Vegan Butternut Squash Mac And Cheese
This Vegan Butternut Squash Mac And Cheese is healthy comfort food at its best! This Mac and Cheese is filled with wholesome and natural ingredients like butternut squash, raw cashews, and nutritional yeast and is easy to make in just 30 minutes. This dish is cozy and will fill your belly and warm your soul!
Who doesn’t love a good mac and cheese recipe with a twist? I often make my baked Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese or my Buffalo Cauliflower Mac and cheese, but once Fall rolls around I’m all about incorporating Fall flavours like butternut squash, sage and nutmeg into my mac and cheese!
This mac and cheese is made on the stovetop for a simple and delicious recipe that is filled with warming Fall flavour.
The butternut squash adds a delicious creaminess and also that beautiful orange colour we all know and love in a mac and cheese! (That typically comes from orange-coloured cheese.)
This recipe is entirely dairy-free but still gets that creamy cheesy flavour from the homemade cashew milk and nutritional yeast in the recipe. If you haven’t used nutritional yeast in vegan pasta recipes before, it’s a must to add that umami and cheesy flavour!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Tastes rich and creamy. This mac and cheese is made with a butternut squash cheese sauce that tastes super-rich and creamy but is entirely dairy-free!
- Make ahead. The sauce can be made in advance to save you time in the kitchen when you want to make this recipe. When you’re ready to eat simply boil your pasta and add the sauce!
- This recipe is great for adults, kids and toddlers. Seriously, everyone will love this mac and cheese!
- This recipe can be made gluten-free using your favourite gluten-free pasta, or even grain-free using a grain-free pasta alternative.
What does butternut squash taste like?
Butternut squash has a sweet slightly nutty flavour, that some say it is a bit similar to a sweet potato or to pumpkin. It can have an almost caramel-like flavour to it when roasted.
When pureed in a sauce, butternut squash takes on a really smooth and creamy texture, which makes it perfect to use in pasta sauces or mac and cheese! It also goes well with seasonings like nutmeg.
Tip: choose a butternut squash that is solid beige in colour and feels heavy for its size. This will ensure the butternut squash is ripe.
Vegan Butternut Squash Mac And Cheese ingredients
- Cashews: raw unsalted cashews create the base of the creamy mac and cheese sauce. You want to make sure you use raw, not roasted cashews here.
- Water: the water gets blended with the raw cashews to create a cashew cream.
- Butternut squash: the star ingredient of the recipe! You can buy a whole butternut squash and cut it up yourself, or you can buy pre-cut butternut squash.
- Nutritional yeast: this is the “secret ingredient” that gives the vegan macaroni and cheese that signature cheesy taste.
- Garlic: for flavour. Fresh garlic is best here but you could use powdered if needed.
- Lemon: a squeeze of lemon juice helps to balance out the flavours in the mac and cheese.
- Spices: a combination of salt, pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper and nutmeg.
- Dijon mustard: a little goes a long way! This ingredient might seem odd, but trust me, it’s worth it.
- Macaroni: or any other type of pasta or noodles you want to use.
How to make Vegan Butternut Squash Mac And Cheese
Prepare the “cheese sauce” by blending the squash, cashews and seasoning in a high-speed blender until smooth. The cashews will blend up to become nice and creamy. If you have little bits of cashews in the sauce, then you need to continue to blend it until smooth. Then pour the cheese sauce into a pot and heat it up on medium-high heat until it comes to a light boil. The sauce will begin to thicken once it starts boiling.
Cook the macaroni noodles until al dente (slightly firm) and then add them to the pot of cheesy sauce. It’s important not to overcook the noodles as they will continue to cook slightly in the cheese sauce. Don’t forget to reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water to add to the mac and cheese sauce!
Mix the mac and cheese together on medium-high heat until all the noodles are evenly coated and the sauce is nice and thick. The more you let the sauce cook down, the thicker it will become. If you prefer a thinner sauce you can cook it down a bit less.
Serve immediately topped with some fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro and sage are all delicious choices) and some fresh cracked black pepper. If you let the mac and cheese sit on the stovetop, the sauce will start to firm up and won’t be as creamy and silky.
Noodles: you can substitute the macaroni noodles with any type of noodles you love. You can opt for gluten-free noodles or grain-free noodles if needed.
Cashews: If you want to make this mac and cheese nut-free, you can substitute the cashews and water to make the “cashew cream” with 2 cups of coconut milk.
Butternut squash: instead of using butternut squash, you can also use any other type of squash like acorn squash or pumpkin, or you can use sweet potato.
How to store leftovers
Fridge: Store any leftover mac and cheese in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a pot on the stovetop with a small splash of water to help thin out the sauce.
Freezing the cheese sauce: while I don’t recommend freezing the mac and cheese, (the noodles will become mushy when frozen) you can freeze the butternut squash mac and cheese sauce. This way you can use the sauce anytime on freshly made noodles. Just let the sauce cool completely then place it in a sealed container in the freezer for up to 2 months. Let thaw on the countertop.
Can you freeze butternut squash macaroni and cheese?
While you can definitely freeze the cheese sauce, (method mentioned above) you cannot freeze butternut squash mac and cheese, in my opinion. While some recipes might say that you can freeze mac and cheese, I personally find it’s just not worth it as the noodles become very soft and mushy after being defrosted and reheated. (yuck.)
If you want to have elements of the macaroni and cheese prepared in advance, you’re best off freezing the cheese sauce and making fresh macaroni.
Tips for making this recipe perfectly
- Make sure to use raw unsalted cashews in this recipe and to soak them overnight, or in hot water for at least two hours. This will help them blend up into a smooth and creamy cashew milk.
- If you have the time, roasting the butternut squash will give it a really nice rich caramel-like flavour, which is delicious in this mac and cheese! You can alternatively microwave the squash to save time.
- Cook the pasta just until al-dente (so it has a bit of a bite to it.) The pasta will continue to cook a bit when you mix it with the sauce, so if you cook it too much, to begin with, you will end up with a bit of a mushier texture pasta.
- Don’t skip out on the pasta water! Pasta water is starchy and will help thicken the sauce up.
- If you want to make this recipe nut-free, you can replace the cashew milk with coconut milk.
More butternut squash recipes to try
- Butternut Squash Risotto
- Spicy Thai Butternut Squash Soup
- Butternut Squash Ravioli
- Instant Pot Butternut Squash Soup
If you tried this Vegan Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese or any other recipe on the blog let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment/rating below! Be sure to follow along on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook for even more deliciousness!Print
You’ll love this delicious and healthy Vegan Butternut Squash Mac And Cheese recipe that is creamy, delicious and completely dairy-free!
- 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked in water overnight then drained
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup cooked butternut squash, cut into cubes
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- salt & pepper to taste
- 2 cups dried macaroni or noodle of choice (use gluten-free if needed)
- 1/4 cup pasta water (*once the pasta is done cooking, save 1/4 of the water.)
- Fresh herbs to top (optional)
- Place the cashews and water in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy (will take about 1 minute.)
- Add the butternut squash, nutritional yeast, garlic clove, lemon juice, onion powder, nutmeg, cayenne, dijon and salt and pepper to the blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
- Cook the macaroni according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water, then drain and set aside.
- Pour the butternut squash “cheese” sauce into a pot and bring to a light boil on medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes until the sauce thickens slightly.
- Add the macaroni and pasta water to the pot and mix everything together.
- Serve immediately.
Make sure to use raw unsalted cashews in this recipe and to soak them overnight, or in hot water for at least two hours. This will help them blend up into a smooth and creamy cashew milk.
If you have the time, roasting the butternut squash will give it a really nice rich caramel-like flavour, which is delicious in this mac and cheese! You can alternatively microwave the squash to save time.
Cook the pasta just until al-dente (so it has a bit of a bit to it.) The pasta will continue to cook a bit when you mix it with the sauce, so if you cook it too much, to begin with, you will end up with a bit of a mushier texture pasta.
Don’t skip out on the pasta water! Pasta water is starchy and will help thicken the sauce up.
If you want to make this recipe nut-free, you can replace the cashew milk with coconut milk.
- Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
- Calories: 302
- Sugar: 2
- Sodium: 100mg
- Fat: 10g
- Saturated Fat: 2g
- Carbohydrates: 42g
- Fiber: 5g
- Protein: 12g
Keywords: butternut squash mac and cheese, vegan mac and cheese