dinner vegan vegetarian

Vegan Mac and Cheese [with Butternut Squash!]

October 31, 2019

This vegan mac and cheese recipe is packed with vegetables and flavor. The delicious cheesy flavor made with butternut squash makes this the ultimate comfort food dish for every night of the week.

vegan mac and cheese with butternut squash

A few weeks ago I got a massive butternut squash from the farmer’s market. It made sixteen (16!!!) cups of squash. So obviously I pulled out all the stops and used butternut squash in the most creative ways I could think of. I made butternut squash hummus, wild rice pilaf with butternut squash and now this vegan macaroni and cheese with a creamy butternut squash sauce. 

Before you head for the hills because you’re a cheese lover, hear me out! As a fellow cheese lover, I put this vegan mac and cheese to the test and it held up! It’s so creamy and packed with tons of really great flavor. No, it’s not cheese and in my opinion, nothing can compare to the real deal but it’s delicious so I don’t even miss the “real” cheese! 

A lot of homemade, vegan cheese sauces are made with nuts but this version uses butternut squash as the base… The combination of the blended vegetables, spices and nutritional yeast give this dish the cheesy flavor we all know and love. Besides boiling the noodles and chopping the broccoli, the main part of this recipe is creating the cheese sauce so I thought I’d walk you through it step by step.

How to Make Vegan Cheese Sauce

Step 1: Roast the butternut squash. Spread chopped butternut squash and onion in a casserole dish and coat with olive oil, paprika and salt. Roast at 350º for 20 minutes. 

roasted butternut squash for vegan cheeze sauce

Step 2: Add the butternut squash and onions to a food processor and blend until relatively smooth.

veggies in food processor for vegan cheeze sauce

Step 3: Add the hemp or cashew milk, apple cider vinegar, garlic, dijon and nutritional yeast to the food processor. Blend until you have a smooth, creamy sauce. There shouldn’t be any clumps so keep blending until it’s smooth!

vegan cheese sauce in a food processor

Step 4: Add cooked noodles and chopped broccoli to the baking dish and top with the butternut squash cheese sauce. Stir to combine everything. Sprinkle hemp seeds on top for some extra protein.

vegan cheeze sauce being added to vegan mac and cheese

Step 5: Bake! At 350º for 20 minutes. 

Vegan mac and cheese

Optional step 6: If you prefer a crispy top on your mac and cheese, turn on the broiler and broil for 3-5 minutes. Just make sure you keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn!

I mean if that doesn’t make you salivate, I don’t know what will!

Side note: if you’ve never tried nutritional yeast, I encourage you to give it a try in this recipe! Not only is it a great source of b12 (plant-based b12 that is!), it also adds that cheesy flavor without adding actual cheese. So whether you’re vegan, plant-based, dairy-free or just looking to change things up, you can get the best cheesy flavor with an added dose of veggies! Let’s dig in…

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Vegan Mac and Cheese [with Butternut Squash!]

vegan mac and cheese with butternut squash
  • Author: Davida Lederle
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
Scale

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of peeled and chopped butternut squash
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt (divided)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 cups uncooked macaroni noodles (gluten-free, if necessary)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (hemp milk or cashew milk work best)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • optional: 1 small head broccoli, chopped into small florets
  • optional: 1/2 cup hemp hearts or breadcrumbs for topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Add butternut squash and onion to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish (casserole dish) and top with olive oil. Sprinkle with paprika and 1/2 tsp sea salt. Cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cook macaroni according package instructions (mine takes about 7-8 minutes).
  4. Strain noodles and set aside.
  5. When butternut squash is done, remove from oven and place in a food processor or blender.
  6. Add in hemp/cashew milk, apple cider vinegar, garlic, dijon and nutritional yeast. Blend until all comes together into a smooth mixture. There should be no clumps.
  7. Combine macaroni and broccoli (if using) in your casserole dish and top with butternut squash mixture until macaroni and broccoli are well coated and spread evenly.
  8. Sprinkle hemp seeds on top for added protein or bread crumbs, if desired.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes on the top rack of oven.
  10. For a crispy top turn oven up to broil and broil for 3-5 mins to get a crispy top (watch carefully to ensure it doesn’t burn.
  11. Serve warm.

Like this recipe? Here are others you might enjoy:

Zucchini Mac and Cheese
Savory Galette with Goat Cheese
Macro Veggie Bowls
Pesto Spaghetti Squash

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  • Reply
    Kristina
    October 13, 2015 at 5:25 am

    My reason why I don’t eat meat every day is mostly the price and the fact that I adore veggies. I don’t think I will ever become vegetarian I love the meat too much, but in moderation. This pasta dish looks delicious, I often replace dairy sauces with pureed vegetables thinned with almond milk, broccoli is my favourite, but this butternut squash version will also find it’s way on my plate!

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      October 13, 2015 at 6:56 am

      Yeah I feel the same way! I don’t know that it will ever be 100% replaced but there’s certainly room for a decrease. Glad you agree!

  • Reply
    Lee
    October 13, 2015 at 7:48 am

    This looks like THE PERFECT meatless Monday recipe. I loved that you topped it with hemp hearts, too!

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      October 13, 2015 at 6:10 pm

      So does this mean you’re on board for meatless monday?!?! 😉

  • Reply
    kaitlin @4loveofcarrots
    October 13, 2015 at 8:04 am

    this looks amazing!! I am totally with you on everything you mentioned above, I just wish I could get that husband of mine on board with this! I try to eat vegetarian at breakfast and lunch though.

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      October 13, 2015 at 6:11 pm

      It’s so hard when your other half isn’t totally on board! I’m trying to convince him with spaghetti squash and chickpeas tonight…I’m gonna guess this isn’t gonna go over well haha

  • Reply
    Hilary
    October 13, 2015 at 9:33 am

    I have been feeling this way in a sense as well! But like you i lead a pretty active lifestyle and have been worried about not getting enough protein to support my muscle repair! I will have to check out Alexis thoughts on this as well!

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      October 13, 2015 at 6:08 pm

      yeah she knows what’s up! She’s my go-to and has totally eased my thoughts on staying active and decreasing my meat consumption. Also her recipes are amazing!

  • Reply
    Michele @ paleorunningmomma
    October 13, 2015 at 9:38 am

    Big fan of the Silk cashew milk and this looks too good!

  • Reply
    Linda @ The fitty
    October 13, 2015 at 9:52 am

    Is the secret to make this cheesy the nutritional yeast?

    I literally HAUL the cheese over the top of baked mac and cheese and I’m trying to cut dairy.

  • Reply
    Ashley @ Fit Mitten Kitchen
    October 13, 2015 at 11:21 am

    SO MANY GOOD THINGS HERE! Gah I want to say so much but I’ll keep it short… Love this dairy-free mac and “cheese”. Love that you topped with hemp hearts, brilliant.
    Totally agree on decreasing meat consumption. My husband is a hunter, so that helps a ton on what meat we end up purchasing. And this is making me want to truly incorporate “Meatless Monday” more often. 😀

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      October 13, 2015 at 6:07 pm

      yayayayaya so happy you agree! I was a little nervous putting up this post!

      • Reply
        Ashley @ Fit Mitten Kitchen
        October 13, 2015 at 8:29 pm

        I can imagine the nervousness! But one thing I’ve realized after diving into the blogging world is that EVERYONE has an opinion on something. Especially this type of stuff. Lots of misinformation out there. And people are going to think what they want. But that’s not to say you shouldn’t share! <3
        P.S. I love that you put ketchup on the mac. One of the first times we had our (Canadian) friends visit us (long time ago) we had mac n cheese for dinner. I remember my friend asking my mom if she could have some ketchup. And my mom just looked at her like she was crazy. "Ketchup…? For what?" Hahaha. Now we know better. 😉

        • Reply
          Davida Kugelmass
          October 14, 2015 at 3:25 pm

          hahahahahahaha yup ketchup is definitely a thing on mac here. Although technically it’s a drizzle of sriracha 😉 College late-night-eats got me hooked on the mac-sriracha combo! Thanks so much for the support, lovely. It’s kind of hilarious how many people thought I was going vegan after this post. People love to jump to conclusions! Nope, just eating more plants. That’s all 🙂

  • Reply
    Em @ Love A Latte
    October 13, 2015 at 11:39 am

    I LOVE a plant-based diet. Been following one for 6 years and it has changed my world. I’m so excited about this recipe. I also save all your vegetarian recipes to try!

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      October 13, 2015 at 6:05 pm

      I had a feeling you’d be happy about this news 🙂 Feel free to send over any of your favorite plant-based recipes! I’m in the market 🙂

  • Reply
    Bethany @ Athletic Avocado
    October 13, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    This is such a genius idea for making cheese-less mac and cheese!

  • Reply
    Emilie @ Emilie Eats
    October 13, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    This makes me so happy to read! I think everyone could benefit from consuming a little less meat, and the plant would definitely appreciate it, too! I have a huge butternut squash right now so this mac & “cheese” might have to find its way to my plate very soon 🙂

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      October 13, 2015 at 5:59 pm

      Awesome! I’m so happy you’re in support 🙂 I’ve been overdosing on BNS lately too!

  • Reply
    Cassie
    October 13, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    Mac and cheese was a childhood favorite of mine! I HAVE to find some black bean macaroni pasta and recreate this dish!

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      October 14, 2015 at 3:24 pm

      ohhhhh I bet it would be awesome with black bean macaroni!

  • Reply
    Lauren
    October 15, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    I can totally feel you on this one lady. First veggo and then vegan to try and help with all you mentioned above. Now I realise my body needs a little animal protein to work best as we are all different! I think as long as we are plant focused, local as possible and minimise waste then some animal protein is totes fine. And like you said its about where it comes from! Sustainable, pastured eggs are probably much better for the environment then pesticide drowned coconuts that fly in from another country… Its a balance I think!

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      October 18, 2015 at 3:52 pm

      I totally agree. I think our diets are a work in progress and will forever be changing. Living with too many boundaries doesn’t make it any fun so you have to be open to the changes and what works for you!

  • Reply
    Kelly @ Eat the Gains
    October 16, 2015 at 9:43 am

    Love this post! I used to be a vegetarian (but ate safood on occasion) for 5 years but then got really into CrossFit which then lead to paleo. I got way too into it and my veggie consumption went way down. I haven’t been paleo for a while now and feel a lot more balanced in my eating and life. I have recently been trying to ditch a lot of meat though and focus on the veggies. I feel great and am happy I am getting back to the way I used to eat. I agree with you though about your boyfriend. Mine grew up with the standard meat and potatoes diet so it is sometimes like “wait wtf are we having for dinner” lol. Anyways, now that I wrote a book haha, excited to see some more recipes like this!

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      October 18, 2015 at 3:47 pm

      ha yeah that’s pretty much his reaction to every meal LOL. I think our diets will be ever-changing. It makes sense though, we change, our circumstances change, our knowledge changes, seasons change! We’re always changing. I think we should all be as open-minded as you about allowing our diets to evolve!

  • Reply
    Martha
    October 18, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    Is this a vegan dish? My vegan niece is coming to dinner. (I am new to this.)

  • Reply
    Molly
    September 1, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Do you think I could use frozen broccoli?!!

  • Reply
    Nicole Samuel
    February 10, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    This looks AMAZING! Do you think it’s possible to use canned butternut squash or pumpkin instead of going through the cubing and roasting process? If so, about how much would you say is needed?

  • Reply
    jillian
    March 3, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    Could I make the sauce ahead of time? If so, how long do you think it would last in the fridge? This looks AMAZING.

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    March 4, 2018 at 7:32 pm

    I’m making this for dinner tonight! I’m a devout vegan (but have been missin’ macaroni) and have been looking for a healthier substitute for boxed vegan mac. I like this recipe because it doesn’t require soaking/blending cashews, which I don’t buy. I always have butternut squash and a ton of other veggies in my kitchen so this is perfect!

    I used chickpea elbow pasta for protein and panko bread crumbs instead of hemp seeds. So ready to try it.

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