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Try this creamy vegan mac and cheese recipe, made with all whole foods! A luscious cashew sauce blankets tender noodles, creating cozy pasta comfort food that everyone will love.

Vegan Mac and Cheese

Craving that glorious comfort food, without the dairy? Turns out this golden hug in a bowl can be just as delicious with no cheese at all! Try this vegan mac and cheese recipe! Our rendition explodes with creamy decadence using only whole food ingredients like cashews, sweet potato, and canned artichokes to make a cheesy sauce that is just as satisfying as the real thing! Our kids absolutely love this one and everyone eats heaping bowls. Here are a few tips on how to make it!

Ingredients in this vegan mac and cheese recipe

There are loads of vegan mac and cheese recipes out there. As two cookbook authors who started publishing vegan and vegetarian recipes back in 2010, we love seeing the growth of interest in plant-based foods! There are lots of vegan mac and cheese recipes on the internet and in cookbooks, and most contain nutritional yeast. While it adds a cheesy flavor, we find nutritional yeast can add bitterness to vegan recipes. For this reason, we’ve developed a recipe without it, and it’s just as tasty! Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

  • Cashews
  • Sweet potato or carrot
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Yellow mustard
  • Garlic powder, onion powder, and turmeric
  • Kosher salt
  • Vegan butter
  • Macaroni
Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipe

Steps for making vegan mac and cheese

Vegan mac and cheese can’t rely on the typical roux-based cheese sauce like a standard mac and cheese. Cashews add richness and sweetness to a blended sauce that brings in major savory flavor. Here are the basic steps for this simple sauce:

  1. Boil the cashews and sweet potato: Peel and finely dice the sweet potato. Then boil it with the cashews for 15 minutes. This softens both so they can create a silky smooth sauce.
  2. Blend: Blend the boiled cashews and sweet potato with artichoke hearts, seasonings, water and vegan butter. It’s helpful to have a high speed blender to make it very creamy, but any style of blender works.
  3. Boil the pasta: Meanwhile, liberally salt pasta water and bring it to a boil. Add the macaroni and boil until al dente.
  4. Mix: Mix the sauce with the noodles.
  5. Bake (optional): If desired, top with a breadcrumb topping and bake 15 minutes at 350°F. This helps to infuse additional flavor into the noodles.

For the breadcrumb topping

This vegan mac and cheese is delicious as is, but the breadcrumb topping takes the flavor over the top! It adds a crunch of texture and a salty, smoky pop to each bite! You’ll just need to toast the breadcrumbs lightly in vegan butter with the seasonings for a few minutes prior to adding them. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Panko (plain): Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb mixture that is airier and lighter than traditional breadcrumbs. We like using panko because it’s light and crunchy, and adds a great texture as a topping.
  • Vegan butter
  • Garlic powder
  • Smoked paprika
  • Kosher salt
Vegan Mac and Cheese recipe in pan with breadcrumb topping

Baked mac and cheese option

This mac and cheese recipe works as a stovetop mac and cheese, but when we have the time we like baking it. Baking infuses the savory flavors from the sauce into the noodles, which is helpful with a plant-based sauce. Simply bake for 15 minutes at 350°F until headed through.

Storage and leftovers

Vegan mac and cheese stores well in the refrigerator. Leftovers last up to 4 days refrigerated, and you can reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave. If desired, add a splash of oat milk or non-dairy milk if it is too thick.

Ways to serve vegan mac and cheese

Make vegan mac and cheese into a meal by adding a salad or sauteed vegetable! Here are a few ideas for serving alongside:

Vegan Mac and Cheese

More vegan recipes

This vegan mac and cheese recipe is a favorite in our collection of vegan recipes! Here are a few more plant-based meals we love:

This vegan mac and cheese recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, and dairy-free.

Print
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Vegan Mac and Cheese

Vegan Mac and Cheese


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 1x

Description

Try this creamy vegan mac and cheese recipe, made with all whole foods! A luscious cashew sauce blankets tender noodles, creating cozy pasta comfort food that everyone will love.


Ingredients

Scale

For the mac and cheese

  • 1 ¼ cups raw unsalted whole cashews
  • 1 cup peeled, finely diced sweet potato (about 6 oz) or peeled sliced carrots (about 2 medium carrots)
  • 15-ounce can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¾ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional, for color)
  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 12 ounces small elbow macaroni (2 ¾ cups small elbows)

For the breadcrumb topping (optional)

  • ½ tablespoon vegan butter
  • ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  1. If making baked mac and cheese, preheat the oven to 350°F. 
  2. Place the cashews and sweet potato* or carrot in a pot on the stovetop and cover with 2 inches water. Bring to a boil, then boil for 15 minutes (if using carrots, add them after the first 5 minutes).  Drain the cashews and carrots in a strainer. 
  3. Meanwhile, fill a large saucepan with water and add 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Boil the pasta until al dente, then drain it and return to the pot or a baking dish. (If it finishes before the sauce, add a drizzle of olive oil to keep it from sticking.)
  4. If making the breadcrumb topping, melt the butter in a small skillet, then add the panko garlic powder, smoked paprika, and kosher salt and stir. Toast until lightly browned, stirring often, about 2 to 3 minutes. 
  5. Once the cashews and sweet potato are cooked and drained, place them in the bowl of a high speed blender. Add the drained artichokes, mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, butter, and water. Blend on high until creamy and fully combined into a smooth sauce. 
  6. Stir the sauce into the noodles in the pot or a baking dish. Top with breadcrumbs if desired, and serve immediately. For baked mac and cheese (best flavor), place the mac and cheese in a baking dish and top with breadcrumbs. Bake for 15 minutes and serve warm. 
  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Pasta
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Vegan mac and cheese, vegan mac and cheese recipe

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Sonja and Alex Overhiser, husband-and-wife cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share from-scratch recipes and inspire cooking with people you love! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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