Did you know that this seven-year-old vegetarian food blog did not have a macaroni and cheese recipe until today? It’s true. I’ve failed you on the mac and cheese front, but I’m making it up to you with this vegan (I repeat: dairy free) mac and cheese recipe. From one cheese lover to another, I’m here to tell you that this mac and “cheese” is remarkably cheese-like and absolutely delicious.
I’ve 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 queso’s secret ingredient (grated potato), and it was just ok. Then, I went back to the potato, which makes this cashew-based queso super silky and creamy.
Nutritional yeast is key in both recipes. It offers some cheesy flavor and color. Frontier Co-Op just started offering it in smaller bottles, and after using it in this recipe, I really believe their product is superior. It has less funk than the regular store-bought brand, so if you haven’t enjoyed nutritional yeast in the past, please give it a shot.
I kept tweaking the amounts and spices until we had just the right amount of sauce for one-half pound of pasta. I’ve finally nailed it. I couldn’t help but incorporate some broccoli for some extra flavor, color and health benefits. Vegans, dairy-free friends, and cheese lovers who crave a more redeeming mac and cheese recipe from time to time, this recipe is for you.
Vegan Mac and Cheese
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings
- Category: Pasta
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Vegan
This vegan mac and cheese recipe is incredibly creamy and remarkably cheese-like! You won’t believe how delicious dairy-free mac and cheese can be. Recipe yields 2 large or 4 modest servings.
- 8 ounces whole-grain macaroni elbows
- 1 head of broccoli, florets cut into small bites (about 1 ½ to 2 cups), optional*
- 1 ½ tablespoons avocado oil or extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
- 1 cup peeled and grated russet potato (4 ounces, about 1 small or ½ medium potato), preferably organic
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon dry mustard powder
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt, more to taste
- Small pinch of Frontier Co-op red pepper flakes
- ⅔ cup raw cashews**
- 1 cup water, more as necessary
- ¼ cup Frontier Co-op nutritional yeast
- 2 to 3 teaspoons apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar, to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. Cook according to package directions. If using broccoli, stir it into the pot when just 2 to 3 more minutes remain. Drain, and transfer the contents to a large serving bowl.
- Meanwhile, in a medium-to-large saucepan, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender and turning translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the grated potato, garlic, garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder, salt and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute to enhance their flavors.
- Add the cashews and water, and stir to combine. Let the mixture come to a simmer. Continue simmering, stirring frequently and reducing heat as necessary to avoid a rapid boil, until the potatoes are completely tender and cooked through, about 5 to 8 minutes.
- Carefully pour the mixture into a blender. Add the nutritional yeast and 2 teaspoons vinegar. Blend until the mixture is completely smooth, about 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides if necessary. If the mixture won’t blend easily or if you would prefer a thinner consistency, add water in ¼ cup increments, blending after each one.
- Taste, and blend in additional salt until the sauce is utterly irresistible (I typically add at least another ½ teaspoon). If it needs a little more zip, add the remaining teaspoon of vinegar. Blend again.
- Pour the sauce into the bowl of pasta. Stir until well combined, and serve immediately. Leftovers keep well, chilled and covered, for 3 to 4 days. Gentle reheat, adding a tiny splash of water if necessary to loosen up the sauce.
Recipe adapted from my vegan queso.
Make it gluten free: Simply use your favorite gluten-free noodles.
*On broccoli: You can omit the broccoli altogether, or replace it with finely chopped kale or peas (about 1 ½ cups). If you omit it, you might not need to use all of the sauce.
**Raw cashew notes: Most recipes like this suggest soaking the cashews for 4 hours in advance to make them easier to blend and to digest. I honestly never soak mine since I have a powerful Vitamix that blends them right up. The cashews in this recipe are cooked in hot liquid, so they’re softer and even easier to blend. However, if you don’t have a great blender or if you’re concerned about the digestibility factor, go ahead and soak them in advance.
▸ Nutrition Information
This post was created in partnership with Frontier Co-op and I received compensation for my participation. Opinions are my own, always. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who support C+K!