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Hidden Veggie Macaroni and Cheese

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This veggie mac and cheese is an easy and satisfying dish with hidden healthy vegetables. Cauliflower, carrots and butternut squash are pureed with cream cheese and cheddar cheese to create a delicious cheese sauce. Add your favorite toppings like ketchup for a kid-friendly recipe that the whole family will enjoy.

Pot of vegetable macaroni and cheese with a spoon.

Healthy Vegetable Mac And Cheese

This veggie mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food with a healthier twist. We love how easy it is to incorporate our favorite vegetables into this delicious cheese sauce. It’s the perfect meal for kids and adults alike!

If you’re used to eating the traditional boxed mac and cheese this will taste different. But the processed food version of mac and cheese is full of preservatives and added salt. There is basically zero nutritional value.

This homemade mac and cheese is a great way to incorporate more vegetables into your day. First, the vegetables are steamed and the elbow macaroni is cooked. Next, the veggies are pureed in a blender and melted with the cheese in a pot to create the creamy sauce. Everything is tossed together to create the perfect healthy comforting meal!

Recipe ingredients including bowls of shredded cheese, milk, cauliflower, pasta, carrots, squash, butter, salt and pepper

Recipe Ingredients

  • 3 cups uncooked elbow macaroni pasta
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets – fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup chopped butternut squash – fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup chopped carrots – fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 oz cream cheese – softened to room temperature and cut into cubes
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper

Try my tuscan chicken pasta, baked spaghetti and meatballs casserole, ground turkey orzo in tomato sauce, and pizza pasta casserole next!

Broccoli, carrots and squash steamed in a pot.

How To Make Veggie Mac And Cheese

Step 1: Add 1 cup cauliflower, 1 cup butternut squash, and 1 cup carrots to a steamer or large pot with enough water to cover them. Let the vegetables steam or boil until they are tender when poked with a fork. Drain the vegetables from the water.

Vegetables and milk in a blender, then creamed together. A pot of pasta noodles, then pasta in a strainer.

Step 2: Add the cooked vegetables and 1 cup milk to a blender or food processor and puree until they are smooth and creamy. Set aside for now.

Step 3: Next, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the 3 cups of elbow macaroni and cook according to the package directions, until al dente. Drain pasta through a strainer, and set it aside.

Pot of pasta, orange sauce, cheese and cream cheese dumped in. Then everything is mixed together.

Step 4: Now pour the pureed vegetable mixture into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add in 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, and 4 oz cubed softened cream cheese. Stir together. Let everything simmer and stir frequently until all of the cheese melts (The cheese will melt much faster if the cream cheese is softened and cut into cubes)

Step 5: Once the sauce is smooth and creamy, add the cooked macaroni to the pot of cheese sauce and mix everything together. Scoop into bowls and serve with your favorite toppings or sauces!

Close up of hidden veggie mac and cheese.

Recipe Tips

  • To make life easier, I used frozen butternut squash cubes. You can also use canned pureed squash if it’s available.
  • You’ll need 1/2 cup of cream cheese (4 oz). It’s easier to melt if you let the cream cheese soften at room temperature before the cooking process. Just cut it up into cubes and let it sit on the counter to soften.
  • Cook the pasta to al dente. You don’t want to overcook it or the mac and cheese will taste mushy.
  • The vegetables need to be soft when poked with a fork after steaming or boiling them. If they’re not soft enough, they won’t puree as smoothly.
  • Topping Ideas: Ketchup, hot sauce, barbecue sauce, parmesan cheese, hot dog weiners, crushed crackers and chopped green onion.

How To Store Leftovers

  • REFRIGERATE – Store the leftovers in an airtight container n the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
  • REHEAT – To reheat you can microwave for 1-2 minutes and stir just before serving. You can also reheat this in a casserole dish in the oven. Bake at 350F until warmed through.

Can I Freeze This? 

Cream cheese doesn’t always freeze as well and can produce a grainy texture once it thaws, so freeze at your own discretion. Some people (including my husband) don’t even notice the change in texture and will happily eat it, so it’s really a personal preference.

Does this taste different than regular mac and cheese?

Yes, it does. The sauce has a different texture to it than regular mac and cheese. You will notice it when you taste the recipe. Personally, I really enjoy the texture and flavor. But if you’re looking for a recipe to taste just like the boxed classic flavor, then this is not for you.

A bowl of hidden veggie mac and cheese.

Tools For This Recipe

(Amazon affiliate links) – Check out all of my kitchen essentials here.

  • Vitamix Blender If you want the creamiest soups, smoothies and sauces, this is the blender that will give you top-notch results!
  • Dutch Oven Pot I use this pot for all my daily cooking, including this recipe!
  • Silicone Spatula A good set of silicone utensils is essential in my opinion.
  • Magnetic Measuring Spoons I love these magnetic ones which stay nice and organized together when storing them

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A pot of veggie mac and cheese with cauliflower, carrots and chopped butternut squash surrounding it.

Veggie Mac and Cheese

Carrots, butternut squash and cauliflower are all sneaky ingredients inside this macaroni and cheese recipe.
4.36 from 137 votes
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cups uncooked elbow macaroni pasta
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets - fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup chopped butternut squash - fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup chopped carrots - fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 oz cream cheese - softened to room temperature and cut into cubes
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the 3 cups of elbow macaroni and cook according to the package directions, until al dente. Drain through a strainer, and set the cooked macaroni aside. 
  • Add 1 cup cauliflower, 1 cup butternut squash, and 1 cup carrots to a steamer or large pot with enough water to cover them. Let the vegetables steam or boil until they are tender when poked with a fork. Drain the vegetables from the water.
  • Add the cooked vegetables and 1 cup milk to a blender or food processor and puree until they are smooth and creamy.
  • Pour the pureed vegetable mixture into a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add in 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, and 4 oz cubed softened cream cheese. Stir together. Let everything simmer and stir frequently until all of the cheese melts (The cheese will melt much faster if the cream cheese is cut into cubes).
  • Once the sauce is smooth and creamy, add the cooked macaroni to the pot and mix everything together. Scoop into bowls and serve with your favorite toppings or sauces.

Video

Recipe Notes:

  • Cook the pasta to al dente. You don’t want to overcook it or the mac and cheese will taste mushy.
  • Let the cream cheese soften to room temperature before you make this recipe. This will create a smooth creamy texture for the sauce.
  • The vegetables need to be soft when poked with a fork after steaming or boiling them. If they’re not soft enough, they won’t puree as smoothly.
  • Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
  • To reheat you can microwave for 1-2 minutes and stir just before serving. 
  • Can I Freeze This? Cream cheese doesn’t always freeze as well and can produce a grainy texture once it thaws, so freeze at your own discretion. Some people (including my husband) don’t even notice the change in texture and will happily eat it, so it’s really a personal preference. You can freeze this mac and cheese in an airtight container for up to 3-4 months for maximum freshness.

Nutrition

Calories: 524kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 64mg | Sodium: 337mg | Potassium: 473mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 6742IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 373mg | Iron: 2mg

The nutritional information provided is an estimate and is per serving.

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A white pot with hidden veggie mac and cheese recipe and bowls of cauliflower, chopped squash and carrots.

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