Butternut mac and cheese is ultra creamy, rich and delicious. This vegan mac and cheese is comfort food at its finest, but without the guilt! This oil free macaroni and cheese is packed full of nutrition for a healthy and hearty meal.
Macaroni and cheese is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. I mean, who doesn't like a great big bowl of noodles and cheese? Rhetorical question. You don't have to answer that.
Since going vegan, I've tried all the boxed mac and cheese's hoping to find something akin to the one's of my childhood. But, not one of them satisfied me. Plus, all of those boxed varieties contained a ton of ingredients, and were far from being considered plant based. I am happy to report that this whole foods plant based mac and cheese recipe is gluten free, oil free and so unbelievably tasty.
This vegan mac and cheese is kid-approved, by my own kids, and that is saying a lot. My kids hate vegetables, which is a constant source of frustration in our household. When I made this the first time I was sure it would be met with moans and groans. But, I put it in front of them and they started eating it without complaining. Huh? And now they request it for dinner. This is a huge huge win in our household. My 10-year old daughter even helped me cook this and did some photography of her own. She is a budding artist in so many areas and I am always impressed with the quality of her work. The pic below is hers, and I couldn't be prouder.
What is Vegan Mac and Cheese Made Of?
- Butternut Squash - You can use fresh peeled, or frozen squash. The roasting time will be approximately the same. You can roast butternut squash from frozen and it will save you the time of peeling and chopping, for a much quicker meal. I have had success making this with sweet potatoes too, but it will have a slightly sweeter flavor.
- Aquafaba - Aquafaba is the water leftover from a can of chickpeas and can be used in place of oil when roasting. For more information about how to use aquafaba, see this post on maple-mustard roasted carrots and apples.
- Cashews - If you need this to be nut free, you can omit the cashews or replace with sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
- Nutritional Yeast - This adds a cheesy and tangy flavor to vegan cheese sauces. You can omit this if you don't care for the taste, but it does add a great flavor to the sauce.
- Macaroni Noodles - Feel free to use any shaped noodle here that you desire. Macaroni is a classic shape, but I've made this with penne and fusilli and it turned out great.
How to Make Roasted Butternut Mac and Cheese
This meal is largely hands off, and most of the time required to make this meal involves roasting the squash. Start by preheating the oven to 425F (220C) and lining a sheet pan with parchment paper. Toss the squash, onion and garlic with aquafaba or water and a pinch of salt if desired. Spread in a single layer onto the sheet pan and roast for 25-30 minutes, flipping once halfway through, until easily pierced with a fork.
While the squash is roasting cook the macaroni noodles until al dente. Drain, rinse and add back to the cooking pot.
When the squash has finished roasting add the entire pan to a blender along with the cashews, water and salt to taste. Blend until smooth and creamy, adding a little more water, a tablespoon at a time, to create a smooth pourable sauce. Pour half of the sauce over the cooked noodles and stir to combine, then turn the heat on to medium. Add more sauce to the noodles to reach desired consistency, gently stirring to coat the noodles and warm through. Enjoy!
What to Serve with Butternut Mac and Cheese
I love to serve this mac and cheese with something green. I especially like it alongside this shaved asparagus salad, kale salad with oil free balsamic vinaigrette or Asian slaw.
I absolutely love butternut squash. If you liked this recipe, you may also like this butternut squash soup with coconut and ginger.
Butternut Mac and Cheese (Vegan, GF, Oil Free)
- 4 cups (about 1 ½ pounds) butternut squash* peeled, seeded and cubed
- ½ onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic peeled, whole
- 2 tablespoons aquafaba or water
- 16 ounces gluten free macaroni noodles
- ¾ cup raw cashews**
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
- Preheat the oven to 425F (220C) and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Toss the squash, onion and garlic with aquafaba or water and a pinch of salt if desired. Spread in a single layer onto the sheet pan and roast for 25-30 minutes, flipping once halfway through, until easily pierced with a fork.
- While the squash is roasting, cook the macaroni noodles until al dente. Drain, rinse and add back to the cooking pot.
- When the squash has finished roasting add the entire pan to a blender along with the cashews, water and salt to taste. Blend until smooth and creamy, adding a little more water, a tablespoon at a time, to create a smooth pourable sauce.
- Pour half of the sauce over the cooked noodles and stir to combine. Turn the heat on to medium and add more sauce to the noodles to reach desired consistency, gently stirring to coat the noodles and warm through. Enjoy immediately.
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This was a great recipe - and the sauce is definitely something that can used in many different ways, not just Mac and cheese!
Thanks for the great feedback Rachel! We love that cheese sauce on lots of other things too! Glad you enjoyed the recipe.
at what point do you add the nutritional yeast?
Hi! Add nutritional yeast along with the other ingredients that are blended to make the sauce. It is optional but does lend even more cheesy flavor. It can also be sprinkled over the top as a finish.