Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese is the perfect way to use up any leftover baked sweet potatoes you have on hand. This dairy-free version has a Southwestern flare, to help make it more of a complete meal, with black beans, green chilies, and a creamy sweet potato sauce.
Why You’ll Love It
It’s nut-free. Unlike my famous Vegan Mac n’ Cheese recipe, this version gets its creaminess from sweet potatoes instead of cashews. The velvety sauce is lighter, and properly combined for those who follow food combining principles.
It’s loaded with flavor. To help balance out the sweetness of the sweet potato, this cheese sauce has extra spice added in, like onion and chili powders. The nutritional yeast adds a touch of cheesy flavor, but you can leave it out and still have a delicious meal!
It’s filling. The black beans add extra fiber and protein to this dish, so it’s much more filling than a traditional side of mac n’ cheese.
It’s healthy. This sweet potato mac n’ cheese is a great way to squeeze more vegetables into your day. The sauce doesn’t taste like sweet potato!
It’s allergy friendly. This recipe is naturally dairy-free, and when you use gluten-free pasta, it can be gluten-free, too.
Ingredients You’ll Need
What’s in Sweet Potato Mac n’ Cheese?
- Baked sweet potatoes
- Macaroni noodles
- Lemon juice
- Nutritional yeast (optional)
- Black Beans
- Green Chilies
- Diced tomatoes
- Salt & pepper
The Southwest spices, like chili powder, onion powder, and cumin help hide the sweet potato flavor. It’s perfect for any non-sweet potato fans in your life! (Most of my taste testers didn’t believe there wasn’t cheddar cheese in this recipe.)
For the best texture, I recommend looking for small macaroni noodles, since pasta always doubles or triples in size when it’s cooked. The smaller noodles make it easier to get a little bit of everything in each bite.
How to Make Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese
1. Cook the pasta.
Fill a large saucepan with water and add a tablespoon of sea salt. Bring the liquid to a boil, then cook the pasta until it’s tender, according to the directions on the package. Small noodles may cook in as little as 5 minutes, but larger noodles may need 10 minutes or more.
Drain the noodles and set them aside until you’re ready to assemble the final dish.
Note: If you haven’t baked the sweet potato yet, wash and dry the potato and pierce it several times with a knife to help it vent. Place the potato on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 400ºF for 45 to 60 minutes, depending on how large the potato is. When it’s tender, remove it from the oven and let it cool.
2. Blend the sauce.
While you wait for the water to come to a boil and for the pasta to cook, you can start adding the sauce ingredients to a blender. Add in the sweet potato, water, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, onion powder, chili powder, and ground cumin.
Blend until very smooth, then set it aside.
3. Mix it all together.
To finish the dish, add a can of drained & rinsed black beans, green chilies, and drained diced tomatoes to the same pot that you used to cook the pasta.
Stir over medium-high heat, until the ingredients are warm, then stir in the pasta and cheese sauce.
Once everything is heated through, taste and adjust any seasoning. You may need to add a little extra salt, until the pasta mixture tastes flavorful.
Serve warm, with freshly topped cilantro on top.
Leftover sweet potato mac and cheese can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Common Questions and Substitutions
Can I add real cheese to this dish? Of course! If you’re not vegan or cooking for those with dairy allergies, you can certainly stir in some shredded cheese to this recipe. I’d recommend transferring the recipe to a casserole dish and topping it with cheese, for more of a baked casserole. Bake it in the oven at 400ºF for 10 minutes, to help melt the cheese, and then serve it warm.
Do I have to use nutritional yeast? Nope, this dish will still be delicious without it! The yeast does help add a cheesy flavor, but it’s not the star of the show.
How do I bake sweet potatoes? Preheat the oven to 400ºF and scrub the sweet potatoes to remove any dirt. Dry them well, then pierce several times with a fork or knife, to help the potatoes vent. Place them on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until they are tender, about 60 minutes, depending on the size of the potato. It’s a good sign if juices start to drizzle out of the potato and caramelize on the pan.
Southwest Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese
- 8 ounces elbow noodles
- 1 (15 oz.) can black beans , drained and rinsed
- 1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes , drained
- 1 (4 oz.) can diced green chilies
- fresh cilantro , for garnish
Sweet Potato Cheese Sauce
- ½ cup baked sweet potato (mashed)
- ¾ cup water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt , plus more to taste
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- In a large pot, bring 8 cups of water to a boil over high heat and add a tablespoon of salt. Once the water is boiling, add in the pasta and cook until it's tender, according to the directions on the package, about 7 to 10 minutes.
- While the pasta is cooking, make the sweet potato sauce by adding the potato, water, olive oil, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt, onion powder, chili powder, and cumin to a high-speed blender. Blend until very smooth, then set it aside.
- When the pasta is done cooking, drain it and set it aside. To the same large pot, add in the drained beans, tomatoes, and green chilies. (No need to drain the chilies.) Stir over medium-high heat until they are warm, then add in the cooked pasta, cheese sauce, and an extra ½ teaspoon of salt.
- Stir again until everything is piping hot, and adjust the seasoning to taste. I usually add another ½ teaspoon of salt, but the final flavor is up to you– just don't be shy about the salt, if you want a flavorful dish. Serve with freshly chopped cilantro on top. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. (They are even delicious chilled for a packed lunch!)
- Nutrition information is for 1 of 4 servings. This information is automatically calculated, and is just an estimate, not a guarantee.
- To make this recipe gluten-free, be sure to use a gluten-free pasta.
- This recipe was updated in October 2022. For the original cheese sauce recipe, you can find it directly in the blog post under the printable recipe. (But this new version is better, so I hope you’ll try it!)
Update Note: This recipe was updated in October 2022, to embrace the Southwest flavor of the sauce and make it more of a complete meal. While the sauce recipe hasn’t changed much, here’s the original version, if you need it.
- 1 cup baked sweet potato (mashed)
- 1 cup unflavored almond milk
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
If you try this sweet potato mac n’ cheese, please leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how you like it.
Questions and Reviews
YUM! love white sweet potatoes, had them for the first time a few years ago, got them from a local farmer so good!
You so read my mind, I was totally going to try something like this! I’m thinking with kelp noodles…
This looks AWESOME! I’ll definitely be trying this out for dinner one night soon 🙂
Do you think that white sweet potatoes taste much different than the orange sweet potatoes (yams?) ?
Luv the recipe!! Angela at OSG recently posted a similar one using butternut squash..you gals are so creative..luv!
I have some sweet potatoes from our CSA curing right now. I think I will have to give this one a try!
Yet another one of your recipes that I’ve starred for later reference!
Yum – this sounds delicious! I am so making this soon!
I made this tonight….poured it over roasted spaghetti squash and added sauteed mushrooms and spinach. It was soooo delicious! Thank you!
Sounds delicious! Glad you liked it. 🙂
Megan, This is totally genius! I am absolutely going to try this. I bet it would be delicious with zucchini pasta as well!
I’m also a huge fan of white sweet potatoes. I started eating them last fall and sometimes I actually enjoy them much more than orange sweets/yams.
Mmmm… I bet it would be wonderful with some zucchini pasta! I am all about the white sweet potatoes now. 😀
This was awesome! I used a left over baked sweet potato. A little sweeter but the color was perfect for real cheese. The kids loved it. Thanks!
So glad you and your kids enjoyed it!! 😀
This turned out great, between this and your other Mac and Cheese Recipe my kids don’t want to eat anything else!
Yay! So glad your kids enjoyed it!!
(that’s the true test, right?!) 😉
Ok I made this and it was sooooo easy and amazingly delicious!!!! a 4 year old, a 7 seven year old and a 14 year old that thinks he knows everything and that cannot be fooled, absolutely loved it!!!!!! This and many of your recipes are becoming regulars in my house. The best part is that seriously my kids love almost all of them too. thank you!!!! YOU ARE AWESOME!!!!!!
So glad to hear it!! Thanks for letting me know. 🙂
This looks SO good! Do you think I could make it without the nutritional yeast?? I don’t have any on hand right now, but have all the other ingredients. Love your site and all your recipes! Thank you!
The nutritional yeast does contribute the “cheesy” flavor, but I’m sure it would be a delicious sauce without it, too! Hope you enjoy it! 🙂
Well, I made it without the nutritional yeast and it was delicious! Everyone in my family devoured it. Thank you for sharing a great recipe!! Next time I’ll try it with the yeast to see how that is. Thanks!!
Thanks for a nut-free mac ‘n’ cheese sauce! My grandson is deathly allergic to nuts and this would be one I could serve to him. Question: are the white sweet potatoes as rich in beta-carotene as the orange ones?
I believe the orange sweet potatoes do have more beta-carotene than the white-fleshed variety.
Is nutritional yeast bad to have with a candida cleanse?
No, nutritional yeast is inactive and is usually considered safe for candida cleansing!
I’ve featured this recipe on my blog: http://dontboilmybooks.weebly.com/1/post/2012/11/sweet-potato-madness.html
What milk would you suggest in place of almond milk to make it completely nut free?
Any type of milk that you have on hand would work– rice, hemp, etc.
I was going to ask the same thing. 🙂 I make my own rice milk (so much cheaper than store-bought and easier than almond milk – no straining!) on a regular basis. 1 c cooked rice + 4 c filtered water + 1 tbsp sweetener + 1 pinch salt -> 4 minutes in a blender (2 minutes if you have a high speed blender like a vitamix)… and you have rice milk! I will have to try this one soon!
I am obsessed with your Vegan Mac and Cheese recipe. I make it like every week. I am going to have to try this!
This was so delicious! I was looking for an easy vegan mac/cheese recipe, and fell in love with this wholefoody and easy recipe. I used regular orange sweet potato, 1/5 small onion instead of powder, cayenne for the chili and forgot the lemon, but I loved it anyways. Thank you!
OMG! This is so perfect! I made it with an orange sweet potato (yam) and it looks just like regular mac & cheese. Thank you so much for making a cheese sauce without nuts!
WOW! Can I just say, WOW?!! I have TRIED and TRIED to find a mac and cheese recipe I like (sans cheese), and I have never had success! THIS WAS AWESOME. Seriously–all picky kids and adults liked it! It will be a regular!! Thank you!!
Yay! I’m glad you guys liked it!
(p.s. did orange sweet potato–it was great!)
Made this for dinner tonight! It’s so yummy!! And very quick and easy to make.
I used homemade rice milk and an orange sweet potato… gave it a nice “cheese” color that could fool anyone.
I put it over a mix of pasta (spiral shape catches the sauce nicely) and steamed veggies (broccolini, asparagus, and pattypan squash). Yum!
This looks great! Do you have any suggestions on the best kind of nutritional yeast, or the cheesiest tasting? I was at a restaurant recently and we were served the most delicious nutritional yeast ever – so much better than anything my parents or I have found. Thanks!!
This is SO delicious!!! I made a double batch half regular potato and half sweet potato.
I have tried the nutritional yeast many times. And I get feeling so sick after I have some. I did try your “Mac & Cheese” and I had an upset stomach for a few hrs. after. I can eat the other things in the mix but I think the yeast is the one that is making me feel sick.
Any ideas as to what I can use instead? I want to eat this healthier way, I just can do the nutritional yeast.
Please let me know.
Do you peel the sweet potato first or leave the skin on? Thank you
This was SO GOOD! I’m never making regular mac ‘n’ cheese again! I don’t eat vegan, so I didn’t use the nutritional yeast. Instead, I used some organic Wisconsin sharp cheddar (from Whole Foods). I also forgot to put the lemon juice in, and I did add a bit more salt. This was such a great gluten-free and HEALTHY alternative to the regular American staple food.
Hi, I’m new to your site, but LOVING your recipes. Ive never heard of nutritional yeast befire though. Is it different from the packets of yeast you can get to make dough? Thanks again! Trying your avacado truffle recipe this afternoon! 🙂
It’s definitely different from active yeast, which is used in baking. Nutritional yeast is deactivated and has a “cheesy” flavor– you can find it in the supplement or spice section at grocery stores, or online: http://amzn.to/1jCGH9X
Seriously, we made this exactly as the recipe is written and it did not taste like cheese in any way. What did we do wrong? 🙁
Hello, I have troube posting your recipes on facebook. Is there a reason for that that you know of? I wanted to share it with my friends but it won’t let me. Carol
I made this first as instructed but found that it had an odd taste and after taste. I realized it was the almond milk so I eliminated the almond milk, increased the lemon juice (small whole lemon) and salt, added chopped half onion and three minced cloves of garlic (instead of onion powder) and a teaspoon of yellow mustard. For some heat, I added a lot of cayenne pepper and black pepper. I combined all ingredients over low heat then mixed it with spaghetti squash, roasted cauliflower and sauteed mushrooms in a rectangle casserole dish. Sprinkled more nutritional yeast on top. Baked at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. AMAZING!! Thank you for this recipe. I could never have made my own version had it not been for your recipe. Again thank you for sharing.
I’m going to make this tonight! How much pasta should I use?
We usually use an 8oz. box, but sometimes there’s leftover sauce. It will depend on how “saucy” you like your noodles!
omg this is the best mac n cheese ever. my kids don’t like it but i am gonna eat the whole thing, i can’t stop.
This looks great! I tend to stock up on canned coconut milk; do you think that’d work instead of the almond milk? What about a cup of canned sweet potato?
I just made this tonight but I didn’t have a white sweet potato so I used butternut squash puree instead! The kids loved it! Yay! Thank you for doing a nut free version!
sweet potatoes come in such varied sizes. can you tell me how much sweet potato by weight?
HEY I Just made this with butternut squash instead, turned amazing! My kids love the cashew Mac and cheese, now let’s see if it’s a pass with this one..
Thanks for sharing! Glad you enjoyed it that way. 🙂
I feel bad having to write a not so great review, after reading all the amazing ones. I did substitute unsweetened hemp milk, rather than almond. I’m not sure if this was what set the dish off, but it was not good. My partner and I were so excited to try this, but it was not tolerable for either one of us. I have a gluten allergy, so maybe it was the GF pasta that I used?? It’s difficult for me to know where I went wrong with this dish, but it was not salvageable. I have tried other recipes from your site that are amazing, by the way. Any insight is graciously accepted. Thanks so much!
Did you like the flavor of the ingredients you used? The first thing I would do is taste each ingredient individually (like the hemp milk and GF pasta) to make sure you like their flavor before using them. Also, make sure you used nutritional yeast, and not brewer’s yeast, as that would make it totally inedible. Hope you have better luck next time!
Thanks for your response, Megan! I am fairly certain it was the hemp milk. Ironically,the unsweetened Tempt Hemp milk has vanilla in it. The vanilla is too overpowering, I believe. It works with baking, but not so much with recipes like this. Also, just to confirm, I did use nutritional yeast. I may try it again, with the milk you recommend in the recipe. Thanks again, and have a blessed day!
My husband is allergic to dairy and nuts. Can i use soy milk instead of almond milk? This is a recent diagnosis and having a frustrating time cooking for a large family.
So easy & sooo yummy
Made this with orange sweet potatoes and lentil pasta. Cooked the lentil pasta half way. Then combined with the sauce and put it into an oven proof dish, sprinkling it with bread crumbs and ground almonds, and put it into the oven at 220 c for approx 10 min.
Thank you 🙏🏻
Is the chili powder a necessary ingredient? Would it be ruined if I omitted it? I am sensitive to chili (and cayenne).
No, you can leave it out if you want to!
Thank you so much for all of your recipes. I recently had to completely change my son’s diet, and you have been such a big help! I went ahead and got your IP and “Everyday Detox” books. I’m limited on the amount of time I have to cook, so I like to make extra and freeze. Have you tried freezing this sauce?
This is the ONLY ‘cheese’ sauce recipe I use now, it is super simple and tastes yummy over pasta or veg. I made a similar recipe recently and it was awful… yours is the one for me! Once you have made the basic recipe, you are free to add whatever herbs and spices you want to. It is definitely my go-to recipe and I am very happy you created and shared it! Thank you 🙂
I made this tonight – so simple and so delicious! I made it with regular sweet potatoes for an authentic mac ‘n cheese colour and served it with sauteed mushrooms and zucchini – perfect quick Friday night dinner! will be making it again 🙂
This is perfect!! I have finally found a low-fat nutrient dense cheese sauce that is simple to make.
I used one cup of a leftover baked sweet potato , and a dash of chili powder. I followed the rest of the recipe to the letter.
I poured it over cooked macaroni elbows. I tasted it, and added a dash more salt and onion powder.
Perfection. I love it. My 19-year-old son loved it too.
Thank you so much! This mac and cheese is my new favorite dish.
This was super easy and quick to make! I used garlic powder instead of onion powder and added sautéed onion, mushrooms, and fresh herbs (sage, thyme, oregano) from my garden. Also baked the sweet potato instead of steaming and it turned out great!
This recipe was so easy and delicious! I didn’t have a baked sweet potato so I peeled the sweet potato, diced it and steamed it until it was soft. It worked great!