This vegan pumpkin mac and cheese will simply amaze you! Made with a rich and creamy vegan pumpkin cheese sauce that is gluten and dairy free, this mac & cheese is true comfort food with a healthy twist perfect for cozy fall nights.
❤️ Why make this recipe
Pumpkin is a great addition to vegan cheese sauce since it has a beautiful orange color. A can of pumpkin puree mixed with a can of full-fat coconut milk gives the mac & cheese a rich and creamy texture that will truly amaze you. This recipe is similar to my other popular cheese sauces like veggie cheese sauce, coconut mac and cheese, cauliflower cheese, and coconut alfredo sauce, but with added pumpkin for even more nutrition.
🧾 Ingredients and substitutions
- Macaroni - You can also use any other small pasta like shells, or ditalini.
- Coconut Milk - a 13.5 oz can of full-fat coconut milk with make your cheese sauce rich and creamy plus 1/2 cup of water. (You can use 2 cups of soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, or any other plant-based milk if you choose, but full-fat canned coconut milk will give you the richest and creamiest vegan cheese sauce. You can use cashews instead of coconut and blend them into a cashew cream sauce, however, I like to use canned coconut milk so you don't have to fuss with a blender and it's tree nut free.
- Pumpkin Puree - You will need a can of pumpkin puree. Be sure it is plain pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling that contains sugar or other spices. You can also use 1 1/2 cups of homemade pumpkin puree. You can also swap out the pumpkin for butternut squash puree.
- Nutritional Yeast Flakes - This is a yellow flaky powder that has a cheese flavor. This is a key ingredient to give it a cheesy flavor and cannot be omitted. You can read more about it in this article about nutritional yeast.
- Tapioca Starch - For a stretch to your cheese sauce. This is also referred to as tapioca flour. If you don't have this, you can swap it out with more corn starch, but it won't have a stretchy texture.
- Corn Starch - to thicken the cheese sauce and give it a thick creamy texture.
- Sea Salt and Black Pepper - To give it flavor.
- Onion Powder - For flavor.
- Garlic Powder - For flavor.
🔪 Helpful tools
- Sauce Pan - to cook the pumpkin cheese sauce in.
- A Whisk - to stir the sauce well.
🥄 How to make vegan pumpkin mac & cheese
Step 1 - Boil the macaroni (or shells) in salted water according to package directions then drain in a colander.
Step 2 - While the pasta cooks add a can of coconut milk, 1 can of pumpkin puree, 1/2 cup of water, 1/3 cup of nutritional yeast, 2 tablespoon tapioca starch, 1 tablespoon corn starch, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder then give it a stir with a whisk until all of the starch is dissolved.
Step 3 - Turn the stove on to medium heat and frequently stir until your cheese sauce thickens and starts to boil. Then turn down the heat to medium-low and stir constantly for 1 minute before taking off the heat.
Step 4 - Add the cooked macaroni to the pumpkin cheese sauce, stir well and serve hot.
👩🏻🍳 Pro Tips
- Use full-fat coconut milk for the creamiest cheese sauce.
- Add the tapioca and cornstarch to cold coconut milk. If you try to add this after you start heating the sauce, it will clump and not dissolve.
- To make this a healthier meal, add steamed spinach, kale, broccoli, peas, or cauliflower.
- If you don't like pumpkin, try out my vegan mac and cheese without cashews, mac & cheese for one, or my silken tofu mac and cheese recipes.
❓ Frequently asked questions?
Add a cup of shredded vegan cheese like vegan mozzarella or vegan cheddar to the cheese sauce once it begins to boil. Stir frequently until it melts and gets incorporated into the sauce.
The pumpkin cheese sauce is naturally gluten-free, so you will just need to use your favorite gluten-free pasta and you will have a dairy-free and gluten-free mac and cheese.
Most people can't taste the pumpkin until I tell them that it's in the mac and cheese. You can taste it, but it's very subtle.
🥘 Baked pumpkin mac & cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- Follow the steps above then add an additional 1/2 cup of water to the cheese sauce. (To account for evaporation in the oven).
- Transfer the mixture to a lightly greased casserole dish.
- Top with 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs mixed with 3 tablespoons melted vegan butter and 1/4 tsp garlic salt or simply top with shredded vegan cheese.
- Bake at 350° F for 30 minutes until it starts to bubble and the bread crumbs have turned slightly golden.
🥡 Storage and reheating
Refrigerate: This vegan pumpkin mac & cheese will keep well in the fridge for 3 - 5 days in an airtight container.
Freeze: Pumpkin mac freezes well and can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
Reheating: Reheat the vegan mac in the microwave for about 3 minutes or add a few tablespoons of water and reheat it in a saucepan on the stovetop.
📌 Be sure to follow me on Pinterest for new vegan recipes!
📋 Pumpkin mac & cheese recipe
Vegan Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
- 4 cups macaroni (uncooked) (or any other pasta you choose)
- 1 13.5 oz can pumpkin puree
- 1 13.5 oz can coconut milk
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoon tapioca starch (aka tapioca flour) use corn starch if you don't have tapioca starch
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teeaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- Boil the macaroni in salted water according to package directions then drain in a colander.
- While the pasta cooks add a can of coconut milk, 1 can of pumpkin puree, 1/2 cup of water, 1/3 cup of nutritional yeast, 2 tablespoon tapioca starch, 1 tablespoon corn starch, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder then give it a stir with a whisk until all of the starch is dissolved.
- Turn the stove on to medium heat and stir frequently until your cheese sauce thickens and starts to boil. Then turn down the heat and stir constantly for 1 minute before taking off of the heat.
- Add the cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce, stir well and serve hot.
- Use full-fat coconut milk for the creamiest pumpkin cheese sauce.
- Add the tapioca and corn starch to cold coconut milk. If you try to add this after you start heating the sauce, it will clump and not dissolve.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Click the stars above or leave a comment! I'd love to hear from you!
Wow this cheeze sauce is amazing! I found myself just wanting to eat spoonfuls of it (and I did lol). I think it would be really nice as a queso dip if you mixed rotel and some vegan crumbles in. Yum 😋 thank you thank you!!!
I'm so happy that you liked the recipe, Amanda! 🙂
Hands down this is the best of the best Mac and cheese recipe ever it's sad the Star rates only go to 5 because I give this 💯 star rating
Thank you for the wonderful recipe
I'm so happy that you liked it, Alicia! 🙂
This was amazing! Even my 16yr old who isn't a fan of Mac and cheese (what?!) or pumpkin, loved this! He enjoyed it so much, he asked when we could have it again. The sauce is just thick enough, the coconut milk mixed with the puree made it so smooth 👌 This is a dish we will make during all seasons. I served ours with spaghetti style Shirataki noodles. I imagine it would be lovely as a queso dip as well.
I'm so happy that you guys loved it! It is one of my kids' favorites too. It's also delicious with vegan sausage. Something about the pumpkin and sausage goes great together.
This is delicious! It's one of the best "cheese" recipes I've tried! Thank you!
I'm so happy that you liked it, Bonnie! 🙂
I made this for dinner last night and it was amazing! Thanks for this great recipe!
You're welcome! I'm so happy that you liked it, Christy!
Does this work with almond or oat milk? Coconut milk has way too much saturated fat for those of us with high cholesterol.
Yes, you can swap out the canned coconut milk and water for 2 cups of any plain flavored plant-based milk that you want.