I’ve been wanting to make a vegan mac and cheese for such a long time – I’m not quite sure what took me so long! I’ve experimented with tons of cheese sauces and this is by far my favorite. It’s not loaded with nuts and cashew cream but instead made creamy and bright with butternut squash. I keep it savory by adding lots of onion, shallots, garlic, and vegan parm (nutritional yeast!) to the cheese sauce.

I’ve already made this easy recipe twice in the last 24 hours.. it’s that good. Cheesy, satisfying, healthy comfort food is my go-to this time of year. This is the perfect recipe to make for friends and family on a weeknight or watching a game. I like to serve it with a good, big salad (and sometimes sneak in some extra veggies to the pasta)!

Serves 4 - 6
  • 1 small – medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into approx 2 inch pieces
  • Coconut oil or olive oil
  • Sea salt or pink salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup vegan parm
  • 12 ounces of gluten free brown rice elbows (I used Jovial), cooked according to directions
  • Scallions, for topping
  • Red pepper flakes, for topping

Vegan Parm

  • 3/4 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup hemp hearts
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

For the vegan parm: Combine all ingredients in a food processor or hi-speed blender and mix until it turns into a crumbly, fine meal. Store in a container in the fridge, and it will last for a few weeks.

For the mac and cheese: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and toss the squash with oil until just coated. Season with salt and pepper. Bake until cooked through, about 30 or so minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium. Add 2 tablespoons of oil; once melted add the onion and shallot and a pinch of salt. Saute until soft, 5 – 7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 2 – 3 minutes. Add the turmeric and paprika and toast for one minute, being careful not to burn. You can add a pinch of red pepper flakes here if that’s your thing. Turn off heat and set aside.

Once the squash is cooked through, add a heaping cup to a hi-speed blender or food processor along with the onion mixture and 1/2 cup of vegan parm. Blend with just enough vegetable broth or water until smooth. It should be just pourable but it’s ok if it’s still pretty thick as you’ll use some pasta water to thin it out. Add more vegan parm, as desired, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cook pasta according to directions, draining and reserving a cup of pasta water. Add the cooked pasta into the same large skillet (no need to wash it after cooking the onion mixture in it), adding about a cup of sauce and a 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Toss the pasta with the sauce until well coated, adding more cheese sauce and pasta water as needed.

Serve in bowls topped with scallions, red pepper flakes, and vegan parm. Enjoy!