Three Key Ingredients For Vegan Mac And Cheese
- Pasta: Elbow-shaped noodles are the classic for mac and cheese, although small shells and cavatappi or corkscrew pastas are also good choices for this vegan variation. Check the ingredient list to ensure whatever shape you choose is egg-free.
- Nutritional yeast: The keys to this cheese sauce are cashews, nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, and all things orange. Soaking and blending cashews gives the sauce an incredibly smooth and creamy texture. Nutritional yeast, or nooch, is made from sugar cane and beet molasses it does not have the same leavening abilities as active yeast, so it cannot be substituted in your favorite bread or pizza dough recipes. Nutritional yeast is sold in both flake and powder form, and this is what delivers the umami-rich, cheesy flavor to the sauce.
- Sweet potato: Sweet potatoes are the foundation of this cheese-less sauce. Steam the orange tubers for a starchy, buttery flavor, then add a touch of Dijon mustard to cut the vegetal sweetness and add a little something savory to the sauce. Were using a combination of sweet potatoes, carrot, and turmeric to give this vegan macaroni and cheese a pleasing yellow-orange hue.
How To Store Dairy
You can store this dish in the fridge, covered, for up to 3 to 4 days. You can also store the cheese sauce separately, its great for dipping tortilla chips or making chili cheese fries!
This homemade vegan mac and cheese recipe comes together so quickly and it is very easy and versatile. It is also:
- Ultra creamy and smooth
Vegan Mac And Cheese: Frequently Asked Questions
What type of non-dairy milk is best here?
Cashew milk is a great option and is highly recommended if you can find one that isnt too watery! Almond milk was pretty good, oat milk was great, and soy milk is great if you can find one with no flavor we had a batch that was supposedly unsweetened and unflavored but definitely tasted like vanilla, so youll want to look for a milk with as neutral of a flavor as possible.
Can you make this vegan mac and cheese in the Instant Pot?
Yes and it turns out great! Check out the notes for how to do this at the bottom of the recipe card.
How do I store my extra cheese powder?
Just store it at room temp in an airtight container.
How long does the cheese powder keep?
If stored in an airtight container, it should keep for up to 6 months.
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Ingredients For Vegan Mac And Cheese
So, as you already know, we will be making dairy free mac and cheese.
And we will be using all simpleingredients that will totally upgrade the flavor of traditional mac and cheese.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need:
- 1 cup of raw cashews
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- Vegan cheddar for sprinkling
Pretty simple, right?
Now, if you don’t have one of these ingredients on hand, I highly suggest picking it up. Everything listed compliments each other so well and combines to make this dish dream-worthy.
WHAT IS NUTRITIONAL YEAST
So, the only ingredient you may not be familiar with is nutritional yeast.
Nutritional yeast is a dairy-free savory seasoning that has a cheese-like and slightly nutty flavor.
You can essentially use nutritional yeast the same as grated cheese – sprinkle it over salads, veggies, pasta, or even things like popcorn for a deliciously cheesy addition.
And nutritional yeast is super low in calories with a good amount of protein – just another reason to love it.
For this recipe, the nutritional yeast will give our vegan mac and cheese sauce its cheesy flavor. So to make this as authentic tasting as possible, I highly suggest using it.
With that said, you can make this recipe without it, and the sauce will still be flavorful and creamy – it just won’t have that cheesy flavor that makes this recipe so tasty.
HOW TO SOAK CASHEWS
As you may have noticed, we will be using raw cashews that have soaked in water – this softens them up so they blend easily into the creamy sauce.
Amazing Vegan Mac And Cheese
Did you know that this seven-year-old vegetarian food blog did not have a macaroni and cheese recipe until today? Its true. Ive failed you on the mac and cheese front, but Im making it up to you with this vegan mac and cheese recipe.
From one cheese lover to another, Im here to tell you that this mac and cheese is remarkably cheese-like and absolutely delicious.
Ive been slowly working on this mac and cheese since I published my vegan queso recipe two months ago. The first time, I tried to use pasta cooking water instead of my quesos secret ingredient , and it was just ok.
Then, I added the potato back, and the potato starch makes this cashew-based queso super silky and creamy. Its remarkable!
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Storing Your Vegan Mac And Cheese
Every time I make this recipe, I find myself craving mac and cheese for the next few days. So good thing this recipe makes 6 servings!
And it is just as delicious leftover as it is the first day you make it.
You can store your leftover vegan mac and cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
To keep it even longer, you can store it in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Just thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
Then to reheat your mac and cheese, you can either pop it in the microwave or heat it on the stovetop.
For the microwave, reheat in 1 minute increments until it reaches your desired temperature. And for the stovetop, heat in a pan over medium heat for a few minutes until warm.
What Vegan Boxed Mac And Cheese Brands Did We Try
Despite trying out 10 different brands, we know that there are even more out there. We just didnt find them local to us. The brands that we did find and try are:
- Modern Table Vegan Mac Classic Cheddar Style
- Banza Plant Based Mac with Chickpea Pasta Shells and Vegan Cheddar
- Annies Organic Vegan Mac Cheddar Flavor
- Annies Organic Deluxe Vegan Rich and Creamy Shells & Vegan Cheddar
- Annies Organic Vegan Mac Gluten Free Cheddar Flavor
- Annies Organic Vegan Mac Shell Pasta Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Creamy Sauce
- Uptons Naturals Deluxe Cheesy Mac
- Howl Mac & Chef Deluxe Classic Cashew
- Daiya Deluxe Cheesy Mac Cheddar Style
- Pastabilities Vegan Organic Mac N Cheese
I will be upfront that we had tried a few of these before. Specifically, one of the Annies and we believe the Daiya but couldnt recall.
However, we had never tried any of them side by side with other brands which we believe is really important when it comes to taste testing.
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Vegan Mac And Cheese Recipe Variations
- Swap the sweet potato. If you dont have sweet potato on hand but you still want to try this recipe, dont worry. An equal amount of diced carrot or butternut squash would work just as well.
- Make it smoky. Blend 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, to taste, into the vegan cheese sauce for a smoky twist. Or, for texture, stir in a handful of crumbled tempeh bacon bits!
- Spice it up. Make spicy vegan mac and cheese by pureeing the sauce with 1 tablespoon pickled jalapeños or a chipotle pepper from a can of chipotles in adobo.
- Go gluten-free. Use your favorite gluten-free pasta! I like to use brown rice elbow macaroni.
- Add extra veggies. Of course, this vegan mac and cheese tastes good on its own, but adding extra veggies certainly doesnt hurt. Stir in thawed frozen peas, spinach, or steamed broccoli for a bright pop of green.
How do you like to make your vegan mac and cheese? Let me know in the comments!
Tips For The Best Vegan Mac And Cheese
- Classic elbow noodles While other pasta is totally fine to use, classic elbow noodles will give the dish that certain mac and cheese feel.
- High powered blender This is probably the most important thing. It might work okay with a regular blender or food processor, but to really create a cheesy, perfectly smooth sauce out of cashews, you need a Vitamix or other high powered blender.
- Fresh lemon juice The flavor will be much better with fresh squeezed lemon juice than if you use bottled.
- Add in some vegetables! I think this makes mac and cheese amazing. My favorite is stirring in some roasted vegetables, yum.
- Sprinkle some vegan bacon for extra flavor and protein Try my tempeh bacon or tofu bacon.
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No Time To Make It Yourself Say Hello To Mamas Mac Sauce
We hear you even the simple recipes still take time and energy that you simply dont always have. Thats why our dairy-free Mamas Mac Sauce is one of our best selling products. And it’s WFPB meaning it’s made without oils, sugars and other refined products. Just whole plants.
Made from cashew cream and a little plant-based chef wizardry, Mamas Mac Sauce is THE answer to cheese cravings. It literally makes EVERYTHING taste better. It is the perfect vegan substitute for Alfredo or cheese sauce on pasta, burgers, baked potatoes, even toast. Oh, and can we just warn you that if you mix it with MamaSezz Marinara Sauce, you may never be able to eat pasta without it again.
Mouth watering yet? Order your Mamas Mac Sauce here.
Vegan Mac And Cheese With Cashews
The most popular version of making dairy-free mac and cheese is by using cashews as a base. It results in such a creamy and velvety vegan cheese sauce!
Most vegan mac and cheese recipes with cashews use the following ingredients:
- tapioca starch
This vegan mac and cheese is one of my all-time favorites! A combination of cashews, cooked potatoes, and carrots makes it incredibly creamy. Its packed with flavor and its completely oil-free.
Spice it up with some paprika powder and freshly chopped parsley. I also love to add in peas and mushrooms, but feel free to add any veggies you like. Spinach would also be a great idea.
Its my basic vegan mac and cheese recipe that is also great with other kind of pasta or gnocchi.
If youre looking for a spicier version of mac and cheese, you might like this spicy chipotle mac and cheese by Eva from The Curious Chickpea.
The sauce is also made with cashews and nutritional yeast, but for an extra kick of flavor Eva added chipotles in adobo. She topped it off with spicy chipotle marinated tempeh crumbles and scallion greens.
Vegan comfort food at its best so to say!
Mary Ellen from V Nutrition also has a delicious looking basic recipe for vegan mac and cheese with cashews on her blog. She adds coconut milk to the sauce to make it even creamier and velvety.
You can also use this sauce on baked potatoes, broccoli, and nachos.
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What Is Instant Vegan Mac And Cheese Powder
Ahhhhh, that would be telling! Oh, you came here for the recipe? OK then, you wore me down. Ill tell you. ITS BASICALLY FLAVOUR DUST AND YOURE NOT GONNA BELIEVE THE TEXTURE YOULL BE DEALING WITH IN LIKE TWO MINUTES FLAT! Heres the breakdown:
FOR FLAVOUR Nutritional yeast: ideal for that nutty, umami, cheesiness. Onion powder: because weirdly I found anything with onion powder tastes MORE cheesy! Go figure! Garlic powder: because we stan. Vegan lactic acid: for the TANGY sharp cheddar vibe Mustard powder: again, it weirdly makes stuff taste a little cheesy it also give a mild yellow colour wihtout the dayglo yellow of turmeric.
FOR TEXTURE Corn starch: helps the mixture to thicken into a super glossy, smooth sauce. Tapioca starch: gives that stretchy, stringy, cheesy texture.
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Why This Recipe Works
Coming up with a dairy-free mac & cheese recipe presents two big challenges: texture and flavor! Mac & cheese needs to be creamy and have that characteristic tangy, cheesy flavor that we all love so much. A lot of recipes fall flat for me in one or both of these departments. Not this one!
Texture. Raw cashews blend up super creamy and have a surprisingly neutral flavor, which makes them a great stand-in for dairy, and an awesome cheese base.
Cashews on their own can be overly heavy though, and I find a lot of cashew-based sauces to lack body. So we’re also using a potato. The potato will smooth out the sauce and actually give it a bit of stretch, just like cheese.
Flavor. This recipe uses a mix of ingredients to recreate the cheesy flavor we all love so much. Some of them you might have guessed: nutritional yeast, salt, and vinegar, which you’ll find in most vegan mac and cheese recipes. But we’ve got a few secret weapons here as well, including miso paste, which is fermented to give the sauce touch of umami, roasted red peppers for a touch of smokiness, and hot sauce which adds some zip.
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Vegan Mac And Cheese Recipe Q& a
What does vegan mac and cheese taste like?
Like the best comfort food ever! Its super cheesy and so close to the real thing you might not even know its vegan. Seriously!
Can I make this vegan mac and cheese gluten-free?
The sauce can be made gluten-free if you use a gluten-free all purpose flour blend instead of the regular flour. And then of course you can use a gluten-free macaroni. You would also need to use gluten-free bread for the crumb topping, or alternatively you could add vegan cheese to the top instead of breadcrumbs.
Can this be made ahead?
Yes! If you need to make it ahead of time you can make up the sauce and macaroni up to 2 days before and mix it up and assemble in the 9×13 dish. Cover with foil and keep refrigerated. Then when youre ready to bake it, add the breadcrumbs and bake. In this case, since it is going into the oven cold from the fridge, add an extra 5 minutes of baking time.
How long does it keep?
Leftovers keep very well in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Can you freeze vegan mac and cheese?
Yes you can! This freezes very well.
What Is Vegan Mac N Cheese Made Of
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 its thought to be safe for those following a candida diet. I use it in my cashew Parmesan and popular vegan queso, too!
Just one tablespoon of nutrition yeast can contain up to 38 mg of niacin, which is involved in your bodys metabolism and enzyme function.
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Best Vegan Mac And Cheese Recipe
This tasty and simple pasta recipe is such a classic and traditional comfort food.
Mac and cheese is always a good idea, and this recipe is ready in no time and sure to please vegans and omnivores alike.
Its always best fresh, but can keep covered in the fridge for up to three days it heats up just fine in the microwave!
CAN YOU MAKE MAC AND CHEESE WITHOUT MILK?
But of course! This recipe using canned coconut milk makes mac and cheese that is creamier and tastier than any dairy based recipe!
I also love that its very pantry friendly and you can keep the milk on hand for whenever youre ready to cook.
This recipe is:
Make This Vegan Mac And Cheese Recipe Your Own
Another great thing about this delicious vegan mac and cheese recipe is that you can mix in your favorite veggies. I suggest either broccoli or peas for a little nutritional boost.
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How To Make Vegan Mac And Cheese
This vegan mac and cheese is ultra cheesy yet we did not use one shred of actual vegan cheese in it. So if youre living somewhere where its hard to find vegan cheese in the supermarket, no worries, this recipe is for you.
I did try a version with some vegan cheese added to the sauce, and quite honestly I just didnt think it worked as well as the version without, so this is it.
I created a bechamel sauce with some vegan butter, all purpose flour, coconut milk and vegetable stock and once that was thick and creamy like a white sauce should be, I added some cheesy flavorings in the form of dijon mustard, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.
The spices in this sauce really make it, you wont have any doubt that this is a cheese sauce. We used our cheesy garlic vegan alfredo sauce as major inspiration for this.
Add the cooked macaroni to your big pot of sauce and toss it all together and then transfer into a 9×13 baking dish, top with breadcrumbs and bake for 20 minutes until beautifully golden brown on top.
Super easy and extremely satisfying.