Vegan Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese is the fall comfort food you didn’t know you needed! With a deliciously creamy sauce, your family will ask for this vegan pumpkin pasta again and again.
In my pre-vegan days, macaroni and cheese was my go-to easy weeknight dinner. One that I was sure would go down a treat with my family, and that always leaves you satiated.
Honestly, I don’t know why it took me so long to try making vegan mac and cheese!
Maybe it was because my first attempts were abysmal, or all the recipes I found online seemed super complicated or required ingredients I didn’t have readily available.
That’s why I’ve made this vegan pumpkin mac and cheese recipe super simple and quick to make. So it can still be an easy weeknight dinner – but a much healthier one!
Vegan Mac and Cheese with Pumpkin
Let’s talk about the flavor of this yummy, creamy pasta dish. There’s a variety of spices in here that may seem just a little random – mustard, onion powder, paprika, nutmeg, lemon juice…
While those flavors may seem like they don’t all necessarily belong together, I promise you they do! They all come together for a creamy, savory vegan pumpkin pasta sauce that you’re going to want to make again and again.
I prefer to use macaroni shells in this vegan mac and cheese with pumpkin, but you can also use rigatoni or another small pasta. And cooking it al-dente is a must. A creamy sauce and mushy pasta is just a no thanks for me.
Whether you enjoy it in the spring, fall or summer, I hope you give this creamy and delicious vegan pumpkin macaroni and cheese a try!
Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese Ingredients
- Pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
- Raw cashews – soaked in cool water overnight or for 1 hour in boiling water
- Nutritional yeast (find alternatives here if you don’t have any on hand)
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Smoked paprika
- Sea salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- Fresh lemon juice
- Coconut milk
- Rigatoni pasta, medium-sized macaroni shells, or pasta of your choice
Pumpkin or Pumpkin Puree?
When I have time, I prefer to cook fresh pumpkin for this recipe. Roasting the pumpkin brings out the flavours beautifully. You can even throw in whole garlic gloves and use them instead of adding garlic powder later.
You can even do this step in advance, using a whole pumpkin, and then freezing the leftovers to use another day.
However, when you’re short on time, you can absolutely use canned pumpkin puree. Just look for a brand that’s 100% pumpkin with no spices, sugar, or additives.
What about Squash Mac and Cheese?
Prefer butternut squash to pumpkin? No problem! You can use butternut squash exactly the same way as you use your cooked pumpkin.
Butternut squash is slightly higher in calories and carbs than pumpkin, but it also has more fibre.
Nowadays I’ve pretty much always got a bowl of nuts, seeds, or pulses soaking for future meal prep. But it wasn’t always the case!
If you’re like I used to be, and groan when you realise a recipe calls for pre-soaked nuts when you don’t have any on hand, never fear – you can just throw your cashews in boiling water while you prepare your other ingredients.
As long as they’ve soaked in boiling water for a minimum of 30 minutes – 1 hour they should be just fine.
How To Make Vegan Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and salt generously. Cook the pasta according to the box directions until al dente and drain in a colander.
In a high-powered blender, add the cooked pumpkin (or pumpkin puree), the soaked and drained cashews, nutritional yeast, mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, nutmeg, salt, black pepper to taste, lemon juice, and coconut milk.
Blend until the sauce is completely smooth and creamy, about 1-2 minutes. Taste for seasonings and adjust accordingly, adding more salt as needed.
Return the cooked and drained pasta back to the saucepan and add the cheese sauce. Heat over medium heat until the sauce is well combined with the pasta and warmed through. Season the mac and cheese to taste.
Vegan Pumpkin Pasta Tips & Variations
- Swap pumpkin for butternut squash for a different flavor profile. Pumpkin has less calories and carbs than butternut squash, but butternut squash is higher in fibre.
- Use veggie noodles instead of pasta for less carbs, more veggies.
- Short pasta shapes work best.
How to Store Your Vegan Mac and Cheese
This is a great dish for batch cooking as it reheats well. Simply store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for around 5 days, or in the freezer for a few months.
To reheat your vegan pumpkin pasta, simply pop it on the stovetop and warm it up slowly. It may be a little thicker once refrigerated or frozen, so you can add a splash of dairy-free milk or coconut cream to get it back to the right consistency.
I hope you enjoy this vegan macaroni and cheese as much as we do.
Check Out These Other Vegan Dinner Ideas:
- 2 cups pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup raw cashews - pre-soaked
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp mustard
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1.5 tsp sea salt
- Fresh cracked black pepper
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 10 oz (280g) pasta of choice - rigatoni or macaroni works well
- Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and salt generously. Cook the pasta according to the box directions until al dente and drain in a colander.
- In a high-powered blender, add the pumpkin, the soaked and drained cashews, nutritional yeast, mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, nutmeg, salt, black pepper to taste, lemon juice, and coconut milk. Blend until the sauce is completely smooth and creamy, about 1-2 minutes. Taste for seasonings and adjust accordingly, adding more salt if needed.
- Return the cooked and drained pasta back to the saucepan and add the cheese sauce. Heat over medium heat until the sauce is well combined with the pasta and warmed through. Season the mac and cheese to taste.
Using canned pumpkin puree will make this recipe quick and easy to make. But of course, you can make your own puree using cooked pumpkin pieces.
Butternut squash can be subbed instead of pumpkin.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 251Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 606mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 5gSugar: 4gProtein: 9g
Nutrition information should be considered as an estimation only.