The Best Vegan Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Recipe
The Best Vegan Pumpkin Mac and Cheese- super comforting and perfect for fall, this recipe uses a full can of pumpkin puree! Dairy-free and easily made gluten-free.
Are you guys ready for this? Because things are about to get real cozy up in here.
This vegan pumpkin mac and cheese is like a big blanket, just waiting to snuggle with you. It’s creamy, cheesy, and a little smoky with a hint of savory pumpkin flavor.
Vegan Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Ingredients
- Raw Cashews- Cashews are key for giving the sauce it’s rich and creamy texture without the need for dairy. If you want to make it nut-free you could try equal amounts of soaked sunflower seeds or omit the cashews and reduce the liquid (reserved pasta water) in the recipe.
- Pasta- I prefer to use whole grain or legume-based pasta to boost the protein but any kind will work. I don’t recommend cooking the macaroni all at once if you are using gluten-free pasta as it doesn’t hold up well for leftovers.
- Shallot or Onion- I find shallot to be much more flavorful than onion, however either will work. Be aware that using red onion may change the color of the sauce.
- Garlic- Fresh garlic is ideal for optimal flavor but garlic powder would work in a pinch. I would use about 1 teaspoon.
- Pumpkin Puree- I have only tested this recipe with canned pumpkin puree because I’m too impatient to wait for a pumpkin to roast. But if you want to go the fresh pumpkin route, by all means please do.
- Vegetable Bouillon- Using a quality bouillon is ideal to make this recipe taste as good as it should. I love Better Than Bouillon’s organic vegetable base.
- Nutritional Yeast- If you’re new to nutritional yeast, please see more about it below. It is essential for the cheesy flavor in the recipe.
- Vinegar- White wine vinegar or distilled white vinegar imparts a tangy umami flavor that is reminiscent of cultured cheese. Please don’t skip it!
- Smoked Paprika- Just a bit of smoked paprika elevates the recipe as the smokiness tastes incredible with the sage and pumpkin.
- Sage- I tend to go for dried sage as it’s much more affordable to have on hand than fresh sage. However, if you want to use fresh sage feel free to do so. I would start with a few leaves and taste test to see if you prefer more.
What is nutritional yeast?
When you hear the word yeast your mind probably goes straight to brewer’s yeast. Nutritional yeast is NOT the same thing! It is dried at high temperatures than brewer’s yeast yielding it completely inactive. That means if you are someone who usually has trouble digesting yeasted or fermented foods then this likely won’t cause you any difficulty.
What does it taste like?
Often described as “cheesy” in flavor, nutritional yeast has a savory, umami taste that is slightly nutty. Some people find it to have a hint of sweetness but I personally believe it all has to do with how you’re serving it.
How do you use it?
You can find it sold in two forms: flakes and powder. My favorite is Bob’s Red Mill Large Flake Nutritional Yeast because I’ve found it has the best flavor.
I often grind it with cashews to make cashew parmesan as topping for pizza or pasta. Or I blend it in with savory sauces to give it a delicious hint of cheesiness.
Is it good for you?
Nutritional yeast is specifically cultivated as a supplement so yes, it is loaded with nutrition! It’s an excellent source of B-vitamins, folate and protein.
How to Make The Best Vegan Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Recipe
- Soak cashews. Add raw cashews to a bowl of warm water and allow to soak for at least 30 minutes. This step allows the blender to easily break them down for the smoothest and creamiest sauce possible.
- Sauté shallot and garlic. Warm the olive oil in a skillet and cook shallot and garlic.
- Cook pasta. Boil pasta in salted water, as directed on package. Strain and reserve 1 cup of the cooking water.
- Blend sauce. Add cooked shallot and garlic with the remaining ingredients and pasta water to a high speed blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Taste test and adjust as desired.
- Add sauce to pasta. Combine cooked pasta with sauce in pot and cook until heated through.
- Serve and enjoy!
- Add Some Green. I usually add sautéed kale or spinach but roasted broccoli would also be delicious.
- Boost the Protein. Using legume-based pasta is an easy way to amp up the protein. You could also add cooked protein on top such as baked tofu or faux chicken.
How to Store Leftovers
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 1 week. If you would like to make a smaller batch you can set part of the sauce aside and refrigerate it for a week or freeze it for several months.
More Cozy Fall Recipes
- Healthy Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal
- The Best Tempeh Chili
- Vegan Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins
- Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup
- The Best Vegan Pumpkin Bread
- Vegan Thai Pumpkin Curry
- Carrot Ginger Soup
- Roasted Butternut Squash Lentil Curry
- Cauliflower Potato Leek Soup
The Best Vegan Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Recipe
- ½ cup raw cashews, soaked*
- 16 ounces macaroni or pasta, certified gluten-free, if necessary**
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup roughly chopped shallot or onion
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 15 ounces pumpkin puree, canned or homemade
- ⅓ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, or distilled white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- 1 teaspoon vegetable bouillon , ***
- salt & pepper , to taste
- 1 cup reserved pasta water
- In a large pot, bring 5 quarts salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, or as directed. Strain cooked pasta while reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, warm two tablespoons olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the shallot (or onion) and cook for about 3 minutes, until translucent and fragrant. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a high speed blender, add the pumpkin puree, drained soaked cashews, cooked shallot and garlic, reserved pasta water, nutritional yeast, vinegar, paprika, sage, salt & pepper. Blend on high until a smooth creamy sauce forms. If sauce is too thick, add more water to thin. Taste test to see if you prefer more bouillon, vinegar, paprika, sage or salt and add accordingly.
- Next, add the pasta to the pot and pour pumpkin cheese sauce over top. Stir until evenly coated. Warm over medium-low heat and cook until heated through. Add more salt to taste, if desired. Serve warm and enjoy!
This post was created in partnership with a brand that I have used and loved for years, Bob’s Red Mill. As always, all opinions and text are entirely my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make it possible for me to bring you quality content. For more delicious recipes and a coupon for $1.00 off any product, please visit Bob’sRedMill.com.