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.
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.
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!
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.
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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.
Want more vegan pasta dishes?
- The Best Vegan Mac and Cheese
- Vegan Baked Ziti
- Vegan Lasagna
- Vegan Stuffed Jumbo Shells
- Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
- 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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Gluten Free: Use gluten free pasta.
- 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.
- 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).
- Make this easier by purchasing pre-chopped butternut squash! I find it at Costco and many other grocery stores.
- If you don't have a Vitamix, you may want to soak the cashews in boiling hot water for 5 minutes before blending.
This recipe was originally posted in February of 2018 and has been updated with new photos and writing October 2019. Thank you!