Make a ‘Cheesy’ Dairy-free Sauce With Butternut Squash

Make a ‘Cheesy’ Dairy-free Sauce With Butternut Squash

For cheese avoiders and the dairy-sensitive, mac and cheese is a comfort food that lives in distant memory, enjoyed during a time when you didn’t know or care about what made your tummy cramp up. As luck (and plants) would have it, you can bring creamy pasta back into your life. Whether you’re vegan, cheese-averse, or learning to embrace a lower-fat diet, this butternut squash pasta sauce makes a killer mac and “cheese.”

Butternut squash sports a sweet, dense flesh with a beautiful orange color, so you can already imagine how cheesy the sauce will look. You can also replicate this recipe with any squash that meets these criteria, like acorn, delicata, buttercup, or sugar pumpkin. Once squash season ends, feel free to use a bag of cut and frozen butternut squash whenever the craving strikes.

How to make butternut squash pasta sauce

Adding savory ingredients to the mix tempers the squash’s sweet flavor profile, and reveals a surprisingly cheese-like flavor. First you’ll cook the squash. I peeled and deseeded the fruit, cut it into one-inch chunks, and tossed about 2 cups of the squash into a steamer basket. You could roast the squash or even boil it if you wanted to. Look for a very soft texture; you should be able to easily pierce it with a fork.

While the squash cooks, boil two servings of pasta. Coarsely chop a shallot or two and sweat them in a frying pan with a bit of oil. Load the squash and the shallots into a food processor or blender, along with 2/3 cup of the pasta water. Add spices. I used a 1/2 teaspoon of salt, a 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder, and a crack of black pepper. Turn the machine on high and let the squash purée until smooth, two or three minutes.

Once the mixture is as fine as possible and has cooled slightly, add two tablespoons of vegan margarine, or butter. Pulse the mixture until the fat has blended in. Toss this sauce with the pasta and serve.

My food processor was unable to purée the mixture to a consistency I was happy with, so I transferred it to a tall cup and used my immersion blender to reduce it to a silkier consistency. To ensure your machine is as effective as possible, make sure to completely cook, or even overcook, the squash to begin with.

This sauce is savory, salty, creamy, and fantastic when tossed with pasta, but I bet it would be incredible over some roasted broccoli. The best part is that you can really over-do the sauce to pasta ratio and feel pretty good about it. It’s mostly squash. Although it doesn’t have the stretch that real cheese does, the finished sauce is a great stand-in for any roux-based cheese sauce. This butternut squash pasta sauce recipe is ripe for innovation, so add herbs, yogurt, or a dab of mustard; if you’re a meat-eater, toss in some bacon chunks. Squash and bacon make an incredible team.

Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce Recipe


  • 2 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 2 small shallots, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • A crack of black pepper
  • ⅔ cup pasta water
  • 2 tablespoons margarine or butter

Toss the butternut squash into a steamer to cook until very tender. Meanwhile, sauté the shallots in a pan with the oil until tender.

Add the shallots and cooked squash to a food processor or blender along with the salt, garlic powder, black pepper, and pasta water. Blend until the mixture is as smooth as possible, about three minutes. Add the margarine and pulse until fully incorporated and smooth. Serve over veggies, with proteins, or toss with two servings of cooked pasta for mac and “cheese.”

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.

At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.


Leave a Reply