The BEST Vegan Pumpkin Mac and Cheese you’ll ever taste! Made with simple ingredients like canned pumpkin purée, nutritional yeast, and cashews. This vegan cheese sauce is super creamy, indulgent, and comforting.
Creamy, saucy vegan pumpkin mac & cheese that is completely dairy-free, easy, and perfectly cheesy. You're going to love how simple this pasta dish is to whip up.
This recipe is definitely one you should keep handy during the fall and winter seasons. It's simple enough for a weekday dinner option but decadent and indulgent enough to serve as a Holiday side dish or entrée.
This dairy-free pumpkin mac and cheese recipe is cheesy, creamy, satisfying, and perfectly flavored with pumpkin!
- Cellentani Spiral Pasta: Use your favorite pasta shape and brand! I love the look of cellentani spiral pasta for this vegan mac and cheese. The sauce gets stuck in the spirals and it's wonderful. I would recommend it or a pasta shape similar.
- Sweet Onion & Garlic Cloves: Onion and garlic are a must for flavor! Don't add them raw- they must be sautéed in olive oil before being added to the blender.
- Cashews: Cashews help give our sauce a creamy texture.
- Pumpkin Purée: Make sure you pick up pumpkin purée not pumpkin pie filling.
- Unsweetened Plant Milk: Almond and soy are best but any plant milk will work. I typically avoid oat milk as it is naturally sweet.
- Nutritional Yeast: This is what gives the cheese sauce a cheesy, umami flavor. You can't omit it!
- White Miso Paste: Umami as well as salt. It's a must for me in cheese sauces! Other seasonings and flavorings include- lemon juice, ground mustard, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.
The simple pumpkin cream sauce can be whipped up in minutes but you will need a blender. I use a Nutribullet and it’s the perfect size and blender for recipes like this one. But any high-powered blender will work.
How to Make This Recipe
Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the cashews to a heat-safe bowl and pour the water over them. Let soak for at least 20 minutes.
Soaking cashews will ensure that the texture of the sauce is smooth and creamy.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook 12 ounces of pasta until al dente according to the package directions. Reserve about ½ cup of the pasta water.
Heat a frying pan to medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Dice the onion and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until soft and starting to brown.
Add in the minced garlic cloves and cook for another 2 minutes or until fragrant.
Add the soaked cashews, the onion mixture, and the rest of the ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth and creamy.
Mix the cooked pasta and cheesy sauce together and use the reserved pasta water to thin out the sauce as needed. You might not need the entire ½ cup.
Taste and adjust the following: Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
Divide the creamy vegan pumpkin mac into serving bowls and top with toasted breadcrumbs. I typically toss my breadcrumb topping with salt, pepper, rubbed sage, and red pepper flakes- but this is completely optional!!
Tips & Tricks
I'm fully embracing pumpkin season with my new favorite fall comfort food.
This easy vegan pumpkin mac and cheese includes puréed pumpkin, soaked cashews, onions, and garlic to create the most flavorful cheese sauce!
Here are a few helpful tips.
Soak the cashews. This will ensure that you end up with a smooth and creamy sauce rather than a gritty sauce with pieces of cashews. I typically touch the sauce and rub two fingers together- if there is any texture, keep blending.
Don’t skip out on the onions and garlic! This is where a lot of our flavor will come from. Cook the onions in the pan until they are soft and start to brown. Then, add the garlic and continue to cook for a few minutes until fragrant.
Buy canned pumpkin purée! No need to roast a pumpkin. Simply, buy pumpkin purée. Just make sure you don't accidentally buy pumpkin pie filling.
Reserve the pasta water! If the sauce is too thick, simply add a splash of the reserved pasta water and stir to combine. It should thin it out to the perfect consistency.
Substitutions & Additions
Pumpkin Puree: If you aren't a huge fan of pumpkin, try adding mashed sweet potato or mashed butternut squash puree. If you can't find canned pumpkin purée, you can roast fresh pumpkin.
Make it spicy: Add more red pepper flakes for some additional heat. I added just a pinch but it would be wonderful with more!
Make it gluten-free: Simply replace the noodles with your favorite gluten-free pasta and omit the miso paste or buy a gluten-free miso paste. You may need to add more salt to compensate if you omit it.
Make it nut-free: Replace the cashews with silken tofu, sunflower seeds, and vegan cream cheese in the pumpkin cheese sauce.
Pack in the protein: Vegan soy chorizo, tofu ground beef, or vegan chicken would be great to add in for extra protein.
Load it with veggies: Roasted or steamed broccoli, spinach, kale, peas, and asparagus would be great.
Storage & Reheating
This delicious vegan pumpkin mac makes wonderful leftovers! I find that pasta usually soaks up all the sauce but that's not the case with this creamy dish. My leftovers were still incredibly creamy even the next day.
Store: Transfer leftover pasta to an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Reheating: Reheat over medium heat- add a splash of water or plant milk to thin it out if needed. My leftovers were still incredibly creamy even the next day.
Freeze: This pasta dish can be frozen for up to 2 months. Allow to thaw in the fridge before following reheating instructions above.
Frequently Asked Questions
Typically vegan mac and cheese contains a base of cashews but can be made with potato, carrots, and cauliflower. It is steamed or boiled and then blended with nutritional yeast flakes which adds a cheesy flavor. Vegan mac and cheese can be made with store-bought vegan cheese as well.
Make sure you get the unsweetened original variety of plant milk so you don't add any unwanted sweetness. I find oat is naturally sweet so I usually use unsweetened almond or soy milk for vegan mac and cheese.
More Cozy Fall Dinner Recipes:
Vegan Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
- 12 ounces Cellentani Spiral Pasta or pasta of choice
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- ½ Large Sweet Onion diced
- 3-5 Garlic Cloves minced
- ½ cup Cashews soaked
- 1 cup Pumpkin Purée
- 1 cup Unsweetened Plant Milk
- ½ cup Nutritional Yeast
- 2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
- 2 teaspoons White Miso Paste
- 1 teaspoon Ground Mustard Powder
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
- Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
- Toasted Breadcrumbs optional
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the cashews to a heat-safe bowl and pour the water over them. Let soak for at least 20 minutes.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook 12 ounces of pasta according to the package directions. Reserve about ½ cup of the pasta water.
- Heat a frying pan to medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Dice the onion and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until soft and starting to brown. Add in the minced garlic cloves and cook for another 2 minutes or until fragrant.
- Add the soaked cashews, the onion mixture, and the remaining ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth and creamy.
- Mix the pasta and pumpkin cheese sauce together and use the reserved pasta water to thin out the sauce as needed. You might not need the entire ½ cup.
- Taste and adjust the following: Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
- Divide the pasta into serving bowls and top with toasted breadcrumbs. Enjoy!
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