This Butternut Squash Carbonara features a creamy sauce with a kick, broccoli, crispy bacon, and cilantro to create a comforting dish that’s healthy and quick to make. Tender butternut squash noodles are the perfect base for this smoky, Mexican take on the classic pasta dish, carbonara.

orange noodles coiled on a white plate topped with broccoli and bacon.

No joke, this healthified carbonara is so freaking delicious. And just because it’s healthier doesn’t mean it lacks oomph. This butternut squash carbonara is equally as delicious as the classic, but in its own way.

And rightfully so, because this butternut squash carbonara is spicy, smoky, creamy, and packed with good-for-you-ingredients. Whether you’re into healthier options or not, this one is a winner all around.

The best way to cook butternut squash noodles:

First thing was first when it came to creating the perfect butternut squash carbonara. I had to find the best method for cooking the butternut squash noodles. After doing some research I was pretty set on cooking the squash noodles in the same pan as I was cooking the onions and garlic.

I quickly found that wasn’t going to work. Being squash instead of traditional pasta, the noodles lost their shape as they were continuously stirred.

But without stirring they would cook unevenly. This eventually led me to the oven, where they not only cook quickly, they cook evenly, and are almost completely hands-off. WIN. WIN. Moral of the story. Bake your butternut squash noodles, don’t sauté them. Baking is much easier and the results are perfection.

orange noodles coiled on a white plate topped with broccoli and bacon.Add cheese to your butternut squash carbonara

I chose to use Cotija cheese in this recipe because, ehhem, it’s Mexican! But also because it slightly cools the spice from the chipotle and adds a big, bold punch of flavor.

BUT, if you can’t seem to find Cotija (although most supermarkets have it these days, and you can almost bet your Mexican market will), you can use Manchego instead. I will say, for this dish skip the expensive Manchego and opt for a cheaper one since it isn’t front and center here. Save that gold for something it will shine in!

orange noodles coiled on a white plate topped with broccoli and bacon.
G said this was one of his favorite recipes that I’ve made for ZK to date. So either this is a hit, or he’s hated everything else I’ve made. 🙂 I’ll leave that call up to you.

Make sure to tag me @ZESTFULKITCHEN ON INSTAGRAM or comment below if you make this butternut squash carbonara! 

To pin this recipe and save it for later, you can click the button on any of the photos, or the red button on the side bar or below the recipe.  Happy cooking!

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Butternut Squash Carbonara | from Lauren Grant of Zestful Kitchen

Butternut Squash Chipotle Carbonara

  • Author: Lauren Grant of Zestful Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish (4 cups) 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 medium butternut squash, base removed, neck peeled and spiralized (yield 1 lb. noodles)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • ½ cup grated cotija (1¾ ounces)
  • 12 tablespoons adobo sauce (depending on spice preference)
  • 1 chipotle in adobo, minced
  • 4 strips bacon, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup diced onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup tiny broccoli florets or frozen peas
  • ¼ cup minced fresh cilantro

Instructions

Heat oven to 400°F. Toss butternut squash noodles with 2 teaspoons olive oil and season with salt. Arrange noodles in a single layer on baking sheet and roast until tender, 8–12 minutes, tossing halfway through.

Whisk together eggs, cheese, adobo, and chipotle; set aside.

Cook bacon in a sauté pan until crisp. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined-plate and pour of drippings (or keep drippings and skip adding 1 tablespoon oil to pan).

Add 1 tablespoon oil, onion, and garlic to sauté pan and cook over medium-low heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add broccoli (or peas) and cook 1 minute. Add butternut squash noodles and toss to coat. Off heat, stir egg mixture into noodle mixture and stir quickly until sauce thickens (but eggs do not scramble). Add water, by tablespoon, until sauce reaches desired consistency; season with salt. Stir in cilantro and top servings with cooked bacon.


Notes

Did you make this recipe? Let me know what you think in the comments or leave a review below!

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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  1. We made the Butternut Squash Chipotle Carbonara over a cold Minnesota weekend. We don’t have the correct spiralizer so improvised and first sliced up the squash with a mandoline and then cut the slices up into matchstick sized pieces – it cooked up just fine. Fantastic side dish!
    What a wonderful dish!

  2. This was awesome! I had some chipotle adobo dressing leftover from another recipe and whipped this up in no time. Baking the butternut noodles worked great! Also, I subbed edamame for peas because that’s all I had and I skipped the bacon for a satisfying, light lunch.