An easy vegan mac and cheese recipe with a deliciously creamy dairy-free cheese sauce. This vegan mac and cheese comes together in a few simple steps making it the perfect weeknight comfort food.

healthy-vegan-mac-and-cheese

Who else grew up on the blue box mac and cheese?! We’d have Kraft mac and cheese from the box every single Tuesday per my request growing up. I’d always opt for the fun shapes over the elbows because I was convinced they tasted better. Plus, picking out the Rugrats and Spongebob shapes just made meal time 100x more fun. Every week I’d look forward to the glowing orange pasta.

I can’t remember the last time I can mac and cheese from the box. But I’m okay with that because I have this recipe for vegan mac and cheese. While it’s not traditional since there’s no cheese, it has everything you want from mac and cheese —a rich, creamy, cheesy-tasting sauce coating warm al dente noodles.

It’s 100% plant-based. It uses real food ingredients like nutritional yeast, cashews, potatoes, and carrots to create a silky smooth cheese sauce. I might even go as far and say it’s the best vegan mac and cheese (at least, that I’ve ever had!). Try it out and see what you think!

How To mAke Vegan Mac and Cheese

This mac and cheese sauce is based on my recipe for The Best Vegan Queso. If you take a look at the ingredient list, you’ll never guess that they turn into such an amazing cheese sauce. Most dairy-free mac and cheeses rely on cashews for a smooth, creamy texture. While this works, I don’t find it ideal. They’re often too thick and rich with an odd underlying sweetness from the cashews. Not this cheese sauce!

The secret ingredients to make this mac and cheese sauce velvety smooth, while still being rich and creamy is the combination of potatoes, carrots, and a touch of cashews. The starch from the potatoes and carrots create the perfect silky, smooth yet gooey cheese texture.

To make this mac and cheese, you’ll start making the sauce. All this requires chopping a few ingredients, boiling some water and blending! The potatoes, carrots, and cashews get boiled together for 10 minutes. Then add the boiling mixture into the blender with the rest of the ingredients and blend until completely smooth. Pour the warm sauce over your favorite noodles and you have cozy plant-based dinner ready in less than 30 minutes.

healthy-vegan-mac-and-cheese

healthy-vegan-mac-and-cheese
healthy-vegan-mac-and-cheese
healthy-vegan-mac-and-cheese

Nourished by Nutrition Facts

NUTRITIONAL YEAST

This star ingredient is the secret to giving dairy-free dishes a “cheesy” flavor. Aside from its unique taste, nutritional yeast is a nutrition powerhouse. These little yellow flakes pack in the plant-based protein and are a good source of fiber and B vitamins – especially B6, B12, and folate. Just 1/4 cup has 9 grams of complete protein and 4 grams of fiber. Plus, most nutritional yeast on the market today is fortified which helps ensure you’re getting even more nutrients in such a small amount.

CASHEWS

Cashews have a rich, slightly sweet taste. They make for a great snack but are also incredibly versatile. Raw cashews can be blended with water to make easy no-strain nut milk or blended with a variety of ingredients to make delicious dairy-free creamy sauces. Cashews are an excellent source of healthy monounsaturated fats, which are considered heart-healthy fats that are essential to lowering LDL-cholesterol while increasing HDL-cholesterol levels. They’re also rich in minerals like copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, iron, and zinc. It’s important to make sure you are eating enough iron and zinc-rich foods on a plant-based diet, which makes cashews a great option!

CARROTS & POTATOES

Your body needs carbohydrates. Here at Nourished by Nutrition, we believe carbohydrates are a healthy part of your diet and shouldn’t be feared. Carbohydrates include whole grains, legumes, fruits and veggies like carrots and potatoes. Both carrots are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which boost the nutritional value of this plant-based queso.

The carrots are a good source of beta carotene (which converts to vitamin A in the body), vitamin K, biotin, B6, potassium, and fiber. They’re also packed with lutein. This antioxidant is predominantly found in yellow and orange carrots and is important for eye health.

Potatoes are an excellent source of potassium and vitamin C. They’re also one of the few foods that contain resistant starch. This type of starch is considered a fiber that feeds the good bacteria in your gut. Resistant starch helps improve digestive health and blood sugar control. (1, 2)

healthy-vegan-mac-and-cheese

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Vegan Mac and Cheese

An easy vegan mac and cheese recipe with a deliciously creamy dairy-free cheese sauce. This vegan mac and cheese comes together in a few simple steps making it the perfect weeknight comfort food.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 3 1/2 cups 1x
Scale

Ingredients

12 oz elbow or shell noodles of choice (I used brown rice noodles)

1 cup diced russet potato

1 cup diced orange or yellow carrots

1/2 cup raw cashews or sunflower seeds

3 cups vegetable stock or filtered water

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 teaspoon dijon mustard

2 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon sea salt + more to taste

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon arrowroot powder (optional – makes it thick and velvety)

Instructions

To make the cashew cheese sauce: Combine the potatoes, carrots, cashews and vegetable stock in a medium saucepan. Bring the liquid to a boil for 10 minutes.

Add the hot liquid to a vented high-speed blender. Add in the nutritional yeast, lemon juice, dijon mustard, garlic, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Blend until smooth. If using the arrowroot starch, add this in and blend again. The sauce will thicken the longer it sits.

Cook the noodles to al dente according to the directions on the package. Drain noodles, then add back to the pot. Pour in the cheese sauce and mix to coat. Serve immediately.

The cheese sauce can be made in advance and heated on the stove before adding to the cooked pasta. I recommend making a full batch of cheese sauce and making the pasta fresh instead of keeping leftover pasta. However, you can keep the mac and cheese in an airtight container for 5 days.

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

I’d love to hear how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #nourishedbynutriton.