Trader Joe’s Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

Certain products at Trader Joe’s, which is a cousin to Aldi, have a big fan following. There are the sheet cakes, or the Kringle, or the Hold the Cone! Mini Ice Cream Cones. There’s also Unexpected Cheddar, Chili & Lime Flavored Rolled Tortilla Chips, and Everything But the Bagel Seasoning Blend.

Every year, TJ’s conducts its Customer Choice Awards, in which they poll customers about their favorite Trader Joe’s products. In the entrée category, Trader Joe’s Butter Chicken (which we think is okay but not great) was the winner.

One of the products that was a runner-up in the entrée category is a seasonal butternut squash macaroni and cheese dish that TJ’s sells each autumn. When I made my annual fall pilgrimage to TJ’s to pick up all their fun seasonal goodies, I purchased the butternut squash mac and cheese to try.

Trader Joe's Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

Trader Joe’s Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese cost $3.79 for a 12-ounce package at the time of publication.

One package contains two 1-cup servings, but you might be tempted to make a meal of it and eat their entire thing in one sitting. If you make two servings out of it, that comes out to about $1.90 per serving.

This is a seasonal item at Trader Joe’s that shows up only during the fall, so it’s not something you’ll find year round. When TJ’s stocks it, you’ll find it in the freezer aisle.

The package describes this as “mezzi rigatoni pasta with butternut squash puree and a blend of gouda, cheddar and parmesan cheese.”

If you’re looking out for allergens, this contains milk and wheat.

One half-package serving has 250 calories, 8 grams of total fat (10% DV), 4.5 grams of saturated fat (23% DV), 25 mg of cholesterol (8% DV), 480 mg of sodium (21% DV), 38 grams of total carbohydrates (14% DV), 2 grams of dietary fiber (7% DV), 4 grams of total sugars, no added sugars, and 11 grams of protein.

This has some calories, fat, sodium, and carbs, but the ingredients list looks relatively clean, with mostly whole and easily identifiable ingredients. Those ingredients include pasta, butter, various cheeses, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, mustard, nutmeg, sage, black pepper, thyme, and cayenne pepper.

Trader Joe's Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

Nutrition information and ingredients. (Click to enlarge.)

The box has directions for heating this from frozen in a microwave or in a conventional oven.

To microwave, remove the package from the box, and puncture holes with a fork in the plastic film. Microwave on high for 5-6 minutes. Let stand for 1 minute. Remove the film, stir, and serve.

To heat in an oven, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the package from the box. Remove the film from the package. Place the mac and cheese tray on a baking sheet and bake on the center rack in the oven for 12 minutes. Gently stir, and then continue baking for 12-15 minutes longer. Remove from the oven. Let stand for 1 minute. Then stir and serve.

Trader Joe's Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese 3

Ready to serve after microwaving. Note the less-than-generous amounts of cheese and sauce.

I heated this in the microwave for a quick workday lunch, and it was plenty hot after 5 and a half minutes. It smells interesting, with mild squash notes and spices such as nutmeg and pepper, with aromas of dishes you might find on the Thanksgiving table.

It doesn’t have as much sauce as I would hope, and even after stirring it well, some of the noodles didn’t have much sauce on them. In terms of taste, though, it’s fine. It’s a fancy take on classic mac and cheese, and while it has squash flavor, it mostly tastes cheesy, with various spices such as sage, thyme, and nutmeg that give it a more unusual flair. There’s a little bit of cheese sprinkled on the center of the dish that gets more solid as it cooks, so some noodles are cheesier than others.

Most people in my family don’t like squash, and I’m not sure this mac and cheese would make converts out of them. It isn’t because of the squash in this dish either. It simply comes out a bit dry in some spots and could use more sauce. While I didn’t have a problem eating this for lunch, I didn’t like it enough to want to purchase it again.

The Verdict:

Trader Joe’s Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese features mezzi rigatoni pasta with butternut squash puree and gouda, cheddar, and parmesan cheese. If you don’t like squash, this doesn’t have a strong squash flavor. However, we felt like it could use more cheese and more sauce. This was a runner-up in the entrée category in the Trader Joe’s Annual Customer Choice Awards in 2023, and while it’s not bad, it left us a little underwhelmed.

About Rachael

Rachael is the Co-founder of Aldi Reviewer. When she isn't busy shopping at Aldi, she enjoys cooking, gardening, writing gothic romance, and collecting more houseplants than she probably should. You can learn more about her at

One Comment

  1. I love this Mac & cheese, but I really adore the butter nut squash lasagna!

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