I’m opposed to holiday skipping, however this recipe is too good to keep to myself for another month so….much to my surprise here I am…
It’s a huge debate for many families, but I’m a huge believer that mac and cheese does not belong on the Thanksgiving table, however today, I am boldly stating that this recipe might seal the deal for all of us non-believers. After all, it does have butternut squash and nutmeg, two warm and cozy flavors for the holiday.
Jam Packed with Fall Flavors
This mac & cheese is 100% my version of adulting. My picky toddler refuses to eat mac & cheese because the noodles are covered in cheese, I don’t understand it, but she’s a plain Jane noodle lady.
I picked these ingredients below with intention. I was looking for something that was warm, cozy and full of fall flavors. There are many butternut squash mac & cheese recipes out there, however they all use the same run-of-the-mill cheddar cheese and I was wanting something different, something more and I found it!
Butternut Squash: Butternut squash, also known as winter squash is my favorite all-time squash. The flavors are mild, sweet and nutty. For this recipe you will need butternut squash puree, I’ll walk you through those easy steps below.
Gouda Cheese: Gouda cheese is a semi-hard cheese. It’s super creamy with a mild buttery, nutty flavor making it perfect for this mac & cheese. It’s a little expensive, but should be easy to find in the fancy cheese section of any grocery store.
Parmesan Cheese: Parmesan cheese is a super sharp cheese that compliments the sweetness of the butternut squash and the creaminess of the gouda cheese. If you buy the pre-shredded parmesan cheese it will save you a lot of hard work later.
Bacon: Bacon gives this another layer of flavor. A little bit salty and smokey which pairs well with the other ingredients. The crispiness of the bacon adds a little texture to your bite. You can omit it if you want to make this vegetarian.
Nutmeg: A dash of sweet nutmeg is instantly aromatic as soon as you sprinkle it onto the butternut squash and it marries all of these fall flavors together.
Butternut Squash Puree
Making butternut squash at home is so simple! For this recipe you will want about 1 1/2 – 2 cups of puree, about 1/2 of a butternut squash, depending on how big it is. This is perfect for using leftovers if you had roasted one earlier in the week.
You can buy a whole squash, already cubed squash or a bag of frozen (and then thawed) butternut squash for this recipe. The idea is to make it as easy for you as possible.
To roast, I usually buy a whole butternut squash, cut a little off the top and bottom so that it’s easier to handle on the cutting board. Then I stand it up and slice right down the middle so that you have two halves. You will want to scoop out the seeds, place it on a baking sheet and roast at 400F for 40-60 minutes until it’s fork tender, meaning you can easily stick a fork in it. It doesn’t have to slide off, but it should be easy to take the fork back out.
If you buy already cubed, but not cooked, butternut squash from the grocery store, you can toss that on a sheet pan and roast at 400F for about 20-30 minutes until it’s fork tender.
Once you have roasted your butternut squash, wait until it’s cool enough to handle. If you roasted a whole squash, scrape the warm flesh out. Using a blender, food processor, hand mixer or a hand potato smasher you will want to break down the warm butternut squash until it’s as smooth as possible. This is the puree you will need for the recipe.
Creamy Butternut Squash & Gouda Mac & Cheese
- 1 lb Macaroni – Cavatappi – cooked accordingly to package until Al Dente
- 4 Slices of Bacon – diced
- 2 TBSP Butter
- 2 TBSP Flour
- 1½-2 cups Butternut Squash Puree see blog notes
- ½ tsp Salt
- ½ tsp Nutmeg
- 2 cups Milk
- 2 cups Shredded Gouda Cheese Approx. .65 lb, any extra can go on top
- 1 cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese divided
- Preheat your oven to 350F, spray your casserole dish with cooking spray or smear with butter to cover the bottom & sides.
- In a large dutch oven, cook your diced bacon until crispy. Scoop bacon out and drain on a paper towel. Pour out the remainder of your bacon grease.
- Over medium heat, add in butter and flour to create a roux. It should look like wet sand. Cook for about 1 minute.
- Add in your butternut squash puree, salt and nutmeg. Stir until combined and cook for about 1 minute.
- Add in your milk, whisk or stir until smooth. Cook for about 2-3 minutes until it starts to thicken.
- Remove from heat and stir in your cheeses, 2 cups of gouda and ½ cup of parmesan cheese.
- Stir in your cooked noodles until the cheese sauce is evenly distributed.
- Dump out into your prepared casserole dish and top with the remainder of parmesan cheese and any left over gouda cheese if you have any. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes, until hot all the way through.