This is simply the best Mac n’ Cheese recipe I’ve ever tasted. Tender macaroni pasta is tossed in a creamy cashew “cheese” sauce, creating a remarkably similar taste and texture to the original. It’s so easy and delicious!
What I love about this vegan Mac and Cheese is that it’s just as fast to prepare as the version that comes in a box with neon-orange food coloring.
While your pasta is cooking, you simply blend the creamy vegan cashew sauce in a blender until smooth. When the pasta is done, stir in the sauce and serve! It doesn’t get much easier than that.
This sauce gets its signature “cheesy” flavor from a combination of nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and salt. Nutritional yeast, also sometimes called “nooch,” is a deactivated yeast, so it’s thought to be safe for those following a candida diet. It’s also an easy way to add flavor to a number of vegan dishes!
Try sprinkling some on top of mashed potatoes or popcorn, for a dairy-free cheesy-flavor.
I added turmeric to this sauce for it’s almost neon-orange hue, and also for its naturally anti-inflammatory compounds. When you add just a little, you can’t taste it at all, but this ingredient is totally optional if you don’t have it on hand.
Since the cheese sauce is gluten-free, this dish is naturally gluten-free when you choose a gluten-free pasta to serve it with. For the dish pictured above, I used Banza Chickpea pasta, which turned out pretty well!
For a properly combined meal, serve this cheesy cashew sauce over steamed cauliflower florets, spaghetti squash, or zucchini “noodles” instead of a grain-based pasta.
NUT/SEED/DRIED FRUIT | Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Soy-free, Egg-free, Vegan
This vegan Mac and Cheese recipe is made with a cheesy cashew sauce and tastes remarkably authentic. Naturally dairy-free, this pasta is also gluten-free when you serve this sauce over gluten-free noodles or cooked vegetables.
- 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 clove garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard (dijon or yellow)
- 16 ounces Elbow or shell pasta of choice (gluten-free, if needed)
- freshly ground black pepper
- paprika , for garnish
Prepare the pasta according to package directions.
While the pasta is cooking, combine the cashews, lemon juice, water, salt, nutritional yeast, chili powder, garlic, turmeric, cayenne (if using), and mustard in a high speed blender and blend until silky smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add 2-4 more tablespoons of water and blend again.
Once the pasta is tender, drain and rinse it, then return the pasta to the pot and stir in the cheese sauce. Season to taste and serve warm!
Per Serving (calculated with pasta): Calories 467, Carbohydrates: 67, Protein: 16, Fat: 15
- Need a nut-free version? Try my Sweet Potato Mac n’ Cheese recipe, or my Cauliflower Cheese Sauce recipe.
- You could possibly use a nut other than cashews, such as macadamia nuts or blanched almonds, but keep in mind that substitutions might change the flavor. Be sure to taste as you go!
- I love adding roasted vegetables to this dish to make it more of a complete meal. Try roasted broccoli and mushrooms for a more flavorful pasta dish.
- Don’t care for the extra spices? Feel free to leave out the chili powder, turmeric, garlic, or cayenne. I think they help give this recipe a more gourmet flavor, but you can keep it simple, too!
As always, if you make a modification to this recipe please leave a comment below letting us know what worked for you. We can all benefit from your experience!
Reader Feedback: Do you have another childhood favorite dish that needs a healthy makeover? Let me know in the comments below!