Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese (Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free & Vegan)

I adore butternut squash. It is so perfectly sweetened by nature. It doesn’t need anything on it and it still tastes amazing. Butternut squash is incredibly rich in Vitamins A, C, fiber and potassium. My 1 year old gobbles it up as soon as it is cooked. I often use the puree to make a risotto or toss it in a salad. And now thanks to this recipe, I know it is also fabulous in pasta dishes.
The “cheese” sauce is creamy and bursting with flavor. My daughter was delighted that she was eating homemade Mac and Cheese–no store bought brands needed!
1 large butternut squash
1 cup cashews, soaked
1/3 cup water
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. Herbamare
1/4 tsp. paprika (optional-for color)
pepper to taste
1 package penne style gluten-free pasta (I love Tinkyada or quinoa pasta-to make it grain-free)

Pierce the squash with a fork in several places. Place the squash in a slow cooker with 1/2 to 1 cup water. Cook on the low setting for 6 hours. After 6 hours, remove the inside of the squash and place into a bowl. Scoop out the tender squash and remove the seeds. You can also boil a squash in a pan. I love using the slow cooker because there is virtually no clean-up afterwards.

Boil pasta according to directions on the package. While the pasta is cooking, discard the water from the cashews. Place all ingredients into a Vitamix or blender and blend on high for 2 minutes. Drain pasta and return to pot. Place pot over low heat. Pour sauce over noodles and stir well for 1 minute.  Serve hot with fresh cracked pepper on top, if desired. 


Makes 4 servings.

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  1. I love mixing butternut squash into mac and cheese to bulk it up with extra nutrients! This sounds delicious!

  2. Hi Laura,

    Super yummy!!! I'm bummed butternut squash is out of season now, but I use sweet potatoes instead and it's super good (and such a gorgeous color). I also chop up some chicken hot dogs in there.

    This reminds me to make mac-n-cheese for the kids this week. 🙂


  3. This looks great! I would love to try it sometime. Do you think it will fool a husband who doesn't like "healthy" food??? Stopping over from Bulldogs and Brown Sugar – saw your link on the blog hop.

  4. Sounds wonderful. I love all kinds of pasta sauces! I can't wait to try this healthy version. I am following from the Allergy Free Hop. Thanks so much for this fantastic recipe. Jana

  5. I'm gluten and dairy free, and I really do miss mac and cheese. Cashews are expensive here, as are gluten free noodles… Does this really taste like mac and cheese, or just slightly reminiscent? What I'm wondering really is- whats more worthwhile to make- mac and cheese with a nooch sauce, or this butternut squash cashew sauce? I can't figure out what this would taste like…

  6. I found butternut squash at my local grocery stores. I will have to try it with sweet potato sometime as well-good idea!

    I think it will "fool" your husband pretty well 🙂 My French husband loved it and didn't add any cheese to it which is always amazing in my book!

    I buy NOW brand cashews on iHerb. It is the cheapest way to go by far that I have found. Here's the link: http://www.iherb.com/Now-Foods-Certified-Organic-Whole-Raw-Cashews-10-oz-284-g/39107

    I actually think it tastes a lot like mac and cheese, but if you want to go with a more mac and cheese taste, add in more cashews and reduce or remove the butternut squash from the recipe.

  7. Sounds wonderful! I make a similar sauce with butternut squash but without the cashews! I'm so going to have to get on to the cashew bandwagon! We buy a wonderful organic penne here but only have it about once a month – this recipe will definitely be one to try!

  8. Hi Laura,
    We grow Butternut Squash in our garden each year and this will be a great recipe for us to try. It looks delicious! Hope you are having a great spring week end and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  9. What a great way to make a cheese sauce without cheese! Your butternut squash mac and cheese sounds delicious, and so healthy and nutritious too!

  10. This looks delicious! I am still learning how to make dairy-free sauces. I am glad to have a homemade alternative to store bought mac and cheese.

  11. LOVE the look of this goodness- I am crazy for cashews in place of cheese in sauces, and absolutely love the idea of adding in the butternut squash. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Thanks so much sweet Meghan! Aren't cashews amazing?! And yes I adore butternut squash and all its yumminess too!

  13. This looks really good! My daughter is allergic to cashews, though. If I eliminate them, will it still taste okay, or is there something I can substitute? Thanks!


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