This Vegan Mac and Cheese recipe is the most delicious that you'll ever try! It's made with a creamy cashew-based sauce, topped with charred breadcrumbs, and is an easy weeknight dinner that's ready in 30 minutes.
Disclaimer: This post was created in partnership with Bernzomatic. As always, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting brands that help me run this site!
I'm so excited to finally be sharing my favorite way to make vegan mac and cheese. I've been making this recipe on repeat for the past year because it's an easy weeknight meal and a great dairy free pasta option, so I'm not sure how or why it's taken me so long to share it.
Also, I'm curious as to how you're doing lately? I've found that some days I'm at a loss for how to occupy myself other than work, while other days I seem to be able to find a nice balance.
On good days, I cook, clean, exercise, go on walks, read, and watch TV. One thing I haven't be doing much of is cooking meals with "extra" ingredients. Instead, I prefer basic recipe with lots of flavor, which is exactly what this vegan mac and cheese recipe is.
The mac and cheese is cooked over the stove, then sprinkled with breadcrumbs and charred for a few seconds with the Bernzomatic TS8000 torch, which gives an awesome flavor to the dish, and an easy, quick finish!
Vegan cheese ingredients
Onion and garlic: Most mac and cheese recipes call for garlic powder and onion powder, which are totally fine, but I prefer using actual onion and garlic because I think the flavor is better. Don't worry about the "lumps" in the sauce they create because you'll be blending everything in a blender later in the recipe process.
Vegan butter: What's mac and cheese without butter?! Butter, milk and cheese are the three *key* ingredients, so of course you need butter in this recipe. I almost always use Earth Balance vegan butter, but any brand will work.
Non-dairy milk: ANY dairy free milk will work, but my personal favorites are almond or oat milk.
Nutritional yeast: Nutritional yeast is what gives the vegan cheese sauce its cheesy flavor! You can find it in the bulk section at the grocery store and it's relatively inexpensive.
Cashews: Make sure to use raw cashews, not salted. Cashews are going to make the cheese sauce nice and thick vs. thin and runny, so they're essential to this recipe.
1- Start by cooking the pasta as you normally would over the stovetop. At the same time, you want to boil the cashews for about 15 minutes so that they become soft enough to blend easily in the blender.
2- While both of those things are happening, make the sauce. Add 2 tablespoons of butter, the diced onion, garlic and smoked paprika to a large skillet or dutch oven, then sauté for 2-3 minutes. Then, add the remaining butter and milk and bring the whole mixture to a simmer before slowly stirring in the nutritional yeast.
3- Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and set it aside. Once the cashews have boiled for 15 minutes, strain them and pour just the cashews into a blender. Add the rest of the sauce mixture as well, then blend them together for about 1 minute. The result should be a creamy, yellow-colored sauce.
4- Pour the sauce back into the skillet/dutch oven, then stir in the cooked pasta. Sprinkle the entire dish with breadcrumbs (I used gluten free), then use your Bernzomatic TS8000 torch to char the breadcrumbs for about 10 seconds, which adds even more flavor to the dish. The best part is that there's no baking involved, so after this step, the mac and cheese is done and ready to eat!
FAQs and Tips
- Boil/soak the cashews: This step can be done ahead of time! Simply pour the cashews into a bowl, fill it with water so that the cashews are completely covered, then place the bowl in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. If you're in a hurry, go the boil route and boil the cashews for 15 minutes instead.
- Adjust the spice to your liking: The recipe calls for ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika, which adds a bit of a kick, but if you want to increase the spiciness, add an additional ¼ tsp, and then sprinkle the whole thing with your favorite hot sauce before serving.
Can I omit the nutritional yeast?
No! The nutritional yeast is a must because it's what gives the sauce the "cheesy" flavor.
Do I have to use gluten free pasta?
Nope! Use whatever pasta you have in your pantry 🙂
What should I serve with macaroni and cheese?
Great question--here are some ideas:
More vegan pasta recipes
If you made this recipe, please leave a comment and star rating below. Thanks!
Creamy Vegan Mac and Cheese
- 16 oz. pasta*
- 1 cup raw cashews soaked
- ¼ cup vegan butter divided
- ¼ cup yellow onion diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 cups dairy free milk
- ½ cup nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- black pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoon Panko breadcrumbs*
- Cook pasta over the stovetop as you normally would. At the same time, add cashews to a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil cashews for 15 minutes, which will help soften them.
- Meanwhile, heat a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoon butter, onions, garlic, and smoked paprika and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the milk and remaining butter and bring mixture to a simmer, then slowly stir in the nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes; remove from heat.
- Once the pasta is done cooking, drain it and set aside. Once the cashews are done boiling, drain them and pour the cashews into a blender. Pour in the sauce, and blend mixture for 1 minute. The result should be a thick and creamy sauce! Pour the sauce back into the skillet/dutch oven, then stir in the pasta.
- Sprinkle breadcrumbs over top, then use your Bernzomatic TS8000 torch to char the breadcrumbs for about 10 seconds. Enjoy!
Do you have to use the vegan butter in the sauce?
Technically no, but it's not going to taste as similar to mac and cheese without it.