Instant Pot Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese with Brown Butter Garlic Sage Breadcrumbs

White bowl of butternut squash mac and cheese with a fork and herbs

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A healthier, veggie-loaded spin on mac and cheese – Instant Pot Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese with an incredible Brown Butter Sage Breadcrumb Topping.


  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 pound brown rice rotini pasta (see note for other pasta options)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon minced dried rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dried sage
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cups peeled, cubed butternut squash (about ½ inch cubes)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese (I prefer whipped cream cheese)
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch


For the Brown Butter Garlic Sage Breadcrumbs

  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into 3 pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs (I use whole wheat)
  • Pinch of kosher salt


  1. Add chicken broth, water, pasta, butter, onion powder, garlic powder, kosher salt, rosemary, thyme, sage, and pepper to the pressure cooker pot.
  2. Place a steamer basket on top of the pasta and add butternut squash to the basket.
  3. Secure the lid and turn pressure release knob to a sealed position.  Cook at high pressure for 3 minutes (see note regarding cook time).
  4. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the Brown Butter Garlic Sage Breadcrumbs.  Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Once melted, start gently whisking the butter.  Within 2-3 minutes it will start to foam and sizzle.  Keep whisking and in another minute or two the butter will separate and the bottom layer will turn golden brown.  Add the garlic, sage, breadcrumbs, and salt and stir frequently until mixture is browned and deliciously fragrant.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  5. When pressure cooking is complete, use a quick release.  If liquid sprays from the valve, close valve, wait 30-60 seconds and try again.
  6. Remove steamer basket of squash and dump it into a blender.  Add cream cheese, parmesan cheese, and cornstarch and blend until very smooth.  If it’s having a hard time blending, add a small splash of water.
  7. Pour back into the pot with the pasta and stir to coat.  It might be a little runny, but will thicken as it sits.  If needed, select saute and simmer the sauce for about 1 minute to thicken.  
  8. Serve pasta hot with a sprinkle of the Garlic Sage Breadcrumbs.


  • Cube the butternut squash small, about ½ inch cubes.  This will ensure they are soft for pureeing.
  • Cook time may vary depending on what type of pasta you use.  I use brown rice rotini that has a stovetop cook time of 14-15 minutes.  To find the cook time for this recipe, I divide the cook time by half then subtract 2 -3 minutes.  You’ll want at least a 3 minute cook time for the squash to be soft.
  • Regarding the type of pasta:  Brown rice is my favorite whole grain pasta because the taste is mild.  Whole wheat pasta was too strong for the sauce.  Regular white pasta will be really good, just make sure it has a stovetop cook time of at least 10 minutes so it won’t be overcooked using this pressure cooker method.
  • The pasta will thicken as it sits.  If it’s really runny, use the saute function to thicken. 
  • If you’re not familiar with browning butter, check out this quick tutorial
  • Extra breadcrumbs can be stored in a sealed container in the freezer for future use.
  • A little crumbled bacon over top is also delicious!
  • Note:  Nutrition facts do not include breadcrumbs.