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.
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!
This vegan macaroni and cheese recipe came about for a few reasons.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Super Creamy Vegan Stovetop Mac & "Cheese"
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
More comforting veggie-and-pasta goodness
- Creamy Pumpkin Baked Rigatoni from Kitchen Treaty
- Whole Wheat Penne with Butternut Squash, Roasted Red Peppers, and Crispy Parmesan Circles from Oh My Veggies
- 15-Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta (vegan) from Oh She Glows
- Sweet Potato “Pasta” (vegan) from My Whole Food Life
this is mind blowing…I can’t believe that creamy mac & ‘cheese’ doesn’t have any cheese in it!!
Thanks, Sue! I love that it can feel so decadent but it’s also super healthy (at least, for a pasta dish)!
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!
This looks delicious. I am not a vegan, but these Mac & Cheese will be on my table for lunch today!
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 🙂
This looks amazing! Really clever. Do you think I can substitute butter squash with another thing?
Thanks! You could try just using more sweet potato, though I haven’t tried that myself. I think it would still taste great!
Pumpkin would work as well. It might change the taste slightly, but if you buy the canned it’s already cooked and pureed do it’s one less step for you
Great idea, thanks Amber!
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!
I think Dijon mustard (same amount, perhaps even a tiny bit more) would make a fine swap. 🙂 Hope you love it as much as we do!
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!
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! ^^
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.
This was the most amazing cheese-less cheese sauce ever!! I made a double batch and now I have dipping sauce for my Tostitos haha. It was so rich and that really surprised me. It was a lot of work and took longer than it said starting from prepping (I just diced up the entire butternut squash while I was chopping. I also didn’t have fresh sweet potatoes so I substituted for canned in syrup (which I rinsed off). Anyway I feel this was worth the toiling in the kitchen as I can no longer have animal by-products (IBS-D). I am SO full lol. And it is better saucier! GREAT recipe!!!
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!
This sauce is INCREDIBLE!!! Who knew??! I can see myself making this all. the. time. 🙂
Thanks Kristin! I love it too. 🙂
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!
I’m so glad you like it! 🙂
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?
Hi Megan, I haven’t tried baking it, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t! It would probably be phenomenal with some panko bread crumbs sprinkled on the top. 🙂
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. 🙂
Looks amazing! Can I replace the butternut squash with something else?
You could try more sweet potatoes? I’ve not tried that though, but if you so, please be sure to report back!
Well I used 3 medium sweet potatoes and it tastes great
I don’t like the flavour of nutritional yeast. This may be a better fit. Will try it.
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 🙂
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?
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!
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!
I LOVE this! So glad you like it! Thanks, Denise!
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!
Hi Melissa, yay, I’m so glad you like it! Thank you for sharing with others. 🙂
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.
I’m sorry to hear that. Can I help troubleshoot? What kind of blender do you have?
Looks delicious – Can you use almond milk in place of coconut?
I made this for lunch today. Very good glad I found this recipe.
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!!
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.
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 🙂
Thanks! I really want to add nutritional info to all of my recipes – now to just find the time. 🙂 And I’m with you on the mac & cheese.
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!
You know, it might actually freeze okay – it’s almost like a soup ingredient-wise. I’m going to try it soon and report back!
I just tried this recipe and it’s really delicious! It’s so creamy and yummy and quite easy to do if you have a blender 🙂
Just one thing: It doesn’t really taste cheesy to me. It tastes delicious, but more like a pumpkin-coconut-sauce. Do you have any idea what I did wrong? I used paprika spice, was that wrong? I am from Germany so I had to change quite a few of the measurements, maybe I made a mistake there. I also didn’t have powdered mustard, I just used regular. Have you got a tip how to make it taste more cheesy?
I’ll definitely make it again nevertheless, it’s really delicious!
I feel like the smoked paprika and the ground mustard definitely contribute a bit of cheesiness. Nutritional yeast is always a good option if you have access to that. And it’s only going to taste *so* cheesy without actually being cheese, unfortunately. :\
Can’t wait to try this new recipe. It will be a change from the typical white “cheese” sauce I make for pasta. My kids will be thrilled it looks like their friends’!
And along the lines of the previous post, a question about the sauce….can you are the sauce ahead of time and use in later on in the day, or do you think it will get too thick?
I haven’t tried that, but I bet it would be totally fine! Good idea.
It’s good – very good. Not sure i’c assign the word “cheesy” to this, but there’s nothing wrong with a “Butternut & Sweet Potato Sauce & Pasta”
I’m a little afraid to try this–I tried another butternut squash mac & cheese and it was just awful. It tasted too much like squash, and I don’t really care for squash but I try to eat it anyway. It was just tolerable the first day, but nobody could stand to eat the leftovers. So I’m wondering, does it taste like blended up squash? I would reference the recipe to see what the difference was, but I deleted the pin. I don’t think the other one had coconut milk–maybe that helps?
Hmmm … you may detect some butternut squash, yeah. Have you tried cashew based vegan mac & cheeses? I haven’t yet, but it’s on my list. You may like those better.
Yes, that is the type of mac & cheese I typically make. This is the recipe I usually use: http://theveganrecipebox.blogspot.com/2010/01/macaroni-and-cashew-cheese.html. Mine isn’t a real recipe blog–it’s just a place I post my recipes online to make it easier to share when people ask for the recipe. Another one that’s pretty good is: http://theveganrecipebox.blogspot.com/2010/01/another-macaroni-and-cheese.html, although I like the first one better. I just hoped that I could find a way to eat squash without noticing it! 🙂
I’m going to need to try both of those! I mean, I feel like it doesn’t taste *too* much like squash but I suppose if you really dislike it you’ll detect it. The recipe might work with only sweet potatoes. Now I want to experiment. 🙂
Does it have to be coconut milk, or will any plant-based milk work?
I really prefer the richness of coconut milk and haven’t tried it with any other plant-based milk. But if you do, please report back on how it goes! 🙂
THIS LOOKS AMAZING!!! I am a huge fan of your “best mac and cheese ever” dish, and everyone I’ve made it for is OBSESSED! I’ve recently gone totally Dairy free so I am giving this a go 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
Would it be okay to use coconut cream instead of just milk? That’s what I have on hand and I made this once before and I’m *hoping* *thinking* maybe the cream will help make it smoother and creamier?
Thanks for you help in advance!
Hmm, I would think that might work, as long as it’s not a super sweet coconut cream? If you try it, please report back!
I made this over the weekend but sadly, I didn’t like the flavour at all. It was very sweet, with the coconut milk flavour being overpowering. I used plain full-fat coconut milk (not coconut beverage or sweetened coconut milk). I tried adding the 2 tbsp of nutritional yeast, then extra tamari and ultimately tomatoes in an attempt to balance out the sweetness but to no avail. I’ve made your STOVE-TOP BUTTERNUT SQUASH MAC & CHEESE which my family really enjoyed and I was hoping this would be a similar dairy-free version. My only changes to the recipe were using roasted squash and baked sweet potato instead of boiled. Do you think that’s what made it so sweet?
It can be a little on the sweet side – I usually counter that with a bit more salt – but roasting the veggies could have also contributed because that can cause them to caramelize and therefore be sweeter. Unfortunately this recipe is nothing like the butternut squash mac & cheese which is very rich and full of dairy (I do love that recipe, but it is very different!)
I found this to be quite sweet as well. I’m curious to try winter squash in place of the sweet potato – I think that may do the trick. Also, I added some apple cider vinegar and a fair amount of nutritional yeast flakes to add some more body and cheesy type flavor to this. This sauce is a the best vegan and paleo option I have come across yet and I think it will be fantastic with some small tweaks.
Can I roast the squash and sweet potato instead of boiling them for a little more depth of flavor?
I’m sure that would be delicious! You might need a bit more broth to loosen up the sauce so keep that in mind.
I just made the vegan Mac and cheese, no cheese…i could live with this it’s very creamy
Will definitely have to try. What I like is there is no nutritional yeast! I am making every effort to eat whole foods and nutritional yeast found in most vegan cheese recipes does not fit into that. After all, it is loaded with folic acid (synthetic folate), and those of us with the MTHFR mutation should avoid folic acid.
I am very allergic to coconut, as are about 1/3 of the people in my family – Is there a good substitute for the coconut mil?
You can try unsweetened soy or almond milk. 🙂
This was a delicious recipe! I used 3 cups of pureed butternut squash instead & sub coconut aminos for the soy sauce. I also ended up adding a tbsp of nutritional yeast + additional sprinkling/topping on my individual serving. Definitely made quite a bit of sauce. According to my blenders measurements it came to 6 cups of sauce.
had a whole heap of left over sauce any ideas of what 2 use it on?
Hello Creamy Mac-n-Cheese Goodness!!!!!
These ingredients were a clever trick for this amazing flavor. I am about to make it a second time!
To make it a little healthier, I used lentil-based pasta.
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You said sweet potato, but is it supposed to be a yam?