Amazing baked Vegan Mac and Cheese with a Creamy Pumpkin Sauce! It’s quick, easy to make, and topped with crispy sage breadcrumbs. Everyone loves this!
The ultimate Dairy Free Mac and Cheese recipe for cozy seasons: Creamy Pumpkin Mac & Cheese with Herby Breadcrumbs! Macaroni pasta is mixed together with a rich pumpkin cheese sauce made with lots of warm fall spices, a nut-free and soy-free cheese sauce, and finished with sage breadcrumbs.
This homemade pumpkin macaroni & cheese is savory, rich, hearty, and totally craveable.
A delicious cozy dinner for weeknights in the cooler weather, or to serve as a festive side dish at Thanksgiving or other holidays!
Why You’ll Love this Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
- Simple Ingredients
- Full of Flavor
- Fast to Make
- Perfect as a Main Dish or Side Dish
Here is a quick rundown of what you’ll need to make this baked pumpkin mac and cheese recipe. For the full ingredients, complete with recipe measurements, please see the recipe card below.
- Noodles: Can’t make this without them! I recommend either a true macaroni noodle or sea shell noodles.
- Sauce: This is similar to my baked vegan mac and cheese recipe in that it uses cannellini beans as the base. You’ll also add things like veggie broth, tomato paste, nutritional yeast, tapioca flour, and lemon juice.
- Pumpkin: Use pure pumpkin that does not have any additional spices or additives mixed into it already.
- Spices: You need a combination of spices to help with the cheesy flavor and for the pumpkin spice flavor. It may sound strange, but the result is a super complex sauce that is totally flavorful and delicious! Things like garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, salt + black pepper, and pumpkin pie spice are used.
- Breadcrumb Topping: You can use either a vegan panko bread crumbs or homemade breadcrumbs. Mix this together with my homemade Savory Herb Seasoning Blend or a combination of your favorite flavors.
Make sure to check out the recipe card below for the full recipe and ingredient list.
Making this mac and cheese is done in 3 steps: Making the noodles, making the sauce, and baking it all together!
First up, the noodles!
Cook the noodles in a large pot of salted water according to package directions. Small noodles typically take between 5 and 8 minutes to cook, while larger noodles can take up to 12 minutes. Gluten free noodles take a similar amount of time, depending on the size of the noodle.
Tip! Make sure to only cook the pasta until it is just shy of al dente. The noodles continue to cook in the oven and if you over cook the noodles now, they can turn mushy in the oven.
While the noodles are cooking, quickly mix together in a small bowl the breadcrumb topping with the spices and set it aside.
Next up, making the sauce.
Into a high-speed blender (or food processor) combine the drained and rinsed cannelini beans, pumpkin, nutritional yeast, vegetable broth, spices, salt, tomato paste, and tapioca starch. Blend until very smooth.
Pour this vegan cheese sauce into a medium sized pot and cook on the stove over a medium heat for 5 minutes. This is what activated the tapioca to make the sauce thick and creamy. Make sure to stir constantly to prevent the sauce from burning on the bottom.
After 5 minutes, remove the sauce from the heat and add in the lemon juice. Stir to combine. Give it a taste and adjust any seasonings. If you want a more runny sauce, you can add a few extra tablespoons of water right now.
Finally, it’s time to assemble and bake!
Pour the sauce over the drained and cooked pasta and mix until coated. Transfer this to an unlined and ungreased baking dish, smoothing into an even layer. Cover with the prepared breadcrumb topping.
Bake uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are toasty and golden brown.
To make it extra crispy, you can switch over to a broiler for the final 2 minutes of bake time. Just don’t walk away! This can burn quickly.
That’s all! Serve and enjoy.
How to Store + Make Ahead
Store leftover mac and cheese in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You may need to add an extra splash of water when reheating on the stove top or in the microwave as the sauce gets absorbed by the noodles.
This can be made ahead of time. Prepare the cheese sauce up to 2 days in advance and keep in an airtight container in the fridge. On the day of serving, make the noodles fresh and bake as directed.
More Side Dish Recipes
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- Mixing bowls
- Mixing spoons
- measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Cooking pots
- baking dish
- 1 lbs macaroni noodles uncooked
- 1 15- ounce can Cannellini Beans drained and rinsed
- 1 cup pumpkin puree make sure it’s not pumpkin pie mix
- ⅓ cup Nutritional Yeast I recommend Bob’s Red Mill
- 1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
- 2 cups Vegetable Broth I recommend Better Than Bouillon Seasoned Vegetable Base
- 1 tablespoon Tapioca Starch or cornstarch or arrowroot powder
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar or coconut sugar
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice mix
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons paprika sweet
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ⅔ cup breadcrumbs Panko or equivalent
- 2 tablespoons savory herb seasoning mix
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
- Make the noodles according to directions. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil on the stove. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Make the breadcrumb topping. In a small bowl combine the breadcrumbs and the seasonings for the topping. Set aside.
- Blend the sauce. In a blender or food processor, combine the cannellini beans, pumpkin, nutritional yeast, tomato paste, vegetable broth, tapioca flour, brown sugar, and the spices of garlic, onion, paprika, pumpkin pie spice, and chili powder. Blend until very smooth.
- Cook the sauce. Transfer to a medium saucepan on the stove and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes to allow the tapioca flour to cook and thicken the sauce. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice. Stir well.
- Combine the cooked noodles with the sauce. Pour into an 8×10-inch (20×25-cm) pan. Cover with the bread crumb topping mixture.
- Bake in the oven uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are toasted on top. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
- How to Store + Make Ahead
- Store leftover mac and cheese in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You may need to add an extra splash of water when reheating on the stove top or in the microwave as the sauce gets absorbed by the noodles.
- This can be made ahead of time. Prepare the cheese sauce up to 2 days in advance and keep in an airtight container in the fridge. On the day of serving, make the noodles fresh and bake as directed.