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Please keep in mind that I am not a registered dietitian or doctor. My posts are based on my own research and personal experience, and this blog is not intended to be used as medical or nutritional advice. You should always consult a doctor before making any changes to your diet and exercise routine. You are ultimately responsible for your own health!
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The BEST Vegan Mac n’ Cheese

I’m on a roll, if I do say so myself.

Last night I made a Vegan Mac n’ Cheese that rivals one of my all-time favorite recipes– the Barefoot Contessa’s Mac n’ Cheese! Of course, her version is filled with milk, butter, flour, gruyere and cheddar cheeses. You really can’t go wrong when the ingredients are that rich and decadent.

It also beats-the-pants off of Kraft’s “the cheesiest.” (If you’re into that stuff, which I’m not.) Do you know I actually hated mac n’ cheese as a kid? I thought all mac n’ cheese was neon-orange and out of a box. Totally unappealing, if you ask me.

However, I dare you to try my healthier version and not moan with delight. It’s that good. And there’s not an ounce of cheese, butter or flour in sight.

No neon-orange coloring, either.

Vegan Mac n’ Cheese
inspired by Everyday Raw

Ingredients:

For the cheese sauce:

1 1/2 cups raw cashews
3 T. fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 clove garlic
pinch of turmeric
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. mustard (dijon or yellow)

For the macaroni n’ cheese casserole:

8 oz. of elbow or shell pasta of choice

freshly ground black pepper
paprika, for garnish

*optional add-ins: roasted broccoli, sauteed mushrooms, spinach (I highly recommend these!!!)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F. If you are adding roasted broccoli (<– recipe here) to your dish, this would be a good time to start preparing that, so it can roast in the oven while you work on the rest! You should also start boiling some water for your pasta.

I opted for gluten-free, quinoa shells, but any pasta will do. Trader Joe’s often sells brown rice elbow noodles that would be great, too!

While you’re waiting for your pasta to cook, start working on the “cheese” sauce.

If you have a Vita-Mix, or other high-powered blender, making this sauce is a cake-walk. Simply throw the first ten ingredients into the blender, and blend until smooth and creamy! If you do not have a high-powered blender, don’t worry– you can easily use a food processor or blender to process the cashews first, until they are finely ground, or ideally, a nut-butter-like consistency. Once your cashews are thoroughly processed, add the rest of the ingredients and process until smooth.

You should have a thick, smooth sauce.

At this time, you should check your pasta. Once it’s cooked to your liking, drain and rinse it, then return the pasta to the pot to be mixed with the cheese sauce.

If you’re adding any roasted or sauteed veggies, this would be the time to do it. I highly recommend adding roasted broccoli to this dish–> Austin and I both agreed the bites of broccoli were our favorite part!

I also decided to saute a handful of mushrooms, that I had leftover from our Mushroom Risotto from the night before. The mushrooms were a good decision, they added a really nice texture to the dish!

You can serve the hot Mac n’ Cheese immediately at this point, for a creamy and delicious meal, or you can bake it for a firmer, dryer texture. (My husband prefers this meal on the drier side, so I usually bake it for his benefit.)

To Bake:

Once you’ve mixed everything together, pour the mac n’ cheese into an 8 x 8 square dish and garnish with a sprinkle of paprika and black pepper.

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.

Let cool for about 5 minutes, then serve!

No one will believe this dish is vegan.

Taking into account that people will probably go back for second-helpings, this dish should serve 4 happy people.

Enjoy!!

4.8 from 70 reviews
Vegan Mac n' Cheese
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
A creamy, vegan "cheese" sauce that's sure to fool even the pickiest of eaters!
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups raw cashews
  • 3 T. fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1½ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • ½ tsp. chili powder
  • ½ clove garlic
  • pinch of turmeric
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp. mustard (dijon or yellow)
  • 8 oz. of elbow or shell pasta of choice
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • paprika, for garnish
  • *optional add-ins: roasted broccoli, sauteed mushrooms, spinach (I highly recommend these!!!)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. (If you are adding roasted broccoli to your dish, this would be a good time to start preparing that, so it can roast in the oven while you work on the rest!) You should also start boiling some water to prepare your pasta.
  2. If you have a Vita-Mix, or other high-powered blender, making this sauce is incredibly easy. Simply throw the first ten ingredients into the blender, and blend until smooth and creamy!
  3. If you do not have a high-powered blender, don't worry-- you can easily use a food processor or blender to process the cashews first, until they are finely ground, or ideally, a nut-butter-like consistency. Once your cashews are thoroughly processed, add the rest of the ingredients and process until thick and smooth.
  4. At this time, you should check your pasta. Once it's cooked to your liking, drain and rinse it, then return the pasta to the pot to be mixed with the cheese sauce.
  5. If you're adding any roasted or sauteed veggies, this would be the time to do it. I highly recommend adding roasted broccoli to this dish!
  6. Serve immediately while hot, or move on to the next step for baking.
Baking Instructions: (optional)
  1. Once you've mixed everything together, pour the mac n' cheese into an 8 x 8 square dish and garnish with a sprinkle of paprika and black pepper. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes.
  2. Let cool for about 5 minutes, then serve!

 –

*Note: You could keep this dish properly combined by serving the cheese sauce over cooked spaghetti squash or spiralized zucchini noodles. Personally, we were feeling the more traditional shell pasta last night, but I’m sure it would taste great either way!

278 comments to The BEST Vegan Mac n’ Cheese

  • erica

    THIS RECIPE WAS SURPRISINGLY GREAT. THANK YOU

  • […] admit it’s no standard mac and cheese but it definitely hits the spot. This has been my go-to recipe. […]

  • Nina

    The recipe was great! Even my BF who won’t do “fake dairy” ate it. :)

  • Marni

    I have made other vegan mac & cheese recipes and I have to say this is absolutely the best one I can’t wait to make it again

  • Richard Bronosky

    I’m practicing this dish in advance of Valentine’s Day in 3 days. I love the combination of raw cashews and nutritional yeast. I will use that again. But I want you to proof read your ingredient list. The combination of 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon of yellow mustard (which contains vinegar) is just way too tart for this. I’ll try it again and let you know how it goes.

  • RoCon

    I think the tartness throws off the sort of smokey/nutty bold flavor you get from the cashews. don’t worry about it

  • Cynthia

    Why the lemon juice, I’m allergic to it. Can I use something else?
    Thanks

  • Scott

    This dish turned out perfectly I cut the cashews by one third and added rice milk instead of water, one and a half cups.

  • Lesley Eirich

    Love your site Megan, discivered it via Tara Stiles on YouTube. I made your almond butter fudge (making my almond butter from your instructions first) and it was yummy, so am now trying the Mac n cheese. Replaced the nutritional yeast with tahini as I didn’t have any and am roasting broccoli to add. Can’t wait to see (taste) how it comes out!

  • Casey

    Yum yum yum yum yum. I made this for my non-vegan, non-gluten free boyfriend for valentine’s day and he LOVED it. As a person who is vegan and gluten free, finding a recipe that we both like is a mini victory. Definitely super blend the cashews if you have a food processor, even though it’s obnoxious to keep the blender on for so long, do it, it makes the sauce super creamy. Also, I thought that there was more sauce than was needed, so I ended up using about 3/4 the sauce which is perfect for me. Excellent recipe!

  • Cat

    How about soaking the cashews beforehand? I know a lot of people do that when a recipe calls for them.

  • kelly

    This recipe was amazing! I doubled up on most of the spices, and almost tripled the garlic amount, because my family loves extreme flavours, and it was superb!

  • […] After taking out the pizza crust I top it with homemade vegan cheeze sauce (similar to recipe: http://detoxinista.com/2011/01/move-over-kraft/) and whatever additional toppings I’d like, then bake until the toppings are hot. I use about […]

  • Susan

    OMG!!! Amazing!!
    You are a genious. I´m so glad that you share this.
    I´m from Brazil and I can´t wait to tell my friends about this recipe.
    It was my dinner tonight. Even my not vegetarian boyfriend loved it.
    Sorry for the english mistakes. I Don´t use to write in english.
    I Hope you still being as creative and generous as you are and still sharing great recipes.
    Thanks so much

  • barbara

    this recipe is DA BOMB!!! i see lots of responses of this recipe working on vegan-snuffing boyfriends and this one made my boyfriend think it was even better than the real thing..he even got thirds – will definitely be making this again and again!!!

  • Megan

    I’m sensitive to yeast, could you eliminate from recipe and still be tasty?

  • Linda

    This really is the best vegan mac n’ “cheese” – maybe even better than if I had used fake cheese. Wonderful with the broccoli and I can tell mushrooms would have been good too. Thank you!

  • Danielle

    Just made it and its absolutely awesome!!!! Thanks for sharing

  • Yvette

    This is an awesome recipe! I wanted to ask how you might adjust it for someone with a nut allergy?? My thought was to condense coconut milk, but any other suggestions would be very helpful. Thanks!

    • Megan

      It you can have seeds, hemp hearts or sunflower seeds might work– you’ll just have to adjust the ingredients to compensate for their flavor.

  • Andy in Africa

    I didn’t have Nutritional Yeast but did have Marmite (a yeast based spread a bit like Vegemite from Australia) which I love madly and I mixed a flat half teaspoon of Marmite into the water, I used warm water, and I used a quarter a cup of oats because … well, I wasn’t entirely sure if the Nutritional Yeast also contained bulk and truthfully, it was great!!!! Not tart either, not to my tastebuds. Awesome. Thanks!

  • april francom

    This was delicious! My non-vegan husband thought so too…BONUS! :)

  • Yummy recipe! Leftovers were great! For me, tastes best without mustard and a little less lemon juice. Gonna try it with roasted broccoli next!

  • Deb

    I was wondering if you could use homemade almond butter for this?

  • Olivia

    Love your vegan mac n’ cheese! I almonds in place of the cashews and it was so delicious!

  • Kimberly

    Love your site! Question…if I substitute cashews with sunflower seeds (due to nut allergies), how much would you recommend> Also, I am sensitive to yeast, can you recommend a replacement that would still make this super yummy? I LOVE LOVE LOVE your site! Awesome recipes…please keep them coming!

  • Basher

    Well… I’d no nutritional yeast, so used yeast extract (like Vegemite) in small amount… Don’t know if it’s kosher on the Planet of the Vegans, but it worked. Didn’t bake it… just stirred into cooked pasta and served. Very tasty. Had no lemons either, so used home made kombuscha vinegar… not sure if that’s kosher either as is made by bacteria and yeast symbiotic colony. (Note, I don’t know anything about veganism or what to eat or not to eat or why. I just like the food because it’s almost as decadent as you can be on a health kick :)

  • Alex

    Wow, wow, wow.

    Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow.

    Made this today and it’s DELICIOUS! I cooked it with the roasted broccoli and also sprinkled some oats on top before putting it in the oven to give it a little crunch. Love it! This is a terrific recipe and definitely one I’ll be using again and again!

    Thanks for posting it!

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