Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheeze

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on October 3, 2011

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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):

4.8 from 4 reviews
Print

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.

Nutrition Information

Serving Size 1 of 4 servings | Calories 530 calories | Total Fat 10 grams
Saturated Fat 1.5 grams | Sodium 640 milligrams | Total Carbohydrates 101 grams
Fiber 7 grams | Sugar 8 grams | Protein 17 grams

Nutrition info is based on 4 servings.
* Nutrition data is approximate and is for informational purposes only.

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, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Google+

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{ 64 comments… read them below or add one }

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Kelley Forbes October 3, 2011 at 9:11 am

Can’t wait to make tonight with fresh butternut from garden. THANKS SO MUCH for recipe Angela! So creative.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) October 3, 2011 at 9:17 am

Did you say garden butternut? That’s impressive! Enjoy :)

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Kim November 4, 2013 at 10:44 am

Angela, i would like to add the Kale to it. Do I need to cook or prep the Kale of just take and fold in raw Kale? Looking forward to this dish tonight!

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ktkun February 28, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Depends on your preference I’d say. Also depending on the size. If you cut it up, you can probably just throw it in. If you like big chunks of kale (yum) then I would probably heat it. This can probably be done in water in the microwave or even if you add the kale to the mac n cheez while it’s still on the stove like she’s doing in the picture and stir (may need to turn it back onto a low heat for a bit), it should soften up quickly.

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Jessica Lauren DeBry June 6, 2014 at 2:35 am

Kim I’ve made it before and just folded in the raw kale. It turned out great!

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Elyssa January 2, 2015 at 2:56 pm

Kale is really great in this dish tossed in some salt and pepper and olive oil, and roasted in the oven at 400 degrees for around 8-10 minutes so it’s crispy around the edges like kale chips and tender in the middle like sautéed kale. If you add raw kale (even folded into the warm sauce end wilted) it tastes bland and bitter with an unpleasant chewy texture. You’ll want to de-vein and chop off the large stem that runs through the middle of the leaf and chop it into mouthful size pieces.

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Marie March 14, 2015 at 9:06 pm

What do you think of steaming kale and blending it into the sauce to make it green for St. Patrick’s Day? Do you think that would work?

And would unsweetened rice milk work? LO is allergic to nuts in addition to dairy.

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Esther October 25, 2013 at 10:31 am

I made this on my daughter’s recommendation. So glad I did. Eating right now as I am commenting. Added roasted broccoli. So delicious! This recipe is a keeper. Thanks for sharing.

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Christina @ The Athletarian October 3, 2011 at 9:12 am

Yes! I love your mac and cheeze recipes! I made one of them for my family once and they absolutely loved it! I might make it again to compliment our Thanksgiving meal this year! Maybe I’ll try a different version this time… Thank you :)

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Susan October 3, 2011 at 9:13 am

So mac n’ cheese (along with peanut butter toast) has become my staple on my bad chemo days. On top of that, I cut back on dairy and am always trying to sneak in vegetables when my stomach churns at the sight of a leafy green. You just made my day with this recipe. <3 you!!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) October 3, 2011 at 9:17 am

I hope you enjoy it Susan. All the best xo

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Lauren at Keep It Sweet October 3, 2011 at 9:16 am

I will be making this asap! It looks amazing.

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Nobody October 3, 2011 at 9:18 am

this looks fantastic! i’m definitely going to have to try this one out on my kids!

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Alexia (Dimple Snatcher) October 3, 2011 at 9:18 am

Before I scrolled down, I was thinking: IS THIS WOMAN GOING TO MAKE A SQUASH CHEESE SAUCE?! and you did :) it really looks delicious

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samantha October 3, 2011 at 9:32 am

Hi There,
I live in China and have no access to nutritional yeast. I’m also soy free, so earth balance is off limits. I’m also allergic to garlic so that and the Dijon mustard are off limits. And with kidney issues, i cannot eat salt. I was so excited to try this recipe till I realized these things. Any suggestions? Thanks! You’re very creative!

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meg October 4, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Hmmm… Is there any way you can order bulk yeast online? You might try combining roasted bell peppers and spices to get a similar taste, but it won’t be cheesy, I’m afraid. Olive oil or another oil maybe could sub for EB, and for salt/mustard you could try a mix of white or yellow miso with low- or sodium-free soy sauce? Maybe Angela will chime in. :)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) October 4, 2011 at 6:48 pm

I would suggest buying the nutritional yeast online too :) Aside from that it sounds like you are going to have to get creative with spices. The Dijon gives it a kick so maybe try adding crushed red pepper flakes. Another reader suggested adding minced onion. I’m sure that would give it some depth too.
Great suggestions Meg, I can’t think of anything you didn’t mention.
Goodluck Samantha!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) October 4, 2011 at 6:49 pm

I meant to add, the nutritional yeast is an essential ingredient (in my opinion) as it gives the cheese-like taste.

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Mary May 20, 2013 at 11:50 am

Hi, Love this site – its very inspirational, thank you. Just to say I made a cheese sauce with coconut milk, nutritional yeast, and dijon for zing, some cornstarch if necessary and heated it through. Add more n. yeast to required taste. Great on roasted cauliflower or any roast veg. Sometimes you have to play with what you have in the cupboard :-) Enjoy good food and good health!

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Heather L. Green July 6, 2016 at 6:08 pm

Earth Balance makes a soy free version :)

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SarahBeth October 23, 2012 at 5:14 pm

EB has a soy free option as well (red writing on container) — but might be hard to find. Good luck!

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Sarah February 7, 2013 at 11:14 am

Earth Balance has a soy-free version – it is fantastic!

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dawn April 5, 2013 at 9:30 am

hi samantha
i think they make earth balance soy-free now——and i use alot of ms. dash spices(salt free) they are yum!

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shayna July 30, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Hopefully you will see it there soon if you can’t find it now- I am soy-free as well and Earth Balance makes a soy-free version here in the states.

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shayna July 30, 2013 at 3:53 pm

whoops! couldn’t see when I replied that others had already made this suggestion. :)

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Rae August 23, 2013 at 7:38 pm

There is non soy earth balance :)

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Terra October 3, 2011 at 9:25 am

We are trying to have less dairy in our diet, this is a fantastic recipe! I have not tried nutritional yeast, but hear great things about it:-) I love butternut squash, so anything with that gorgeous vegetable is a winner in my book! Thank you for sharing, Terra

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Barbie October 3, 2011 at 9:25 am

This is hands down the FIRST vegan mac and cheez I’ve been DESPERATE to try. Butternut Squash is pretty much the only reason I tolerate the switch from summer to fall. Somebody get me a mop…

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Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat October 3, 2011 at 9:26 am

Agreed on the rain!
I’m not even a big cheese eater (or cheeze – but I can’t say I’ve actually tried it yet!) and you had me sold at butternut squash! :) Can’t wait for the pumpkin version – although I don’t need any help turning myself orange hahaha!

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Natalie Cottrell October 3, 2011 at 9:26 am

This looks amazing! My boyfriend and I have been wanting to try more recipes that are easy on the dairy but still comforting, and this looks like a winner. Can’t wait to try. Thank you so much for pursuing delicious, healthy recipes, and for sharing with us! :)

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Kristen @ Popcorn on the Stove October 3, 2011 at 9:26 am

I can’t wait to try this (although I may skip the kale)! It’s been so cold here lately so I’m dying to make some comfort foods.

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Robyn October 3, 2011 at 9:27 am

<3

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Stacey October 3, 2011 at 9:28 am

I believe this shall go on the dinner table this evening!

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Annie @ Naturally Sweet Recipes October 3, 2011 at 9:34 am

YUM! This looks delicious. I’ve been loving butternut squash. And your pictures are gorgeous!

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[email protected] DiVa DiSh October 3, 2011 at 9:36 am

You have the BEST cheeze sauce recipes!! I just made pumpkin mac n cheese and my daughter loved it..Such a better alternative to the regular mac n cheese kids love! This butternut squash is next on my list for sure!!

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Heather Brandt October 3, 2011 at 9:38 am

any sub for mustard? our son is intolerant of it :(

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Angela (Oh She Glows) October 3, 2011 at 9:44 am

the Dijon gives it a bit of a kick and depth of flavour, so maybe try extra spices or seasonings? Smoked paprika might be nice. It will work without the Dijon (just a bit more bland)

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Ali Mc October 3, 2011 at 9:39 am

BOOK MARKED! this is so heavenly….and my husband may actually eat it! thanks so much :D xoxox

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Ashley October 3, 2011 at 9:40 am

Love you “cheeze” pasta recipes, and what a great idea to add butternut squash. Definitely need to try this one out! What a pretty fall meal. :)

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Bev Weidner October 3, 2011 at 9:40 am

Holy. Crap. Yes.

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Gina @ Running to the Kitchen October 3, 2011 at 9:40 am

I’m going to try this out against my mac n cheese lovin hubby. I’d love a healthier “vault” recipe for mac n cheese that tastes legit!

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Estela @ Weekly Bite October 3, 2011 at 9:42 am

Love this!! I like the addition of Kale

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Sheri October 3, 2011 at 9:47 am

What is the purpose of the nutritional yeast? I have never used it before.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) October 3, 2011 at 10:21 am

It provides a cheese-like flavour :)

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Emily January 14, 2013 at 10:00 pm

and it provides some nutrition, too!!

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Andrea @ Vegvacious October 3, 2011 at 9:48 am

I am so in love with this recipe! I had roasted butternut squash for dinner last night and I am totally making this sauce tonight. I have a spaghetti squash that needs to be used up — I wonder if the two will work together…

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Andrea @ Vegvacious October 4, 2011 at 10:07 am

I just wanted to tell you that I made this last night for dinner and it was AMAZING!!!!! Definitely one of my all-time favourite recipes. I gave some to my hubby to sample and he had no idea that it wasn’t traditional mac n cheese!!!

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Heather October 3, 2011 at 9:50 am

Angela! Again, you amaze me.

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Heather October 3, 2011 at 9:51 am

This looks delicious! I’ve been meaning to get around to making a vegan cheese sauce to try and trick the fiance ;-) I’m a cheese addict also but I love to switch it up and try your recipes…they’re always crowd pleasers. Keep up the good work!

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Jennifer October 3, 2011 at 9:54 am

wow comfort food to the max.. I might try this today, but first I have to do some googling to do, to see if green butternut squash is the same as the orange. I’m not sure if they grew on the same vine or just next to one another. We will see.. thanks for the recipe!

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Gail October 3, 2011 at 9:57 am

Yum. I’m not a big squash fan, but I think I’m going to give this a try. I tried your Basic Cheez Sauce, it was good, but there was so much fat in it. Thanks! BTW, I only like pumpkin(love it), so I’m really looking forward to see if your pumpkin cheez sauce works out!

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Caroline @ chocolate & carrots October 3, 2011 at 10:01 am

This looks fantastic. The perfect fall mac ‘n cheese. I’ve made it before with cauliflower, but I love the idea of a squash! Yay!

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VeggieGirl October 3, 2011 at 10:08 am

My man LOVES mac and cheese but we rarely eat it because its unhealthy and not vegan! But this looks so healthy and scrumptious (its making me hungry looking at your photos but at least my lunch is coming up lol) I will have to get some arrowroot powder and try this out- I’ve read about arrowroot being a great binder but havent ever used it!

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Becky October 3, 2011 at 10:11 am

Mmmmmm, cashews are the best way to make things creamy, in my opinion. Then combining them with butternut squash is heavenly. I just posted a butternut squash soup recipe that probably tastes similar to your sauce. It was gone almost the moment I took it off the stove! I’ll have to try out this mac n’ cheeze, I have a feeling it would be just as much of a hit!

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Heather @ Get Haalthy with Heather October 3, 2011 at 10:17 am

It’s raining outside and all I want is some comfort food. I think this’ll fit the bill!!

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Jen G. October 3, 2011 at 10:40 am

This looks awesome! I was a little bummed when I first saw it because it looked delicious, but I was sure it had cashews in it (I’m allergic). Now I know I can make it nut-free, I’m ready to make it!

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Aine @ Something to Chew Over October 3, 2011 at 10:42 am

Oh wow, this looks so good! Yum yum! I bet I could get my boyfriend to eat butternut squash in this form ;)

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Lauren @ What Lauren Likes October 3, 2011 at 10:43 am

This is soo clever! I can definetly see myself making this :)

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Laura October 3, 2011 at 10:46 am

YUUUMMMM. That looks so warming. Might try this with some traditional basil pesto in the mix. Butternut squash and pesto is one of my favourite combinations. And it’s going to stop raining in southern Ontario tomorrow! Sunshine for the next 5 days! Highs of 19ish! Life is good.

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Cait's Plate October 3, 2011 at 10:49 am

I’m dying to try this. I love how creamy the squash gets!

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Christy October 3, 2011 at 11:03 am

This looks amazing! my family will totally love this. WE enjoyed the basic cheese sauce last week with pasta and veggies… know they will enjoy the buttery taste of the squash with it.

Just hosted 2 parties this past weekend where 3 of your recipes were the talk of the night: sour cream and onion kale chips, nanaimo bars (almond/pomegranate and vanilla) and your roasted red pepper hummus. Everyone – (especially the non-vegans and non-vegetarians) were smitten. They loved them all! Many went home eager to check out your website. Thanks for making our parties a success. ;-)

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sarah October 3, 2011 at 11:09 am

Making. This. Tonight. Mmmmm….

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Ashley Srokosz October 3, 2011 at 11:15 am

I can’t wait to try this, and share this recipe with a client newly diagnosed with multiple food allergies! She wants a mac and cheese recipe for herself and her children … CAN NOT WAIT!

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kathleen @ the daily crumb October 3, 2011 at 11:19 am

i am always looking for twists on mac n cheese and this looks fantastic!! i just pinned it for future use :) love anything involving my beloved butternut.

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