Butternut Squash + Bacon = Fall's Favorite Riff on Macaroni & Cheese

Martha Stewart's classic mac and cheese gets an autumnal upgrade.

November  6, 2019
Photo by James Ransom

We've partnered with Hood®, makers of great-tasting, high-quality cream made from real Hood Milk, to share the cozy, fall-ready dish we're making for every holiday get-together: a butternut squash and bacon macaroni and cheese that gets its creaminess from—you guessed it—Hood Cream!

Macaroni and cheese has—and always will be—my favorite food, my last meal, my desert island dish. It should come as no surprise why, since it combines my two life-long joys: pasta and cheese.

I first got hooked on Easy Mac (admittedly, I still love it) and ate my way through various macaroni and cheeses throughout the years, but in 2013 I landed on my holy grail recipe from Martha Stewart.

I turn to it often, at least once a month, and even more so during the holidays when I find myself needing to bring a dish to this dinner party or that potluck. But it's also the time when I find myself tinkering with the formula—not because it isn't already perfect (which it is), but because it's a blank slate that invites creativity.

During the fall, my go-to riff doesn't take more than a few simple additions: crispy bacon, butternut squash, and a little heavy creamy to bulk up the béchamel (typically made from roux and milk) and give the whole thing an extra level of lusciousness.

You could just roast the butternut squash in the oven (or use leftovers from another recipe), but why not cook it in bacon fat? Crisp up the bacon first in a heavy-bottomed skillet, set it aside, and let the squash get fork-tender over medium to medium-low heat in the same pan. And if you want to keep the whole thing vegetarian, you could sub in Brussels sprouts for the bacon and sauté it all in nutty browned butter.

For the cheese sauce, I tweaked the ratio a bit to include 1 cup of heavy cream and 3 1/2 cups of whole milk; the heavy cream makes the sauce extra velvety, plus the mixture takes less time to thicken than if it were just milk.

I used sharp yellow cheddar and Gruyère cheese here, but I highly recommend that you experiment with blends of your favorite cheeses, like white cheddar, Gouda, Monterey Jack, fontina, goat cheese, really anything that'll get nice and creamy-melty. When it comes to macaroni and cheese, the possibilities are endless.

What's your favorite way to make macaroni and cheese? Tell us in the comments below!

We've partnered with Hood® to share our go-to fall recipes, like this macaroni and cheese that gets a boost of seasonal flavor from butternut squash and bacon, and its next-level creaminess from heavy cream. This crowd-friendly dish is our go-to for holiday dinner parties, cozy weekend cooking projects, or just when we're craving something extra comforting.

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Erin Alexander is the Brand Partnerships Editor at Food52, covering pop culture, travel, foods of the internet, and all things #sponsored. Formerly at Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Us Weekly, and Hearst, she currently lives in New York City.