This vegan macaroni and cheese is the closest I’ve had to the real deal dairy version. It’s so creamy and delicious, it doesn’t feel weight-y or heavy, and it’s quick! It’s definitely a weeknight meal and feels cozy and comforting.
A few people slid into my DMs and said they were looking for vegan recipes. I was up for the challenge because I hardly ever make vegan things. And I want to!
If you’re anything like me, you have given “vegan macaroni and cheese” mad side-eye. I’m not gonna lie, when I look at vegan cheese in the grocery stores, I sort of shudder. But vegan cheese has come a long way (I love Kite Hill). ANYWAYZZZ, this recipe doesn’t include any vegan cheese, instead it relies on a potato, nutritional yeast and cashews to give it its creaminess.
I adapted this recipe from Cookie and Kate because Kate is a G when it comes to vegetarian/vegan recipes.
I made some changes, like more water, more crushed red pepper, I added some turmieric and switched around the add-ins but for the most part, give or take, the core of the recipe is hers.
How to make vegan macaroni and cheese:
- Start with the base. Heat up some garlic and onion in olive oil and cook until softened. Add the dijon mustard, turmeric and crushed red pepper flakes.
- Make a creamier base. Add a potato and some cashews with water and cook until the potato is cooked through.
- Blend! Add all this to a blender with some nutritional yeast and lemon juice and blend until smooth.
- Toss with pasta! Choose any short pasta that you like, I chose this fancy artiglanale.
- Add whatever you want and serve. I decided to sauté some kale and mushrooms and add that.
What makes good vegan macaroni and cheese?
There are a few ingredients that help get this pretty close to the real deal and make it the best vegan mac and cheese that I think are pretty important:
- Extra flavors. I think dijon and red pepper flakes help with that.
- Turmeric adds color to make it more yellow and appealing.
- Potato and Cashews! The potato was surprising to me but it really helps sort of bind the sauce and make it creamy. Cashews are always used in vegan cheese so it wasn’t surprising but it is very important.
- Nutritional Yeast. Very important to use to get that classic cheesy flavor.
Tips and Tricks:
- Experiment with more seasonings. Try adding other spices like smoked paprika and chili powder.
- Add more vegetables. The sauce itself is already fairly healthy but you can always get more vegetables in, I also like thawed frozen peas and spinach.
- Olive oil
- 4 ounces mushrooms of choice, I used chanterelles, sliced
- 1/2 batch of kale, sliced
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Pinch of turmeric, this is just for coloring so if you don’t have it, feel free to skip it
- 1 medium russet potato, peeled and grated
- 2/3 cup raw cashews
- 1 1/2 cups water, plus more at the end
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
- 1 pound pasta, of choice
- To a medium pot, set over medium heat, add a teaspoon of olive oil. When warm, add the kale and mushrooms. Cook until the kale is bright green and the mushrooms have softened, about 5 minutes. Add a few pinches of salt. Scoop the kale and mushrooms out of the pot and set aside. No need to wash the pot out, we’re gonna use it again for the sauce.
- Add an additional teaspoon of olive oil. When warm, add the onion, garlic and salt. Cook until translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Mix in the Dijon mustard, crushed red pepper and turmeric. Next, add the potato, cashews and water. Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, until the potato is completely cooked through. Transfer to a high-powered blender, along with the nutritional yeast and lemon juice. Process until very smooth, about a minute. Give it a taste and adjust the salt until you really taste the flavor. I added about 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package’s instructions, until al dente. Drain and add back to the pot. Pour the “cheese” sauce over the pasta and add the sautéed kale and mushrooms. Give it a stir and divide amongst plates.
Did you make this recipe? Let me know on Instagram!
Looking for more vegan recipes? Here are some of my favorites: