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Get ready to satisfy your mac + cheese cravings with this amazing Easy Vegan Pumpkin Mac + Cheese recipe. With its creamy seasonal pumpkin goodness, a unique blend Cajun spices, and homemade vegan cream cheese, it all combines for a mouthwatering, dairy-free mac + cheese that's an absolute delight for everyone, making every delicious forkful a celebration of flavors. Perfect as a main dish or a holiday side! Gluten-free option.
As a true Southern girl who values flavor, mac + cheese holds a special place in my heart. I've already shared a variety of incredible mac and cheese recipes, from Baked Vegan Buffalo Mac + Cheese to Stovetop Southern Mac and Cheese, and of course, Ultimate Vegan Mac + Cheese. In my book, it's the epitome of comfort in a bowl, perfect for cozying up on the couch with a rom-com, a warm blanket, and perhaps a mocktail.
Now, for all the vegans foodies looking to indulge in the same comforting experience, this Easy Vegan Pumpkin Mac + Cheese has got you covered. The addition of pumpkin puree not only lends a beautiful golden hue but also imparts a sense of familiarity to the classic mac and cheese. What's more, the homemade Cajun seasoning elevates this dish with an explosion of flavor that'll keep you coming back for more.
Believe me, whether you're a die-hard vegan or not, this Pumpkin Mac + Cheese is going to steal your heart! It also makes for a fantastic vegan-friendly side dish for Thanksgiving. It's a wonderful addition to your holiday spread, offering a tasty alternative that can be enjoyed by everyone. It's the ultimate indulgence for the whole family – kids + adults alike. And if you're on the hunt for more pumpkin recipe inspiration, be sure to check out our lineup of 20 Pumpkin Recipes For When You Have Too Many Pumpkins
Nutritional Yeast is a vegan staple ingredient also sometimes called 'Nooch' or Savoury Yeast Flakes. It's known for its cheesy flavor and is great when it comes to making dairy-free sauces! AKA it's perfect for vegan mac and cheese! Nutritional Yeast is an inactive, dry form of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a species of yeast.
This recipe is a breeze to make! First, boil your macaroni according to package instructions and set them aside. Then, blend cashews, grapeseed oil, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, rosemary, and sea salt until you have a creamy paste. If needed, adjust the consistency with a bit of warm water.
In a saucepan, sauté garlic in butter, add flour, and whisk until it's bubbly. Gradually pour in almond milk and pumpkin puree, whisking to create a thick mixture. Then, stir in vegan cream cheese, nutritional yeast, ground mustard, homemade Cajun seasoning (more on that later), lemon juice, and red pepper flakes. Combine the sauce with the drained pasta, and you're all set!
Here, I’ve curated a list of cooking + baking essentials that I use to achieve my favorite baked goods or cooked meals, especially with this Vegan Mac + Cheese. Everything from my fave dutch pot/oven, wooden spoons, immersion hand-blender, mixing bowls, and more. SEE THEM HERE!
Cajun seasoning is a distinctive spice blend hailing from the American South, particularly Louisiana, known for its bold and spicy flavor profile with a hint of smokiness. Essentially, Cajun spices can elevate the taste of any dish that could use a little heat and depth of flavor.
Sure, you can find pre-made seasoning blends at the grocery store. But there’s nothing like the fresh, customized flavor you get by making your own blend. The herbs and spices in the cajun spice mix for this recipe are inspired by the fresh herbs that work so beautifully together to create a bold, spicy flavor (from the cayenne + paprika).
You can Store the seasoning blend in an airtight container at room temperature for up to six months. Use it on anything from simple roasted vegetables to salad dressing to herb oil for dipping bread.
To make your own homemade seasoning, combine the following:
This silky sauce is spectacular when paired with macaroni. The sauce is thick and rich thanks to homemade vegan cream cheese made with soaked raw cashews. It is seasoned with apple cider vinegar, lemon, and rosemary. The next step to the perfect vegan cheese sauce is to make a roux. I made a roux using vegan butter and flour before adding almond milk and the homemade vegan cream cheese.
These two sauce methods combine to make the perfect silky sauce. Cheesy flavor is added with a homemade Cajun spice mix and nutritional yeast. You can’t make a vegan cheese sauce without nutritional yeast! For extra cheesy flavor, you can always add in dairy-free shreds.
YES! Feel free to use this creamy sauce for other vegan dishes that require a cheese sauce. You can also keep the vegan cream cheese in the fridge for gluten-free bagels.
Some vegan dishes you can use this sauce with are:
While I love this Vegan Mac + Cheese Recipe dinner as-is, straight from the pan, you can dress it up with toppings if you like.
For extra flavor, color, and texture, you can try:
If you discover a new favorite topping idea, be sure to let me know in the comments section below!
If you'd like to add protein to this Vegan Pumpkin Mac + Cheese dish, it's easy to do, regardless of your diet!
If you're a seafood lover, feel free to swap out the chicken for these delightful options!
When it comes to serving this mouthwatering Vegan Mac + Cheese there are some options that will truly elevate your meal. First off, don't forget to have some bread on hand. I love this homemade Soft Buttery Vegan Brioche Bread. Trust me; you'll want to dip it into that luscious, saucy goodness. If you want a little freshness, serve it with a salad on the side, like this Fall Harvest BBQ Chickpea Kale Salad or this Best Buffalo Chickpea Kale Salad. It's like a fresh burst of flavor that complements this easy weeknight dinner beautifully.
Enjoy alongside a tall glass of Southern Strawberry Iced Sweet Tea or Traditional Southern Iced Sweet Tea for some extra Southern flare.
But here's the thing. This Pumpkin Vegan Mac + Cheese is so darn amazing that you can honestly enjoy it all by itself. Seriously, the creamy ooey gooey 'cheesy' sauce is a game-changer. It's just bursting with flavor. So, feel free to dig in and savor every single bite. It's a dish that stands tall on its own!
You can use any type of pasta that you like in this Easy Vegan Pumpkin Mac + Cheese recipe. That is what makes this recipe so adaptable!
I love using shells because it does a beautiful job of embracing and holding onto the sauce. But any of these pasta varieties would work for this dish -
I would recommend tossing with tongs to ensure that longer varieties of pasta is fully manageable and fully coated. You can also use gluten-free pasta, whole-wheat pasta, or even zoodles for a low-carb option!
If you're thinking about making your own pumpkin puree instead of using a store-bought canned version, then you'll be happy to know that it is rather simple:
Yes--- Pumpkin in the mac and cheese, it's not only the best comfort food but also a nutritional gem:
Any leftovers can be kept in a tightly sealed container and refrigerated for up to 3-4 days.
To make this mac + cheese gluten-free, simply substitute the pasta and flour with GF-friendly ones. Also, ensure that pumpkin puree is GF-friendly as well.
The spiciness of the Cajun seasoning can be adjusted to your liking. You can use a smaller or larger quantity to control the level of heat in your dish.
Yes, this mac and cheese can be a wonderful vegan-friendly side dish for Thanksgiving, adding a creamy and flavorful component to your holiday feast.
When reheating, you may need to add a little almond milk or your preferred plant-based milk to maintain the desired creamy consistency.
If you've fallen for the incredible flavors of this Easy Vegan Pumpkin Mac + Cheese recipe and are eager to explore more homemade basic recipes, here are some delicious options to dive into next!
If you tried this Easy Vegan Pumpkin Mac + Cheese recipe or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you go in the 📝 comments below. And don't forget to tag @orchidsnsweettea_ on Instagram and hashtag it #orchidsandsweettea! I love hearing from you!