This is the BEST Vegan Mac and Cheese recipe. It’s easy to make, smooth, creamy, cheesy, and delicious.
Mac and cheese is one of those staple meals you have as a kid. I’m sure everyone has memories of eating store bought box mac and cheese or mom’s homemade recipe that was the definition of comfort food.
I used to make several different kinds, ranging from Kraft, Velveeta, Annie’s or even just melting sliced deli cheese into a pot of hot macaroni and adding milk and butter to make a cheese sauce.
It’s funny because although mac and cheese is such a children’s comfort food, it definitely doesn’t disappear from plates as an adult. Restaurants include it as a side and there’s definitely plenty of main dishes like casseroles or bacon mac and cheese.
The tough part – finding tasty vegan mac and cheese.
This has to be one of the more frustrating things about being vegan. It can be tough to find these nostalgic foods that actually taste good. I’m sure you’re like us and constantly order the same foods hoping it will be better than the last time you got it somewhere else.
This is a common occurrence when it comes to vegan mac and cheese – so inconsistent when ordering from restaurants! So that’s why we decided to make this recipe and allow us to make it delicious every time at home.
An even better reason this is awesome, is that the sauce is made almost entirely from fresh vegetables and raw nuts, so there’s plenty of nutrients to be had.
What’s in this vegan mac and cheese recipe?
The base is a few veggies:
We start with the sweet onion, the garlic and the sweet potato. These provide a lot of the flavor once sautéed. We also add soaked cashews to give a little bit of a nutty layer to the flavor profile.
Then, we use veggie broth and plant milk as the liquid base. A bit of miso paste to add some salty goodness, some olive oil to balance out the viscosity and some lemon juice to balance the salt and sweetness.
And we cannot forget the greatest addition to any cheesy vegan dish, nutritional yeast. There are myths out there that says it’s bad because there is MSG in nutritional yeast, but those rumors have been debunked and clarified many times.
In fact, there are several articles that prove there are tons of benefits to eating nutritional yeast. Nutritionfacts.org is one of our favorite resources, so check it out!
Toppings? What toppings?
This is by far the best vegan mac and cheese recipe we have ever tasted, and you can totally eat it by itself. But, we find that we like to add some toppings to make it more interesting.
Two things that go well with cheese: roasted broccoli and BACON. We took our tempeh “pancetta” recipe from our penne alla vodka recipe and altered it to use here. It adds the perfect salty smoky flavor that compliments the cheese so much.
We also added tiny pieces of roasted broccoli because why the heck not! These two toppings paired perfectly with this vegan mac and cheese recipe, but feel free to top it with whatever you’re feeling!
If you like this vegan mac and cheese recipe, try these other pasta dishes!
Vegan Baked Ziti – one of our favorite oven-crisped dishes to warm our hearts any time of the year!
Roasted Butternut and Broccolini Pasta – who doesn’t love butternut?? This recipe is packed with nutrients and will make the whole family happy!
Sun-dried Tomato Lemon Pasta – This tart, zesty pasta dish is savory and mouth watering all at the same time!
Creamy, cheesy, and nutritious VEGAN mac and cheese. Easy to make, creamy AF, and packed with healthy secret vegetables.
- 16 ounces medium pasta shells
- 1/2 cup cashews quick-soaked
- 1 medium sweet onion chopped
- 1 medium sweet potato peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 cup plant milk unsweetened
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon miso paste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil plus extra for sautéing veggies
- 1 teaspoon salt
- vegan tempeh bacon
- roasted broccoli bits
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta shells and cook according to the directions on the package. Strain and set aside.*
Add the cashews to a small pot and cover with water until just submerged. On your stove on high-heat, bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, cover the pot and remove it from the heat. Soak the cashews for 15 minutes, then drain the water and add the cashews to the blender.
Peel the sweet potato and chop into one-inch pieces. Mince the garlic. Chop the sweet onion into small pieces. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped sweet potato, onion, and minced garlic to the pan and cook until soft and roasted, about 15 minutes.
To the blender, add the soaked cashews, the sautéed veggies, and the rest of the ingredients (vegetable broth, plant milk, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, miso paste, olive oil, and salt). Blend until smooth and creamy, about 4 minutes.
Mix about half of the cheese sauce with the pasta shells and serve warm.**
* If your pasta is done early, rinse with cold water and shake out excess moisture. This will ensure that that the shells don’t stick and clump together.
** This recipe makes A LOT of cheese sauce, more than enough for a 16 ounce box of pasta. But unless you have a small blender, it’s better not to half the recipe. This way, the blender has enough ingredients to do its magic and make it extra creamy!