Vegan Mini Pumpkin Mac & “Cheese” Bites

butterfly Makes: 30 bites

Written By Eydie Desser


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Back in “the day” when I was on the Standard American Diet, I developed a recipe for three-cheese Mac & Cheese hors d’oeuvres.  I baked them in advance and then  stashed them in the freezer for dinner parties and last minute guests.  Everyone loved them and it was so easy to just pop them in the oven to reheat!  Just ask Ed!  I missed having delicious hors d’oeuvres ready to go.  It’s fall and there is an abundance of winter squash.  It’s the perfect time for a plant-based mac & cheese using the left-over cooked squash.  Otherwise, canned pumpkin works just as well!

Equipment needed: 3 non-stick mini muffin tins


For the Pasta:
For the Sauce:
  • ¼ cup unsweetened oat milk, store-bought or homemade (recipe below)
  • 1-½ cups canned pumpkin puree or other cooked orange fleshed squash 
  • ¼ cup raw cashews soaked in hot water for 30 minutes
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ¾ teaspoon Dijon mustard or Westbrae Mustard
  • ¼ cup vegan parmesan cheese (recipe below)
  • sweet paprika to garnish
For the Vegan “Parmesan” Cheese:

Makes 1 cup

  • ¾ cup raw cashews
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
(Place the ingredients in a food processor and process until the mixture is the texture of coarse sand.  This makes more than the recipe calls for, but it keeps well refrigerated in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.)


Preheat oven to 400℉, oven rack placed in the middle of the oven.

For the Macaroni:

Cook according to package instructions.  When using Tinkyada brown rice macaroni, I found that the pasta cooked in 8-10 minutes instead of the 15 minutes the package suggests.  Check after 8 minutes to see if the pasta is cooked through.  Drain and reserve

Make the “Cheese” Sauce:
  1. In a high speed blender, add the cooked squash and ¼ cup of oat milk.  Blend to combine.
  2. Add soaked and drained cashews, nutmeg, smoked paprika, cayenne, onion, garlic and turmeric powder and dijon mustard.  Blend until smooth.  The sauce should be thick like cheese sauce. 
Prepare and Bake the Mac & Cheese:
  1. Toss the cooked macaroni with the pumpkin “cheese” sauce.
  2. Stir in ¼ cup Vegan Parmesan Cheese
  3. Using a spoon, scoop the pasta mixture in each of the mini muffin cups, packing the mixture tightly.  Sprinkle a little more vegan parm on top of each muffin.
  4. Place the muffin tins on the oven rack and bake for 10-12 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes, to “set,” before unmolding.
  5. Using a small spoon, scoop out bites and serve.
butterfly Cook's Notes:
  1. To make Homemade Oat Milk: Pour 1/2 cup gluten free rolled oats and 2 cups of water into a blender and process for 30 seconds.  Line a glass 4-cup measuring cup with a nut bag and pour the liquid into the nut bag.  Using your hands, squeeze out the liquid.  Discard the pulp or use in a vegan cookie recipe! 
  2. To Freeze:  Allow the Mac & Cheese bites to cool completely.  Place the tins in the freezer for a couple of hours.  Then remove frozen bites from the tins and place in a freezer safe bag.  
  3. To reheat:  Place frozen bites on a parchment lined sheet pan and place in a 350℉ oven for about 10 minutes.

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