Quick Recipes Summer Vegetarian

Healthy Mac and Cheese for Summer

healthy mac and cheese

I’ve yet to meet a kid who doesn’t like mac and cheese. Even picky eaters seem to gobble it down, which means it’s the perfect opportunity to get more veggies into your kids.

I make different versions of mac and cheese depending on the season: butternut squash mac and cheese in the fall, mac and cheese with frozen peas or frozen spinach in the winter, and this summer squash mac and cheese in the summer. Yellow squash is a particularly great veggie in mac and cheese because when shredded, it kind of melts right into the cheese sauce and offers just a little more texture and flavor.


healthy mac and cheese

Summer Squash Mac and Cheese
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4-6 servings
  • 2 cups dry macaroni noodles, shells, or any other small pasta
  • 3 medium yellow squash (the ones that look like yellow zucchini), shredded
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups shredded medium cheddar cheese
  • Salt to taste
  1. Place shredded squash in a strainer over the sink and let sit for 15 min so that any excess water can drain.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a generous pinch of salt and cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  3. Add butter, shredded squash and a pinch of salt to the pan and saute over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until squash has softened and released some of it's water. Add the flour and saute another minute.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low, pour in milk and stir regularly until milk is steaming and has thickened a little. Remove the pot from heat, add a small pinch of salt and stir in the cheese.
  5. Continue stirring until cheese has melted, then add the noodles back to the pot and stir gently until ingredients are well-incorporated.
  6. Serve hot.

healthy mac and cheese

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  • grace brockway
    June 7, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    You obviously don’t have a picky eater to deal with. i made homemade mac & cheese for my granddaughters and they turned up their noses at it because it wasn’t what they are used to. Not only don’t they like my homemade dish, one won’t eat Trader Joe’s brand, one doesn’t like Kraft and both would rebel if there were anything except macaroni and cheese in the dish (even though one of them loves vegetables!).

  • thebookqueen
    June 7, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    Ooh, looks good! I have a confession–I’ve never ate squash. Of any variety. Might have to start experimenting though!


  • Amelia
    June 7, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Hi Grace. Clearly there are different levels of pickiness. Sounds like your grandkids pose a big challenge so perhaps small changes over time & including them in kitchen/shopping/cooking projects may help, if not right away then eventually. It’s probably also easier to make changes/rules when you’re the parent, since home is where kids generally develop their routine eating habits.

  • Susan
    June 8, 2013 at 6:02 am

    Hi Amelia,
    I made this recipe last evening, using sweet potato instead of yellow squash. I added a few frozen peas, and it was delicious! Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Emily from Nap Time Is My Time
    June 13, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    This looks delicious! My son refuses to eat Mac & Cheese, but I’ll try this one. Who knows, maybe it will be “the one”!

  • Amelia
    June 13, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    It’s certainly worth a try! – especially because if he doesn’t go for it, you’ll reap the benefits 😉

  • Paula @ Paula's Plate
    August 22, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    This looks SO incredible, and it’s perfect for the summer months when squash and zucchini are everywhere! I’m making it tonight and will report back with the (enthusiastic, I’m sure) results 🙂

  • Amelia Winslow
    August 23, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Hope you liked it, Paula!

  • Kim
    July 13, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    I just made this and am dealing with a TON of water that came out of the squash. If I make this again I would add 2 tbsp of flour (1:1 fat: flour is proper roux ratio) and start with about half the milk.

  • Amelia Winslow
    July 13, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    Hi Kim, I’m sorry to hear about your experience! You can always add 1/4 tsp to the grated squash, toss it, then let it sit in a colander draining for 15 min or so. Squeeze the remaining water out of the squash before adding to the pot. Thanks for your comment.

  • Caitlin
    July 18, 2015 at 8:54 am

    Can you recommend something other than whole milk? We typically only have almond milk in the house and I’d hate to buy a thing of whole milk for just 2 cups. Thanks!

  • Amelia Winslow
    July 21, 2015 at 9:58 am

    I wouldn’t recommend making this with a dairy alternative, but you could use any type of cow’s milk (1%, 2% or whole). They do sell pints of milk in most stores, which is exactly 2 cups. If you wanted to try almond milk (unsweetened, unflavored) you certainly could, but I’m not sure how it would taste.

  • Nikki
    July 23, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    Thank you for this recipe! We have SO much squash, I can’t find uses for all of it! My kids normally won’t eat yellow squash so I was on the search for a good “hiding” recipe. This fit perfectly! I just added a little ground mustard, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce to give the sauce more taste, poured it all in a casserole dish, topped with Panko, parsley, and paprika. Both girls are gobbling it down right now! Even my picky kid just said “this Mac n cheese is good! Can I have more?” Well done!

  • Amelia Winslow
    July 23, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    That is so awesome to hear, Nikki! I love your additions, too. I’ll try those next time!

  • Megan
    June 26, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    Delicious! I subbed unsweetened almond milk for cows milk and my kids loved it. 🙂

  • Amelia Winslow
    July 11, 2017 at 9:09 am

    Yay! So glad you enjoyed it!

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