Ah, the flavors of fall! Other than the weather, one of the reasons I look forward to fall the most is the food! Soups, pastas, chilis and everything else that is perfect for those cool fall days just make my heart smile!
Sweet butternut squash is one of my favorite veggies to mix with recipes in the fall. For a while, I’ve been wanting to try my hand at butternut squash mac in my Instant Pot. My family’s already a huge fan of my Instant Pot Mac and Cheese so I thought I’d give them a new fall favorite to enjoy!
Fall Spices for the Win
This Instant Pot Butternut Mac has the perfect combination of fall spices. The sweet taste of the butternut squash combined with a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg, make for an amazing flavor explosion in your mouth! This butternut mac and cheese became an instant winner in my home!
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All my kids were fans. I did keep it a secret from them that it was butternut squash mac and cheese when they first tried it. I didn’t want them to turn it down before even tasting it. My plan worked, and they gobbled up their bowls in no time!
My nephew, who is one of my official taste testers, could not get enough of this! After trying it, he says he dreamt of eating more all night! I’ve made it several times now and make sure he knows when I’m making it so he can make an appearance.
Fast, Easy and Delicious
This meal is easy and so fast to prepare! The hardest part will be peeling and cutting up your butternut squash. If you’re in a pinch, though, you can always buy the pre-cut butternut squash they sell at supermarkets. I had several whole butternut squashes so I opted to peel them and cut them myself. (Actually, I had my husband do it if truth be told!)
I am certain you will enjoy this fall inspired Instant Pot Butternut Squash Mac. The fact that you can have it ready in such a short amount of time, and that it has delicious butternut squash mixed in makes this the perfect meal in my book!
Kitchen Prep Tools, Utensils & Appliances
Here is a list of the kitchen prep tools, utensils, and appliances I used to make this recipe.
Prep Tools & Utensils
These are some of the kitchen tools that I used to prep and make this Instant Pot Butternut Mac and Cheese recipe:
- The butternut squash will need to be peeled and cubed and the onion will need to be rough cut. Because of its odd shape, it’s so much easier to peel butternut squash using one of these peelers. For all my cutting and chopping, I use this cutlery set which I’ve had for years. It’s still in great shape and I just love the color.
- A food processor is necessary for chopping the butternut squash and onion into very small pieces. I recently got this amazing food processor and absolutely love it. It really makes quick work of these types of food prep tasks.
- The butternut squash will need to be weighed so that you get the correct measurement. Any scale that has the tare function makes this task so easy.
- Anytime I’m cooking in my Instant Pot, I make sure to have my mini mitts close. They are so handy and I use them daily in the kitchen.
- You will need a few other common kitchen utensils for this recipe including some measuring cups, measuring spoons, liquid measuring cups, and some prep bowls. Although these are not sold as prep bowls, I love using them for prepping food because they are the perfect shape, size, and material for food prep. I also like to use this silicone spoon when cooking in the Instant Pot.
Appliances & Cookware
Instant Pot Accessories
Make sure to check out my post on Must-Have Accessories for the Instant Pot. You’ll find a complete list of all the top accessories that can be used with your Instant Pot.
I have included a step-by-step below for Instant Pot beginners. If you don’t need a step-by-step, you can just skip it and go straight to the recipe card below the steps. To help you successfully create this delicious pasta dish, you will also find some tips, tricks and serving suggestions in the recipe card.
How To Make Butternut Mac and Cheese in the Instant Pot
This Butternut Mac and Cheese recipe is so warm, delicious and comforting. Plus, it takes less than 15 minutes to have ready to serve! That makes this quick and easy side dish a lifesaver on those days when you’re in a hurry. And, if you’re schedule is anything like mine, you’re always in a hurry.
Let’s get started making this wonderful Instant Butternut Mac.
Gather the ingredients for Butternut Mac and Cheese
This pasta dish uses simple and delicious ingredients. Finely chopped butternut squash and onions are sautéed in butter, spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg and then cooked with elbow pasta. Cheddar cheese and heavy cream are added after cooking to make this pasta so deliciously rich and creamy.
- Butter: Sautéing the butternut squash and onion in butter adds a creamy sweetness to this dish.
- Butternut Squash & Yellow Onion: The flavor of the yellow onion adds to the gentle sweetness of the butternut squash which really makes this pasta dish stand out.
- Cinnamon & Nutmeg: These traditional fall spices turn this pasta dish into the perfect fall side dish.
- Chicken Stock: To get the full flavor of homemade chicken stock without having to make it myself, I use Kitchen Basics unsalted chicken stock.
- Elbow Pasta: Small elbow macaroni pasta is perfect for this dish.
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese: I chose sharp cheddar over mild or extra-sharp because it adds a bit more tang and a deeper cheddar flavor than mild cheddar but is creamier and melts easier than extra-sharp. It turned out to be the perfect cheddar for this dish.
- Heavy Cream: The heavy cream makes this butternut mac so smooth and creamy.
Prepare the butternut squash and onion
First, peel, seed and cube the butternut squash and rough cut the yellow onion. Purchasing precut butternut squash can save you a few minutes of peeling and chopping. Next, add the butternut squash and onion to a food processor and pulse until they are broken down into tiny pieces. The pieces should be no larger than a grain of rice. I will usually pulse for a couple of seconds and then stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl and then pulse again. I’ll repeat this so that all of the butternut squash and onion get chopped.
Set the Instant Pot to Sauté
Now, set the Instant Pot to ‘Sauté’ and then use the ‘Adjust’ button to adjust the heat level to ‘Normal’. Allow the pot to warm up until it reads ‘Hot’.
Add the butter
Once the pot is ‘Hot’, add the butter and allow it to melt. Continually moving the butter around the bottom of the hot pot using a spoon or spatula will help it melt more quickly and prevent any of the butter from burning.
Sauté the butternut squash and onion
Once the butter has melted, add the chopped butternut squash and onion to the pot and toss them in the melted butter. Sauté the vegetables in the butter, tossing periodically until the squash begins to get soft. This will take 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the spices
Once the squash has started to soften, add the cinnamon and nutmeg to the pot. Mix the spices into the squash and onion mixture and then allow them to cook into the vegetables for a minute or two. This will give the spices a chance to release their wonderful flavors and aromas.
Add the stock and pasta
Now, turn the’Sauté’ function off, add the chicken stock and salt to the pot and then mix all of the ingredients together. Next, gently stir the elbow pasta into the chicken stock.
Close and set the cook time
Close the Instant Pot and set the pressure release valve to ‘Sealing’. Set the pot to cook on ‘Manual’ / ‘Pressure Cook’, ‘High Pressure’ for 2 minutes. Once the cooking time has completed, allow for a 2-minute natural pressure release. This will let the pasta continue cooking while also allowing any built up foam inside the pot to settle. Giving the foam a chance to settle will help minimize any possibility of making a mess when releasing the remaining pressure.
Add the cream and cheese
Once the 2-minute natural pressure release has completed, release the remaining pressure, open the pot and add the heavy whipping cream to the pasta and mix it in. Then add the shredded cheese to the pasta and mix it in until the cheese fully melts.
Serve up a side of Butternut Mac and Cheese
Now it’s time to serve up a side of this delicious Butternut Mac.
I hope you have a chance to make this wonderful side dish. If you do, please leave a comment below and let me know how it was.
Instant Pot Butternut Mac and Cheese
Macaroni and cheese made with butternut squash and fall spices
for the Sautéed Vegetables
- 4 tbsps unsalted butter
- 1 lb butternut squash peeled, seeded and cubed
- ½ medium yellow onion rough cut
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
for the Pasta
- 3 cups unsalted chicken stock
- 2 tsps kosher salt or to taste
- 1 lb elbow pasta
to add After Cooking
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
sauté the Vegetables
- Add the cubed butternut squash and chopped onion to a food processor and pulse until they are broken down into tiny pieces that are no larger than a grain of rice. You may need to scrape the sides of the food processor bowl to make sure all the butternut squash and onion get chopped.
- Turn the Instant Pot on 'Sauté' and using the 'Adjust' button, adjust the heat level to 'Normal' and allow it to warm up for a few minutes until the pot reads 'Hot'.
- Add the butter to the Instant Pot and allow it to melt. To help the butter melt more quickly and evenly, use a spoon or spatula to continually move it around the bottom of the hot liner until it has fully melted.
- As soon as the butter has melted, add the butternut squash and onion from the food processor to the Instant Pot. Sauté them in the butter for 4 to 5 minutes, tossing periodically until the squash begins to get soft. Do not allow the squash to start browning.
mix in the Spices, Stock & Pasta
- Add the cinnamon and nutmeg to the pot and mix into the squash and onion. Allow the spices to cook into the vegetables for a minute or two to give them a chance to release their wonderful flavors and aromas. Keep a close eye and be careful not to let the spices start burning to the bottom of the liner.
- Turn off the 'Sauté' function and then add the chicken stock and salt to the pot. Mix all the ingredients together, deglazing the liner to remove anything that may have gotten stuck to the bottom during cooking.
- Add the pasta to the pot and give everything a gentle stir.
set the Cook Time
- Set the Instant Pot to cook on "Manual" / "Pressure Cook", "High Pressure" for 2 minutes. Once cooking has completed, allow for a 2-minute NPR (Natural Pressure Release).
- After the 2-minute NPR has completed, release any remaining pressure from the pot. Once all the pressure has been released, carefully open your pot.
add the Final Ingredients
- Add the heavy whipping cream to the pasta and mix it in well. Then add the shredded cheese and mix until all the cheese melts into the pasta.
- Serve and enjoy!
While every effort is made to correctly calculate these nutritional facts, they should be used as general guidance as they may not be 100% accurate.
Some things you should know about this Instant Pot Butternut Mac and Cheese recipe.
Speed up prep time. You can speed up the prep time by purchasing pre-cut butternut squash and diced onion at your local grocery store.
Here are a few ideas for serving your Instant Pot Butternut Mac and Cheese.
Top with shredded parmesan. I love topping this side dish with a bit of fresh shredded parmesan.
Top with bacon. Bacon makes everything better and topping this delicious butternut mac with crumbled bacon will take this dish to the next level.