This healthier vegan mac and cheese with luxuriously creamy & rich butternut squash sauce will become one of your family favourite go-to recipes. Who would have thought that this dairy free & no cheese alternative of the traditional mac n cheese can be so utterly delicious! Vegan, dairy free & can be made gluten free.
I’ve been playing around with vegan mac and cheese recipe for a little while now, tweaking it here and there to achieve the perfect rich and creamy consistency, texture, maximum flavour and also make it friendlier for the waist. I think this final recipe ticks all of the boxes, however it’s up to you to decide of course!
So then, let me give you a little run down on this ‘mac no cheese’…
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE
- It’s luxuriously creamy & rich with distinct cheesy & nutty flavour without using the ‘real’ cheese!
- Comfort food at its best
- Much healthier for your waist than the traditional version
- Packed full of goodness
- Super simple to make
- Perfect speedy meal for any occasion
- If you’re into meal prep, that’s a great recipe to bookmark
- It’ll be enjoyed by ALL the family, adults & children alike.
WHAT IS HOMEMADE VEGAN MAC AND CHEESE MADE OF?
There are so many different variations of vegan mac and cheese but in this particular recipe the key ingredients we use to ‘inject’ that mac and cheese flavour are:
- Butternut squash, which gives this pasta nutty flavour and beautiful orange colour
- To add that ‘cheesy’ flavour to this mac and cheese, we’re using a combination of nutritional yeast flakes, apple cider vinegar and kala namak (Himalayan black salt)
- A small amount of cashews to make the sauce even creamier
- Macaroni pasta (I used chickpea pasta to make it gluten-free)
- Spices (turmeric, garlic powder, smoked paprika)
HOW TO MAKE VEGAN MAC AND CHEESE SAUCE WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH
It’s really simple. First, we boil the butternut squash in a saucepan with the onions and cook until tender. Then we blitz it in the food processor with soaked cashews, nutritional yeast flakes, spices and the cooking water from the squash. Ta da! It couldn’t be more simple, right?!
TIP: Reserve all the cooking water from the butternut squash & use it to get the sauce to the perfect consistency.
RECIPE SUBSTITUTIONS AND ALTERNATIVES
- Although you can use pumpkin instead of butternut squash, I’d really recommend sticking with butternut squash due to its nutty flavour and beautiful orange colour that it lends itself to.
- Apple cider vinegar adds a little savoury touch to this recipe but you can skip it without much compromise to the taste.
- Nutritional yeast flakes: I’d really recommend not leaving this ingredient out as that’s what gives this recipe its ‘cheesy’ flavour.
- You can use regular salt, although kala namak has a little savoury taste to it, which is why it works so well in this recipe.
- Macaroni – you can use a gluten free variety, just make sure the pasta is small size to allow the sauce to get into every little shell.
- We only use a few spices in this recipe: ground turmeric, smoked paprika and garlic powder. Although the recipe calls for a very small amount of turmeric and its flavour is not overpowering here at all, you can skip it if you don’t like the flavour.
CAN I FREEZE MAC AND CHEESE?
You sure can! Once it’s cooled down, divide it into individual portions, place into a freezer friendly container (or zip lock bag) and stick in the freezer – it’ll keep for up to 2 months. You can reheat it on the stove (you might want to add some water or unsweetened plant milk to thin out the sauce) or in the oven.
LOOKING FOR MORE VEGAN BUTTERNUT SQUASH RECIPES?
Check out readers’ favourite recipes below:
- Butternut squash pancakes
- Easy butternut squash & chickpea stew
- Festive roasted butternut squash with sage & mushroom stuffing
- Butternut squash hummus
- Squash, sage and wild mushroom risotto
- Super easy one pot squash & sweet potato soup
As always, if you give this recipe a try, I’d be delighted to read your comments and hear your feedback. Be sure to drop a comment here on the blog, tag me in your photos on Instagram @Fit Foodie Nutter, Facebook or Pinterest so I don’t miss them.
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HEALTHIER VEGAN MAC AND CHEESE WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH
- Food processor
- 1 medium squash (500g) peeled and cut in small chunks
- 2 small onions finely chopped
- 1.5 cup (160g) macaroni pasta
- 4 tbsp (50g) cashews, soaked in hot water for 30 mins or in cold water overnight rinsed & drained
- 5 tbsp (20g) nutritional yeast flakes (or to taste)
- 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika (not hot paprika)
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 tsp kala namak salt (or regular salt)
- Around ½ to ¾ cup (120ml to 175ml) cooking water
- Optional: fresh sage leaves to serve
- Place the squash in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Once it starts boiling, add the onions, reduce the heat to medium, cover with a lid and cook until tender, for around 15-20 minutes. Reserve all the cooking water, we will use it to make the sauce.
- In the meantime, cook the pasta in a separate saucepan until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Once the squash is cooked, drain it (reserve the cooking water) and transfer to a food processor. Add soaked cashes, nutritional yeast flakes, turmeric, garlic powder, paprika, vinegar, salt and blitz. Whilst the motor is running, start adding the cooking water, a little at a time, until you reach a desired sauce consistency. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning as required.
- Transfer the sauce into a saucepan that you used for cooking the squash and heat up until it starts to bubble. Add the pasta into the saucepan and stir until it is well coated in the sauce. Add the reserved cooking water if you need to thin out the sauce.
- Sprinkle with pepper, garnish with fresh sage leaves and serve.