Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheeze

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Over the past couple years, I’ve made many different vegan cheeze sauce recipes. The initial ones weren’t what I would consider spectacular, but with trial and error I’ve made recipes that not only satisfy my cravings, but make me crave the new recipes instead of actually craving cheese itself.

As a former cheese addict, this is big.

Last year, I fell in love with cashew-based vegan cheeze sauces. When you blend or process cashews with nutritional yeast, herbs, spices, and almond milk, you get this thick and creamy vegan cheeze sauce that can be added to macaroni, casseroles, spread onto sandwiches, and more.

I especially love making this cashew-based Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheeze:

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This below, is my favourite Cashew-Based Vegan Cheeze Sauce (without the squash).

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Lately, my focus has shifted to sauces that I can make without cashews.

The cashew-based sauces are delicious, but they can be quite heavy. I’ve been working on sauces that can be thrown together in just a few minutes on the stove top.

My first attempt was my 5-Ingredient Cheeze Sauce. Just almond milk, Earth Balance, flour, nutritional yeast, and S & P.

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Some of you asked for a version that didn’t have as much fat in it. This recipe has 4 tablespoons of Earth Balance, but I knew that I could make it much healthier and lighter with a little work!

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This weekend was cold, wet, and gloomy, and it was the perfect weekend to make some comfort food. I decided to make a lighter Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheeze.

But of course, I wasn’t so sure if it would work. I figured there was a good chance I’d be eating bad mac ‘n cheese for a week straight while Eric ate cereal for dinner.

But it’s always good to hang onto a glimmer of hope.

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I roasted a Butternut Squash, but if you want to save time you can always used canned squash as an option.

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How to Roast Butternut Squash

Preheat the oven to 425F. Start by slicing your squash in half (try not to slice your finger off like I almost did). I used a 3.5 pound squash for this recipe, but you only need 1 cup of cooked squash for the sauce (I had 4 cups of squash leftover, fyi). Scoop out the seeds & guts with a spoon.

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Peel the two halves and chop off the top and bottom.

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Slice into 1-2 inch chunks.

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Add the chunks into a large casserole dish or roasting pan. Drizzle on extra virgin olive oil and mix well with your hands. Now sprinkle on a hearty dose of Herbamare or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

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Roast, uncovered, for about 40 minutes at 425F or until tender.

Again, you can skip this roasting step and use canned squash if you are crunched for time.

Meanwhile, prepare the cheeze sauce on the stove top by whisking together Earth Balance (I cut the fat by 75%!), unflavoured almond milk, nutritional yeast, arrowroot powder (or cornstarch or flour), Dijon, garlic powder, S & P.

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If you roasted your squash, blend 1 cup of squash with the cheeze sauce in a blender. If you are using canned squash, you can just stir the squash directly into the pot.

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The outcome was incredible. Thick, with a believable cheese flavour.

Best of all, it’s quite low in fat, full of nutrients, and easy to make.

Finger. licking. good.

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The sauce makes enough for 4 servings of Macaroni (I used brown rice elbow macaroni).

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Mix it up and add in your desired mix-ins. I used kale (help me!), but you can use spinach, peas, broccoli, or any vegetable that tickles your fancy.

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I stirred in a bit of leftover roasted squash too.

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This recipe is definitely “in the vault”, as we like to say.

Eric was crazy for this mac ‘n cheeze and he’s a big cheese lover so I take that as a compliment. Brownie points earned.

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Updated recipe (March 2017):

5 from 1 reviews
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Butternut Squash Mac 'n Cheese

Vegan, gluten-free

By

Creamy, cheesy, comforting—and healthy, too—what more could you want from a pasta dish? The original recipe was posted on my blog way back in 2011, and it quickly became one of my most popular recipes. I've now tweaked it slightly (mainly, streamlined the directions and added more flavour to the sauce), and I think it's better than ever. We just can't get enough! If you want a super-fast weeknight option, feel free to use canned butternut squash purée in lieu of the roasted squash.

Yield
3 to 4 servings
Prep Time
Cook time

Ingredients:

For the butternut squash:
  • 1 large or 2 medium (2 to 3 pounds total) butternut squash, halved and seeded*
  • Grapeseed or sunflower oil
  • Fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
For the cheese sauce:
  • 1 cup (180 g) roasted butternut squash
  • 1 tablespoon (14 g) vegan butter**
  • 3/4 cup (180 mL) unsweetened and unflavoured almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon (12 g) potato starch or cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup (20 g) nutritional yeast, or more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons (10 to 15 mL) chickpea miso (or other light miso), to taste
For the pasta:
  • 8 ounces (340 g) macaroni, mini shell, or rotini pasta (use gluten-free, if desired)
  • Mix-ins of choice (e.g., cooked squash, kale, spinach, broccoli, peas, etc.)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly spray or brush the oil onto the orange flesh of each squash half. Garnish with salt and pepper. Place the halves cut-side down on the baking sheet. Roast for about 35 to 50 minutes, uncovered, until a fork or knife easily slides through the squash. The skin will be lightly browned and the squash may be brown in some spots (which only adds to the flavour).
  2. When there are about 20 minutes left of the squash’s roasting time, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain.
  3. After the squash is finished cooking, flip it flesh-side up and let it cool for 10 minutes or so before handling.
  4. Into a blender, add the cheese sauce ingredients (butter, milk, starch, nutritional yeast, Dijon, garlic and onion powder, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and miso) along with 1 lightly packed cup of the roasted squash (simply spoon it out of the skin and measure). Blend on high until smooth.
  5. Add the cooked and drained pasta back into the pot and stir in all of the cheese sauce. Chop the leftover squash into small cubes, scoop the cubes out of the skin, and add them into the pot (along with any other mix-ins you like). Heat over medium and stir until thickened. Add more salt and pepper to taste (and more lemon juice if you want a bit more brightness). Serve immediately.

Tips:

* For a quick and easy option, swap the roasted butternut squash for 1 cup of canned butternut squash or pumpkin purée. It works well and is great for time-crunched weeknight meals. Instead of roasting squash halves, you can save a bit of time by purchasing pre-chopped fresh squash, too.
** You can probably substitute the vegan butter for a light-tasting oil, such as grapeseed oil or refined coconut oil.

Make it nut-free: Use a nut-free plant-based milk. Just be sure it's unsweetened and unflavoured.

Original recipe:

Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheeze (Vegan with Gluten-free & Nut-Free options)

Husband approved. Cook approved. Vegan approved. Omnivore approved. ‘Nough said.

Yield: 4 servings or 1.5 cups of cheeze sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 fresh butternut squash* (peeled and chopped) OR 1 cup canned butternut squash OR canned pumpkin
  • Extra virgin olive oil, S & P
  • 1 tbsp Earth Balance (or other non-dairy butter replacer)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened & unflavoured almond milk (revised from 1 cup)
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
  • 6 tbsp nutritional yeast, or more to taste
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4-3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2-1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2-1 tsp kosher salt (to taste) & ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 servings brown rice macaroni (8oz or half a 16oz package) makes 3 1/4 cup cooked
  • Mix-ins of choice (e.g., kale, spinach, broccoli, peas, pumpkin seeds, etc)

 

1. Preheat oven to 425F. Line a casserole dish with tin foil. Mix chopped squash with EVOO, S & P. Roast for about 40 minutes, uncovered, or until tender.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the cheeze sauce in a pot on the stove top. Add Earth balance over low-medium heat. In a bowl, whisk together milk and arrowroot powder (or cornstarch or flour) until clumps are gone. Add into pot and whisk. Stir in remaining ingredients (nutritional yeast, Dijon, garlic, lemon, S & P) and whisk over low heat until thickened (about 5-7 minutes or so).

3. Cook your pasta according to package directions. The sauce makes enough to cover 4 servings of pasta.

4. In a blender, blend the sauce with 1 cup of roasted squash (or if using canned, simply stir 1 cup into the pot).

5. Add cooked, drained, and rinsed macaroni into pot, along with cheeze sauce & mix-ins. Heat and serve.

Notes: 1) My 3.5 pound squash made 5 cups cooked squash, so I had about 4 cups leftover. 2) The sauce does not cut in half well (the blender has a hard time blending it up), 3) I tried this recipe with canned pumpkin and it was awesome!

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Things on my mind…

PUMPKIN Mac ‘n Cheeze. I’m so going there.

When the heck is it going to stop raining?

A 5-minute cheeze sauce without cashews or squash? Coming up tomorrow…

Let's get social! Follow Angela on Instagram (@ohsheglows + @theglowspot), Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Google+

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

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Kendra June 16, 2017

Well, this was an instant hit with my kids!! haha! They were eating (not eating) something else…then I finished making this, and said, “Hey! Try this! MmmMMmmmm!” and they totally ate it all…asked for more…..ate more….
Amazing.
Thank you.
xoOXoXoXOoXO

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Angela Liddon June 19, 2017

Oh, that’s so great, Kendra!! I’m happy this one’s a winner with the fam :)

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MaryEllen May 28, 2017
Recipe Rating:

Hi Angela, I love this recipe. Just wondering if you think the cheese sauce would freeze well. I doubled the recipe to use the squash up and have a lot left over

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Angela Liddon May 31, 2017

Hi MaryEllen, Thanks for the recipe love! I’ve had readers report that the sauce freezes and defrosts really well, so I think that’s a great plan for your leftovers. :)

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Amber April 6, 2017

I just made this and it was fantastic!!

I through the sqaush into my Instant Pot for 5 minutes with a quick release. I also tossed some broccoli in with pasta when there was about 5 minutes left. With these short cuts I was able to make this in less than 30 minutes including boiling the water! This will be in regular rotation at our house.

Thanks for another great recipe.

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Elle March 27, 2017

This was delicious. I added some nutmeg and some ground up cashews on the top and then baked it in the oven. It tasted almost like real cheese, without the guilt or consequences. This will now be in my regular rotation.

Thanks, this was a great recipe. I look forward to trying more from Oh She Glows.

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Angela Liddon March 28, 2017

Wonderful to hear you enjoyed this recipe, Elle! The addition of nutmeg and cashews sounds delish, I’ll have to try it sometime :)

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Paige March 27, 2017

Hi Angela,

I am about to attempt my first vegan mac & cheese recipe EVER this weekend. Calories / fat are not a concern … I just want a good meal :) – so I was wondering if you would suggest making this one or one of the other “mac n cheese” recipes you have done in the past! I trust your judgment :) :)

Thanks Angela! You have saved me countless times in pleasing people who aren’t vegan / gluten free …. this is long over due.

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Angela Liddon March 31, 2017

Hey Paige, I would definitely recommend this recipe. It’s been one of my most popular recipes for years, and I recently (as in, just a couple days or so ago!) updated it. I think it’s better than ever!

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Amy February 2, 2017

Oh my gosh I tried many different version of this but this is by far the best!! I will keep using it for sure! Two thumbs up!!!

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Angela Liddon February 2, 2017

Oh, I’m so happy this recipe was a winner, Amy!

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Nancye Smith January 24, 2017

I have made this a few times Angela, and I just can’t help myself, I just love it that much. This is undoubtedly the best Mac N Cheese on the Internet. Love your site, and I have your two cooking books in hand and they are the best Vegan Books by far!! I will kiss all my other V Books goodbye, your recipes are brilliant, delicious, healthy and Readers please try Angela’s Glazed Lentil Walnut Apple Loaf Revisited; it’s absolutely the best Vegan Loaf I have ever eaten!! And do yourselves a favour buy the two Oh She Glows Cookbooks 1 & 2, they are so worth the money…

http://ohsheglows.com/2012/10/05/glazed-lentil-walnut-apple-loaf-revisited/

Thanks so much Angela for sharing your fantastic recipes with the world…

Thanks and Take Care Angela… <3 <3

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Angela Liddon January 25, 2017

I can’t tell you how flattered I am by this lovely comment, Nancye! Thanks so much for your warm words and support.

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Nancye Smith January 26, 2017

Angela you really do yourself proud, and what I say about your food creativity comes from the heart of a lady who is fighting Disease just to stay alive so good food is important for me to have. I can’t possibly see why negativity comes into play with this particular recipe, because it is truly wonderful. Vegan food can be time consuming but now I am in the kitchen as early as 2pm to put the time and energy into my cooking, and for the first time in my 46 years of being in the kitchen I am enjoying the challenges, and my journey eating good healthy Vegan food. Anyway that aside, I say thank you for guidance and for the lovely recipes because you are my saviour…

Take care xx

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Les January 16, 2017

Macaroni and cheese it’s not. It looks good and tastes ok, but none of the non-vegan folks in my family liked it. It’s a little too time intensive to try again.

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Edie January 10, 2017

I really enjoy your recipes as I am not vegan but dairy, gluten, peanut intolerant. I am always looking for good dairy substitutes.
Made this tonight with gluten free flour and it still became pretty thick. I was really impressed.
Even with unsweetened soy milk it was still a bit on the sweet side so may add more spices next time.
I’m amazed by the nutritional yeast!
Thanks for the recipe.

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Angela Liddon January 11, 2017

So happy to hear you enjoyed the Mac ‘n Cheeze, Edie!

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Edie January 11, 2017

Also, I was really happy to see you added nutritional information.

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Melissa December 22, 2016

Eureka! This sauce is perfection! It tastes so cheesy I can’t believe it. Thank you!

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Angela Liddon December 23, 2016

Happy to hear it was a hit, Melissa!

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Marisa November 16, 2016

Hey Angela, do you know anything about canning? I usually make a huge batch of this suace and freeze the extras but I’d like to try canning it in jars. Thoughts on how long to water bath process it?

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Karen October 31, 2016

I absolutely LOVE this recipe! I use it in vegan lasagna and drizzle it on every layer as well as the regular old mac and cheese! My family loves it as well, and we are grateful to have found a lower fat version to the cashew cheese! I used coconut oil instead of the earth balance, and I didn’t have arrowroot, so I used a 1/4 tsp of guar gum and it still turned out perfect. SO YUMMY! Thank you!

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Angela Liddon November 1, 2016

Thanks so much for sharing those swaps, Karen!! I’m glad the recipe was a success for you. :)

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Paige Johnson October 24, 2016

yum!

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Alicia October 2, 2016

I’ve made this before and it was great. Decided to try it out on my picky toddler and SUCCESS! He gobbled it up. I’m ever so thankful.

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Angela Liddon October 3, 2016

Great news, Alicia! So glad the recipe was a hit with your little guy.

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Antonia September 23, 2016

A quick and easy way of to roast your squash for this recipe is to cut your squash in half, scoop out the seeds then place cut side down in a baking tray, pour in 100ml of water and bake for an hour at 200 degrees c. Then the squash is really soft and you can just scoop it out for the sauce!

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Brandy June 17, 2016

I made this recipe over the weekend as I was inspired by my first ever visit to a vegan/vegetarian only restaurant with a friend who is vegetarian. I was eager to try making my own healthy Mac ‘n’ Cheese at home similar to the one I had tried so I was very glad to find your recipe. My boyfriend and I loved it! I did use good ol’ regular butter for ours, skim milk, corn starch, pumpkin seeds and I added some sauteed onions and diced jalapenos. Was amazing and can’t wait to make again :)

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Angela Liddon June 17, 2016

I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe, Brandy! :) Thanks for the lovely comment.

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Terri April 17, 2016

Oh my goodness! I am in LOVE with this sauce!
I am not vegan, but I love to find ways to use fresh produce and incorporate “healthy eating”. In my last co-op produce bag, there was a butternut squash that no one in my household was going to touch. Then I found this recipe and was intrigued. After making and tasting the first batch, I loved it so much that I promptly made a second batch to give to a vegan friend!
Because I still eat cheese, this doesn’t taste as “cheesy” to me as some, but it stands alone on its own as a rich, delicious sauce for anything that sauce enhances! Well done and thank you!!

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Angela Liddon April 18, 2016

Thanks for leaving such a lovely comment, Terri! I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed this recipe so much. :)

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julia April 14, 2016

Thank you so much for the recipe. My 6 year old picky boy loved this recipe and asked me twice already to make it again.

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Angela Liddon April 14, 2016

That’s so great to hear, Julia! I’m glad the recipe’s a hit with him–it can be tricky finding dishes that kids enjoy sometimes, so it’s awesome when you land on a winner. :)

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Nicole April 8, 2016

I must give a critical review here.

I followed the recipe exactly, using roasted butternut squash, and we threw the sauce away. The taste was very strange – somewhat sweet, somewhat sour – not at all appetizing. Even the odor was unpleasant, causing my daughter to ask if we had to eat whatever was creating “that smell”.

I’ll stick to my other vegan mac & cheese recipe.

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breonna March 26, 2016

We love this! I was wondering if u had the nutritional info for this recipe.

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Angela Liddon March 28, 2016

So happy you enjoy the mac ‘n cheeze, Breonna! Unfortunately, I haven’t calculated the nutritional info for this recipe, but there are great online tools like NutritionData or CalorieCount.com that can help you find out what you want to know pretty quickly. Hope this helps!

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Julie March 6, 2016

Once again, a simple fast recipe that is also delicious! I keep passing on your recipes to one of my colleague, and it’s always a success with her family! This sauce tastes amazing, i can’t wait to eat it for supper!

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