Craving a comforting (but healthy) dish? Look no further: This vegan mac and cheese recipe is equal parts delicious and nutritious. It also takes less than 30 minutes to make, so it’s perfect for those nights when you need a quick meal.
The key to this vegan dish is to use creamy, plant-based ingredients and a generous helping of nutritional yeast. Specifically, it calls for softened cashews and coconut milk, resulting in a sauce that’s packed with protein and healthy fat.
The real star of the show is the nutritional yeast, though. Also called “nooch” by the vegan community, nutritional yeast is deactivated yeast that’s been grown on molasses. It has a wonderfully umami, nutty cheese-like flavor that’s hard to resist. What’s more, nutritional yeast is an excellent source of vitamin B12, one of the most essential vitamins for vegans and vegetarians.
To learn how to make vegan mac and cheese, read on.
Vegan Mac and Cheese Ingredients
- 8 ounces dry pasta (gluten-free, if needed)
- 1 ½ cup cashews (raw, unsalted, chopped or whole)
- ¼ cup white onion, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- ¼ cup canned coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
- 1 ½ teaspoons jarred minced garlic (or 3 fresh cloves, minced)
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 cup water (plus more, if needed)
- Chopped broccoli, peas, carrots, or other vegetables (optional)
Vegan Mac & Cheese Directions
Place the cashews in a heat-safe container, like a Pyrex measuring cup or stainless steel bowl. Add boiling water until the cashews are fully submerged. Let sit for at least 15 minutes.
While the cashews are soaking, prepare the pasta according to the package’s directions.
Tip: Save the cashew and/or pasta water for the sauce.
In a high-powered blender or food processor, add all the sauce ingredients except the water.
Blend on high and slowly add the water until it reaches your desired consistency. You may need to use more than 1 cup water.
Taste the sauce. If you’d like to increase the tanginess, add more lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. You can also add more salt, black pepper, or mustard, depending on your preferences.
Pour the sauce over your cooked pasta and vegetables, if using.
Top with breadcrumbs, dried parsley, or crumbled vegan bacon. Serve immediately.
If you’re not ready to use the sauce quite yet, pour it into an air-tight container. Store in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
You can reheat the sauce on the stovetop over low heat. Add a bit of water or non-dairy milk to prevent it from getting thick or clumpy. The sauce also heats up quickly, so be sure to keep a close watch and mix it frequently.
About The Author
Kirsten Nunez is a health and lifestyle journalist who focuses on food, nutrition, and DIY. She has an MS in Nutrition and loves helping others find new ways to have fun with healthy cooking. Since 2014, she has contributed to over 15 digital publications, including Brit + Co, VegNews, and eHow. Kirsten lives in Beacon, New York.