top down view of vegan butternut squash mac and cheese in a mini casserole.

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4.9 from 14 reviews

A delicious fall inspired mac and cheese made with butternut squash, cashews, nutritional yeast, smoked paprika and a few other everyday pantry staples.


Units Scale
  • 3 cups butternut squash (about 12 oz), peeled, seeds removed and cubed or 1 can (14oz)
  • 1216 oz. pasta (elbow, shells, penne, ect.)
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 24 tablespoons nutritional yeast (see notes), to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dijon
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/ 2 – 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, to taste
  • 1 small lemon, juice of (or 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 cups water, vegetable broth, or combo, plus more as needed
  • mineral salt & pepper, to taste

Optional for baking:

  • 1/2 cup panko or breadcrumbs
  • 12 tablespoons oil


Cook the butternut squash:

  • Oven: Preheat oven to 400, spread on baking sheet lined with parchment paper, add butternut squash, drizzle with a tiny bit of oil, toss well to coat, and cook in the oven for 30 minutes, or until fork tender.
  • Stovetop: In a pot add 2 – 3 cups of water and butternut squash, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and cook at a gentle boil for 20 minutes.
  • Microwave: Place butternut squash in a microwave safe bowl, add 1/2 cup of water, place a small plate overtop to bowl, and heat for 5 minutes on high. Carefully lift plate and check if squash is ready, or cook for 1 – 2 more minutes, until fork tender.

Soak the cashews:

  • Quick soak: Cover cashews with hot, not boiling, water and let soak at 10 minutes.
  • Long soak: Cover cashews with cool water and let soak for 2 – 3 hours.

Cook the pasta: Cook the pasta according to package directions.

Make butternut squash cheese: In blender, add the cooked butternut squash, soaked cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic, onion powder, smoked paprika, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and few grinds of fresh cracked pepper, add 1 1/2 cups of water and blend until creamy. Add more water as needed to thin to desired consistency. You don’t want it too thick, as it will thicken as it sets. The sauce just needs to cling so use your best judgement on how much extra water to add.

Assemble mac & cheese: Add the butternut squash cheese sauce to the pasta and stir to combine, heat over low to warm through if needed. Serve as is or bake as noted below.

Oven baked mac & cheese: Toss 1/2 cup of panko or bread crumbs with 1 – 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle the mixture over top the mac and cheese, place in a preheated oven set to 350, uncovered, for 15 – 20 minutes, or until top turns golden. Or put it a few inches under the broiler until top is crispy, about 5minutes.

Serves 6

Store: Leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 – 5 days, in a covered container. It’s also freezer friendly and can be stored in freezer safe containers for up to 2 – 3 months. Let thaw before reheating.


Nutritional yeast: Since this is an acquired taste, feel free to omit. Or simply adjust the amount to suit your taste, start small and add more as desired.

Reheat: Warm on the stovetop, with a splash of unsweetened plain non-dairy milk or water, until warmed through. Microwave in 30 second intervals, with a splash of unsweetened plain plant milk, stirring after each interval until warmed through.