Everyone adores this rich and creamy stovetop Vegan Mac and Cheese made with velvety smooth cashew cream sauce. Kids and adults alike will be asking for seconds of this easy one-pot meal, on the table in 25 minutes. Enjoy right out of the pot or bake with buttery breadcrumbs for extra crunch. Add broccoli for a dose of veg and serve with hot sauce!
I'm so excited to grace your tastebuds with my all time favorite lunch as of late! A creamy, dreamy, perfectly tangy macaroni flavor explosion.
The vegan cheese sauce is seriously to die for. Who's excited?! If you haven't tried my other vegan pasta recipes, don't miss my internet-famous Vegan Lasagna and Creamy Cajun Pasta!
- Pasta: We're using 8oz or half of a standard box of pasta. I like small shells or macaroni here. You can use any kind you like, like white pasta, whole grain, or chickpea/brown rice for gluten free.
- Cashews: The key to our creamy sauce, similar to how I blend cashews for my Vegan Enchiladas! Look for raw cashews for the best flavor. I've tested this recipe with roasted, salted cashews and it works but I prefer it with raw. Tip: Cashew pieces tend to be more affordable than whole!
- Nutritional yeast: This adds that token nutty, deep cheesy flavor. You can find it at nearly every store these days typically in the baking or health food section, or the bulk bins.
- Onion: Sautéed in olive oil to build the flavor base. White, yellow, or sweet onion all work great.
- Spices: We've got smoked paprika for a pop of flavor, turmeric for that yellow color, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
- Broccoli: This is optional, but I love the fun texture broccoli adds, plus a dose of veg! Fresh is ideal since we're adding to the boiling pasta water. If you want to use frozen, just steam it separately.
- Lemon juice: For a nice tangy brightness.
- Hot sauce: This adds great flavor! I like Frank's.
See recipe card for exact ingredient quantities.
Additions and substitutions
- Baked mac and cheese: Pour mac and cheese into baking dish of your choice sprayed with cooking spray. Whisk together ½ cup panko bread crumbs with 1 tbsp melted vegan butter and sprinkle onto mac. Bake at 375F for 10 minutes, until golden and crispy.
- Classic: Omit the green veggies and serve it straight up!
- Make it spicy: Add sliced jalapeños and a pinch of cayene pepper.
Hot to make (step by step)
Soak cashews in hot water.
Cook pasta according to package, adding broccoli in the last two minutes.
Sauté onion until softened. Stir in spices.
Add cashews, onion, water, nutritional yeast, hot sauce, and lemon to blender.
Blend until smooth and creamy.
Pour sauce over pasta and stir to combine.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and dig in!
- Gluten free: Use certified gluten free pasta. I like chickpea pasta or brown rice pasta.
- Nut free: Unfortunately I have yet to find a good substitute for cashews in this recipe!
How to store
Store leftovers in an air-tight container for up to 5 days. Reheat a portion in the microwave for 1-2 minutes or until hot.
Can you freeze vegan mac and cheese?
Yes! See below for more detailed instructions on how to properly freeze it.
- Allow mac to cool completely in a casserole dish or disposable aluminum pan. (You can also freeze portions in small containers.)
- Cover either with a lid or a layer of plastic wrap followed by foil.
- To thaw, refrigerate overnight. Once thawed, stir in a splash of unflavored non-dairy milk if desired to help loosen the sauce as it may separate a bit.
- Reheat in the oven or microwave. It will keep for up to 2 days after it's been frozen/
I hope you enjoy this mac and cheese as much as I do!
In my humble opinion, it's impossible to make vegan mac and cheese taste just like regular mac and cheese because...there's no cheese!
BUT....I love this dish for what it is: a wholesome, super creamy and satisfying one-pot meal of greatness.
I'd be super grateful if you'd take a moment to leave a quick star rating and review below. Comments mean the world to me and your honest feedback helps me to continue to share recipes you'll crave!Print
Ultimate Creamy Vegan Mac and Cheese
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 10 mins
- Total Time: 30 mins
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Main Meals
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegan
Everyone adores this rich and creamy stovetop Vegan Mac and Cheese made with velvety smooth cashew cream sauce. Kids and adults alike will be asking for seconds of this easy one-pot meal, on the table in 25 minutes! Enjoy right out of the pot or bake with buttery breadcrumbs for extra crunch. Add broccoli for a dose of veg and serve with hot sauce!
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 8 oz elbow pasta (I used chickpea pasta)
- 4 cups broccoli florets, chopped (from 2 medium crowns broccoli)
- ½ tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp fine sea salt (more to taste)
- ½ tsp turmeric (optional for yellow color)
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp hot sauce (like Frank's red hot)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice*
- 1 ¼ cups water
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- Optional: 2 cups spinach (or greens of choice)
- Place cashews in a small bowl and cover with very hot water. Set aside.
- Cook pasta according to package directions. When 2-3 minutes are remaining, add broccoli. Once pasta is al dente, drain and return to pot.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and a pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add garlic powder, salt, turmeric, and paprika, stirring for a minute. Carefully transfer onion mixture to a blender.
- Add greens to same pan, sautéing over medium heat for a couple minutes or until wilted. Set aside.
- Add drained cashews, hot sauce, lemon juice, water, and nutritional yeast to blender (I used my Nutribullet) and blend until very smooth and creamy.
- Pour sauce into pot with pasta and broccoli. Stir in cooked greens if using. Taste and add salt if needed (I add another ¼ tsp). I love serving with plenty of Frank's hot sauce!
Baked mac and cheese: Pour mac and cheese into baking dish of your choice sprayed with cooking spray. Whisk together ½ cup panko bread crumbs with 1 tbsp melted vegan butter and sprinkle onto mac. Bake at 375F for 10 minutes, until golden and crispy!
*I like to use 2 ½ tbsp lemon juice and ½ tbsp hot sauce for an extra kick and tang!
Kali M says
Made this tonight and it turned out really yummy. My husband even liked it too and he’s usually pretty hesitant about my dairy free recipes! Topped with seasoned breadcrumbs and baked. Can’t wait for the leftovers!
Alexis Joseph says
Heck yes! Seasoned breadcrumbs on top sounds sooo good, thanks Kali!
I made this with Trader Joe's brown rice penne and it's amazing. My toddler ate it up! Thanks so much.
So yummy and easy! Great recipe, I used banza chickpea pasta for extra protein.
Alexis Joseph says
Love it with Banza, thanks for letting me know it was a hit Shelby!
I have been making this recipe for years. It's so good and so comforting, while still being nutritious 🙂
Alexis Joseph says
Yayyy thank you so much, Dylan! The best 🙂