Vegan mac and cheese with butternut squash is the ultimate comfort food. It's rich and creamy, all the things you want mac and cheese to be. Plus, it's loaded with healthy butternut squash and protein rich cashews, so it's tasty and healthy too.
There's something so comforting about a a big bowl of mac and cheese! I love this vegan mac and cheese so much I keep a batch in the freezer for a quick meal option on busy nights. Everyone loves it, so it's a foolproof dinner on those nights when you need an easy, tasty option.
*The full recipe is below.
Ingredients for Vegan Mac and Cheese With Butternut Squash:
For The Cashew Cream Cheese Sauce:
***For a full recipe tutorial on making creamy cashew cheese sauce, see my recipe tutorial here.
- Cashews: You’ll need raw, unsalted cashews to make vegan cheese sauce. Ideally you should soak them overnight. If you’re pressed for time, they can be soaked for two hours, but you’ll need a high powered blender like a Vitamix to get the creamy consistency we’re after. I've also included a super quick boil method in the recipe notes.
- Lemon Juice: You need 2 tablespoons, which is equivalent to the juice of one lemon.
- Nutritional Yeast: Nutritional yeast adds that umami, cheesy flavor that makes vegan cashew cheese sauce so yummy. Don’t skip it!
- Garlic Powder: For that intense, garlickly taste.
- Onion Powder: This is one spice that is so great in dips and dressings!
- Turmeric: The super spice of it’s time – here we’re using it for the intense color it’s so good at providing.
- English Mustard: Adds a tangy background twang that’s super yummy.
- Cayenne Pepper: Enough to enjoy that subtle kick only cayenne can supply, without verging into spicy territory. If you like spicy, try my Sriracha Cashew Cream Sauce.
- Salt: I like flaky sea salt here, but any salt will enhance the flavors.
For The Vegan Mac and Cheese With Butternut Squash:
- Pasta: We're using macaroni here for a traditional mac and cheese, but shells, fusilli or even linguini would work well.
- Broccoli: Broccoli florets add a nice bite and contrast to all that creamy cashew cheese sauce.
- Butternut Squash: Nutty, earthy and utterly delicious, butternut squash is what really makes this vegan mac and cheese shine!
- Olive Oil: This is what we're using to roast the butternut squash in. As always, choose the best olive oil you can find for the best results.
- Sea Salt: For sprinkling on the butternut squash before roasting. Sea salt enhances flavors and gives this dish that extra pop.
*Note: Ideally you will need to soak your cashews overnight, but if you are in a hurry you can simply put them in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, cover and leave to sit for 15 minutes. Drain and rinse before using.
- Preheat your oven to 180 C (350 F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Top and tail your butternut squash, remove the skin and cut into pieces that are about an inch and half long. This is a quick video tutorial on how to cut butternut squash.
- Transfer the butternut squash to your baking tray, drizzle a few good glugs of olive oil over the top and turn the squash over with a spatula to ensure that everything is coated in olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and roast for 30 minutes.
- While the butternut squash is roasting, make the cashew cream cheese sauce by adding the soaked cashews, almond milk, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, turmeric, English mustard, cayenne pepper and sea salt to a blender. Blend until smooth. The sauce will be fairly thick at this point.
- Boil the pasta according to the instruction on the packet. During the last 2 minutes of cooking time, add the broccoli florets. Drain, reserving 250 ml (1 cup) of the pasta water.
- When the butternut squash is finished roasting, remove it from the oven and add it to the blender along with the reserved pasta water. Blend until you get a smooth and creamy consistency.
- Now, all you need to do it pour the creamy vegan cheese sauce over the boiled pasta and broccoli and stir to combine. Enjoy this super creamy vegan mac and cheese with butternut squash!
Make It Your Own!
Here's a few ideas for variations on vegan mac and cheese with butternut squash:
- Make it a pasta bake: Sprinkle with panko bread crumbs and drizzle a bit of olive oil over the top and bake until the top is cispy and golden.
- Make it gluten free: All you need to do is use gluten free pasta. The rest of the recipe is naturally gluten free.
- Make a chili mac and cheese by mixing together kidney beans, black beans chopped tomatoes . Sprinkle some cumin, garlic powder, and chili powder over the top and saute until the tomatoes have broken down and the beans are heated through. Add it to the mac and cheese and serve with a bit of vegan sour cream.
- Instead of broccoli, use cauliflower roasted in paprika or asparagus with a lemon drizzle.
- Saute mushrooms with some garlic and thyme and add to the butternut squash cheese sauce.
Recipe Q and A:
Vegan mac and cheese will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days in an airtight container. You can also freeze it for 2-3 months. It reheats beautifully.
Sure, you can leave it out....I don't recommend it though, as nutritional yeast is what gives this dish that umami cheese taste, but the recipe will still work.
It's so much healthier than classic macaroni and cheese. It's dairy free and has zero cholesterol, plus it's loaded with healthy butternut squash and broccoli. You can also easily make this recipe gluten free by swapping the macaroni for a gluten free pasta.
You could use zoodles instead of a grain based pasta.
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Did You Make This Recipe?
Vegan Mac and Cheese With Butternut Squash
Cashew Cheese Sauce
- 200 grams 1 ¼ cups raw, unsalted cashews soaked overnight *see notes *notes include quick soak method.
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 175 ml ¾ cup almond milk *or any other plant-based milk (or water)
- 3 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon English mustard
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1½ teaspoon sea salt or to taste
Roasted Butternut Squash
- 2 cups butternut squash
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 250 grams (2 cups dried) macaroni
- 1 head broccoli cut into florets
- Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Peel and deseed the butternut squash and cut into bite size pieces. Transfer to baking tray and drizzle olive oil over the top, giving it all a few good turns with a spatula to ensure it's evenly coated in oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and roast in the oven for 30 minutes, turning once at the halfway point.
- Make the cashew cheese sauce by combining the soaked cashews, and the rest of the cashew cheese sauce ingredients in a blender and pulsing until smooth. The sauce will still be quite thick at this point.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to packet instructions, adding the broccoli in during the last 2 minutes. Drain, reserving 250 ml (one cup) of the pasta water.
- Remove the butternut squash from the oven and add it to the blender with the cashew cheese sauce. Blend until everything is incorporated. Add the reserved pasta water to the mix and pulse until a creamy consistency is achieved.
- Pour the sauce over the pasta and broccoli and stir gently until everything is well combined. Tuck in and enjoy!
- I recommend soaking your cashews overnight, but if you're short on time you can put them in a pot of water over medium heat, bring it to the boil, remove from the heat and cover the pan for 15 minutes. Drain and rinse the cashews before using.