This super creamy and cheesy vegan mac and cheese recipe will take you straight back to childhood!
Vegan Mac And Cheese – The Ultimate Vegan Comfort Food
Growing up, my mom was usually the one who cooked for us, preparing elaborate and wholesome meals from scratch, with plenty of vegetables.
But every now and then, my dad would take over the kitchen. One of my absolute favorite lunches he’d make us was boxed Kraft macaroni & cheese, which I called “cheese soup” because he’d always add extra milk so there was twice as much cheese sauce.
Although I haven’t eaten the Kraft version in years, I still love my mac and cheese with A TON of extra cheese sauce.
Serve me a bowl of homemade macaroni drenched in so much creamy cheese sauce that you can’t even tell there’s pasta in the bowl, and you will never hear me complain!
How To Make Vegan Mac And Cheese
The vegan macaroni and cheese recipes out there are definitely hit or miss… and the bad ones are really bad.
I remember back when I first went vegan, trying a recipe that attempted to mimic the cheesy taste by using a combination of nutritional yeast and Dijon mustard. The recipe claimed to taste JUST LIKE REAL MAC AND CHEESE! Spoiler alert: it didn’t even come close.
I’ve also tried some restaurant versions or packaged varieties (not naming names) so far away from tasting anything like mac and cheese that I honestly don’t know how they ever made it onto shelves. With this simple vegan mac and cheese recipe today, I’m not going to tell you it tastes exactly like Kraft or Velveeta, but it is absolutely delicious in its own right and completely satisfies even my strongest mac and cheese cravings.
The recipe received a resounding stamp of approval from every non vegan who’s tried it, which is hugely important to note, because if someone who remembers what traditional mac and cheese tastes like says it’s good, you know it must be true!
I’m not saying vegans have inferior taste buds (obbbbviously my taste buds are super awesome), but I do admit that sometimes we can get excited about a dish simply because a plant-based version is offered. I can think of quite a few examples of this from over the years, especially with things I’ve ordered at restaurants.
(Those vegan cannoli that tasted like someone who’d clearly never been to Italy had simply stuffed vanilla frosting into a cannoli shell… were they they best cannoli I’d ever had in my life? No. But on the other hand, I got to order vegan cannoli on a restaurant menu!!!! So actually yeah, best cannoli ever!)
The cheese sauce can be used with much more than just pasta. If you’re on a keto or low carb diet or simply don’t feel like boiling noodles one night, feel free to use the sauce as a cheese dip or pour it over steamed veggies, rice, or even spaghetti squash. (My recommended method for cooking spaghetti squash can be found here: How To Cook Spaghetti Squash.)
You can also bulk up the mac and cheese by stirring steamed or roasted veggies in at the end. I especially love adding steamed broccoli. Or give the pasta a protein boost by adding crumbled tempeh or your favorite protein of choice.
Pretty much any noodles will work here – I’m partial to tube noodles because they trap more cheese! For the photos, I really wanted the recognizable Kraft pasta shape but couldn’t find it anywhere, so I ended up buying boxed vegan mac and cheese and used my own sauce recipe instead of their packet.
Unlike many other dairy free macaroni and cheese recipes, this one has no butternut squash or cauliflower, although I do have recipes for both of those elsewhere on the blog. To add thickness and creaminess without flour or heavy cream, I turned to cashews this time, which gives the sauce a rich and velvety texture. I’ve also linked a nut-free option in the recipe, or you could always just use my nut-free and soy-free Vegan Cheese Sauce if you’d prefer. With mac and cheese, it’s good to have options.
Finally, if you’re crazy like me and want to drown your pasta in a gallon of cheese sauce, feel free to make a double batch!
Vegan Mac And Cheese
Adapted from Creamy Red Pepper Alfredo
Vegan Mac And Cheese
- 1/2 cup raw cashews or macadamias (Click for a Nut-Free version)
- 1 medium peeled carrot, steamed or roasted (80g)
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, OR cheese style shreds as desired
- 1 tsp white or cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup water, plus more for soaking
- optional 2 tsp buttery spread or oil, for richness
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 3 servings pasta of choice, or you can put the sauce over veggies or use it as a dipping sauce
Completely cover the nuts in a bowl with water. Let soak anywhere from 2-6 hours, or refrigerate and soak overnight. Drain fully. Combine all ingredients (including 1/2 cup water, but not including the optional cheese-style shreds), and blend in a blender or with an immersion blender until completely smooth. Transfer to a small pot and heat to your desired temperature, stirring optional cheese shreds in at the end. Taste, and add extra seasonings (onion, salt, nutmeg, pepper) if desired – I like to add another 1/2 tsp salt and a pinch more nutmeg. Serve over cooked pasta, rice, veggies, etc.
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