Vegan mac and cheese with pumpkin and sage

Vegan mac and cheese with pumpkin and sage

vegan mac and cheese baked

We’ve been having slightly different versions of this dish a lot this winter, especially after Duncan got his braces put in, as it was one of the very few things he could eat without any pain, but I was somehow dragging my feet about turning it into a recipe.

It’s because I didn’t trust myself to be able to photograph it in a remotely appetising way. I know, I am funny. I am the kind of person who takes ages picking produce in a veg shop as it needs to be perfect. Not perfect in the sense of blemish-free and being perfectly symmetrical, but it has to be fresh, vibrant in colour and if rustic, beautifully rustic.

Duncan has been making fun of me for that ever since we started the blog. Whenever I am taking ages picking something, he comes over and says ‘How is the interviewing going? Is that pepper going to be able to carry the show? Are you sure?’ Cheeky bastard 😉 . Don’t bite off the hand that feeds ya, I say!

So today on the menu is a marriage between an American classic, ‘mac and cheese’ and one of my personal favourite flavour combos – pumpkin and sage. If you are not a person after my own heart and hate pumpkin (I mean, what is wrong with you???!! 😉 ), skip it and perhaps replace it with cauliflower or parsnips. You could also incorporate the vegetable into the sauce – in some of my previous takes, I blended the pumpkin into the sauce itself instead of some of the cashews or sunflower seeds – to make the sauce a little lighter. Your dinner, your rules 🙂 .

vegan mac and cheese pumpkin

vegan mac and cheese macro shot

vegan mac and cheese cross section

30 min
60 min
30 min
60 min
SAUCE (makes about 750 ml / 3 cups)

  • 300 g / 2 cups raw cashews or sunflower seeds, soaked*
  • 360 ml / 1½ cups almond milk
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 6 tbsp lemon juice**, adjust to taste
  • 3 tbsp white miso paste
  • 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • ¾ tsp ground nutmeg, adjust to taste
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (skip if you don’t want any heat)
  • 10 small fresh sage leaves
  • ½ tsp salt, adjust to taste
  • a good grind of black pepper


  • 500 g / 1 lb firm pumpkin or squash (I used butternut squash)
  • 2-4 tsp olive oil
  • 500 g / 1 lb macaroni pasta
  • a few fresh sage leaves, for frying (optional)
  • 45 g / 1.5 oz melty vegan cheese, grated (optional)
  • 45 g / 1.5 oz breadcrumbs***


  1. Place approximately half of the rinsed cashews in an upright blender with all of the almond milk. Blend until completely smooth and then add the other half of the cashews and blend until smooth again.
  2. Season with garlic, lemon juice, miso paste, nutritional yeast, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, fresh sage leaves, salt and pepper and process until super smooth and creamy. Set aside.


  1. Preheat the oven to 180° C / 355° F fan forced (or 200° C / 390° F without a fan) and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Cut the peeled pumpkin into equal size cubes, place them into a bowl and coat with 2 tsp of olive oil.
  3. Scatter the pumpkin cubes on a prepared baking tray and roast them in the oven for about 20 minutes, until lightly caramelised. Move the cubes around with a spatula about halfway through the baking time. Switch the oven to fan function or increase the temperature to 200° C / 390° F.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and precook the pasta in lightly salted water. It’s important not to cook the pasta fully as otherwise it will turn into a mash after baking in the oven. My packet said 7 minutes, but I cooked mine for about 3½ minutes.
  5. Heat up 2 tsp of olive oil on a small, non-stick pan. Throw in a handful of sage leaves and fry them until crispy. Once ready, place them on a piece of kitchen towel and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.


  1. Drain the pasta well, rinse under cold tap to stop it from sticking and let it cool off.
  2. Stir the cashew sauce and half of the baked pumpkin cubes through the cool pasta.
  3. Place in a lightly greased baking dish. Top with remaining pumpkin, grated vegan cheese, crumbled fried sage (if using) and then cover with a generous layer of breadcrumbs.
  4. Bake for about 30 minutes in a 180° C / 355° F fan forced oven (or 200° C / 390° F without a fan) until the top is nicely browned.

*Soak them overnight in tap water or if you are pressed for time, you could also soak them in boiling water for at least 20 minutes.

**Sounds like a lot, but that’s to provide contrast to sweet pumpkin. If skipping pumpkin reduce the amount of lemon juice.

***You could also do a mixture of breadcrumbs and finely chopped walnuts or pecans.

The Pyrex dish I used had the following dimensions: 26 cm x 19 cm x 5 cm (10″ x 7.5″ x 2″)

10 g
21 g
4 g
18 g
74 g
*per serving
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6 reviews, 8 comments
I decided to try the Sunflower seeds and wow they are amazing. Loved this recipe I also added red Peppers and some Spinach as my daughter is not keen on squash but she loved it definitely making this again.
    Aw, thanks so much, Hazel. I am delighted that both you and your daughter enjoyed this dish and plan to make it again. And thanks so much for taking the time to review, I really appreciate it. x Ania
Sheila Fretwell:
Made this today on a wintry Sunday morning. Best mac and cheese I've ever made or had. Delicious, zesty sauce and a smooth, creamy consistency. I made a few minor modifications - used sweet potato instead of pumpkin. Also - I roasted it in lime juice as I don't use oil. We used oat milk in stead of almond milk. Will definitely be making this one again! Thanks for the recipe.
    Thanks, Sheila. I love your mods and I am very happy that my recipe came in handy. x Ania
in my opinion, the better it tastes, the worse it photographs, ha! this looks great!
    Ha ha, you may be right, but you know what it's like - people eat with their eyes and at that ;) Ania
This is the best vegan mac & cheese recipe I've made. Love the sage flavour with the sweet pumpkin. The sauce did seem quite thick for me, I might have left in the oven too long or not blended enough. Thanks!
    Thanks, Laura! I'm delighted to hear that you enjoyed this recipe and thanks for taking the time to let me know too! In terms of thickness of the sauce, it's meant to be quite thick, like a cross between milk and cream in a traditional recipe, but if you would rather have it less thick, just water it down a little next time. Ania
Diego Lopes:
I love a good mac and cheese as much as the next guy, but never tried one like this before. Added to the list!
    Thanks, Diego! Hope you'll like it. x Ania
Nossa Ania, só de olhar essas imagens, que delicia deve ser hein, mas adorei suas criatividades nas ideias, amo culinária e cozinhar!! Virginia
    Obrigado!!! Ania
The aroma and taste of fried sage is definitely a killer. I'm so loving the combination of pumpkin, cashew and bread crumbs in the dish. This would make a delicious family dinner on a weekday. Definitely trying it out soon
    Thanks, Jyothi! I hope you'll enjoy it! Ania
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