A Vegan Mac and Cheese that you don't need to feel guilty about! This healthy mac and cheese contains hidden veggies but it is so creamy and delicious that you'd never know. And it's ready in under 30 minutes from start to finish!
Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food! There's really nothing that compares to a big bowl of creamy mac and cheese on a cold night.
But this vegan mac and cheese is something different altogether. It has all the cheesy comfort of the original, but it is a whole lot lighter and 100 times more waistline friendly.
The secret? Well, for a start, there's no cheese in this mac and cheese.
Secondly, it is loaded with veggie goodness - cauliflower, potato and butternut pumpkin (butternut squash).
We've all heard of cauliflower mac and cheese but the addition of butternut squash adds a lovely golden hue and a subtle sweetness to counter the slight bitterness of the cauliflower.
It even looks like a certain well-known brand's (ahem - Kraft) all too familiar yellow cheese sauce.
Completely devoid of chemicals and food colors, this dairy-free cheese sauce looks rich and cheesy. And it tastes it too.
A touch of nutritional yeast, smoked paprika and miso give the vegan cheese sauce extra depth, and a squeeze of lemon adds that slight acidic note found in traditional cheese.
The best part though, is that it is a cinch to prepare! Dinner will be on the table in under 30 minutes from start to finish.
While you're here, be sure to grab my free e-cookbook packed with reader favorite vegetarian recipes!
How to Make Vegan Mac and Cheese
The first step to making this vegan mac and cheese is to cook the veggies.
Place potatoes, butternut squash, cauliflower, garlic, shallot, and cashews into a pot of water and bring to a boil.
When the veggies are cooked, we'll process them all in the blender to create our dairy-free cheese sauce.
The butternut squash will give your vegan mac and cheese a gorgeous orange color, and the cashews will lend a perfect creamy consistency.
Next, add the nutritional yeast, white miso, smoked paprika, olive oil, and lemon juice and blend until nice and creamy.
Finally, we'll cook the macaroni and toss it with our vegan cheese sauce. I love the traditional elbow macaroni pasta for my vegan mac and cheese, but you can use any shape you like!
If the sauce is too think, add a bit of the macaroni cooking water to thin it out.
Tips for the Best Vegan Mac and Cheese
Be sure to use dense, starchy potatoes for the vegan cheese sauce. I have found that russet potatoes work best for this recipe.
If you're not up to the task for peeling your butternut squash (I know it's a tough job!), you can buy pre-chopped butternut squash at most grocery stores.
Be sure not to overcook the pasta - overcooked macaroni will absorb the dairy free cheese sauce more quickly.
If you're not going to eat the vegan mac and cheese right away, I recommend preparing some additional sauce and adding it before reheating. This will keep your mac and cheese from getting too dry.
If you can't find white miso paste, you can use a dash of soy sauce to give your vegan mac and cheese that bit of umami flavor. But it really is worth picking up some white miso - I always keep it in my pantry!
Butternut squash is also known as "butternut pumpkin" in some regions. They are the same thing.
More Vegan Pasta Recipes
If you love the idea of a vegan mac and cheese, but are looking for something a little simpler (and less veggie-centric), be sure to try out this Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese which uses dairy-free cheese to make a simple sauce with just a few ingredients.
And be sure to check out my most popular vegan pasta recipes here. Here are a few of my personal favorites:
- One Pot Creamy Mushroom Pasta
- Mushroom Bolognese
- One Pot Thai Green Curry Noodles
- Creamy Mushroom Vegan Alfredo
And for more delicious recipes, don't forget to grab a free copy of my Top 15 Reader-Favorite Recipes before you go!
Vegan Mac and Cheese
- 1 cup potato 200g, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup cauliflower 100g, roughly chopped
- 1 cup butternut squash (butternut pumpkin) 200g, peeled and chopped
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp shallot peeled and roughly chopped
- ½ cup cashews
- ¼ cup nuritional yeast
- 1 ½ tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp white miso
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 10 oz macaroni 300g
- salt and pepper to taste
- baby spinach or arugula (rocket) optional
- Place the potato, cauliflower, butternut squash, garlic, shallot and cashews in a saucepan and cover with as much water as needed so that the vegetables are covered. Add a little salt to season and bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes until fork tender. Do not drain.
- Place in a blender with 1 ½ cups of cooking water with the all the rest of the ingredients except the macaroni. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
- While the sauce is blending bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the macaroni and cook according to packet directions. Drain, reserving ½ cup of the cooking water.
- Toss the pasta with the sauce until well combined. Add some of the reserved pasta water if you'd like slightly looser sauce Add your favourite greens (if using) and serve.
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JoAnn M Lakes says
Can I just use 200g of organic canned pumpkin or butternut squash (not pie mix) for the fresh? It would be so easy. I'm also using frozen cauliflower florets.
I haven't tried that. The texture may come out a bit different, but I do think it would work. Please let me know if you try!
This was so easy to make and fantastic!! After the sauce mixture was added to the pasta, I did add some vegan butter and also topped my serving with vegan parmesan cheese. This is not a necessary step, but I was experimenting 🙂 This is the best vegan Mac and Cheese I’ve made. It reminds me of a white Velveeta cheese sauce - it’s just that creamy!! We will definitely be making this again. Thanks so much for the recipe!!
Thank you - I'm so glad you enjoyed it!
I can't eat potatoes. Can you make it w/o potatoes? Should I add more butternut squash or cauliflower?
I would just add a little more butternut squash in place of the potatoes.
thanks - that's what I thought!!
I was skeptical about the nutritional yeast. But dang it- this was really good!
This is just insanely good. My whole family is crazy about this. We’ve made it at least a dozen times.
I made this for myself and the kids and we all loved it. This is now our go-to mac and cheese recipe. I love the fact that it's so healthy and with vegetables. Such a great recipe.
Will 1 cup work for the potatoes and butternut squash or is that too much?
Yes, one cup of potatoes and one cup of butternut squash will work.
Rediculously good... It feels like your being so naughty when in reality, you couldn't be be more well behaved. Love it!
Nicole Minotti says
I love that description! So glad you enjoyed the recipe. 🙂
Claire Kranz Banasiak says
Just made this for dinner. DELICIOUS. I like it better than regular mac and cheese.
This looks amazing! I can't wait to give it a try!!!
Win at The Equipped Cook says
This looks delicious and I can't believe how healthy it is. I love butternut squash in anything so what a bonus it's in the mac n cheese!
This looks SO incredibly creamy! Love that this is healthy too!
Valentina | The Baking Fairy says
This looks so delicious! I'm always looking for ways to add more veggies into my diet, and this looks like the perfect thing. I love that it looks so creamy and decadent!