Smoked Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

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Smoked Butternut Mac and Cheese with smoked chicken and bacon is over the top in flavor, cheese, and of course, bacon. Mix in some smoked chicken to make this one pot dish one of your new favorite mac and cheese recipes.

Smoked Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese in a cast iron pan topped with bacon
The golden color derives from the cheddar and the butternut squash.
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Anything cooked inside, in the oven or stove top can be cooked outside on the the smoker, and that includes a great Mac and Cheese recipe!

Mac & Cheese is like a good burger, you can never have too many recipes. The idea behind this Butternut Squash version came when trying to find a way to incorporate one of our favorite squashes for a healthier version of our kids’ favorite dish, including some vegetables and proteins (in this case chicken).

Smoked Butternut Squash

Squash can be grown almost year round and makes a great filler for soups and other dishes. When smoking anything, having moisture helps because the smoke adheres to the liquid, creating that rich smoky flavor. The most effective squashes to smoke are your fall and winter squashes, like Butternut, Acorn, Kuri, or Pumpkin.

Summer squashes, like zucchini for example, are best for direct grilling. Their softer skin and higher moisture content make for a much better flavor over direct heat. If you smoke a summer squash at a low temperature, it will end up mushy and the texture will not be pleasant. 

Preparation

Start by preparing the butternut squash.

  1. Slice off the ends of the squash on either side.
  2. Remove the seeds and pulp with a spoon. If you do this after removing the skin it’s very difficult.
  3. Using a sharp peeler, remove the skin from the squash.
  4. Finally slice the squash into even cubes and it’s ready for seasoning.

From there we will season and then smoke the squash, chicken, and bacon all at the same time so it’s all done in preparation for the Mac and Cheese. This can be done the day before to break up the steps.

Seasoning

For the squash we are seasoning it simply with a beef rub comprised of equal parts kosher salt, coarse black pepper, and granulated garlic. Simply toss the cubes on a sheet tray with olive oil and the rub. 

For the chicken we use our ultimate dry rub with hints of spices and sugar. We don’t add anything to the bacon. For the chicken, also coat it in olive oil and then liberally apply the dry rub to the chicken. If you don’t have access to making your own seasonings, then just use your favorite for both the squash and the chicken.

It’s now time to get smoking.

How to Smoke Butternut Squash

We like to smoke the squash at 250 degrees F. This was cooked on our MAK Two-Star General.
  1. Prepare smoker and target 250 degrees Fahrenheit using a fruit wood for a sweeter and softer flavor. If you want a more pronounced smoke flavor use oak or hickory. 
  2. Place the sheet tray of seasoned squash right onto the smoker. This is also a good time to add the chicken and bacon directly to the smoker.
  3. Smoke the squash for two hours. 
  4. The bacon and chicken will take about the same time. However be sure after one hour, to take the temperature of the chicken. Remove the chicken when the internal temperature of the meat is at 160 degrees Fahrenheit using an instant read thermometer like the Thermoworks MK4 Thermapen. For the bacon, remove when it is crispy. Usually that’s between 90 minutes and two hours. 

Now remove them from the smoker, shred the chicken (or cut into small cubes), dice the crispy bacon, and make the Smoked Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese. Don’t have a smoker? Just roast in the oven then.

Making the Mac & Cheese

The final steps (and it’s worth it) is to make the Mac and Cheese. Start with the base, then blend it for texture, and then combine the ingredients.

Equipment needed: A good blender.

  1. Start with a large pot of boiling, salted water. Add the macaroni noodles and cook based on the package directions. Be sure to strain prior to adding to the smoked butternut squash Mac and Cheese mix. Set aside.
  2. In a large cast iron or sauce pan (at least 10-inches with a deep edge) over medium heat, add olive oil and onions. Sautee to soften onions, about 10 minutes. Adjust the temperature of the stove top if they are cooking to fast and browning. Next add the garlic and cook for 1 additional minute to soften.
  3. Add the butternut squash to the pan and stir for 1-2 minutes to incorporate with onions and garlic and re-heat the squash. (save the same pan to finish)
  4. Place the mixture into a strong blender (we love BlendTec). Add milk, chicken stock, salt, pepper, and nutmeg to the blender mix. Puree until the texture is smooth. If the puree is too thick add small amounts of milk or chicken stock until it’s thin enough (roughly 2 tablespoons of each until you like the consistency).
  5. Place the puree back into the pan and add the cheeses, smoked chicken, and half of the bacon. Slowly stir in the drained macaroni and the cheese will melt and incorporate. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.
  6. Place in your desired serving dish and top with the remaining bacon.
Smoked Butternut Mac and Cheese in a Cast Iron pan topped with bacon
Bacon as a topping makes for a great presentation, as does parsley.

Similar Recipes

You can also check out our full list of fall recipes on the grill or smoker.

Smoked Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
5 from 1 vote

Smoked Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese Recipe

Creamy smoked butternut squash puree mixed with smoked chicken, bacon, and cheese for a creamy and flavorful mac and cheese.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 2 hours 15 minutes
Total: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 6 people

Equipment

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Ingredients 

For the Smoked Butternut Squash and Meats

  • 1 butternut squash, skin removed, cut in cubes, and with seeds removed, (After smoking it is roughly 15 ounces of smoked squash by weight. If yours is larger, just adjust the liquid for the mac and cheese.)
  • 2 smoked chicken breasts, (When chicken is cooked, shred with a fork, or cut into small cubes.)
  • 6 slices thick cut cooked bacon
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil,
  • 1 tablespoon beef rub
  • 1 tablespoon ultimate dry rub, (Or you can use the same rub as the squash)

For the Smoked Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

  • 12 ounce box macaroni, cooked to package directions
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup diced yellow onions (about one medium yellow onion)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup chicken stock, (We use low sodium)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, (You can also substitute a sharper hard cheese like Asiago)

Instructions 

For Preparing and Smoking the Squash and Meats

  • Preheat Smoker – Prepare smoker and target 250 degrees Fahrenheit using a fruit wood for a sweeter and softer flavor. If you want a more pronounced smoke flavor use oak or hickory.
  • Season – Place cubed squash on a foil lined sheet tray. Toss with 1 tablespoons olive oil and rub. For the chicken, cover in1 tablespoon olive oil and seasoning.
  • Smoke – Place the tray of squash, the seasoned chicken, and bacon on the smoker for 2 hours. If you don't have enough room on the smoker, roast the bacon separately in the oven.
  • Remove -After two hours, remove the squash and bacon. Shred the chicken with a fork and crush the bacon into small pieces. Remove the chicken when the internal temperature is 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Start checking the chicken after the first hour in case it cooks faster. This will depend on how thick the chicken is.

Mac and Cheese

  • Boil Macaroni – Start with a large pot of boiling, salted water. Add the macaroni noodles and cook based on the package directions. Be sure to strain prior to adding to the smoked butternut squash Mac and Cheese mix. Set aside.
  • Sauté – In a large cast iron or sauce pan (at least 10-inches with a deep edge) over medium heat, add olive oil and onions. Sauté to soften onions, about 10 minutes. Adjust the temperature of the stove top if they are cooking to fast and browning. Next add the garlic and cook for 1 additional minute to soften.
  • Add Squash – Add the butternut squash to the pan and stir for 1-2 minutes to incorporate with onions and garlic and re-heat the squash. (save the same pan to finish)
  • Blend – Place the mixture into a strong blender (we love BlendTec). Add milk, chicken stock, salt, pepper, and nutmeg to the blender mix. Puree until the texture is smooth. If the puree is too thick add small amounts of milk or chicken stock until it’s thin enough (roughly 2 tablespoons of each until you like the consistency).
  • Add Blend to Pan – Place the puree back into the pan and add the cheeses, smoked chicken, and half of the bacon. Slowly stir in the drained macaroni and the cheese will melt and incorporate. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.
  • Place in your desired serving dish and top with the remaining bacon.

Notes

Prepping the Butternut Squash
  1. Slice off the ends of the squash on either side.
  2. Remove the seeds and pulp with a spoon. If you do this after removing the skin it’s very difficult.
  3. Using a sharp peeler, remove the skin from the squash.
  4. Finally slice the squash into even cubes and it’s ready for seasoning.

Nutrition

Calories: 806kcal | Carbohydrates: 66g | Protein: 45g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 121mg | Sodium: 1034mg | Potassium: 1114mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 13852IU | Vitamin C: 30mg | Calcium: 534mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Course: Entree
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 806
Keyword: smoked butternut squash, smoked butternut squash mac and cheese
Like this recipe? Leave a comment below!

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Vindulge

About Mary


I'm Mary, a wine/food/travel writer, Certified Sommelier, mom of twins, former vegetarian turned BBQ fanatic, runner, founder of Vindulge, and author of Fire + Wine cookbook. Thanks for stopping by!

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1 Comment

  1. 5 stars
    THIS….WAS….HEAVENLY!! Just tried this recipe and found that I WILL be doing it again, very soon! I wanted to eat the squash all by itself (after smoking), but had to restrain myself to complete the full recipe. And I wasn’t disappointed, in the least. Now I have to try this without the bacon (my father cannot eat beef or pork).