Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese (Vegan)
Vegan Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese is a deliciously sweet take on a macaroni and cheese casserole that is so creamy! You’ll love this easy dinner recipe!
Why You’ll Love this Vegan Mac and Cheese
I’ll be honest with you. I’ve never met a mac and cheese that I didn’t like. That said, this vegan macaroni and cheese with butternut squash holds a special place in my heart. Here are a few quick reasons why:
- Butternut Squash is Delicious and Easy to Work With: I’m kind of in love with butternut squash. Okay, really in love. They last practically forever (they can last from 1-3 months) and they’re super easy to cut and peel. Plus, they’re sweet, and even creamier than pumpkin. How could I (and you) not get in on that awesomeness?
- It’s Flavorful: Like I mentioned above, you can cure your sweet AND salty cravings with just one meal! The saltiness of the crisped sage blends perfectly with the rich, subtly sweet butternut, and your tastebuds are the benefactors.
- It’s Quick: You can have this dish piping hot and on the table in just 35 minutes, which makes it a great option for busy weeknights! It also saves really well, meaning you get to enjoy fabulous, flavorful leftovers if needed.
- It’s Comfort Food: I’m pretty sure that mac and cheese in any form qualifies as comfort food. This creamy pasta can be made any time of year, but it’s especially comforting in the fall when it starts to get cold outside!
Notes on Ingredients
Okay, we’re almost there. Before we dive into how to start this “cheesy” masterpiece, let’s go over the essential ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need to gather up:
- Sage: Make sure to use fresh sage, and remove the stems before starting.
- Butternut Squash: Medium-sized, peeled, and with seeds removed. Chop it into large chunks before you begin.
- Pasta: You can use regular or gluten free, it doesn’t really matter. I like to use penne, cavatappi, etc.
- Butter: As far as vegan butter goes, I like Earth Balance’s spread. Regular oil also works.
- Flour: Use regular all-purpose flour, or coconut flour, if needed.
- Vegan Milk: Any vegan milk works – soy, almond, coconut, etc.
- Nutritional Yeast: Adds extra protein to the dish.
- Breadcrumbs: I like to use panko breadcrumbs. Gluten free breadcrumbs can be used, if needed.
- Seasoning: Combine sea salt with ground black pepper.
How to Make Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Mixing this butternut squash mac and cheese together is no trouble at all. There are a lot of parts to this recipe (i.e. cooking the butternut, the sage, the pasta, and combining all three components), but the steps aren’t overly complex or difficult, as you can see here:
Preheat the Oven to 425°F: Then, bring two pots of salted water to a boil. Add the butternut squash to one, cook for 10 minutes or until fork soft.
Cook the Pasta: Add the pasta to the other pot (cook pasta according to directions on the box). If it’s finished cooking before you have finished the sauce, remove from heat and drain, keeping 1/2 cup pasta water, and let stand until you’re ready to use it.
Cook the Sage: In a large pan, melt the vegan butter or coconut oil on medium-high. Add the sage leaves and cook for 1 minute, watching carefully so the butter/oil doesn’t burn, until crispy. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate, and season with a pinch of salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper. Don’t throw out the butter/oil!
Make the Sauce: In the same pan over medium heat with the leftover butter/oil, add the flour and whisk, then cook for about 1 minute until it comes together. Add vegan milk and whisk until it is lump free. Reduce the heat to low and season with the 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring until the sauce starts to thicken, then remove from heat.
Mash the Squash: Transfer butternut squash into the sauce and using a fork, mash it into the sauce until combined.
Combine Pasta, Squash, & Sauce: Transfer the drained pasta, reserved pasta water, and nutritional yeast squash and sauce mixture. Stir until well combined.
Bake the Mac and Cheese: Transfer the pasta mixture into a greased baking dish. Combine the breadcrumbs and olive oil to moisten them, then season them with remaining salt and pepper. Sprinkle the moistened crumbs in a single layer over the dish. Bake 5 to 7 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. Crumble the crispy sage over the top. Enjoy!
Tips for Success
See what I mean? Totally doable, whether you’re looking for a quick mid-week dinner or an indulgent meal that guests will love.
There are, however, a couple of tips on this butternut squash mac and cheese that will make the process even easier:
- How to Mash the Butternut Squash: You can mash it with your wooden spoon, spatula, or fork. It’s that soft. You don’t need any other kind of equipment for this recipe!
- Do I Have to Use Sage? Technically no, but I highly recommend it. The saltiness of the sage and its crispy texture really pull the dish together.
- How to Make this Gluten Free: Simply use gluten free pasta, flour, and panko breadcrumbs, and you’re good to go!
- Peel the Squash: You can use unpeeled butternut squash if you want, but for the creamiest, smoothest results, make sure to peel it!
Wondering what to serve with your butternut mac and cheese? I’ve got a few ideas that might help! This veggie mac and cheese is generally pretty filling, but there are a couple of light sides that I like to include with it sometimes:
- Salad: Usually when I make this meal, a light, leafy green salad on the side is enough to satisfy everybody’s appetites!
- Veggies: Roasted or sautéed vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, and others are great too, because you can mix them in with your creamy pasta!
- Bread: Use slices of crusty bread to soak up some of the creamy butternut sauce – words can’t describe how good!
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Store your butternut squash mac and cheese leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days. To reheat, bake in the oven until warmed through at 425 degrees F, or simply microwave. It may not be quite as creamy as it originally was if you microwave it, but it’ll still taste great!
Can I Freeze This?
Sure! Freeze your mac and cheese in an airtight container for 1-2 months. When you’re ready to enjoy it again, make sure to thaw it overnight in the fridge first before reheating!
Enjoy friends! If you make this Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese, please snap a photo and tag #jessicainthekitchen on Instagram! We’d also love it if you would leave a comment below, and give the recipe a rating! Thanks so much!
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese with Crispy Sage
- 1 bunch fresh sage, stems removed
- 1/2 medium Butternut Squash, peeled, seeds removed and chopped into large chunks
- 8 ounces pasta, regular or gluten free
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter, I like Earth Balance’s spread or coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons flour, regular or coconut flour if needed
- 1 to 1 ¼ cups vegan milk, any vegan milk works
- ½ cup nutritional yeast
- ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs + 2 teaspoons of olive oil, gluten free if needed
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- ¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Bring two pots of salted water to a boil. Add the butternut squash to one, cook for 10 minutes or until fork soft.
- Add the pasta to the other (cook pasta according to directions on the box). If it’s finished cooking before you have finished the sauce, removed from heat, drain, keeping 1/2 cup pasta water and let stand until you’re ready to use it.
- In a large pan, melt the vegan butter or coconut oil on medium-high. Add the sage leaves and cook for 1 minute, watching carefully so the butter/oil doesn’t burn, until crispy. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate, and season with a pinch of salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper. Don’t throw out the butter/oil!
- In the same pan over medium heat with the leftover butter/oil, add the flour and whisk, then cook for about 1 minute until it comes together. Add vegan milk and whisk until it is lump free. Reduce the heat to low and season with the 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring until the sauce starts to thicken, then remove from heat.
- Transfer butternut squash into the sauce and using a fork, mash it into the sauce until combined.
- Transfer the drained pasta, reserved pasta water, and nutritional yeast squash and sauce mixture. Stir until well combined. If the sauce seems a little dry, add in the extra milk a tablespoon at a time until your desired consistency.
- Transfer the pasta mixture into a greased baking dish. Combine the breadcrumbs and olive oil to moisten them, then season them with remaining salt and pepper. Sprinkle the moistened crumbs in a single layer over the dish. Bake 5 to 7 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly.
- Crumble the crispy sage over the top. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: Although jessicainthekitchen.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Jessicainthekitchen.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.
I made mine with half a butternut squash and it turned out perfectly fine. Maybe you didn’t use enough almond milk.
I am excited to try this recipe for a party today! I plan on doubling it and was hoping to bake it in a crockpot instead of the oven. Would you have any suggestions on how long and temp for using a crockpot?
I hope you enjoy!! I don’t actually and I don’t want to guess and accidentally tell you the wrong instructions! Maybe you could follow the directions for this slow cooker Mac and cheese? I can’t guarantee it’ll work perfectly but just trying to help as much as I can 🙂 ! https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-mac-and-cheese-in-the-slow-cooker-226813
Delicious!! Made tonight in 4 mini casseroles and we all liked it. Even my non vegan teenage son. Granted I used regular flour and breadcrumbs but GF would be just as good for this. Was impressed how crispy the breadcrumbs with EVOO got in just 7 minutes in the oven.
Thanks for posting! Looking forward to trying more.
Thank you so much Theresa! We’re happy that you enjoyed it.
Also, I used a bag of frozen organic butternut squash and it made the prep of this so easy!!
Thanks for this as well Theresa!
This is my favorite vegan Mac recipe!! I love how the butternut squash tastes cheesy and the crispy sage is the best. I have brought this to several outings with vegan co workers and no one else knows it’s vegan!
We’re so happy that you enjoyed this recipe Chelsey! Thank you so much for reading and leaving such a nice comment!
Absolutely delicious meal. You couldn’t believe how creamy and rich the dish is using just butternut squash and very limited seasonings. I used Shells and added a bit of garlic powder as the only variant. We almost ate the whole tray and can’t wait to make it again. Also, even though you use a lot of pots/pans, you can clean as you go along while the pasta is in the oven baking. This one is a forever recipe thank you!!!!
Delicious! What a perfect autumn dinner. This was easy to make after prepping all my ingredients, and it’s so yummy. I was wary of the crispy sage, but honestly that was the best part! I’ll definitely make this one again 😋
Do NOT skip this recipe!! It’s so so tasty OHMYGOSH! I added some pine nuts for an extra nutty flavor, but it’s wonderful on its own!
Wow thanks so much Marco! We really appreciate it.
Delicious! Made it gluten free and used Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 for the flour because you usually recommend it in recipes, and it worked perfectly. I had some extra roasted cauliflower, so I tossed that in before baking it. Will make again!
I’m soo happy to hear that Eileen, YAY!! Thanks so much for this comment too!
Want to try this out. It sounds like a a unique and different sauce from what I am used to. Will let you know how it turns out.
Enjoy so much Sarah!!