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This Vegan Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Bake is the ultimate fall comfort food. Cozy pasta baked with a simple cashew cream sauce that’s filled with cheesy flavor and tons of fresh pumpkin. Gluten-free & Oil-Free options.
This Vegan Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Bake is everything you love about classic mac and cheese with a seasonal touch! A rich creamy pumpkin sauce baked with your favorite short-cut pasta, then finished with a crispy sourdough rosemary breadcrumbs for a satisfying crunch. Have this comfort bake in the oven in just 10 minutes!
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A Comforting Savory Pumpkin Recipe
Every fall, pumpkin puree makes its debut in sweet and fluffy Pumpkin Pancakes, Pumpkin Apple Muffins, and Pumpkin Spice Latte Overnight Oats, but what about savory pumpkin recipes? Pumpkin is considered a vegetable after all! I’ve taken it upon myself to find several creative ways to use pumpkin puree in the nostalgic fall classics. This Vegan Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Bake is exactly that. A silky-smooth pumpkin cashew cream coats every last bite of tender pasta while a crisp, herby sourdough breadcrumb brings the perfect crunchy finish! And best of all, this dump-and-bake recipe is completely fuss-free. Simply set it, forget it, and enjoy the pumpkin season!
Ingredients for Vegan Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
This easy vegan pumpkin mac requires just 11 ingredients, including a homemade pumpkin cream sauce and toasted sourdough breadcrumbs. Here’s a quick rundown on the necessary ingredients:
- Cashews: Raw cashews are the base of the vegan cheese sauce. They’re buttery, mild in flavor, and easy to blend into a creamy texture in a good blender.
- Pumpkin: You’ll need both a cup of pumpkin puree and diced fresh pumpkin for the ultimate pumpkin flavor.
- Nutritional yeast: Adds additional cheesiness, B vitamins, and a bold yellow color.
- Pasta: No-boil recipes work best with short-cut pasta. Feel free to use your favorite gluten-free pasta if needed.
- Sourdough: My favorite bread to use when making homemade breadcrumbs because it’s tangy, slightly chewy, and perfectly crusty. It also holds its structure well even when dried out, which is ideal for making a crumb-like texture.
How to Make Vegan Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
- Blend the pumpkin cream sauce ingredients in a high-speed blender until the cashews completely dissolve.
- Mix the pasta, pumpkin, and shallot together in a casserole dish until evenly combined.
- Pour the pumpkin cream sauce over top, then press everything down into the sauce.
- Tightly cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prep the homemade breadcrumbs and set aside.
- Once the mac and cheese has baked, stir well to evenly distribute the sauce then cover the pasta with the breadcrumbs.
- Bake for another 7-10 minutes, or until crispy.
- Serve warm, as desired. Enjoy!
Caitlin’s Cooking Tips
- The homemade breadcrumbs are highly recommended! The buttery sourdough breadcrumbs on top are technically optional, but trust me when I say you won’t want to skip them! They’re infused with fragrant rosemary that packs loads of fall flavor and adds the best, next level crunch to the top of the creamy mac and cheese. It’s as delightful as it sounds, I promise!
- Quick soak the cashews. If you forgot to soak your raw cashews ahead of time, there are two ways to soften them quickly. First, you can cover the cashews in boiling water and allow them to sit for 20 minutes to soften. Or, cover them in room temperature water and microwave the cashews for 3 minutes, then allow them to sit for 3-5 minutes before draining.
Creamy vegan pumpkin mac is the ultimate main to pair with a simple salad, roasted veggies, or fall-flavored sides. I personally love this baked pasta dish with these 15-Minute Garlic Green Beans, this Fall Farro Salad with Butternut Squash & Brussels Sprouts, and this Kale Apple Salad with Cider Dressing.
It would also make the perfect cozy side dish on your Thanksgiving table this year. Give it a try with a few of my favorite Vegan & Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Recipes like this Homemade Vegan Holiday Roast or these Stuffed Acorn Squash with Mushrooms.
How to Store Vegan Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
If you have leftovers, they’ll keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Freezing is not recommended – fully cooked pasta is difficult to freeze without the texture diminishing.
If reheating individual serving sizes, microwaving is the quickest option. Or, if reheating a few servings at once, reheat leftovers in the oven at 350F while covered for 15-20 minutes, or until warmed through.
Substitutions and Variations
- Gluten-free option: Use corn & rice varieties of gluten-free pasta in place of the wheat-based pasta. These gluten-free pasta varieties hold up better than gluten-free pastas made from legumes. Additionally, replace the sourdough bread with your favorite gluten-free bread, or omit the breadcrumbs entirely.
- Oil-free option: Omit the olive oil in the pumpkin cream sauce and homemade breadcrumbs. The pumpkin cream sauce won’t be as smooth and creamy, but it will still taste delicious!
- Make your own pumpkin puree: Roast your own sugar pie pumpkins and learn How to Make Homemade Pumpkin Puree.
- Pumpkin substitutions: Use cubed, peeled sweet potato, butternut squash, or kabocha squash instead.
This dairy-free pumpkin cheese sauce is made cheesy using raw cashews and nutritional yeast. No dairy cheese needed!
If you don’t have a food processor, a blender with a pulse setting or even a box grater would work well. Use what you have!
This mac and cheese is not nut-free. Raw cashews are a main ingredient in the pumpkin cream sauce and would be difficult to replace. If you’d like to experiment, substituting the raw cashews with raw sunflower seeds may work, but I cannot guarantee it!
Enjoy! If you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I would also love it if you could leave a comment below with a recipe rating! Thank you for the support 😊
Baked Vegan Pumpkin Mac & Cheese
For the Pumpkin Cream Sauce:
- 3/4 cup cashews, soaked in water overnight*
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 4 1/4 cups water
For the Pasta:
- 12 ounces pasta, gluten-free if necessary*
- 1 shallot finely diced
- 2 cups diced pumpkin; see notes for substitutions
For the Breadcrumbs:
- 3.5 ounces sourdough bread
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary roughly chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- black pepper to taste
- Prep: preheat the oven to 425F and set a 9×13″ casserole pan aside.
- Blend: add the soaked and drained cashews, pumpkin puree, garlic, olive oil, nutritional yeast, nutmeg, salt, and water to a high-speed blender. Blend on high for 45-60 seconds, until the cashews completely dissolve and you are left with a smooth and creamy sauce.
- Mix: add the pasta, pumpkin, and shallot to the casserole dish and mix until evenly distributed. Pour the sauce over the casserole, then use a spatula or spoon to press everything down evenly into the sauce, especially the pasta noodles.
- Bake: Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil (or parchment paper, followed by aluminum foil) and bake in the middle rack of the oven for 45 minutes.
- Breadcrumbs: place the sourdough on separate baking tray and bake alongside the casserole for 10-20 minutes, until dry and golden; bake time will depend on the size of your bread. Roughly break up the bread with your hands, then transfer it to a food processor along with the chopped rosemary, salt, and pepper to taste. Pulse until a fine but crumbly texture forms. Drizzle the oil over the breadcrumbs, then pulse again until evenly distributed. Transfer the breadcrumbs to a small bowl and set aside.
- Make it Crispy: after 45 minutes, remove the casserole dish from the oven and stir well to evenly distribute the sauce. Cover the pasta evenly with breadcrumbs, then return to the oven and bake for an additional 7-10 minutes. (See notes for cooking time without breadcrumbs)
- Serve + Store: serve warm; leftovers can be stored in the fridge and are best eaten within 5 days
- Cashews: If you forget to soak your cashews ahead of time, you can (1) cover them in boiling water and let sit for 20 minutes, or (2) cover them with water and microwave for 3 minutes, then let sit for 3-5 minutes before draining.
- Pasta: I recommend using short pasta shapes (as opposed to noodles) for this recipe. If you are using gluten-free pasta, corn & rice varieties tend to hold up better without breaking.
- Pumpkin: cubed pumpkin can be replaced with peeled sweet potato, butternut squash, or kabocha squash.
- No Breadcrumbs: bake the casserole for 45 min only, but let sit 5 minutes covered before mixing and serving
- Oil-Free: you can omit the oil from the sauce if you’d like, but it will not be as smooth. Same with the breadcrumbs; they will not get as golden, but will still be tasty!