Whether you call it macaroni cheese or mac and cheese this deliciously creamy vegan butternut squash mac and cheese recipe really hits the spot. This vegan mac and cheese recipe is nut free.
Have you tried butternut squash macaroni cheese? Before I was vegan I often used to blend butternut squash or other vegetables into mac and cheese for my picky eating kids.
When I stopped eating dairy I quickly realised that butternut squash is the perfect ingredient to use in vegan mac and cheese – whether you’re adding the cheese or not. It has a lovely flavour, it’s the right colour and it blends into a smooth, creamy sauce very well without getting bitty.
I love vegan cashew nut mac and cheese and I’ve had some great variations on this over the last few months – including one with black beans and jalapeños which I have to recreate for you all soon as it was amazing. It can be a pain to remember to soak the nuts in advance – is it just me that’s incapable of remembering to do these things??
Cashews can also be pricy. Using butternut squash instead helps to keep the cost down, plus has the benefit of adding a healthy portion of veg to your dinner.
How to make vegan mac and cheese
In many ways it’s quite simple to make vegan mac and cheese. There are so many good dairy free substitutes for butter, milk and cheese on the market nowadays that you could almost follow a non-vegan recipe and just use these ingredients.
However, many recipes use a nut based sauce instead – often made from cashew nuts – or a light coloured vegetable such as cauliflower or butternut squash as I have here in my vegan butternut squash macaroni cheese recipe.
Roasted butternut squash is simply blended into a vegan béchamel, or white, sauce, made with dairy free spread and plant milk (I prefer oat milk) and blended together. Nutritional yeast can be added for flavour and nutrients.
I used a wholemeal elbow macaroni (the particular shape was called gomitini) to make this as I love the shape but you can use classic straight macaroni or any kind of pasta. Most dried pasta is vegan but check the packet if you’re not sure. Fresh pasta often contains egg so isn’t usually suitable for vegans – unless of course you make your own as my friend Danae from Cookie and Biscuit does.
I think that adding the breadcrumbs to the top and baking it adds an important extra special touch to this vegan mac and cheese. I like to use panko breadcrumbs because they’re extra crispy but you can use any that you have available, or of course, omit this stage if you prefer.
Baked vegan butternut squash mac and cheese
- 1/2 small butternut squash
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 25 g dairy free spread
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 500 ml oat milk
- 2-4 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp sea salt
- black pepper
- 250 g small pasta eg macaroni
- 30 g breadcrumbs I used panko
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan)/200°C/gas mark 6.
- Peel and chop your butternut squash. Place in a roasting dish, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 30 minutes or until soft and turning golden. Stir halfway to avoid sticking.
- Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.
- To make your sauce heat the dairy free spread in a medium saucepan over a low-medium heat until melted. Stir in the plain flour for a few seconds until you have a paste then pour in a little of the oat milk, whisking to avoid any lumps. As it thickens pour in a little more milk and stir. Repeat until you’ve used up all the milk. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t very thick as it will thicken up more in the oven. Remove from the heat and stir in the nutritional yeast, salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the cooked butternut squash to the sauce and use a hand blender to blend into the sauce. If you don’t have a hand blender and you’re using a jug blender allow the sauce to cool before blending.
- When the pasta is cooked, drain and add to a medium ovenproof dish. Pour over the sauce and stir well.
- Mix the breadcrumbs with the chopped parsley and sprinkle over the top of the pasta.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Alternatively place under the grill. Don't overcook it or the sauce will become dry.
You will need a blender for this recipe.
If you like this you might like this vegan cashew and cauliflower alfredo sauce.