Super Creamy Vegan Stovetop Mac & “Cheese” (Made with Sweet Potatoes & Butternut Squash!)

Vegan comfort food at its finest, this easy vegan mac and cheese is made with sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and other mainstream real-food ingredients. No weird stuff here – just pure macaroni and cheese-like deliciousness!

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Total Time: 35 minutes

I love this recipe. And I’m way, way too excited about it.

Tender pasta. Drenched in a smoky, creamy, goldenrod sauce that makes its way into every nook, cranny, and tunnel of pasta. Sounds a lot like mac & cheese, doesn’t it?!

And it looks like it, too.

Vegan Stovetop Mac and "Cheese" recipe - made with sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and other mainstream real-food ingredients. No weird stuff here - just pure vegan macaroni and cheese-like deliciousness!

But it’s not! Because there’s no cheese! Or milk, for that matter. This Vegan Stovetop Mac & Cheese is made with sweet potatoes, butternut squash, coconut milk, and a few other veggies, spices, and dashes of this and that until it achieves creamy stovetop mac & cheese perfection. All sans dairy. Oh, and at just under 400 calories per serving!

Vegan Stovetop Mac and "Cheese" recipe - made with sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and other mainstream real-food ingredients. No weird stuff here - just pure vegan macaroni and cheese-like deliciousness!

Vegan Stovetop Mac and "Cheese" recipe - made with sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and other mainstream real-food ingredients. No weird stuff here - just pure vegan macaroni and cheese deliciousness!

This vegan macaroni and cheese recipe came about for a few reasons.

  1. As I’ve alluded to here and there lately, I’ve been making some dietary changes lately, the most notable being I’ve eliminated dairy. Which also seems to have almost completely eradicated some weird health problems (namely, heart palpitations) that I’d been having. Physically, I feel much better without dairy. Mentally, well. I miss it quite a bit. See #2.
  2. I love, love, love macaroni and cheese. It’s been my favorite foodstuff since as long as I can remember. This mac and cheese recipe is, in fact, far and away the most popular I’ve shared on Kitchen Treaty. Not that I ate it constantly, but, dang. I miss the stuff.
  3. I recently learned that butternut squash is the best thing to add to mac & cheese since, well, cheese (Exhibit A). But, as much as I love the recipe linked in Exhibit A, I have some guilt over just how fattening it is. It’s, like, pretty dang fattening. So I sought to make a lighter version.
  4. This Sweet Potato Nacho Cheese. I tried it and I loved it and I kept thinking of everything I should try it in, mac & cheese included. This recipe ended up being a far cry from the original sweet potato nacho cheese, but it definitely inspired my use of sweet potato in this recipe.

So! We’ve got butternut squash and sweet potatoes. Then we saute up some onion and garlic. Smoked paprika and dry mustard make an appearance, plus a little veggie broth to keep things light (and add flavor). We puree it all with some coconut milk, soy sauce, and a few other flavor-enhancers. And that’s the uber creamy dreamy sauce!

Know another thing that’s cool about this recipe? This is a vegan macaroni and cheese recipe without nutritional yeast. I know many – okay, most – vegan “cheese” recipes call for nutritional yeast – it adds an uncanny “cheesy” flavor (not to mention vitamin B12), after all. I tried it in this recipe, and I did like it. But I wanted to make this a recipe that feels accessible to everyone. I’d like to think I’m fairly adventurous in the kitchen, and I only just last month convinced myself to try nutritional yeast (affectionately known as “nooch,” which sounds worse than “nutritional yeast” in my book). I just thought it sounded weird. And gross. And weird. (By the way – I’ve since decided I love the stuff). And if you want to add it nutritional yeast, you should! But ultimately, I just decided it really wasn’t necessary in this recipe.

Vegan Stovetop Mac and "Cheese" recipe - made with sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and other mainstream real-food ingredients. No weird stuff here - just pure vegan macaroni and cheese-like deliciousness!

For the photos here, I used white pasta. But whole wheat pasta (particularly penne) is also great. And I’d imagine that rice pasta would also be pretty swell, if you desire.

Creamy, dreamy, easy stovetop mac & cheese without the cheese. I’m completely in love, and I would like for it to be my Valentine.

Vegan Stovetop Mac and "Cheese" recipe - made with sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and other mainstream real-food ingredients. No weird stuff here - just pure vegan macaroni and cheese-like deliciousness!

Super Creamy Vegan Stovetop Mac & "Cheese"

Yield: Serves 4

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Vegan comfort food at its finest, this easy vegan mac and cheese is made with sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and other mainstream real-food ingredients. No weird stuff here - just pure macaroni and cheese-like deliciousness!

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces penne or macaroni pasta (shells and rotini are also good)*
  • 3 cups diced butternut squash (about 1/2 small squash)
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt + more to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper + more to taste
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup canned coconut milk (lite works also; the sauce may just be a bit thinner)
  • 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon Tamari or soy sauce, to taste

Directions:

  1. Fill a large pot 2/3 full with water and place over high heat. Once boiling, add a few generous pinches of salt and add the pasta. Cook according to the time on the package until al dente. Drain and return to pan (off heat). Set aside.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, fill another large pot 2/3 full with water and place over high heat. Add the squash and sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook until the veggies are fork-tender, 7-8 minutes. Drain and add to the pitcher of a heat-proof, high-powered blender (I use a Vitamix).** Set aside.
  3. Place a medium saute pan over medium heat. When hot, add the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add the dry mustard, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir. Remove from heat. Pour in the vegetable broth and stir to release any of the browned bits of onion and spices. Pour into blender pitcher. Add coconut milk and 1 teaspoon soy sauce. Puree until completely smooth. Taste and add additional soy sauce, a teaspoon at a time, to taste, along with more salt and pepper if desired.
  4. Pour sauce over cooked pasta in the pan. This recipe makes a lot of sauce (because I like it saucy!) so you might not want to use it all. Stir gently with a wooden spoon until all of the pasta is coated. Serve.

If you would like to add nutritional yeast to the sauce, I found 2 tablespoons to be a good amount. Just add it with the coconut milk and soy sauce and blend.

**If you don't have a high-powered blender, you can place all of the sauce ingredients in a large pan and puree with an immersion blender.

*Gluten-Free Option:

Use brown rice pasta.

Nutrition information per serving (1/4 of recipe):

  • Calories: 393
  • Total carbohydrates: 55.3g
  • Dietary fiber: 4.9g
  • Sugars: 7.1g
  • Protein: 10.4g
  • Vitamin A: 229%
  • Vitamin C: 58%
  • Calcium: 8%
  • Iron: 26%
Nutrition information is an estimate. I am not a nutrition expert! Because I am paying more attention to nutrition info myself these days, I thought I would share (it helps me for future reference too!) I used the Calorie Count tool to calculate this information.

More comforting veggie-and-pasta goodness

Vegan Stovetop Mac and "Cheese" recipe - made with sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and other mainstream real-food ingredients. No weird stuff here - just pure vegan macaroni and cheese-like deliciousness!

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Karen Raye

Kare is a vegetarian home cook living among carnivores. She loves creating irresistible and flexible recipes that help multi-vore families like hers keep the peace - deliciously.

43 Responses to “Super Creamy Vegan Stovetop Mac & “Cheese” (Made with Sweet Potatoes & Butternut Squash!)”

  1. this is mind blowing…I can’t believe that creamy mac & ‘cheese’ doesn’t have any cheese in it!!

  2. This looks AMAZING, just look at it. I’m drooling already. 

    I’m a vegetarian at I’m working towards becoming vegan and my favourite dish ever is mac n’ cheese so I was really worried about finding a vegan version but this looks amazing. I’m going to have to try this. 

    • I’m in the same boat – eating more and more straight-up vegan all the time. I’m finding it to be a much harder transition than when I gave up meat so many years ago, though! I hope you love this version of mac & cheese!

  3. This looks delicious. I am not a vegan, but these Mac & Cheese will be on my table for lunch today!

  4. This looks super yummy! I’ve made vegan mac&cheese before with pumpkin, but I have never thought of adding sweet potatoes or coconut milk to it, but both sound an amazing idea! Thanks for this recipe 🙂

  5. This looks amazing! Really clever. Do you think I can substitute butter squash with another thing?

  6. that looks sooooo yummy!!!!! I want to try!
    I just have one question, we don’t really have dry mustard here… well at least I never saw it, do you think I can use proper muster instead? I was wondering if it was not going to be stronger that way?

    well, thank you so much for that recipe! 

  7. If I were not iced in under 4″ of sleet right now, I’d be running to the store for a sweet potato and making this tonight! I am about to cross my 3rd year mark of veganism, and cheese was (and still is) the hardest thing to get over. I made my transition from vegetarian to vegan “cold turkey” and think it helped me with a lot of cravings, but cheese is the one thing that still haunts me. I hope this recipe scratches that itch! It looks like it just might do the trick! Thank you! 

  8. So I tried with Dijon mustard
    It was soooooo good! thank you so much! it’s gonna be one of my favorite food!

    I tried to find dry mustard… but I guess I really can’t find it here… 
    but it’s perfecly working with Dijon mustard! ^^

  9. This was delicious! Definitely the best homemade vegan cheese sauce I’ve made. It did make a ton of cheese so I saved half of it and made cheesy broccoli and rice with it. Yums. 

  10. This was amazing! We doubled the recipe and then added a little shredded cheese because well, we’re just vegetarian and love us some cheese. 

    Do you have any suggestions for making the sauce a little creamier? Once we mixed it all together it got a little pasty. Really delicious, just not quite the same great mac n’ cheese texture.

    Thanks for the recipe!

  11. This sauce is INCREDIBLE!!! Who knew??! I can see myself making this all. the. time. 🙂

  12. I am not vega however we are dairy free and have been looking for a mac & cheese recipe for a bit now. All I have to say is we fell in love with this recipe! Made it last week and doing it again tonight!  Great for this time of the year with all the wonderful Ontario squashes available right now!

  13. This looks amazing! As a cheese-loving vegetarian of 9 years, this looks like the perfect thing to help my transition to veganism. Quick question: would this work as a baked mac and cheese if I popped it in the oven at the end? 

  14. I made your recipe tonight.  It was absolutely delicious!!!  Your recipe will be going into my permanent file to enjoy time and time again.  Thank you!!! 

    • I’m so glad you like it! Thanks so much! I now also have a baked version with just butternut squash that I posted on Nov. 30 – it also has a thick layer of breadcrumbs so it’s a little more sinful. 🙂

  15. Looks amazing! Can I replace the butternut squash with something else?

  16. Well I used 3 medium sweet potatoes and it tastes great

  17. hi! this looks SO good, oh wow! what variety of sweet potatoes do you use for this recipe? and, do you think crown pumpkin could be used in place of butternut squash? we don’t really see a lot of them around here! thanks 🙂

  18. So I always get them mixed up.  I like to use garnet yams.. some folks call them sweet potatoes but I guess technically they aren’t… but the yam sweet potato name thing always messes me up.  Your recipe calls for sweet potatoes.  So.. I should look for the yellow/white fleshed sweet potatoes and not a yam right?  

  19. OMG this stuff is so good, I’m eating out of the blender with a spoon while I wait for the pasta to cook. I’ll definitely add a little “nooch” next time, didn’t have any today. I don’t know if the kids will like it, but I’m in heaven!

  20. YUMOOLSKI!!!! So, I’ve tried various vegan dishes over the years and have almost never been disappointed. I am not vegan, not even vegetarian but I am gluten free and  I was just looking for a way to use up a butternut squash. WELL!!! I think I hit the motherload in taste sensation! This recipe is amazing!!!! I have been texting pics to my family and friends and sending them links to this recipe. I made slight variations to the recipe because of what was in my pantry. I had scores of squash but no sweet potatoe. I had no smoked paprika but I did use liquid smoke (just 3-4 dashes). No dry mustard but a really nice grainy dijon. I am bringing this to work for 3 people tomorrow who do have dairy restrictions and I KNOW they too will be in LOVE!!! Thanks for creating this! 

  21. I have made this multiple times, and I am obsessed with it! Thank you so much for the recipe.  I’ve sent this link to multiple people to try it, and every time I’m at the store I make sure I have the ingredients.  Thanks again! 

  22. This totally ended as a Pinterest fail for me. I wish I could show you the pic I took. It was fine but was nothing like your smooth pic.

  23. Looks delicious – Can you use almond milk in place of coconut?

  24. I made this for lunch today. Very good glad I found this recipe.

  25. Hi! This looks amazing. I have quite a few dietary restrictions, including dairy, gluten, and soy, and I’ve tried a few vegan cheese sauce recipes in the past, but to no avail :/ this, however, looks amazing and promising!! I can’t wait to try it 🙂 any idea, though, what a good substitute for soy sauce would be? Or would it be ok to just nix it entirely? Thanks!!

    Emma

    • You could probably do without the soy sauce. Maybe make up for it with a pinch of salt. It lends a bit of umami in my opinion but probably isn’t a deal breaker. If you do try it please report back! 🙂

    • Braggs Liquid Aminos is a great sub for soy sauce. I am vegan but don’t want too much soy so I use it in all recipes calling for soy sauce. I really love it and can’t wait to try this recipe. The Braggs LA also has a plethora of health benefits to boot and is gluten free. Most soy sauces that I have found are neither vegan or gluten free.

  26. I really like how you have the nutritional information for this recipe! I love to eat vegan, but I am trying to lose weight, and I am realizing that just because a recipe is vegan, doesn’t mean it is low-calorie! I can’t wait to try this recipe! Mac and Cheese is probably what I miss the most about a non-vegan lifestyle 🙂

  27. We LOVE this recipe. We’re not vegan, but this fits nicely into our desire to eat healthier without sacrificing taste!
    My question is this: would the “cheese” sauce freeze well? This batch makes quite a bit for just two of us, and we have so many leftovers in the fridge that I’m worried it will go bad before we can finish it in time!

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