This smokey, creamy Bacon Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese for Two is made with butternut squash roasted in bacon drippings, crunchy panko, and sharp Cheddar cheese.
You all know how I feel about creamy, cheesy pasta. (Hello Creamy Chicken Pasta with Bell Peppers, Easy Fettuccine Alfredo With Broccoli, and cute little Mac and Cheese for One). You throw some butter, some milk or cream, and some cheese over carbs, and I am good to go.
But come fall, I start wanting to a little something extra in my pasta, like maybe some bacon, or maybe some butternut squash, or maybe both…
Folks, please allow me to introduce Bacon Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese for Two.
Oh this is a beautiful, wonderful, amazing fall dinner for two. It’s smokey from the bacon, just a tiny bit sweet from the butternut squash, crunchy from the panko on top, and so cheesy.
See Also: Short Rib Mac & Cheese
You start with a few slices of bacon, cooked till crisp, and then you roast the butternut squash in the bacon drippings. Since this is a dinner for two, you only need about 1/4 of a butternut squash, but I totally recommend roasting some extra, because you are going to want to eat the bacon-roasted squash right off the pan (learned this one the hard way).
Puree the squash that you don’t eat (or if you’re lazy like me and don’t mind a little texture in your sauce, just give it a good mashing with a potato masher). Then you mix your roasted squash puree with with a simple cheese sauce, stir in half of your bacon, stir in some pasta, coat with more cheese and panko and bake.
Let that butternut squash mac and cheese hang out in the oven just long enough for the cheese on top to melt and the panko to crunch up and turn a beautiful golden brown. Sprinkle a little more bacon on top and enjoy!
This makes a generous meal for two or side dish for four (perfect for a small Thanksgiving side, perhaps?), or you could scale it up as much as you’d like. This is a particularly flexible dish!
Bacon Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese Recipe Notes
- If you don’t normally stock panko, you can order it from amazon or find it next to the bread crumbs at the grocery store. You can substitute bread crumbs here, but I *really* recommend panko for its superior crunch and texture.
- Here’s how to cut butternut squash if you’ve never done it before.
- I’m not kidding about roasting some extra squash for eating! If you are roasting more than half a squash or have particularly lean bacon, cook an extra piece or two of bacon so you have plenty of drippings for roasting.
- You can omit the bacon to make this vegetarian butternut squash mac and cheese, just toss the squash with about a tablespoon of oil before roasting.
Bacon Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese for Two
- 2 ounces (3 to 4 slices) thick-cut bacon or bacon ends
- 1/4 medium butternut squash peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 4 ounces (1 cup) macaroni or conchigliette
- 1 1/4 cups milk divided
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Pinch ground nutmeg
- Pinch crushed rosemary
- 3/4 cup (3oz) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese divided
- 1/2 cup panko
- Preheat oven to 400°F, line a baking sheet with foil and lightly grease with cooking spray. Put water on to boil for the pasta.
- In a medium pan over medium heat, cook bacon until crispy. Remove bacon from pan and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Add squash to the pan and toss in the drippings until well-coated. Pour squash out onto your prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender.
- Cook your pasta according to package instructions, drain and set aside. Crumble or chop bacon into bite-sized pieces.
- While your pasta cooks, puree roasted butternut squash in your food processor or blender. Add 1/4 cup of the milk and puree until smooth.
- In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour and cook until golden brown, about 30 seconds. Whisk in milk, stirring constantly so no lumps form. Continue to whisk mixture for 3 to 5 minutes, until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Stir in pureed butternut squash and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Salt and pepper to taste and add (just!) a pinch of ground nutmeg and rosemary. Stir in 1/2 of the bacon and the prepared noodles.
- Transfer mixture to a greased 7x5-inch baking dish. Top with the remaining cheese followed by the panko. Bake for 12 to 17 minutes or until cheese is melted and panko crunchy and golden.
- Top with remaining bacon and cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe Adapted From: Two Peas and Their Pod