The ultimate classic, Mac and Cheese, gets an upgrade with an insanely cheesy sauce made from butternut squash.
You are going to love this vegan mac and cheese! It is rich and creamy, buttery and cheesy with perfectly cooked, gluten-free shells…what’s not to love?
Since we’re all friends, I have a confession to make….I love mac and cheese. Growing up it was the mac from the blue box, as I got older, it was a gourmet version but since going vegan, there really haven’t been any homemade recipes that make my taste buds twirl….. UNTIL NOW!
What I appreciate about this vegan mac and cheese recipe, is how easy it is to make and how simple the ingredients are. I also love that it doesn’t rely on nuts to make their sauce rich and creamy. Instead, this recipe calls for a few unconventional ingredients which makes each bite extra yummy….butternut squash & cannellini beans.
This vegan mac and cheese is from one of my favorite cookbooks, Healthy Happy Vegan Kitchen by Kathy Patalsky. There are so many amazing recipes that both vegans, non-vegans and wanna be vegans will love! But let’s start with a classic…..mac and cheese.
Although the Kathy’s recipe uses sweet potato, I chose to use butternut squash since I already had one on hand, but feel free to use either. The speed at which this dinner is made all depends on how you cook your vegetable. Microwaving will take approximately 8 minutes, roasting will take about 45 to 60 minutes OR using a prepackaged bag of diced butternut squash can reduce your time to 4 minutes or less. Talk about a time saver!
Now that your squash is cooked, all you need is a high powdered food processor (or blender) and a few more ingredients & this irresistible sauce will come together easily. Just toss the following items in the processor and blend away…..
- Squash/sweet potato
- Cannelli beans
- Nutritional Yeast (nooch)
- Vegan butter (Earth Balance has a soy-free, vegan option that we love)
- Dairy-free milk (Good Karma has been my go-to)
- Dijon mustard
- Spices (salt and pepper, garlic powder and turmeric)
Heat it up
Don’t be concerned if the sauce looks a little curdled in your processor..that will all be resolved when you heat it up on the stove top. It’s simply that the vegan butter doesn’t break down completely, but once you bring it to a low boil, it melts into a rich and smooth sauce, ready to smother your pasta shells with.
Toss it up
Speaking of pasta, now is the time to add your favorite cooked pasta to our sauce! Use whatever shape you like but I love using shells! There’s just something about how all that cheesy goodness fills the cavity of each shell, making every bite more magical. And since the sauce is naturally gluten-free, why ruin a good thing? I used Banza pasta which is made from chickpeas so I get 2x the protein, 4x the fiber and the confidence knowing that it’s produced in a dedicated gluten-free, wheat-free, soy-free, egg-free, and nut-free facility.
Mix it in
Serve as is or feel free to stir in any of your desired mix-ins, such as:
- Proteins: veggie dogs or vegan sausage links are my fav but feel free to experiment.
- Veggies: I’m obsessed with adding baby peas to my dish but chopped broccoli or even spinach would be delish.
- Sauce or Seasonings: Some faves include Old Bay, crushed red peppers, spicy salsa or better yet…..Sriracha! I’m a sucker for adding a little heat anywhere I can.
The sky’s basically the limit here.
So if you’re searching for an irresistible, cheesy, creamy, homemade, allergy-friendly, vegan mac and cheese recipe, than look no further.
If you give these a try, let me know by leaving a comment and rating the recipe! It’s super helpful and while you’re at it, take a picture and tag it #allergylicious on Instagram so I can see! I love seeing what you come up with and what mix-ins you used.
Let’s make some Vegan Mac and Cheese
The BEST Vegan Mac and Cheese
Yield 4 bowls
Mac and cheese is the ultimate feel good comfort food and this vegan version is just as creamy and dreamy while using only real ingredients such as butternut squash, cannellini beans and tumeric. Use gluten-free pasta shells to keep this recipe completely GF.
- 1 box gluten-free pasta shells (Banza brand is made from chickpeas)
- pinch of salt
- Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Add pasta shells and pinch of salt. Return to a boil and then reduce, until pasta is tender (follow directions on box for best results). Scoop out 1 cup of cooking water, set aside and THEN drain shells.
- Clean squash, cut in half and remove seeds. THEN cook in oven or microwave depending on time:
- Bake method- preheat oven to 350°. Place squash halves, cut sides down, in a baking dish. Bake in a 350°F oven 45 to 50 minutes or until tender. To check doneness, pierce the squash with the tip of a sharp knife. It should slide in easily.
- Microwave method- Place squash halves, cut sides down, in a baking dish with 2 tablespoons water. Cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 9 to 12 minutes or until tender, rearranging once. To check doneness, pierce the squash with the tip of a sharp knife. It should slide in easily.
- In a food processor, combine 1 1/2 cups mashed squash, dairy-free milk, 1/4 cup of cooking water and remaining sauce ingredients. Blend until smooth-ish. It won't be completely smooth until heated.
- Pour blended sauce into a saucepan and bring to a low boil and whisk into a smooth texture. Add cooked pasta to sauce and toss to coat.
Optional mix-ins: 1 cup organic baby peas, 4 sliced and cooked tofu dogs, sriracha sauce.
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