smokey butternut mac and cheese

This creamy cheesy pasta dish couldn’t be easier; and, it’s pretty tasty too. The sauce, made with cashews and butternut squash, is actually somewhat sweet, which is accented nicely with the addition of smoked paprika, an ingredient that is a must for this particular recipe.

Smoked paprika can be found in many specialty spice stores or online, and even though the price may seem slightly high, a little bit goes a long way. Plus, chances are that you’ll love it so much that you’ll want to put it on everything, so it will be worth every penny. Try it sprinkled on whole salted avocados, mashed potatoes, grits, rice dishes… even veggie based drinks. Yes.

To easily cook the butternut squash, preheat your oven to 350 °F and cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and rub the flesh with 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (each) and a little bit of minced garlic. Add about 1/4 cup water to the pan and place on the middle rack, uncovered. Cook for 45 minutes, or until completely softened. Reserve 2 cups puree for the following recipe:

Smokey Butternut Mac and Cheese

  • 16 ounces brown rice pasta, macaroni, penne, fusili, shells all work well
  • 2 cups cashews, soaked in water at least 3 hours and drained
  • 1  1/2 to 2 cups almond milk, to thin
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 cups cooked butternut squash
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups chopped (and de-stemmed) kale
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut or olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika

Cook the pasta according to package directions, undercooking just slightly by a minute or so. Drain well and rinse completely with cold water to remove any starch.

Transfer the pasta back to the pot and set aside. I like to stir in a drizzle of olive oil at this point to keep the pasta slick, but it’s not necessary.

Place the soaked and drained cashews, 1 cup almond milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, cooked butternut squash, nutritional yeast, garlic, and 1  1/4 teaspoons salt into a food processor. Blend very well, at least 7 minutes, until completely smooth and silky, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add about 1/2 cup more almond milk until thinned, pulsing between each addition. Add the sauce to the pasta in the pot, and then stir in the remaining almond milk to thin. Warm up gently over medium-low heat, stirring often until desired temperature is reached. Sprinkle on the smoked paprika and fold just to combine.

In a small frying pan over medium-high heat, toss together the kale, coconut oil and sea salt and saute for about 3 minutes, or until bright green and slightly wilted. Stir into the pasta and serve immediately.

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53 Responses to smokey butternut mac and cheese

  1. […] Smoky Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese by Allyson Kramer […]

  2. Laurie Steinke says:

    Our amazing vegan daughter served this for dinner tonight and we were impressed, amazed and more importantly, filled to the brim with yummy goodness. Awesome recipe – wouldn’t change a thing. Thanks!

  3. Deb Kingsmith says:

    Just made this and it was great! I had to leave the kale out — I’m having stomach issues that demand all greens be consumed as juice — but I’m sure that would make it even better!

  4. Amanda says:

    This was amazing! I added pepper to it for just a tad bit of extra flavor turned out great even the cheese fanatic hubby gobbled it up :)

  5. Sudie says:

    I have made this recipe at least 5 times, as it is one of my favorites. I have also made it with pumpkin, which is a little different but still incredibly delicious. Thanks for this!

  6. Liz says:

    This was the first time I’ve ever tried to make vegan “cheese” and it was absolutely delicious. I followed the recipe exactly (which is verrrry rare for me) and I couldn’t get enough.

    My husband and I love cheese so much (we are members of a cheese club!) and he loves all things dairy…he wouldn’t even let me take any to work for my co-workers to sample! Dare I say this is a game changer?! Yes.

    Thank you!

  7. This looks wonderful. I will have to make it -maybe tonight?

  8. Lauren says:

    Oh my goodness! This is absolutely the BEST! We have been trying out a lot of “cheese” recipes lately and hands down this is our favorite. Thanks a million!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Debbie Bennett says:

    I don’t usually post comments but this recipe is unbelievably delicious. My husband and I can’t stop raving about it (even to our non-vegan friends ;). It has rapidly become our favorite winter dish and we feel like we can now enjoy some guilt free comfort food. Thanks!

  10. Lauren Vaught says:

    I would use the $25 certificate on the organic tea sampler at Allison’s Gourmet site because I love my warm and relaxing tea in the morning!!!

  11. Jessica Abel says:

    Do you think this recipe would be okay without the Nutritional Yeast? My husband does not like the flavor that NY gives> Thanks Jessica

    • allyson says:

      Hi Jessica,

      While it would probably taste okay, it wouldn’t be quite as cheesey without. Worth a shot, though, I would think.

      <3 allyson

  12. Michelle says:

    Love this smokey butternut mac and cheese! It was the best. Couldn’t wait to get home and have more. Thanks for such a great healthy twist on mac & cheese. My husband normally wouldn’t like it or even think of trying anything called mac & cheese but this was a 5 STAR winner, and the kale was an added bonus.

  13. Sue says:

    Can this sauce be frozen?

  14. Helen says:

    I made this for dinner last night and it was fantastic!! I loved it and my omni BF loved it — it’s a good thing he was there or I would have finished the entire pot in one sitting. Can’t wait for leftovers for lunch.

  15. Steph says:

    OMG! I loved this!! Can you freeze the sauce?? I would love to have this readily available .. we’ve just recently gone vegan due to my husband needing a quadruple bypass and he is only 42! I am so thankful for you and your wonderful recipes!! Thank you!!

  16. Melissa says:

    Possibly stupid questions (I apologize in advance!):

    1. Can I use canned butternut squash? (it’s already pureed…and I happen to have a can sitting in my pantry right now.)

    2. Will omitting the lemon zest drastically alter the deliciousness? (I’m allergic to lemons. Sad but true.)


    • allyson says:

      Hi Melissa,

      Although I’ve never used canned butternut squash, I don’t see why not. :) And no, the lemon zest is just for a touch of zing to make it cheesey. Maybe a splash of vinegar instead?

  17. […] guys! Here’s a delicious recipe which should tantalize anyone’s tastebuds. The beauty of being an omnivore […]

  18. Kari says:

    I made this last night and it was amazing… but the leftovers tonight were EVEN BETTER. I used to get so sad about leftover mac & cheese because it was never as good the next day. Well, step on over, dairy. There’s a new sheriff in town and her name is butternut squash paprika cashew rice noodle mac&cheese.

    I used my Vitamix to make the sauce and it worked very well. I didn’t need to puree the squash ahead of time, and it took much less than seven minutes. It did make the scary sound, and I did need to use the plunger to keep everything moving about, but it worked like a charm.

    Next time I will add three times as much kale, because my husband and I got into a wrestling match over the last of it (and there was no kale in the leftovers). I should know better by now. Thanks, Allyson!

  19. Sudie says:

    I’m eating this right now for lunch and it is DELICIOUS! I will be recommending this to all of my friends!

  20. All I have to say in response to this recipe is: OH MY GOSH, YES PLEASE.

    Pasta + butternut + kale = amazing. And I need an excuse to use the smoked paprika that’s sitting in my cabinet.

  21. ~amy~ says:

    this sounds absolutely delish!

  22. […] came across this recipe on my latest blog stumble. Manifest Vegan; Smokey Butternut Mac and Cheese. Sounds a little more appealing then Vegan, GF, Mac and Cheese, huh? […]

  23. […] The Tasty Vegan Peruvian bean bowl with roasted pepper sauce and fried plantains from Taste Space Smokey butternut mac & cheese from Manifest Vegan (one that I’m definitely going to cook next week) Mexican chocolate cake […]

  24. […] bonenkom met saus van geroosterde paprika’s en gefrituurde bakbananen van Taste Space Rokerige butternut mac & cheese van Manifest Vegan (ééntje dat ik zeker ga maken volgende week) Mexicaanse chocolade cake met […]

  25. Shanon says:

    Wow!! Loved this! Made it tonight for dinner and ate way too much… Thanks, Allyson, for this lovely dish. :)

  26. Ashley F. says:

    I just got a big bag full of butternut squash – I’ll definitely have to use some of it for this dish!

  27. JENNA says:

    Well…since my theme for veganmofo is pumpkin and winter squash i’m going to have to make this ASAP!

  28. Ah ha! A recipe we will all like to start to use up the MONSTER CSA box I got this week! I do a similar Cashew Lemon pasta with the same elements and my son loves it, so I know this will be great (I’ll leave the greens out of his portion :-(

    I got a B’nut squash in my CSA and a TON of collards, which I will have to sub for the kale (boo! I love kale! but I never get any in my CSA!).

  29. The best place to purchase smoked paprika is Costco. Very affordable. Man that mac looks mighty good.

  30. I love butternut squash mac n cheese. I dont’ even tell my boyfriend that I add the squash : ) I will definitely be adding the paprika next time. Not sure I can sneak in the kale, but I would LOVE that!

  31. This looks so yummy. I love cashew based mac and cheeses. I also like the kale added in as it gives it a nice touch of color.

  32. FoodFeud says:

    I keep meaning to make a squash cheese. Squash cheese sauce must go viral. Looks delicious.

  33. “Try it sprinkled on whole salted avocados”–I love this tip for smoked paprika! I agree, it’s something I find myself wanting to sneak into anything savory!

  34. I love love love smoked paprika! Mac and cheese and butternut squash are favourites of mine too so I can’t wait to try your recipe.

  35. Marissa says:

    I don’t eat pasta too often, but this looks so incredible that I’m practically salivating. Great choice to add in smoked paprika. I’m a little addicted to the flavor it adds to a dish, and I’m sure it’s amazing in this. Thanks for the recipe. I’m going to make it this weekend!

  36. Lindsay says:

    I might need to turn this into individual portions for thanksgiving this weekend ( here in Canada). Thanks for the recipe!!!!!!!

  37. Lacey says:

    Oh sweet baby buddha this looks and sounds freaking amazing.

  38. Vegyogini says:

    As usual, you are brilliant!

  39. Julie Hasson says:

    I think I know what I’m making for dinner tonight. Thanks Allyson!

    xo Julie

  40. Rebecca W. says:

    looks delicious! i love the addition of lemon zest. i might try this with sweet potatoes, since i’m not the biggest fan of squash (crazy, huh?).

  41. Kristy says:

    There’s a lot of squash-based mac-n-cheese recipes out there, but I’ve got to say, yours really stands out! I love how simple and nutritious it is smoked paprika is one of my favorite spices. I can’t wait to give this a try! :-)