This homemade vegan mac and cheese recipe uses butternut squash and cashews for a flavourful, creamy, and comforting pasta dish!
Even with the summer sun shining, you can never go wrong with a big bowl of comfort food, and this vegan mac and cheese recipe certainly hits the spot.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been let down time and time again when it comes to getting mac and cheese at restaurants – they are never cheesy enough and just don’t quite make the cut. When I then started experimenting with vegan macaroni and cheese, I was shocked to find how amazing this dish is.
By including ingredients like creamy, sweet butternut squash, cashews, nutritional yeast, and a variety of herbs & spices you end up with a vegan pasta sauce that is rich and flavoursome and surprisingly cheesy – all while remaining 100% dairy-free!
Plus, this recipe uses less than ten ingredients and around 45 minutes of your time if you’re making it from scratch. However, this butternut squash mac and cheese sauce is also super freezer-friendly. Simply whip up a large batch and keep it chilled/frozen in an airtight container and then mix into some cooked pasta for a dinner that can be whipped up in under 20 minutes.
This vegan pasta recipe is also super customisable – I love to chuck in additional veg to the dish: especially peas and other green veg or some nutritional spinach. I’ll also serve leftovers cold alongside some leafy greens for a mac and cheese salad.
So how does this dairy-free dish emulate mac and cheese?
Nutritional yeast is the key ingredient for adding that cheesy flavor that we’re looking for. It may look a little odd, but it’s nutty, cheesy flavour is perfect for a vegan mac and cheese recipe.
When combined with rich, creamy butternut squash and the special blend of herbs and spices, you get a cheesy-Esque, creamy sauce that is far more nutritional than your average macaroni and cheese.
Feel free to even add in some of your favourite plant-based cheese for an even cheesier sauce. Like this Simple Smoky Vegan Cheddar Cheese. Hopefully, you’ll agree with me that this is the best vegan mac and cheese you’ve tried.
Recipe Tips & Variations:
- Add some additional veggies to the dish, for extra nutrients. Some of my favourites are broccoli, peas, and even spinach. Just stir them directly into the pasta dish.
- If you want to add some additional ‘hidden’ veggies into the sauce then you can add in some steamed carrot and/or potatoes ( white or sweet potato).
- You can also add in an additional protein of your choice.
- Top with some lightly fried crispy sage leaves for additional flavour. They taste fantastic when combined with butternut squash.
- This sauce can be mixed into pasta and served as is; it could also be made into a pasta bake. Pour into an oven dish, top with some breadcrumbs and optional dairy-free cheese. If the pasta and sauce are already hot, then it just needs a quick grill for the top—otherwise 15-20 minutes at 180C.
The Creamy Vegan Mac and Cheese How-to:
- butternut squash
- macaroni pasta or dried pasta of your choice
- cashews, nutritional yeast, olive oil, turmeric, paprika, cumin, salt & pepper
optional: garlic powder, onion powder
To make the vegan “cheese” sauce, begin by roasting 1/2 butternut squash at 180ºC for 30 minutes-40 minutes, till tender. Brush the flesh lightly with some oil before placing it in the oven. You can also score the flesh, to help it cook quicker. Depending on the size of your squash this can take less/slightly more time.
Once baked, scoop out the butternut squash flesh and place into a high-speed food processor or blender.
Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.
Add a bit of water or plant-based milk to achieve the consistency you like and Voila- Delicious vegan cheese sauce!
If you don’t want to use this immediately, then leave it to cool and place in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. However, if you’re going to use it immediately, then you can prepare your pasta of choice while the butternut squash is baking in the oven.
Boil your pasta of choice according to their package instructions ( usually, add pasta to a pan with lightly salted water, bring water to a boil and simmer until tender). You can, of course, use the classic macaroni – but this butternut squash mac and cheese sauce works well with all pasta.
When the pasta is ready, combine the sauce and pasta and enjoy hot. You can also heat the blended sauce in a saucepan as the pasta cooks. While heating in the pan, the sauce may thicken. Feel free to add some plant-based milk, if that the case- and if you add a bit too much and find your sauce a bit too thin, then you can add cornstarch, to thicken the sauce.
You can then stir the pasta directly into the saucepan with the heated sauce.
How to Serve this butternut squash mac and cheese pasta:
As well as serving as your classic mac and cheese, this dish can also be turned into a pasta bake by placing the mac and cheese into an ovenproof dish and top with some breadcrumbs and optional vegan cheese and grill, until crispy on top.
You can also chill the dish and serve alongside some leafy greens for a delicious mac & cheese salad. For the images below, I served mine along with some lamb’s lettuce leaves.
The Creamy Vegan Mac And Cheese Recipe:
Creamy Vegan Mac and Cheese
- 2 Cups macaroni pasta
- 1/2 butternut squash
- 1/2 cups cashews
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/8 tsp cumin
- salt & pepper to taste
- Roast 1/2 butternut squash at 180ºC for 30 minutes-40 minutes, till tender. Brush the flesh lightly with some oil before placing it in the oven. You can also score the flesh, to help it cook quicker. *
- Once baked, scoop out the butternut squash flesh and place into a high-speed food processor or blender.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Add a bit of water or plant-based milk to achieve the consistency you like and Voila- Delicious vegan cheese sauce!**
- Boil your pasta of choice according to their package instructions
- When the pasta is ready, combine the sauce and pasta and enjoy hot. You can also heat the blended sauce in a saucepan as the pasta cooks. While heating in the pan, the sauce may thicken. Feel free to add some plant-based milk, if that the case- and if you add a bit too much and find your sauce a bit too thin then you can add cornstarch, to thicken the sauce.
- You can then stir the pasta directly into the saucepan with the heated sauce.
Other Recipes That You May Be Interested In:
If you’re looking for other vegan pasta dishes then you might like these Super Creamy Vegan Mushroom Sauce Pasta or this Easy Vegan Bechamel Pasta Bake. You might also like this recipe for Healthy Mushroom & Lentil Vegan Meatballs. And, if you’re looking for another vegan pasta sauce option for your next pasta dish, then you might like this Delicious Vegan Basil Pesto (with pistachios).
Also, if you give this curry recipe a try then please let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear what you think. Also, feel free to tag me in your recipe recreations @Alphafoodie.