Kids and adults alike will swoon for this Vegan Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese! The sauce is so creamy and smooth with no dairy at all. Gluten free option.

bowl full of mac and cheese shells

This is a perfect easy dinner for Fall. A lot of butternut squash pasta recipes still contain milk and cheese, but this one is completely vegan.

Even if you aren’t a big fan of butternut squash, you will love this recipe! And your picky kids will gobble it up.

To make things even easier, purchase pre-chopped cubes of butternut squash. I often find them at Costco as well as other grocery stores.

wooden spoon in a pot full of mac and cheese

How to make it

Cook the Squash: I almost always use my Instant Pot for this. Add the cubes to an Instant Pot along with a few cups of water, and cook on high pressure for 8 minutes.

You can also cook it on the stovetop, roast it in the oven OR use a can of butternut squash puree! Pssst.. canned pumpkin works too!

butternut squash in a pan

Meanwhile, cook your pasta of choice using the package instructions. Drain and add back to the pot they cooked in.

Make the sauce: In a blender, add the cooked, drained squash along with the rest of the sauce ingredients (cashews, water, cornstarch, nutritional yeast, dijon, garlic powder, onion powder, lemon juice and salt). Blend until very smooth.

blender full of orange sauce

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All that’s left to do is pour the sauce into the pot with the cooked, drained noodles. Stir over low-medium heat for a few minutes until the sauce thickens a bit.

Special Tips & Instructions

  • Gluten Free: Simply use your favorite gluten free pasta. I love the Tinkyada brand.
  • Cashew or Nut Allergy: You can sub slivered raw almonds if not allergic, or use 1/2 cup of full fat coconut milk in place of 1/2 cup of the water called for.
  • Add some vegetables! My favorites are frozen thawed green peas, Instant Pot Kale and roasted/steamed broccoli.

white pot with noodles and cheese sauce poured in, not stirred

Want more vegan pasta dishes?

close up photo of bowl of cheesy shells with parsley

square image of mac and cheese shells
4.88 stars (16 ratings)

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Kids and adults alike will swoon for this Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese! The sauce is so creamy and smooth with no dairy at all. Gluten free option.
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 6 large servings

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 pound diced butternut squash (about 4 cups chopped)*
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 16 ounces pasta of choice, I used little shells
  • Optional, for serving: thawed frozen peas, cooked kale, or roasted broccoli

Instructions 

Cook the Butternut Squash

  • If using a fresh whole squash, peel and cut the squash into cubes. Measure about 4 cups (1 pound).
  • To cook in an Instant Pot: Add the squash and 2-3 cups of water, to cover, to your Instant Pot and cook on high pressure for 8 minutes. Carefully release the pressure and drain the squash.
  • To cook on the stovetop: Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add the butternut squash cubes. Simmer for about 10-12 minutes, until the squash is fork tender. Drain.

Make the pasta

  • Cook the pasta according to package instructions, being careful not to overcook. Drain and add the noodles back to the pot.

Make the butternut squash cheese

  • In a high powered blender, add the cooked butternut squash along with the cashews, 2 cups of water, cornstarch, nutritional yeast, dijon, garlic powder, onion powder, lemon juice and salt. Blend until very smooth.
  • Add the cheese sauce to the pot with the cooked noodles. Stir constantly over low-medium heat for a minute or two until the sauce thickens a bit. Serve immediately.

Notes

  1. Nutritional information will vary greatly on the kind of pasta you use and what vegetable you add. I did my calculations using white pasta noodles and no added vegetables.
  2. You can also use canned butternut squash puree, or replace it with pumpkin! You will need 16 ounces (1 can) to replace the fresh squash.
  3. The butternut squash cashew cheese sauce freezes well. To freeze, pour into a container, leaving an inch or so of space to allow for expansion. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave. I wouldn't recommend freezing it with the pasta though, it gets soggy.
  4. Gluten Free: Use gluten free pasta.
  5. Cashew allergy? Substitute slivered raw almonds, or for a nut free option use 1/2 cup of full fat coconut milk for 1/2 cup of the water called for, and leave the nuts out entirely. 
  6. Vegetables to stir in: I love adding some Instant Pot Kale, roasted/steamed broccoli or simply thawed frozen green peas (a favorite with the kids).
  7. Make this easier by purchasing pre-chopped butternut squash! I find it at Costco and many other grocery stores. 
  8. If you don't have a Vitamix, you may want to soak the cashews in boiling hot water for 5 minutes before blending.

Nutrition

Calories: 390kcal | Carbohydrates: 70g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 622mg | Potassium: 477mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 4960IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

This recipe was originally posted in February of 2018 and has been updated with new photos and writing October 2019. Thank you!

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Comments

  1. Delicious! My teenage son loved it. I added a teaspoon of white miso and subbed broth for the water.

  2. Hi! I love this sauce, so creamy and filling. I like it on roasted potatoes and veggies too. It makes a lot though, and unfortunately my kids aren’t fans. I was wondering how long (how many days) do you think it would last? Thanks!

    1. I think it will last 3-4 days in the refrigerator, but you can also freeze it. Maybe in smaller portions so you can take some out whenever a craving strikes. 🙂 I’m glad you are enjoying it!

  3. This was a good flavor but next time I’ll definitely leave out the cornstarch. The end result of the sauce  had a slightly starchy texture I didn’t like. If it doesn’t seem thick enough maybe I’ll try adding flour instead. I also cooked both the squash and the cashews in the instant pot with a couple cloves of garlic

  4. Hi i made this today and was very surprised!  I converted to wfpb on dec 26 2020. I love cheese. It’s been my only real “cheat” knock on wood. I’ve tried several different Mac and cheeses and not really enjoyed them. This one however was delicious! I had seconds and my 86 year old very picky eater mom ate her whole serving. I did not add cornstarch and only added 1 cup of water but it was very good and will definitely make it again. I topped it with  diced plum tomatoes and fresh ground pepper. I’m really impressed

    1. Hi Janette. I am thrilled that you’ve discovered my Mac and cheese, and that you love it! Thank you for sharing your review! I hope you will explore my other ‘cheesy’ recipes!

  5. Nora,
    This is fantastic! My first time trying one of your recipes. I made it exactly how you had it posted. The flavors are amazing!  I’m looking forward to trying out many of your other recipes. Thank you!
    David Noel 

  6. Wow! Honestly I was caught off guard by how simple and quick it is to make. It tasted amazing. I added some chives and nutmeg as a garnish and it was perfect 🙂 thanks Nora

  7. I love this recipe, Nora. Thank you for creating/tweaking/posting it. No, it’s not cheese BUT it’s great in its own right! Savory, filling, easy-peasy, tasty and good for you, super quick

    ( this from a slug of a cook who can’t be bothered it it takes longer than 1/2 an hour)…Fantastic

  8. Wow. I have made so many different vegan mac and cheese recipes and this one might be my favorite. Despite being cheesy it’s so light that you can’t help but want to keep eating more. I might add some paprika next time to give it a bit more flavor but otherwise it’s pretty much perfect as is.

  9. Nora, you are a genius! I just made this and I love it! Easy to make and tastes surprisingly really good! Can’t wait to share it with family and friends! Thank you

  10. This is SO good! What a delicious, comforting dish!! Thanks for another Fantastic wfpb no oil recipe!

  11. Would it be possible to use sweet potato instead of squash? I am looking for a sweet potato Mac and cheese recipe and thought this one might work perfectly!

  12. THIS IS DELISH!! THANK YOU! I never was a fan of Mac n cheese, always made me feel yucky!!
    this is so good and simple!! like so many of your recipes

  13. I wonder if it changes something to soak the cashews overnight?
    Because this recipe seems delicious!

    1. It wouldn’t change anything, other than making the sauce easier to blend and get smooth! I’ve found with my Vitamix blender I don’t really need to soak the cashews for this recipe, especially because the squash is usually hot when I blend it all together. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

  14. Very good. I used almond milk plain instead of water and replaced one tablespoon of cornstarch for flour…excellent!

      1. Yummiest creamiest vegan mac n cheese. Added a little pepper and baco bits and red pepper flakes for spice mixed in frozen peas.

  15. is that 2 cups of water for cooking the squash or part of the ” other ingredients” that go into the blender?

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