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Daphne Oz's Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Dr Oz' healthier Mac and Cheese
Dr Oz' healthier Mac and CheeseTODAY

Chef notes

Dr. Oz showcases a healthy twist on one of America’s favorite dishes, macaroni and cheese, from his daughter Daphne's cookbook "The Happy Cook!" The healthy surprise substitute is butternut squash.

Says Daphne, “Well, you know, you look at that boxed mac and cheese, part of what's so alluring about is that delicious, you know, yellow cheese and the creaminess of the sauce that it comes with. So I wanted to recreate that in a really healthy way with the butternut squash.”

And what does her father think? “I love this because it truly only takes about 60 seconds more to make this at home over your traditional boxed mac and cheese and it’s a lot safer to make your own. My grandchildren love it and like Daphne says, the reason why parents love mac and cheese is because we get to eat the leftovers.”

Technique tips: There are two techniques you can do here: If you have a little more time and you want to develop a little more caramelized flavor, you can roast the butternut squash. Even in this preparation, you don't need to cube it, but you can buy it cubed which is a huge time saver. Just take the seeds out of the center part, add a little olive oil and place the squash face down on a baking sheet. Put it into the oven until it's really soft and the flesh scoops right out of the shell. Then use it to thicken up that mac! 


  • 4 cups butternut squash (peeled, seeds removed, cut into 1-inch cubes)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 pound whole-wheat elbow macaroni
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Kosher salt and freshly grated black pepper to taste



Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil.


In a medium saucepan, add the butternut squash and milk, and place over medium-high heat. Season with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until fork tender, 8 to 10 minutes.


To a blender, add squash and milk. Puree until smooth.


Meanwhile, place a large sauté pan over medium heat and add butter. Add the squash puree, stock and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, 5 minutes. Add the cheese, stir to combine and set aside.


To the boiling water, add the macaroni and cook until al dente, about one minute less than the package
instructions. Drain, reserving some pasta water.


To the sauté pan, add the pasta. Garnish with toasted breadcrumbs.