Vegan squash casserole is made with seasonal yellow squash, a creamy sauce and a classic buttery cracker topping! This is a great side dish any time of the year.
I am so excited to share this squash casserole recipe. This is what comfort food is all about: seasonal veggies, a creamy sauce and a crunchy cracker crust. And a little bit of love, of course!
I’ve mentioned before that I don’t like turning on the oven in the summer, but there are a few foods that make it worth it. This casserole is one of them.
First off, there is nothing better than using fresh in-season produce, especially if you’re lucky enough to have a few squash picked from your own garden (I’m not there yet but a girl can dream!).
Whether you’re serving this casserole in the heat of the summer or as a Thanksgiving side, you are sure to love this vegan twist on a Southern classic.
How to veganize creamy casseroles
Squash casserole is usually made with heavy cream, but because this recipe is dairy-free I had to get a little creative. I ended up with a cream base that tastes almost exactly like cream of chicken soup -- minus the chicken, of course.
The creamy base is made using a roux. If you’re new to roux, do not fear. A roux is a mixture of equal parts flour and fat that is used to thicken sauces.
We'll also use vegan shreds in place of cheddar cheese. Any meltable cheese will work here.
Step by step instructions
To make the roux simply heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Once hot, add the garlic and fresh herbs and saute until aromatic, about one minute (image 1).
Sprinkle in flour, stirring frequently until lightly browned (image two). This cooks the flour and prevents it from tasting raw.
Next up is the liquid. Slowly pour coconut milk into the flour mixture, whisking the whole time to prevent clumping. A thick paste should form. Slowly add remaining milk until a thin sauce forms. Sprinkle in the paprika, cayenne pepper and nutritional yeast (image three).
Bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat, continuing to stir in a figure eight motion. Reduce to a light simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon without sliding off (image four).
Evenly layer sliced squash in a 9x13 casserole dish (image 1). Pour the sauce over the squash so that everything is covered (image 2).
Sprinkle with the buttery cracker layer and optional vegan shredded cheese (image 3). Cover with tinfoil and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove foil and cook another 10 minutes, until the crackers are golden (image 4).
Customization and FAQ
- Gluten-free: Make this recipe gluten-free by replacing all-purpose flour with a gluten free all-purpose flour mix. Choose a gluten-free cracker or omit entirely.
- Non-dairy milk: Coconut milk beverage is my preferred non-dairy milk to use in this recipe because it has a very neutral flavor. This is the carton version found in the milk aisle, not canned coconut milk. You can also use unsweeted and unflavored soy, almond or even oat milk.
- Help! My sauce is lumpy! The easiest way to prevent this is by very slowly adding the milk and whisking the entire time. Sometimes lumps will still form because that is life. If this happens just blend the sauce in a blender and the lumps should go away (be careful when adding hot liquids to a blender!).
- Plant-based crackers: My go-to crackers are Back to Nature brand. Any Ritz style cracker will work.
Vegan Squash Casserole
- 2 and ½ pounds yellow squash sliced into ¼ inch rounds
- 1 medium sweet yellow onion sliced into thin strips
- 1 tablespoon vegan butter
- ¼ plus ½ teaspoon salt divided
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme see note #1
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour see note #2
- 2 cups coconut milk see note #3
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup vegan crackers
- 3 tablespoons vegan butter melted
- freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup shredded vegan cheese optional
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch casserole dish.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter. Once melted, add the yellow squash and yellow onion. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt. Saute for 8-10 minutes, or until the squash and onion are softened. Stir occasionally with a spatula to evenly cook.
- While the squash is cooking, prepare the cream sauce. Heat a large skillet (it should be able to hold at least 2.5 cups of liquid) over medium-high heat. Add ¼ cup olive oil. Once hot, sprinkle in the minced garlic, chopped thyme and oregano. Saute about one minute, until garlic is golden.
- Sprinkle ¼ cup all-purpose flour into the garlic. Cook another minute until the flour is lightly browned, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Slowly whisk in ¼ cup coconut milk to form a thick paste. Slowly pour in remaining milk, whisking consistently to prevent lumps from forming. Sprinkle in ½ teaspoon salt, nutritional yeast, paprika and cayenne pepper.
- Bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened enough to coat the back of a metal spoon without sliding off.
- Crush one cup of crackers into small pieces. In a small bowl, mix together the crushed crackers and 3 tablespoons melted butter. Set aside.
- Assemble the casserole in the lightly oiled 9x13 baking dish. Start by evenly layering the onions and squash (make sure to drain off any excess cooking liquid before adding the squash). Pour the cream sauce on the squash. Sprinkle freshly ground black pepper liberally across the top of the cream sauce. Evenly spread the crushed crackers across the casserole. Sprinkle with shredded vegan cheese (optional).
- Cover with foil. Cook at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the crackers are golden. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- Herbs: One tablespoon fresh chopped herbs can be replaced with one teaspoon dry herbs.
- Flour: All purpose flour can be replaced with a gluten free all-purpose flour blend to make this recipe gluten-free. Choose a gluten-free cracker or omit entirely.
- Coconut milk: Choose unsweetened and unflavored "coconut milk beverage" that is found in cartons, not canned coconut milk. Soy or almond milk can be used in place of coconut milk.