You can't go wrong with this 20-minute Vegan Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese recipe. Creamy, tangy, and delicious, this easy dish is a comforting choice for family dinners or holidays.
My Vegan Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese is not only delicious, but it's easy to make and good for you too. The rich and earthy flavors for the squash are blended with cashews, aromatics, and a handful of spices to create an out-of-this-world sauce you can mix into pasta or layer on top of vegetables.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
As a former cheese lover, I'm proud to share my newest vegan-ized version of everyone's favorite cool weather side: Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese!
While I've used carrots and potatoes to make cheese sauces in the past (remember my Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce?), this time I turned to a gourd-geous substitute to increase the flavor, nutrition, and coziness of your favorite comfort food.
This easy recipe is:
- Wholesome & Healthy. Just like my Pumpkin Mac and Cheese, this recipe is made entirely with healthy plant-based ingredients like antioxidant-rich butternut squash, heart-healthy cashews, and vitamin-rich nutritional yeast.
- Fast & Easy! With just 20 minutes of effort, you can have a kid-friendly, healthy, and creamy sauce to pour over your favorite pasta or veggies.
- Super Versatile. Feel free to switch up the ingredients or stir in some veggies and vegan parmesan cheese for a boost of texture and nutrition. Check out the "Variations" section below for even more ideas on how to customize this delightfully rich and cozy Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese.
Ingredients and Substitutions
This tasty vegan butternut squash mac and cheese is loaded up with all kinds of good stuff! The sauce is flavored with plenty of aromatics and spices so you end up with creamy, cheesy goodness you can layer on pasta, veggies, or even enjoy as a dip! Here's everything you'll need:
A few notes to keep in mind:
- Pasta - Use gluten-free if you need it. Otherwise, use any kind you like!
- Butternut Squash - Be sure to cut your butternut squash into small piece before they are steamed, boiled, or roasted. This helps them blend easily and enhances the dish’s flavor.
- Raw Cashews - Soaked raw cashews help make vegan cheese sauce extra creamy. If you don’t have any at home or can't do cashews, feel free to substitute them with raw macadamia nuts or sunflower seeds.
- Vegetable Stock - Feel free to use vegetable broth or water instead but the stock adds more flavor.
- Lemon Juice - We need some acidity to help balance the flavors. If you don't have lemon juice on hand, apple cider vinegar will also work.
- Dijon Mustard - Dijon gives the sauce more tang and an added pop of flavor. Feel free to use a little yellow mustard if that’s all you have.
- White Miso Paste - Also known as "shiro miso," this vegan fermented soy paste is excellent for adding tasty umami flavor. You can replace this with 1 tablespoon of tamari or soy sauce if you’d like. If soy is off the menu, try using 1 tablespoon of coconut aminos or liquid aminos instead.
- Seasonings - Nutritional yeast will make the sauce super cheesy tasting, while garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and pepper make it extra savory. Feel free to mix things up to your own liking!
How to Make Butternut Squash Vegan Cheese Sauce
Making homemade vegan cheese sauce for mac and cheese is so easy! Once the squash is fork-tender, it's a simple process of blending the sauce together and adding it to the cooked pasta.
Here's how it's done:
Step 1: Steam the squash: Once it's peeled and chopped, steam the butternut squash. You could also roast or boil instead of steaming.
Step 2: Cook the pasta: Before making the sauce, start to cook the pasta according to package directions.
Step 3: Blend the sauce: Add the squash and the rest of the ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Add more veggie stock if you'd like a thinner consistency.
Step 4: Mix it into the pasta: Pour the finished sauce over the cooked pasta, mix it all together, and enjoy!
While I love this vegan butternut squash mac & cheese just the way it is, there's always room to customize your meals here at V Nutrition and Wellness. After all, variety is the spice of life! Here's a few ideas to get you started:
- Turn this pasta into a more balanced and healthy meal by adding more veggies. I enjoying using roasted or steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts or some sautéed spinach, kale, or other greens.
- For extra protein, try adding some tofu crumbles, tempeh crumbles, soy curls, marinated tofu, or beans such as chickpeas or white beans.
- Customize the sauce! Use sweet potatoes, another winter squash, or pumpkin in place of the butternut squash.
- Top each bowl with vegan parmesan cheese for an extra bit of cheesy goodness or opt to make a crunchy breadcrumb topping for some textural interest.
- Make it nut-free by replacing the cashews with soaked raw sunflower seeds.
- Want it a little spicy? Add some crushed red pepper flakes or a dash or two of hot sauce like I do in my vegan vodka sauce.
Did you come up with an amazing combination of flavors that the world should know about? Let us know in the comments below or tag me on your social posts so I can cheer you on!
Tips & Tricks
- For deeper flavors, roast the butternut squash instead of steaming. Roast it on a baking sheet in a 400ºF oven for 30 minutes until browned and fully cooked.
- Buy pre-cut butternut squash to make life even easier. If there's none in the produce section, check the freezer aisle!
- Make this sauce as part of your meal prep! It'll last for up to 5 days in the fridge or up to a month in the freezer, meaning a tasty and nutritious meal is never far from reach.
Is Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese Healthy?
While the words "creamy comfort food" don't usually equate to "healthy," I'm happy to report that nothing could be further from the truth with this vegan butternut squash mac and cheese.
Similar to my Creamy Cashew Cheese Sauce, this vegan pasta sauce is vegetable-forward and uses no oil or dairy, making it a much healthier option than most mac & cheese recipes.
While some vegan sauces use processed cheese shreds, many homemade vegan cheese sauces are made with carrots, potatoes, cashews, or other healthy ingredients.
This version is extra healthy because it's gluten-free and adds butternut squash, which not only adds comforting flavors but also imparts more vitamins and other phytonutrients.
Butternut squash contains beta carotene which is what gives the vegetable that orange/yellow color. Beta carotene, a provitamin A carotenoid, is converted into Vitamin A in the body.
In case you didn't know, beta carotene is an antioxidant that can protect the body against free radicals that contribute to certain age-related chronic diseases. That's right, friends: this vegan mac & cheese recipe is not only creamy and delicious, it can also help stave off illness!!
This butternut squash sauce tastes creamy, earthy, and a little sweet and tangy. It’s nice and cheesy, even without the dairy
This butternut squash sauce tastes creamy, earthy, and a little sweet and tangy. It’s nice and cheesy, even without the dai
The leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
You can make the cheese sauce ahead of time, store it in an airtight container, and keep it in the freezer for up to one month. Leave it to thaw overnight in the fridge or reheat from frozen.
Reheat the sauce in a saucepan over low heat and stir it constantly. Add more veggie broth or some plan-based milk if needed. If frozen, defrost it in the microwave using the defrost setting, stirring every few minutes.
More Comforting Vegan Dinner Ideas
Craving more filling and creamy dinners? Try out these delicious recipes:
If you make this recipe and LOVE IT, please give it 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐!
If you make this recipe and LOVE IT, please give it 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐!
Vegan Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
- High-Speed blender
- 16 oz pasta of choice see notes
- 2.5-3 cups butternut squash chopped small
- 1 cup raw cashews can sub macadamia nuts, soaked in hot water for 10 mins
- 1.5 c vegetable stock can substitute vegetable broth or water
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice can substitute apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon white miso paste can substitute1 TB tamari or soy sauce
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Steam the chopped butternut squash for about 8 minutes or until fork tender. (see notes for other ways to cook)
- Cook pasta according to package directions.
- Add cooked butternut squash and the rest of the ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Add more veggie broth if needed. The sauce should be hot but if not, can add to the pan with pasta and stir.
- Pour sauce over pasta and enjoy!
PLEASE NOTE: Nutritional information data is computer generated and only an estimate so it should be used only as a guide.
Mary Ellen Valverde MS, CNS, LDN is a Licensed Nutritionist and Certified Nutrition Specialist who empowers vegans to feel clear and confident about what is uniquely nourishing to them. Mary Ellen's recipes and nutrition information have been featured on Yahoo News, Parade, VegNews, LIVESTRONG, Dr. Axe, Greatist, LIVEKINDLY, Brit+Co, Well+Good, and more.