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.

vegan-mac-n-cheese

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:
16 ounces 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, then let it cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

best-vegan-mac-n-cheese

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!!

4.44 from 145 votes
Print
Vegan Mac n' Cheese
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 

A creamy, vegan "cheese" sauce that's sure to fool even the pickiest of eaters!

Course: Main Course
Servings: 4
Calories: 492 kcal
Author: Detoxinista.com
Ingredients
  • 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)
  • 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!

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Comments

Janine

I just made this and I am in LOVE. I added half a yellow onion and a tbsp of smart balance butter to it and it was amazing!! (Also topped it off with some Frank’s hot sauce!)

Melissa

Hi!
We LOVE this and have made it so many times, but I was wondering, if I wanted to make it a little less thick, do you think it would be okay to add a little almond milk? Or do you think it would ruin the sauce? And would I add a bit of milk in the blender stage or warm it up and tip it in with the pasta? I know I could just try it and see what happens but cashews are so expensive here and thought I might ask so I don’t ruin a double batch of sauce!
Thank you again, your site it fantastic!

    Megan Gilmore

    Yes, I would just thin it to your desired texture with water or almond milk. You might just need to add some extra salt, since the extra liquid might dilute the flavor a bit.

Kelly

I have tried many. many, many vegan mac and cheese recipes. I think this just took over as my favorite.

Helen

Hi, a question for baking. Are you supposed to just pour the sauce over the pasta (and brocolli), or do you mix the sauce in? Thanks!

Hailey

Delicious!! My boyfriend n his mom love it!

Susana

Hello,

I am new to your blog, thank you for the recipe!

Do you think it is possible to make the sauce the night before, put it in the fridge and then heat it up the next day with freshly made cooked pasta? Do you think the sauce would be dry?

thank you
Susana

    Megan Gilmore

    Yes, I think that would work just fine! You can always add a little water the next day if you find it needs more moisture. Hope you enjoy it!

sarah

Just had leftovers after making this last night……………….LOVED it!!!!! Thank you!

Faith

I just bought a bunch of cashews so I could make this but I realized they are roasted (unsalted), not raw. Will that be a big issue?

Tena

I put hot sauce in this and some field roast sausage omg so good.

Sheri

I made this a while back and it was delicious! I added mushrooms and roasted broccoli. It’s very filling and satisfying!

Sharyn

Shouldn’t the cashews be soaked first?

Amber

This is the best thing I have ever eaten! I’m in love. I added some broccoli and next time I’m definitely adding some mushrooms, would be perfect! Thank you for all the amazing recipes.

Cheryl

Wow! Just wow – this is hands down the most amazing vegan mac & cheese EVER. I can hardly believe how good it is, and am having trouble resisting the urge to snarf down the cheese sauce by itself before mixing in the macaroni. I did make a couple of substitutions – I used unsweetened coconut milk in place of the water, and added about 4 tablespoons of fresh pressed carrot juice for color, as I did not have any turmeric. The chili powder I had on hand was hot chipotle, so I omitted the cayenne & black pepper. I also soaked my cashews in hot water for about half an hour, because I don’t have a Vitamin and I thought they would blend better in my old blender if softened. Again, thank you so much for this recipe – it is PURE GENIUS.

Han

Hi my sauce was a tad bitter ? I wonder why

    Megan Gilmore

    I’d check to make sure you used nutritional yeast, and not “brewers” yeast, which is very bitter. I’m not sure what else would cause that!

Sarah

This was ridiculously good! My daughter is a mac and cheese freak and has missed it since going vegan. We added roasted broccoli, which was perfect. Definitely don’t skimp on the salt if you want it to taste like “Real” mac and cheese. We used brown rice pasta from trader joe’s. Next time I’d potentially top it with panko bread crumbs if we could find vegan ones.

Not sure why my message is showing up in all caps. I am not yelling!

B

Is the mustArd PREPARED mustard Or mustard powder?

Cathy

Thank you for this recipe. I’m just wondering if I can omit the nutritional yeast or if there is a substitutes for it. I’m not a fan of the flavor it gives dishes. I haven’t made this recipe so I’m wondering if you can taste it in the cheese sauce? From the comments it looks like it delicious, I’m just afraid to make it and have to waste the ingredients.

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