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5-Ingredient Quinoa Mac and Cheese

Do you love mac and cheese but hate the calories and fat that come along with it? We're serving up a super healthy version in this quinoa mac and cheese!

Seriously is there anything better than a bite of super creamy, cheesy goodness? It's pretty much heaven on earth if you ask me.

Still to this day, even though I know how awful it is for me, I sometimes crave Kraft macaroni and cheese. It's so weird because that was never anything that I ever ate growing up (we were an Annie's family all the way). There's just something about that box of junk pasta that makes my mouth water.

But for those of us who like to eat healthy not shove our faces with that orange-tinged pasta gook, you need to search for alternatives.

Vegan Mac and Cheese Sauce

Our “Cheesy” Vegan Mac and Cheese Sauce

Traditional cheese sauces are obviously loaded with cheese. But we're keeping things dairy-free around here and whipping up our own version of a mac and cheese sauce that's “cheesy” and delicious.

The secret for getting that Kraft color? Butternut squash!

I know it might sound a little weird, but when everything is combined together you can't even taste it. My butternut squash-hating boyfriend couldn't even tell it was in there. That's because we blend it up with some almond milk and nutritional yeast to make it taste cheesy and cover up some of the natural sweetness.

5 Ingredient Vegan Mac and Cheese

Secretly Healthy Mac and Cheese

Not only does this recipe have just 5 ingredients, but it's also super healthy. You're getting complex carbohydrates and protein from the quinoa, you're sneaking in some veggies in the form of squash (plus added fiber), and nutritional yeast is also packed with protein!

In comparison to standard mac, each serving has just 258 calories, 7g of protein and 6g of fiber!

Easy Vegan Mac and Cheese

The Easiest Mac and Cheese EVER!

So today we're making what could potentially be dubbed the healthiest mac and cheese ever. And we're making it as easy as humanly possible.

The base of this quinoa mac and cheese is not the heavy cream or milk that you're used to. In fact, we've used butternut squash to create the ultra creamy sauce. Instead of noodles, we opted for quinoa (which is packed with protein and nutrients of course). We've got a little cheese thrown into the mix, and since I'm dairy-free I used a vegan alternative. If you're not dairy-free, feel free to use whatever type of shredded cheese you'd like!

Basically, what I'm saying here, is that is a 100% guilt-free mac n' cheese recipe that your entire family with gobble up – even the kiddos. It's seriously addicting.

Can't wait to hear what you think of this quinoa mac and cheese recipe! I swear, it's like my favorite meal on the planet right now…!

Quinoa Mac and Cheese Recipe Simply Quinoa

Other Easy Quinoa Dinner Recipes to try:

5-Ingredient Quinoa Mac and Cheese

4.1 from 41 votes
Do you love mac and cheese but hate the calories and fat that come along with it? We're serving up a super healthy version in this quinoa mac and cheese!
author: Alyssa
yield: 6 servings
Healthy Mac and Cheese Recipe
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 40 minutes


  • 4 cups cubed butternut squash about 1 small
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast or parmesan
  • 4 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup shredded vegan cheese or shredded cheese of choice


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Peel and seed butternut squash. Chop into 1" chunks, add to a stock pot, cover with 1" of water and boil until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and transfer to a blender.
  • Add almond milk and nutritional yeast into a blender and blend on high until silky smooth and creamy. Add more milk as needed - texture should be thick, but easily pourable.
  • Transfer to a bowl and add quinoa and cheese. Stir until combined.
  • Transfer the quinoa mac and cheese into a baking dish, smoothing the top and sprinkling on additional cheese if desired. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes, until bubbly.
  • Remove from oven, cool slightly and enjoy immediately.



Additional spice options:
- Paprika
- Tumeric
- Chili powder
- Hot sauce
- Salt & pepper


Calories: 258kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 212mg | Potassium: 577mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 9920IU | Vitamin C: 19.6mg | Calcium: 92mg | Iron: 2.8mg
cuisine: American
course: Main Course

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5-ingredient Quinoa Mac and Cheese....with a super healthy secret ingredient. Click to find out!

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91 comments on “5-Ingredient Quinoa Mac and Cheese”

  1. Avatar photo
    Rachael Maguire

    I .LOVE. YOUR RECIPES. I’ve made a few different ones now, and this one last night, and even the hubs loved it! Thank you for sharing simple, delicious, and healthy recipes! I’m on your site and share your recipes ALL the time!! THANK YOU!!

  2. Can’t wait to try this recipe. Your recipe lists dijon mustard but does not mention the nutritional yeast that you mention in the you tube video. Can you use both ingredients and how much yeast? Hope you can read this very light print. Don’t know how to fix it.

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  5. This looks great! I sometimes add butternut squash to my mac&cheese, so I know I’ll love this recipe. My family is going camping next week and I’m trying to do my best to continue to eat healthy while away with others who don’t. I’m planning on making the squash puree before we go and jar it. That way, when we’re all having KD I can just cook some quinoa real quick and add the squash and cheese. Super happy I came across this, thanks!

    1. I think this will definitely work for camping! I can’t wait to hear how it turns out for you 🙂 Keep me posted! xo

  6. Since this serves 4-6 and I am only one person can I freeze the other portions? How long can this last in the fridge also? Thanks!

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  8. Yum! Just made this, and enjoyed it for my Super Bowl dinner. I added a shake of nutmeg and turmeric to the mixture before baking. Thanks!

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  10. HI,
    So I made this the other day. I have to tell you, I had to be sneaky when putting this together. My hubby can form an opinion about what he is eating by what he sees going into it! lol. and I knew he would do that with this. So I served this delicious “mac and cheese” to him and he loved! When he was about half way through I told him about the squash. He was shocked! . It is that good and good for you. We loved this, next time I make it I won’t have to be sneaky…lol. Thank you!

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  12. Wow! This is the first of your recipes I’ve tried. I didn’t think I was a big fan of quinoa, but I made this Quinoa Mac and Cheese today and it was Delicious!!! I substituted Sargento Reduced Fat 4 Cheese blend for the Goat Cheddar because that is what I had on hand. So good!

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  17. The recipe sounds awesome…. Hoping my three year old {who doesn’t like mac n cheese. or anything else for that matter} goes for it… going to make it tonight 🙂 Thanks for sharing… I totally love your blog, found you on pinterest !

  18. Avatar photo
    Bobbi Renee Hass-Burleson

    I love the idea of making a mac and cheese with quinoa. I am a huge fan, as well as my son’s fiance, the guys? Ummm well they live with it HA! I will have to through this together the next time they are over and see what they think of it.

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  24. I tried this with cauliflaur just because it was available in my fridge…delish. I steamed the veggie kind of “aldente” so each bite was a satisfying morsel like with macaroni.

    1. Just calculated it with myfitnesspal and its about 450 calories per serving along with 21 grams of protein + 5 grams of fiber.

  25. Thanks for sharing this recipe. It looks delicious! AllFreeCasseroleRecipes.com has featured it on our blog, Cheap Eats and Thrifty Crafts. You can check it out here: http://www.cheapeatsthriftycrafts.com/meatless-mondays-can-save-money/

  26. I made this for dinner last night and loved it! I have to admit, I used a brick of Birdseye frozen butternut squash to save time but it worked wonderfully! I stirred the almond milk, cheese, and spices to create a seriously smooth, silky cheese sauce. (I used about a tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp dry mustard, and a pinch of cayenne and nutmeg — I left out the Dijon and used dry mustard instead.) Seriously, just a pinch of nutmeg makes the biggest difference in homemade mac & cheese and it complements the butternut squash as well 🙂 I have always wanted to “love” a butternut squash mac and cheese and this is the first one I’ve tried that isn’t overwhelmingly squash-y. I have a feeling this is going to be an oft-repeated meal 🙂

    1. Yay!!!! So happy you liked it. I’m definitely going to add the nutmeg next time, sounds delish! Now that I’ve made this mac and cheese, I’m dreaming up other ways to change it up. I’m going to try carrot next I think 🙂

    2. We don’t always have a big selection of squash at the grocer and I have no clue what size a “small” squash would weigh. But I can find frozen chunks. Can you give me a close measurement 2 cups? Etc? I want to try this! Thanks

      1. Hmm…I think we probably used about 1 1/2 – 2 cups of squash in this recipe. I’d start with less and work your way up as you mix everything together. I’m going to have to test this yet again and get the cup measurements. I’ll report back with my findings!! xo

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  28. This looks yummy! I’ve never made anything with quinoa before but I think I might just have to try this!!

  29. I can’t wait to try this but my family and I are not fans of squash and I never buy it. I haven’t cooked with quinoa as of yet and wondered would carrots work? I have used carrots as a sneaky ingredient in a lot of my dishes.

    1. I don’t think that carrots would be the same. What about sweet potatoes? Or you could also try pumpkin (although the flavor would be a little different). I’m going to give it a whirl with carrots and see if it works. Will be sure to let you know!

  30. Oh yum, that’s so cool that you put butternut squash inside the mac and cheese for creaminess. The mac and cheese looks deliciously mouth watering. How did you learn to take beautiful pictures? Your’e pictures are gorgeous!

    1. Thank you Melanie! Food photography is tough, but I’ve taught myself along the way. It’s really just practice and experimenting. I appreciate the compliment 🙂

  31. I love the idea of using quinoa instead of pasta. It definitely delivers more in the way of nutrition. Plus the addition of butternut squash totally takes it over the top. Thank you so much helping Rachel and I make this event a success!

  32. Okay, so I made this today and I want to portion it for separate meal, it mentions 4-6 servings, can you give me an estimate on how many calories there would be in a serving, this will help me decide on the size, otherwise I am liable to eat the whole thing! ha ha 🙂 I have weakness for cheese and it doesn’t help that I LOVE quinoa!!

    1. Hi Terry, thrilled you liked mac and cheese! I actually don’t calculate the calories on my recipes, but there are tons of free online tools you can use to plug in the ingredients and it will tell you all the nutritional information 🙂

  33. This is such a cool recipe. I love that you used quinoa. I’ve never seen goat cheddar. Now I’m intrigued, need to hit the city in search of it.

    1. I love goat cheddar! I’m sensitive to cow’s milk, so goat cheddar is a great alternative. I use it on pizza, grilled cheeses, you name it! You can purchase it at Trader Joe’s if you have one near you 🙂

    1. I think so, yes! I just think the flavor would be a little different, but pumpkin mac and cheese sounds absolutely awesome to me 🙂 Enjoy it!

  34. Avatar photo
    Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness

    I am still training myself to totally be IN LOVE with quinoa…but adding all the cheese is DEFINITELY gonna help spur that along. Plus, squash is my fav ever.
    Love that this has only 5 ingredients and is healthy!

    1. This would be a good recipe to try then 🙂 It’s totally creamy and decadent, but actually good for you! Thanks for stopping by, Taylor 🙂

        1. I don’t have them calculated for this recipe yet, but you can definitely add the ingredients into a tool like this: https://www.caloriecount.com/cc/recipe_analysis.php

    2. Made this according to script the first time, family frowned. Too healthy LOL This time, I cooked the quinoa in 2/3 chicken broth and 1/3 water. Also added onion and garlic powder to the quinoa water. Added a small amount of cheddar to the final mix and voila! They are into it : ) Thanks for this great alternative to heavy cream, gobs of cheese and pasta!

    1. Thanks, Becca! Can’t really think of a better combo than quinoa and cheese 😉 Plus it’s actually healthy – even better!