Next-Level Vegan Mac n’ Cheeze

Main Dishes, Vegan

Vegan Mac n' cheese made with butternut squash, caramelized onions and cashews that is totally to die for - designed by a dietitian and so much more nutritious than regular Mac n cheese!

This Next-Level Vegan Mac n’ Cheeze will blow your mind!  It is rich and creamy, packed with cheesy flavour and contains a bonus nutrition boost thanks to the pile of butternut squash that is pureed into the sauce.

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I recently created a recipe for Mac n’ Cheese using my Vitamix with butternut squash added to it as a way to ramp up the flavour and nutritional value of the dish.  Our kids love mac and cheese .  And it got me thinking about how I could make it vegan without compromising the taste since I know that not everyone who follows me eats dairy.

I wanted to use my Vitamix again (it worked so well the first time), but I knew that it couldn’t be a simple sub of the cheese for vegan cheese (which may work, but I wanted to get more creative) so I set to work to make a top notch Mac n’ cheese that Charles would enjoy.  Because if he liked it I knew that it was a winner (he is a great cook so is a tough critic, isn’t the biggest mac and cheese fan and isn’t vegan).

Vegan Mac n' cheese made with butternut squash, caramelized onions and cashews that is totally to die for - designed by a dietitian and so much more nutritious than regular Mac n cheese!

Now, not to toot my own horn, but THIS recipe is one that I’m rather proud of!  I was sitting there staring at my pot of cooked squash trying to think of what I could add to this to make it more flavourful (nutritional yeast is amazing but it has it’s limits), and as luck would have it a lonely onion was sitting on my counter with no place to go.  Actually, it was supposed to be for a soup I was gearing up to make before I got side-tracked with this pasta.  But I digress (again).

Caramelized onions!!!! That’s IT!   Cried my inside voice.  And my Ukrainian inside voice chimed in “why not add garlic”? Ok guys, let’s add both I replied.  If you think I’m losing my mind you may be right, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen alone staring at my pantry trying to figure things out.

Caramelized onions and garlic

Cashew cream is a life saver for this dish (and many vegan dishes): it’s a breeze to make, I keep a sac of raw cashews on hand at all times!  The caramelized onions turned out to be a game changer in this dish – and since I get asked about the non-stick pans that I use ALL the time, here they are if you are in the market for some new ones!

You can substitute regular bread crumbs for Panko (Japanese bread crumbs), it just will be a little less crunchy.  Also, if you are vegan make sure that you purchase FORTIFIED nutritional yeast as your staple which contains extra B vitamins, notably vitamin B12 which is only found in animal products and is necessary for supporting our neurological health through myelin synthesis, aids in the production of red blood cells, and is involved in DNA synthesis and the metabolism of fat and protein.

Vegan Mac n' cheese made with butternut squash, caramelized onions and cashews that is totally to die for - designed by a dietitian and so much more nutritious than regular Mac n cheese!

Vegan Mac n' cheese made with butternut squash, caramelized onions and cashews that is totally to die for - designed by a dietitian and so much more nutritious than regular Mac n cheese!

Note that this is still a rich dish regardless of the fact that it is vegan (I personally don’t shy away from fat in my diet for the record).  If you’re looking for more vegan comfort food, try this Creamy Garlicky Kale Mushroom Pasta, this Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup, or this Baked Mushroom Herb Polenta.

As always I would love to hear if you make this in the comments below!

xo

Tori

Vegan Mac n' cheese made with butternut squash, caramelized onions and cashews that is totally to die for - designed by a dietitian and so much more nutritious than regular Mac n cheese!
5 from 7 votes
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Next Level Vegan Mac n' Cheeze

This Mac n' Cheese has zero taste compromise and rivals any good ol' Mac n' Cheese I've ever tasted!  Loaded with butternut squash and caramelized onions, the flavour is off the charts and is so much more nutritious than the regular version!  Note you will need a high powered blender like a Vitamix to make this.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Macaroni and cheese
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 6
Author Fraiche Nutrition

Ingredients

CRUMB TOPPING

  • 3/4 cup panko
  • 2 tablespoon melted vegan butter or olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

PASTA

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, cut into thin slices
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 cups cubed peeled butternut squash, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups cashew cream (see notes)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 oz. tortiglioni or macaroni pasta (3 cups)

Instructions

MAKE THE CRUMB TOPPING

  1. Combine all of the crumb topping ingredients in a small bowl and mix together to combine.  Set aside.

MAKE THE PASTA

  1. Prepare the cashew cream as per the notes.

  2. Add the oil to a small saucepan on low heat and add the onions and garlic cloves.  Cook, stirring, until the onions are golden brown and soft, about 13-15 minutes.  Set aside.

  3. Cook the butternut squash in a pot of simmering water until soft. Drain and set aside.

  4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente.  Drain in a colander and return to the pot when done.

  5. While the pasta is cooking, add the cooked squash, cashew cream, nutritional yeast, flour, vegan butter, cooked onion and garlic mixture to the Vitamix blender.  Blend, starting on low and gradually increasing to level 10, for 3 minutes until the mixture is hot and smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste (blend to combine).

  6. Preheat the oven to broil.

  7. Add the pasta sauce to the pasta, stir to combine, and transfer to an 8x8 baking dish.  Sprinkle with the crumb mixture and broil until the crumbs are golden brown.  Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Note: I make a batch of cashew cream once a week and use it in cooking for dishes like this.  For this recipe simply soak 3/4 cup of raw cashews in boiling water for 20 minutes, drain, and add them (unblended) to the Vitamix container along with 3/4 cup of water and the squash and other ingredients as per the instructions.  They will blend up to a smooth consistency in the sauce!

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35 Comments on “Next-Level Vegan Mac n’ Cheeze”

  1. Kathryn

    This looks amazing but we are unfortunately a dairy free and nut free home due to allergies… any suggestions for substitution?

    1. Tori Wesszer

      Hi Kathryn, the nut free part is tricky when you are avoiding dairy – you could try using an unflavoured unsweetened soy creamer instead of the cashew cream, I haven’t tried it but would love to know if you do!

  2. Marissa

    Hi Tori! Thanks for posting the recipe. On your note to “soak 3/4 cup of raw cashews in 3/4 cup of boiling water for 20 minutes and add them (unblended) to the Vitamix “- do you mean put the cashews into a pot of boiling water on the stove or in already boiled water in a bowl (while the water is hot)? I’ve never made cashew cream before 😀 Thanks!

  3. Maria

    This looks delicious! When I add the cashews to the blender do I add the water they were soaking in as well? Thank you 😊

    1. Tori Wesszer

      Hi Maria, thanks for the note I clarified the instructions for that part sorry I see now that it wasn’t clear! You drain the cashews before adding then add more water.

  4. Kamaldeep

    Thank you for this recipe Tori! I’ve tried so many different vegan mac and cheese recipes but have never found the perfect one. I’m going to try this and I hope it tastes as amazing as it looks!

  5. Katie

    Hi Tori! Can’t wait to try this! I have every ingredient except the vegan butter. Can I use regular salted butter instead? I know of course it won’t be vegan this way, but just wondering if it will work flavor wise as an acceptable substitute? Thanks!! Katie

  6. Kristin


    We made this for dinner tonight and my husband who is not vegan and loves his Mac and cheese really enjoyed it and went back for seconds. Thank you for always coming up with healthier creative recipes😃.

  7. Pamela


    I made this receipe today and it is insainely delicious. Cannot wait to make it again. Thank you Tori for sharing this dish with the world.

  8. Nancy La


    Fantastic recipe! I always make carmelized onions in big batches and freeze it in 1/2 cup portions so along with frozen diced butternut squash this was a breeze to make with dinner on the table in 30 min! Thanks Tori!

  9. Stacy

    Hi Tori! I’ve tried quite a few of your recipes and love them all. My daughter requested vegan mac and cheese for her 12th birthday dinner and I was lucky enough to come across this right when I needed it. I didn’t make any modifications and it was delicious! Can’t wait to make it again. Thank you!

  10. Denise


    Tori,
    This was amazing! I recently started a plant based diet and have been trying many of your recipes but this is a true favorite. You have been killing it lately with great recipes! Looking to make your broccoli-potato soup this week to celebrate St. Pat’s!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Denise

  11. D. Clarke

    This is a great recipe 🙂
    Even the meat eaters liked it!
    I really liked how you ordered the instructions. Timing was perfect.
    I used Coconut milk in a can instead of cashew cream as we have nut allergies. It tasted Great!
    I just blended the onions and squash and then heated the sauce on the stove. It worked just fine, if you don’t have access to a vitamix.
    Thanks for inspiring me in the kitchen!

  12. Samantha


    My son is dairy intolerant so to finally find a recipe for something he used to love is amazing! He can’t get enough of this! I was wondering if you can freeze it? We end up with loads left and I often have some the next day but I wondered if we can freeze it he has something I can send it to his Nana’s who doesn’t cook much?
    This is truly a new family favourite!!

    1. Tori Wesszer

      Thank you Samantha!! So happy to hear this! I don’t know to be honest – I haven’t tried? Let me know if you try it, I’ll do my best to test it out when I get a chance:)

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