You can’t go wrong with this 20-minute Vegan Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese recipe. Creamy, tangy, and delicious, this easy and healthy dish is a comforting choice for family dinners or holidays.
Forget about carrots and potatoes! I’ve made vegan cheese sauce with butternut squash to increase the flavor, nutrition, and coizness of your favorite comfort food.
Just like my Pumpkin Mac and Cheese and Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce, this recipe is made with healthy plant-based ingredients. It’s super creamy, rich, and is easily customizable. Switch up the ingredients or stir in some veggies and vegan parmesan cheese for a boost of texture and nutrition.
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.
Is vegan mac and cheese healthy?
Similar to my Creamy Cashew Cheese Sauce, this vegan pasta sauce is vegetable-forward and uses no oil or dairy so it’s totally healthy.
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. Beta Carotene is an antioxidant that can protect the body against free radicals that contribute to certain age-related chronic diseases.
What’s in vegan butternut mac and cheese?
All kinds of good stuff! The mac and cheese sauce made from butternut squash is the real star of the show. Flavored with plenty of aromatics and spices, you end up with creamy, cheesy goodness you can layer on pasta, veggies, or even enjoy as a dip!
These are the ingredients you’ll need:
- Pasta – Use gluten-free if you need it otherwise, sub any kind you like!
- Butternut squash – Small chunks of butternut squash will be steamed, boiled, or roasted to get them nice and soft. This helps them blend easily and enhances the dish’s flavor.
- Cashews – Soaked 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 macadamia nuts.
- Vegetable stock – To help thin out the sauce. 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 – For a tasty umami flavor. You can replace this with 1 tablespoon of tamari or soy sauce if you’d like.
- Seasonings – Nutritional yeast will make the sauce super cheesy tasting, while garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and pepper make it extra savory.
How to make Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
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:
Steam the squash: Once it’s peeled and chopped, steam the butternut squash. You could also roast or boil instead of steaming.
Cook the pasta: Before making the sauce, start to cook the pasta according to package directions.
Make 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.
Mix it into the pasta: Pour the finished sauce over the cooked pasta, mix it all together, and enjoy!
Making it a healthy balanced meal
To make this pasta a balanced and healthy meal, add more veggies and protein. I enjoying using roasted or steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts or some sauteed spinach, kale, or other green.
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.
- Customize the sauce! Use sweet potatoes, another winter squash, or pumpkin in place of the butternut squash.
- Top each bowl with vegan parmesan cheese.
- To make it nut-free, replace the cashews with soaked 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.
- Buy pre-cut butternut squash to make life even easier.
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:
- Buffalo Cauliflower Mac and Cheese – A spicy and veg-forward take on the classic pasta.
- Lentil Bolognese – A filling and hearty option for Sunday dinners.
- Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce – Toss it onto spaghetti for some healthy comfort food.
- Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup – Made with soy curls, it tastes just like the real thing!
If you make this recipe and LOVE IT, please give it 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐!
Vegan Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
- High-Speed blender
- 16 oz of 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 TB lemon juice can substitute apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp white miso paste can substitute1 TB tamari or soy sauce
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp pepper
- Steam butternut squash for about 8 minutes or until fork tender. (see notes for other ways t 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: The nutritional information is a computer generated estimate so these numbers 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 confident in creating sustainable habits that align with their values and health goals. She shares easy plant-powered food to nourish your body + satisfy your tastebuds. Mary Ellen’s recipes and nutrition info have been featured on Yahoo News, Parade, VegNews, LIVESTRONG, Dr. Axe, Greatist, LIVEKINDLY, Brit+Co, Well+Good, and more.