This creamy, comforting Instant Pot Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese is ready in less than 20 minutes and in just one pot! Using pre-cut butternut squash, this easy dinner idea is friend, family, and kid-friendly and ready to feed a crowd!
Are you ready for a bowl of not-so- healthy-ish comfort food?
Ever since my Creamy Pumpkin Pasta last year, I’ve been planning to share a pumpkin or butternut squash mac and cheese recipe with you. Today is finally the day.
And the time may have paid off.
How to make butternut squash mac and cheese
Making this recipe in the Instant Pot is an absolute breeze. You literally use one pot and one spoon.
No slicing and dicing butternut squash – unless you want to. I use pre-cut butternut squash. I get it from Trader Joe’s. It makes life easier.
To add extra flavor, use vegetable or chicken stock. The flavor will infuse into the noodles and be part of the sauce. For additional flavor, I added garlic powder, pepper and the tiniest bit of nutmeg.
Is butternut mac and cheese healthy?
Maybe? Depends how you look at it. But by most standards no. However, this recipe takes regular stovetop mac and cheese up a notch in the health factor. The butternut squash adds a boost of vitamin A and fiber that you don’t get in traditional macaroni and cheese.
Nutrients aside. It tastes good!
What’s the best cheese for butternut mac and cheese?
I love sharp cheddar cheese. I used white cheddar because it’s what I had on hand. Feel free to use whichever cheese you like, but I encourage you to go with a high flavor one. It will best compliment the mild, sweet flavor of the squash.
What if I need to keep gluten-free?
This can get tricky because the cooking times vary based on the type of gluten-free pasta you buy. You might start with brown rice or other hearty pasta. Lentil and some of the other legume-based pastas may get a bit gummy and produce more foam in the pressure cooker. I have NOT tested using gluten-free pasta with this recipe, so please let me know if you try it!
Can I make it a vegan mac and cheese?
You could. But I’ll be honest… I haven’t found a vegan cheese that I truly love. If you know of one that melts and tastes great, let me know below! That’s the biggest hurdle you’ll need to overcome to get good flavor and texture in a vegan version of this recipe.
The other option would be to use nutritional yeast for flavor, but you’ll need to adjust the liquid to make a sauce. Maybe I’ll test that and get back to you.
Or you might try this vegan butternut squash mac and cheese recipe from Tasty.
What if I don’t have an Instant Pot?
Remember that the Instant Pot is just one multi-cooker brand. You can use the same recipe below for any electric pressure cooker. And I do recommend this one-pot method since it’s the easiest and tastiest way to get the pasta right!
To make this recipe in the slow cooker: If you don’t have a pressure cooker at all, try this recipe in the slow cooker. TO do so combine the stock, spices, and butternut squash in the slow cooker and cook 4 hours on high. Puree with an immersion blender. Set the slow cooker to warm. Add cooked pasta and cheese. Stir until the cheese melts and the sauce is creamy.
To make this recipe on the stovetop: You can make this recipe on the stovetop. It will just take a little more attention. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Steam or simmer the butternut squash in stock on the stove.
Once the squash is done, puree it in batches with the seasonings and warm half and half in a blender. Combine the drained pasta, blended sauce, and cheese in the warm pots. Stir gently until the cheese melts and the sauce is creamy and smooth!
Now go and enjoy!
Also, try this Instant Pot Spinach Mac & Cheese for an easy weeknight dish!
Instant Pot Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
- ½ lb. corkscrew or elbow pasta
- 12 ounces butternut squash, cubed
- 3 cups vegetable stock*
- ⅙ tsp each dry mustard and ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp black pepper and
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp coarse salt
- ½ cup half and half
- 1½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Add the pasta, butternut squash, and stock to the liner of your pressure cooker. I used the Instant Pot (R).
- Set the valve to "sealing." Start the pressure cooker in manual mode for 4 minutes at high pressure. Use the quick release, then carefully open the lid using an oven mitt or potholder.
- Switch to sauté mode and set to “less.” Saute about 5 minutes, or until most of the liquid evaporates. Stir in half and half, spices, and cheese. Stir constantly until the cheese melts. Turn off the IP. Let sit 5-10 minutes or until the sauce is thickened. Serve warm.