Vegan Mac and Cheese
Published Oct 28, 2021, Updated Nov 08, 2022
This post may include affiliate links. Thank you for your support.
The best vegan mac and cheese recipe made with cashews, potatoes and nutritional yeast! It’s easy to make, creamy, cheesy and so delicious. This comfort food classic turned plant-based is guaranteed to be a new family favorite.
I am so excited about this recipe! I have shared a protein-packed mac & cheese but never a vegan recipe! Knowing so many of you are vegan or dairy-free, this recipe will hit the spot. Comfort food at its finest!
Here’s Why You’ll Love It
- Plant-based comfort food!
- Packed with hidden veggies
- Comes together in a flash after your cashews are soaked.
- Sure to be a hit with kiddos and adults alike!
- elbow macaroni – any pasta works! I like using brown rice pasta, lentil or chickpea pasta for some extra protein and fiber. Make sure you use gluten-free noodles if needed.
- yellow potatoes – steamed and blended with the rest of the sauce ingredients. After cooking, the potatoes will add to the creaminess of the dish.
- carrots – adds the perfect orange coloring and extra nutrients to this mac and cheese! I recommend peeling the carrots before chopping and steaming for the best flavor.
- yellow onion and garlic – adds a ton of delicious savory flavor to the base of the sauce.
- unsweetened non-dairy milk – I used almond milk but any dairy-free milk works.
- raw cashews – this is the base of the sauce that makes it thick and creamy! You’ll soak the cashews for a few hours (or overnight) and then blend until smooth.
- nutritional yeast – this nutrient-packed ingredient gives the sauce a “cheesy” flavor without any actual cheese! It’s slightly nutty, slightly cheesy and a key ingredient in this recipe so I don’t recommend skipping it! Learn more about nutritional yeast here. You can find it at most grocery stores in the spice section or you can buy nutritional yeast online.
- lemon juice – to brighten up the sauce! I recommend using freshly squeezed lemon juice.
- sea salt – to bring all of the flavors together.
- dry mustard powder – adds a slight tanginess to the dish that rounds out the flavors.
- ground turmeric powder – this is optional but just a touch of turmeric adds a delicious, earthy flavor and really makes the color of the sauce pop!
How to Make Vegan Mac and Cheese
Soak cashews: The first thing you have to do is soak your cashews! They only need to be soaked for 30 minutes to an hour if you have a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, but even with one, I like to soak the cashews for several hours. Just place the raw cashews in a bowl and cover with water to soak.
Steam veggies: Once you feel like your cashews have soaked for enough time, you can cook the veggies! Fill a large pot with 1 inch of water. Add the potatoes, carrots and onion to a steamer basket or metal colander inside the pot and cover. Steam over medium heat for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
Cook pasta: Cook the pasta according to package instructions until al dente and make sure you save 1/2 cup of pasta water before you drain it! This adds flavor to the end result and also helps the sauce stick to the noodles.
Make sauce: When your cashews are done soaking and the vegetables are steamed, place all of the vegan cheese sauce ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Mix together: Pour the vegan cheese over the cooked macaroni and add up to 1/2 cup of pasta water to loosen the sauce. I like to add a little at a time while stirring until the desired consistency is reached.
Serve: Season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!
tip! The longer you soak your cashews, the creamier the sauce will be. If you find that your sauce has a gritty texture, you likely didn't soak your cashews long enough. It will still taste amazing but you'll know for next time!
How to Serve
This is a classic mac and cheese recipe that also happens to be vegan. If you want to spice it up a bit (literally!) you can sprinkle some paprika and/or cayenne before diving in. If you like added texture, you can spread the mac and cheese in a baking dish and evenly top with panko bread crumbs and place under the broiler for a few minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.
My mind jumps back to my childhood when I think of serving suggestions! Serve with roasted broccoli or peas on the side for extra color on the plate and add a protein like grass-fed beef hot dogs or tempeh hot dogs.
You could also serve it as a side to chili or this lentil loaf for a Southern twist!
How to Store Leftovers
Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. To reheat, add mac and cheese to a saucepan and heat over medium-low, until warmed, stirring often to prevent burning. Make sure to add a little bit of milk or water to thin out the sauce and prevent the noodles from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan. You can also heat leftovers in the microwave if you’re in a rush!
tip! After being stored in the fridge the mac and cheese sauce will thicken up, so when reheating make sure to add a splash of milk or water to thin the sauce and prevent the noodles from burning.
More Vegan Dinner Recipes to Try
- Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta
- Vegan Burrito Bowl
- Black Bean Burgers
- Vegan Bolognese Sauce
- Quinoa Vegetable Soup
- Teriyaki Tempeh and Broccoli
- Kung Pao Tofu with Roasted Cauliflower
- Tempeh Tikka Masala
- Lentil Meatballs
- Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Be sure to check out all of the vegan recipes here on EBF!
Vegan Mac and Cheese
- 1 lb elbow macaroni, cooked (or any pasta of choice)
- 2 medium yellow potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 1 cup)
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces (about ½ cup)
- 1 small yellow onion, quartered
- 2 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk of your choice, I used almond milk
- ¾ cup raw cashews, soaked for 2-4 hours or overnight
- ⅓ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 ¼ teaspoon sea salt , plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder, optional
- ½ cup reserved pasta water
- If you haven’t already soak your cashews for 2-4 hours. If you have a high powered blender like a Vitamix you can get away with soaking for only 30 minutes-1 hour.
- Fill a large pot with about 1 inch of water. Add potatoes, carrots and onion to a steamer basket or metal colander and steam for about 15 minutes or until soft.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water before draining. Drain and transfer the pasta back to the pot.
- Place all the vegan cheese ingredients in a blender (including the cooked potatoes, carrots and onions) and blend until smooth.
- Pour the vegan cheese over cooked pasta, adding up to 1/2 cup pasta water to loosen the sauce, as necessary. Stir to fully combine.
- Season to taste and serve.
- Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. To reheat it, add a little bit of milk or water to thin out the sauce. When reheating, stir often to avoid burning.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
What does the yeast do? I can’t wai to try this!
Can I sub the yellow potatoes for white sweet potatoes?
I bet that would work just fine! Let me know if you try it. 🙂
We’re not vegan, we just love Mac and cheese! Turned out great. Flavor is delicious and the texture was perfect. Will make again!
Oh yay! So happy to hear this recipe was a hit. Thanks so much for the review. I really appreciate it!
I made this recipe with one substitution – Red potatoes in place of yellow (because that was what I had on hand). The results were fine, but I wanted more flavor. When I shook a Lemon Pepper blend from Niblack Foods on it, it went from good to give me more! Let’s just say I had a hard time with portion control.
I’m glad you enjoyed this recipe, Robert! Thanks for making it and for the review. I so appreciate it. 🙂
The person who writes very beautiful post is always good hearted and whenever i am sitting alone i spend my time looking at such nice post you have written a nice post which is as good as you can in life . Will be appreciated and keep writing such good posts in your life, I wish you all the best.
So good and so much more filling than the cheese version. We added broccoli for extra veggies. It was somewhat gritty even though I soaked the cashews for 6 hours but maybe my ninja didn’t blend it well enough. But def recommend 👌
So glad you enjoyed this recipe, Cass! Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a review. I so appreciate it!
I love this recipe so much. I always add broccoli to my pasta for even more veggies. I do have a question, I have leftover sauce, how long do you think it will last in the refrigerator or do you think I could freeze it?
I bet it would freeze okay for 1-2 months in a freezer-safe container. Let me know if you try it!
My kids went crazy for this!! Definitely going to be next go-to easy meal. Thank you so much!!
Ah this is great! I am so glad these are a hit for you and the kiddos, Vanessa. Thank you so much for sharing your review + star rating, I appreciate it!