Vegan Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells

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An Italian classic with a twist! These vegan stuffed shells are bursting with creamy dairy-free ricotta and baked in velvety butternut squash sauce. Perfect for holiday dinners, or any occasion worthy of some serious vegan comfort food!

Have you figured out your Thanksgiving menu yet? I hope so! With three days to go I’ve got my fingers crossed that everyone has their menu planned and ingredients purchased. I know what I’m eating, but haven’t managed to pick up all my ingredients yet. I’ve got a trip to Trader Joe’s planned later today. Pray for me.

Assuming you do know what you’re eating on Thanksgiving, hang on to this recipe for Christmas, New Years, or any old day you want something special for dinner.

(Oh, and then there’s always the possibility that you thought you had your Thanksgiving menu figured out and now you’ve got a hankering for some stuffed shells. In which case, I’m so sorry!)

These shells start with roasted butternut squash and onions, which will go in the shells and in the sauce. There’s so much butternut squash goodness going on here!

The vegan ricotta is made with my go-to mixture of cashew cream and tofu. But instead of seasoning it up with Italian spices like I normally do, I added some fresh sage to this batch. Once you’ve mixed up the ricotta in the food processor, stir in some of your roasted butternut squash and onion.

Next, make the sauce. Blend up the rest of your roasted squash and onion with some non-dairy milk and a touch of nutmeg. It should be smooth, creamy, and a bit thicker than butternut squash soup.

Ladle some of the sauce into a baking pan, then stuff your shells and nestle them together in the pan.

Bake until hot and bubbly, then ladle the rest of your sauce on top before serving.

Tips for Making Amazing Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells

  • Save time on the day of serving by making the sauce and ricotta a day in advance. The sauce will thicken up in the fridge, so you may need to thin it with a bit of non-dairy milk before assembling the dish.
  • This recipe makes about 20 shells, but I recommend boiling a few extra because at least a couple will probably break during boiling or stuffing.
  • Not into tofu? Leave it out and try doubling the cashews.
  • Can’t have cashews? Skip them and double the tofu!
  • Leftovers are freezer-friendly. Just seal them up and freeze. Then, when you’re ready to eat them, thaw and microwave or bake until they’re hot.

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4.84 from 6 votes Print

Vegan Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells

An Italian classic with a twist! These vegan stuffed shells are bursting with creamy dairy-free ricotta and baked in velvety butternut squash sauce. Perfect for holiday dinners, or any occasion worthy of some serious vegan comfort food!

CourseEntree CuisineAmerican Prep Time 25 minutes Cook Time 1 hour Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes Servings 6 Calories 455 kcal Author Alissa Saenz


Roasted Veggies (For the Filling and Sauce)

  • 3poundsbutternut squash,diced (½ inch, about 6 cups)
  • 1medium onion,roughly chopped
  • 2tablespoonsolive oil

For the Vegan Ricotta Cheese

  • 1cupraw cashews,soaked in water 4-8 hours and drained
  • ½cupunsweetened non-dairy milk,divided
  • 1small onion,roughly chopped
  • 2garlic cloves
  • 7ouncesextra firm tofu,drained (half of a 14 ounce package)
  • 1tablespoonlemon juice
  • 1teaspoonsalt,or to taste
  • 1tablespoonchopped fresh sage

For the Shells

  • 6 ouncesdried jumbo pasta shells (18 – 20 shells – half of a 12 ounce box)

For the Sauce

  • 1 ½cupslight coconut milk
  • ¼teaspoonground nutmeg
  • ¾teaspoonsalt,or to taste

For Serving

  • Chopped fresh parsley and/or sage,optional


Roast the Veggies

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. 

  2. Place the onions and squash on a large baking sheet or in a roasting pan and toss with the olive oil until coated.

  3. Roast the squash and onion for about 30 minutes, until tender, flipping about halfway through. Leave the oven on when you remove the baking sheet.

Cook the Shells

  1. While the squash and onions roast, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook it according to the package directions.

  2. Drain the pasta into a colander and return it to the pot. Toss with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking.

Make the Vegan Ricotta Cheese

  1. Place the cashews, onion, garlic, and ¼ cup of milk into the bowl of a food processor fitted with an s-blade. 

  2. Blend to a smooth paste, then drizzle in another ¼ cup of milk.

  3. Break the tofu into a few chunks and add it to the food processor, along with the lemon juice, salt, and sage. Pulse until the mixture takes on a chunky, ricotta-like consistency.

  4. Transfer the ricotta to a bowl. When the butternut squash and onion mixture comes out of the oven, gently stir 1 cup of it into the ricotta.

Make the Sauce

  1. Wipe out the food processor bowl fill it with the remaining butternut squash and onion mixture.

  2. Add the coconut milk, nutmeg and salt. Blend until smooth.

Assemble and Bake the Shells

  1. Ladle about ⅔ of the sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

  2. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture into each shell, then place the shells into the baking dish.

  3. Cover and bake for about 30 minutes, until heated throughout.

To Serve

  1. Warm the remaining sauce up on the stove. You can thin it a bit if you like (I like to use the last little bit of coconut milk in my can for this).

  2. Divide the shells onto plates and top with the sauce. Garnish with parsley and sage if you like. Serve.

Nutrition FactsVegan Butternut Squash Stuffed ShellsAmount Per Serving (3 shells (approximately – ⅙ of total recipe))Calories 455Calories from Fat 185% Daily Value*Fat 20.6g32%Saturated Fat 5.5g28%Sodium 730mg30%Potassium 1090mg31%Carbohydrates 61.7g21%Fiber 7.2g29%Sugar 9.8g11%Protein 12.7g25%Calcium 190mg19%Iron 4.7mg26%* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.« Truffled Mashed PotatoesCheesy Vegan Mashed Potato Pancakes »

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I made this yesterday for Thanksgiving Dinner. It was deliciious! Savory with the subtle sweerness of the roasted squash. My sauce wasn’t as beautifully orange as yours–maybe needed more squash? But the recipe was great! Thanks for all your great recipes. I realy enjoy your blog.


  • such a unique and delicious recipe! thanks so much for sharing!


    • This was a really lovely concept! But would recommend a few suggestions. First, the flavors overall were a little bland. I added a teaspoon or two of white vinegar to the ricotta filling to give it a little more ricotta like zing. Next time I would add some salt, garlic powder, and some other herbs to give it more flavor. Second…The proportions of all of the ingredients seem “off” to me. There was way too much filing in comparison to the amount of shells, and way too much sauce in general. I used probably 10 ounces of the shells to use up all the filling. I also just dumped the rest of the sauce on top of the shells at the end because there was way too much to just be drizzled and I didn’t know what to do with the rest of it. Also, baking the shells without any sauce on top left some of the edges crunchy. My husband liked it, though, and he’s a meat eater!


      • This was lovely! Definitely on the time-intensive side, but worth it. Based on experience, I used a smaller squash and skipped the tofu. I cooked and served it in a 12 inch cast iron, so it was very pretty. My pan fit 14 filled shells. Make sure you undercook the shells when boiling. Would make again.


        • Hi, I’m Alissa! I’m a former attorney turned professional food blogger. I love creating vegan recipes with bold flavors!

          More about me →

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