This slow cooker butternut squash mac and cheese is a healthy, veggie-forward version of comfort food! It’s a cozy, fall-inspired dish that’s suitable for adults and toddlers alike. Plus, you can freeze any extra butternut squash cheese sauce for future meals. Dust off your crockpot, and enjoy!
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Nature’s color palette is starting to look a little more orange these days, and I’m here for it! If you’ve been part of the Veg World for a while, then you know that fall is my favorite time of year to cook and create veggie-based recipes. I absolutely love root vegetables and the beautiful colors that fall produce provides.
So, I’m REALLY excited to kick off my fall veggie recipes with this slow cooker butternut squash mac and cheese. The luscious sauce is made from butternut squash, onions, garlic, and broth cooked in the crockpot until perfectly tender then pureed with an immersion blender. Then, you stir in some cheese, whole milk, salt, pepper, and cooked pasta. The rest is history.
It’s a family-friendly recipe that’s suitable for all ages and makes enough for a big crew. Plus, you can dump the squash and veggies in the crockpot before you start work for the day or on your lunch break. By the time you’re off the clock, your home will smell like Thanksgiving and dinner will be ready in minutes!
And last but not least, this recipe is also freezer-friendly. You can whip up the butternut squash cheese sauce on the weekend, store it in containers in the fridge, and defrost it for busy nights. Honestly, you NEED this recipe.
How to Make Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese in the Slow Cooker
- Chop the butternut squash into cubes. Place it in a slow cooker with a roughly chopped onion, smashed garlic cloves, vegetable broth, and dried thyme. Cook on low for 3.5 to 4 hours or high for 7 to 8 hours.
- When the squash is tender, puree the mixture using an immersion blender.
- Stir in the whole milk, shredded cheese, salt, and pepper. Add the cooked pasta and stir to coat.
The recipe is ridiculously easy! For the full ingredients list and instructions, scroll down to the recipe card at the end of the post. But don’t miss my expert tips in the next section.
Expert Tips and FAQ
- Recommended Equipment: I use this 4.5-quart crockpot and this immersion blender. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can also blend the butternut squash and veggies in an upright blender. Just remember to leave the lid cracked to let steam escape, and do not overfill the blender.
- Squash: The most time-consuming step of this slow cooker butternut squash mac and cheese is chopping the butternut squash. If you need some tips, check out my tutorial on How to Cut Butternut Squash into Cubes. You can save time by purchasing pre-cut squash or even frozen squash.
- Pasta: I like big rigatoni noodles, because I find that they soak up the sauce really well. However, you can use any type of noodle. Use elbow macaroni if you want a classic mac and cheese look. If you need the recipe to be gluten free or want some extra protein, sub chickpea or lentil pasta.
- Serving: This dish is actually fairly balanced on its own, but you can add a side salad or protein (like baked chicken) if desired. My Arugula Apple Salad with Pecans would be a great addition. You could also stir chopped kale or spinach into the pasta for some greens.
Can you serve it to toddlers and babies?
Yes! This slow cooker butternut squash mac and cheese is kid-friendly. Just omit the added salt if you are serving it to babies under one year of age. Or, scoop out the portions for your toddler before you add the salt to the rest of the sauce.
Can you freeze butternut squash mac and cheese?
Butternut squash cheese sauce freezes very well. The recipes make a lot of sauce, so you may want to freeze some if you’re only cooking for one or two people. Remove the amount of sauce that you want to freeze from the crockpot to a bowl. Add your desired amount of cooked pasta to what you kept in the slow cooker to enjoy right away.
Let the reserved sauce cool, then spoon it into a freezer-safe container or Stasher bag. You can even store individual servings in Souper cubes. Store in the freezer for up to three months. When you want to enjoy it, let it thaw overnight in the fridge. Reheat in a saucepan on the stove until warmed through. While it’s heating up, make some fresh pasta to serve with it.
More Butternut Squash Recipes
Love this slow cooker butternut squash mac and cheese? Check out these recipes:
- Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Brown Rice Risotto
- Vegan Butternut Squash and Pear Soup
- Whipped Butternut Squash Goat Cheese Dip
- Spiced Oat and Butternut Squash Muffins
- Roasted Cinnamon Butternut Squash Cubes
I’d love to hear how you like this recipe! Rate/review using the stars on the recipe card or in the comments, and follow the Veg World on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Looking for something totally different? Browse the recipe library.
Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
- Immersion blender
- 5 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash - I used a 3-pound squash; can use frozen
- 1 sweet onion - roughly chopped into quarters
- 3 cloves garlic - peeled and smashed
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1.5 cups vegetable broth
- ½ cup whole milk
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese - more to taste
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 pound rigatoni - can sub any pasta
- Combine the butternut squash, onion, garlic cloves, thyme, and vegetable broth in a slow cooker. Cook on high for 3.5 to 4 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours until the squash is very tender.
- Just before the squash is ready, bring a pot of salted water to a boil to cook the pasta.
- While the pasta is cooking, puree the squash and veggies in the slow cooker with an immersion blender. Stir in the whole milk, cheddar cheese, salt, and black pepper until the cheese is melted. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Feel free to add some chopped sage or a dash of cinnamon for some additional fall flavors.
- Add the cooked pasta to the butternut squash sauce, and stir until coated. Serve, and enjoy!
- Leave a rating or review by tapping the stars on this recipe card (above) or in the comments section (at the end of the post)!
- Freezing instructions: Follow the steps up until cooking and adding the pasta to the sauce. Let the sauce cool and transfer to freezer-safe containers or Stasher bags. Store for up to three months in the freezer. Let the sauce thaw in the fridge overnight, and reheat on the stove in a saucepan until warmed through. Make some fresh pasta to serve with the reheated sauce.
- Toddlers and babies: Omit the salt if you are serving this to babies under one year of age. Or you can scoop out the portions for your toddlers/babies before adding the salt to the rest of the sauce.
- Pasta: Feel free to use any pasta. Rigatoni is great at soaking up the sauce, elbow macaroni gives the recipe a classic mac and cheese look, and lentil or chickpea pasta makes the dish gluten free and protein-packed.
- Blender: You can blend the sauce in an upright blender if you don’t have an immersion blender. Just be sure to not overfill the blender and to leave the lid slightly cracked to let steam escape.
Have a great weekend! – Lizzie