This Recipe Lets You Keep Your New Year’s Resolution and Have Mac and Cheese Too

Image Source: Andrew Scrivani

Clinton Kelly made this lightened-up squash mac and cheese, and the internet went wild. It’s easy to understand why: people can’t ever get enough mac and cheese, especially when it’s less indulgent, and butternut squash macaroni and cheese in general has exploded on Pinterest. You get all the creaminess and color from the butternut squash, minus all the “bad” stuff.

One thing to note: I know it sounds scary cooking squash in milk, but I’ve done a similar technique with mashed potatoes. It’s very ingenious! Basically, none of the squash flavor is lost by doing so, and there’s no draining involved. You could even use an immersion blender right in the pot if you don’t want to transfer the mixture into a blender.

Image Source: Lorenzo Bevilaqua / ABC

Lightened-Up Squash Mac and Cheese


This is one of the most popular dishes that I have ever made on The Chew. I think (1) because people love mac and cheese, and (2) they are always looking for ways to eat their favorite indulgent and comforting dishes without consuming all of the calories. My lightened-up version has half of the calories of a classic mac and cheese and is even more flavorful. The texture that you get from the butternut squash is creamy and velvety smooth, so you don’t have to add as much cheese to the pasta to get the same results as the more caloric version. Try it, I promise you won’t be disappointed – and as you know, it’s always bathing suit season somewhere!


  1. 3 cups butternut squash, cubed
  2. 1 1/4 cups chicken stock
  3. 1 1/2 cups milk
  4. 2 cloves garlic
  5. 2 tablespoons fat-free Greek yogurt
  6. 1 cup shredded gruyère cheese
  7. 1 cup grated parmesan
  8. 1 pound cavatappi pasta
  9. 1 tablespoon butter
  10. 1/2 cup Italian-seasoned panko breadcrumbs
  11. 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  12. Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste


  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add butternut squash, stock, milk, and garlic. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat, cool slightly, and add to a blender. Add in the Greek yogurt and season with salt and pepper. Blend starting on low and slowly increase the speed, being careful to avoid splatters. Blend until smooth and then add in the gruyére and parmigianino. Blend again until combined and cheese is melted. Pour into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the cavatappi according to the package instructions. When pasta is done, drain and add it directly to the cheesy squash mixture.
  4. Meanwhile, heat butter in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add panko and cook until golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Spoon the mac and cheese into bowls and sprinkle with the toasted panko. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Source: From THE CHEW: APPROVED with permission from Disney Publishing Worldwide.


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