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 plant-forward 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 teaspoon each dry mustard and ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper and
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon 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.
I love the unexpected addition of the butternut squash! I can’t wait to make this.
It adds a nice subtle sweetness and the color is nice too!
This looks like some cheesy goodness right here! I’m gonna swap out the cheese for some nutritional yeast and oat milk so my toddler with allergies can enjoy it!!
Please let me know how that goes! I am making a vegan version but a little differently.
That butternut squash does something magical for this Mac n’ cheese recipe! It adds such a delicious creamy layer. Thanks for sharing your recipe!
Yes. It does. I was surprised at how nicely it blends into the sauce!
This sounds so good. THanks for offering multiple techniques to make it!
You’re welcome! I know not everyone has an instant pot, but I do think everyone should make this 🙂
This looks creamy and delicious!!! Plus healthy so it’s a win win recipe!!
Thank you Katrina!
I love that you chose to use Butternut Squash to make this Mac + Cheese so creamy! This recipe looks so amazing!
Marisa, this is amazing! I can’t get over the creaminess.
Ok, I made this for dinner tonight and it was INCREDIBLE!! The butternut squash added such a fun sweetness and it was soo creamy! I used chickpea pasta and it worked perfectly, it absorbed most of the broth so I only had to sauté it for a couple minutes! Thanks so much for a delicious dinner! I’ll definitely make this again!
Hey Marisa! This looks super good .. is there a good sub for half and half?
hi! You can use milk or even yogurt. You might just need to adjust the “sauté” time up or down to thicken the sauce.
This was delicious. I used chicken broth. I added 1/4 McLaren cheese spread in addition to the cheddar. We don’t have Trader Joes here in Calgary, so I used regular squash. This is a perfect comfort food meal with great flavours.
This is fantastic!!! I used Kabocha squash because I had one on hand and Banza pasta. So creamy and delicious. Recipe was a breeze, thank you!!!
Such a quick, easy and delicious recipe. I just made it for lunch and it was a breeze! Thank you for sharing : )
This has been a weeknight go-to for my husband and me. Thank you for this amazing recipe Marisa! Highly recommend! I added peas one night, that went well too! Just cooked them separately and added them after the cheese.
Tried with gluten free pasta, rice pasta and also chickpea pasta.
Both came out really good
This is so tasty! I used 12 oz of rigatoni because I misread the recipe and decided to just roll with it given how thick the noodles were, and subbed 1/4 cup of the half & half with 1/4 cup 1% milk, and it turned out lovely – pleasantly on the saucy side. The blend of the sharp cheddar cheese and the creamy butternut squash is divine.
Thanks for the note. I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed it!
Love love love this recipe. Such an easy weeknight dinner that I don’t have to feel guilty about feeding the kids. We also add some shredded broccoli to ours at the end and sprinkle with nutritional yeast to really amp up nutrition. It has become a part of our weekly rotation!
I’m so happy to hear that! Thanks for the note and for sharing the broccoli tip!
Can I double this recipe in an 8qt Instant Pot?
Hi! I know that doubling the recipe in a standard 6qt Instant Pot works. But I haven’t tested this recipe in an 8 qt Instant Pot. So sorry I can’t confirm whether it would work.
Made with gluten free elbow pasta and it turned out amazing! I have a recipe for butternut squash Mac that I’ve used fit years, but it requires a pot, pan and blender to make the sauce and I was feeling too lazy to do that many dishes so I tried this one…I’ll never make the other again! Way faster, easier, less ingredients and less cleanup – AND it tasted amazing. We served with Apple chicken sausages – a fancy take on Mac & Cheese with hotdogs cut up in it
So glad you enjoyed it! And I love that you served this with apple chicken sausages. Sounds like the perfect pairing!
Great recipe!!! Thank you for helping me learn how to use my new IP and make some delicious food! I doubled the recipe in a 6qt pot.
I don’t know what happened! I tried doubling the recipe in my instant pot but otherwise followed the recipe. The pasta was beyond overcooked, and there was so much liquid left at the end. I had to let it saute for 15-20 minutes to evaporate most of it, and the whole thing was still really soggy. I’ve made butternut squash mac and cheese on the stove and oven for years and was excited for a faster and easier version, but I’ll definitely be staying away from the instant pot on this one in the future.
Hmmm. Sorry to hear you had a bad experience doubling the recipe. I haven’t tested it and don’t know that you can easily do that without making other changes. Curious if you changed the cook time?