This easy butternut squash mac and cheese is rich, creamy and perfect for Fall! It’s dairy free and vegan optional and incredibly easy to make! Perfect for a kid-friendly dinner recipe.
Mac and cheese is my ultimate comfort food. Annies was my go to when I was little, but these days I generally prefer a homemade version.
This butternut squash mac and cheese is so rich and creamy thanks to cashews and cheddar cheese. I opted to make mine vegan, but you can easily use regular cheese and butter if you prefer a more classic flavor.
This recipe comes together very quickly and can be turned into a baked vegan mac and cheese! It’s perfect for a simple Fall dinner, or Thanksgiving side dish.
I love using chickpea pasta like Banza for added protein, but anything goes! Shells or elbows are more traditional for mac and cheese, but even penne or rotini will work!
Be sure to try my cauliflower mac and cheese next for another veggie packed comfort food recipe!
How to make butternut squash mac & cheese
Step 1: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions.
Step 2: Add the cubed butternut squash and cashews to a pot and cover with water. Let boil until fork tender, about 20 minutes.
I prefer letting the cashews boil with the squash instead of soaking them on their own because it makes things much faster and uses fewer dishes!
Step 3: Add the diced onion and minced garlic to a pan and saute with 1 tablespoon of olive oil for about 5-7 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
Step 4: Drain the butternut squash and cashews and add to a high speed blender with all ingredients aside from the cheese but including the onion/garlic.
Step 5: Blend until completely smooth.
Step 6: Transfer to a pot and stir in the cheese. Let melt over low heat, stirring occasionally. Vegan cheese can take a while to melt, so if you notice it’s still a bit chunky, transfer it back to the blender and process until smooth.
Step 7: Once melted, stir in the cooked past until well combined. Serve and enjoy!
To turn this into baked mac & cheese, follow all of the steps as usual in the recipe, then transfer to an oven safe dish. Top with breadcrumbs and more cheese if desired and bake for 20 minutes at 350, or simply broil on high for about 2 minutes to crisp the top.
Make it vegan!
You can easily make this a vegan butternut squash mac and cheese by using almond milk, Earth Balance butter and the VioLife just like cheddar cheese shreds.
There are so many vegan cheeses on the market these days, but VioLife is one of my favorite brands. The flavor will vary if you use something different, so keep that in mind.
You can easily use the regular dairy versions of all of these things if you prefer. Both are delicious!
How to store
Once prepared, this vegan butternut squash mac and cheese will keep in the fridge for about 3 days. I like to reheat it on the stove with a splash of milk and butter so it gets nice and creamy again.
Can I make it nut free?
This recipe calls for cashews, but if you want to make it without cashews, there are a few options. One, simply leave them out entirely and decrease the milk by half.
The sauce won’t be as creamy, but it’ll still be delicious! A lot of creaminess will come from the cheese itself, so don’t worry if you don’t want to use cashews.
Second, you can leave them out and sub half of the non-dairy milk for coconut cream. However, this may add a very subtle coconut flavor.
Try these next!
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Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
by: claire cary
- 1 pound pasta of choice
- 3 cups cubed butternut squash
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 large white or yellow onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup milk dairy or non-dairy
- 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons butter dairy or non-dairy
- 1 teaspoon salt or more, to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 8 ounces cheddar cheese shreds dairy or non-dairy
- 2-4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce/tamari
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions.
- Add the cubed butternut squash and cashews to a pot and cover with water. Let boil until the squash is fork tender, about 20 minutes.
- Add the diced onion and minced garlic to a pan and saute with 1 tablespoon of olive oil for about 5-7 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
- Drain the butternut squash and cashews and add to a high speed blender with all ingredients aside from the cheese but including the onion/garlic.
- If you're using dairy free cheese (I like violife cheddar shreds) it can take a while to melt, so if you notice it is still chunky after 10 minutes (be sure to stir very frequently), transfer back to a blender and blend until smooth.
- Blend until completely smooth.
- Transfer to a pot and stir in the cheese. Let melt over low heat, stirring occasionally.
- Once melted, stir in the cooked pasta until well combined. Serve and enjoy!
- It will seem very saucy at first, but the pasta will absorb some of the sauce, especially if you're using a gluten free pasta. If you prefer it less saucy, just pour less on top!
This is amazing! I made the baked version and used GF breadcrumbs—it was so good! Lots of fresh ground pepper and a green salad made this a meal.
Can defrosted frozen butternut squash work or is it better to cook fresh?
Claire Cary says
Defrosted from frozen should work just fine!
This is probably the best butternut squash mac and cheese recipe I’ve tried. Such great texture and flavor – the perfect combination for a fall dish! My boyfriend went back for seconds (which doesn’t happen very often). Highly, highly recommend.
Claire Cary says
So happy to hear that! Thanks Alyssa!