Winner, Winner….Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese Dinner! This dairy-free, creamy vegan mac and cheese recipe is absolutely delicious, and SO easy to make. It’s a family favorite and I’m sure it will become yours too!
It’s all about the ‘cheese’! The ‘cheese’ is non-dairy and made with cashews, water, nutritional yeast, miso or dijon, lemon and a few spices, and blends up quickly using a high-speed food processor or blender. The result is a quick and easy, ultra creamy accompaniment for just about any pasta. No need for any flour, oil or butters, just wholesome cashews and a few flavorful add-ins!
This is kid tested and was a supreme hit with my 12 year old daughter who usually turns her nose up at almost everything I make. Now had I added veggies in the bake, it would not have passed which is why this is just a simple recipe, but feel free to add in veggies like broccoli, kale, peas, etc., whatever you may usually add into your favorite mac and cheese!
As for myself, I haven’t had a mac & cheese in I don’t know how long, and I seriously could have sat and ate the whole thing myself. I especially love the crunchy topping and paired mine with a side of steamed broccoli which was terrific!
Vegan Mac and Cheese
- Use any pasta you like. I’ve used both penne and shell pasta, as well as the elbow macaroni shown here. Make this gluten-free by using gluten-free pastas made with rice, quinoa, beans or lentils.
- Cashews should be raw and unsalted, whole or pieces. Feel free to soak your cashews in water before using, they only need to soak for 2 – 3 hours in cold water or 5 minutes in very hot water, drain cashews before using. Most of the time I don’t do this, but it does aide in digestion and can be very beneficial for some.
- For the cheese sauce flavoring, the nutritional yeast will add a ‘cheesy’ flavor and nutrition, the miso (also healthy) will add an umami flavor, but if you don’t have it on hand 2 teaspoons of dijon mustard (or 1 teaspoon dried mustard) will be great too. Turmeric is used to add a nice light golden hue, but if you don’t have turmeric on hand, no worries, you’ll end up with a white ‘cheese’ sauce instead.
How To Make Vegan Mac and Cheese
- Cook the pasta according to package directions.
- Make the cheese sauce by combining the sauce ingredients in a high speed blender/food processor and blend until creamy.
- Mix it all together, add it to baking dish, top with bread crumbs and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. And if you’d rather not bake it, feel free to eat is as is without baking!
And that’s it, once done, you’ll have a perfect mac and cheese with a delicious golden, crispy topping, and tender, creamy macaroni underneath. So wonderfully comforting and delicious!
BAKED VEGAN MAC & CHEESE (+ STOVETOP)
Kid approved, this cashew based mac and cheese is so easy to put together and will be ready in under 1 hour!
- Prep Time: 10 min
- Cook Time: 35 min
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: Serves 6 - 8
- Category: Entree, Pasta
- Cuisine: Vegan
- 16 oz. package pasta of choice (works with an 12oz package too)
- paprika, garnish (optional)
For the crumb topping
- two pieces of bread or 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- tablespoon olive oil
- twist or two of the salt grinder
- 1 1/2 cups raw cashews, preferably soaked (see notes *)
- 1 1/2 cups water, plus more as needed (see notes **)
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- juice of 1/2 large lemon or 2 teaspoons vinegar
- 1 clove garlic or 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon white miso or 2 teaspoons dijon or 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch or arrowroot (will help keep it creamy), optional
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, optional*
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- dash of cayenne, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil, cook your noodles and set aside.
Bread Crumbs: While waiting for the water to boil, start with your bread topping first. I toasted two pieces of bread we had on hand really well and processed them in the food processor until crumbly, a high speed blender will work too. Place the crumbs in a small bowl, drizzle with olive oil and a twist or two of the salt grinder, mix well and set aside. Quickly rinse the processor/blender bowl and move on to the cheese sauce.
Cheese sauce: In food processor/blender, combine all of the cheese sauce ingredients and blend until creamy. Add more water, a tablespoon or so at a time, and blend again. Taste for flavor adding anything extra to suit your taste.
Assemble: Once pasta is cooked and drained. Add pasta back to the pot it was cooked in, add the cheese sauce and combine well (you can also mix it together in the baking dish). In baking dish, pour mac & cheese and top with bread crumbs.
Bake: Place in oven for 20 – 25 minutes, check after 15 minutes if crumbs are darkening too much for your liking, cover with foil.
When done, let cool about 10 minutes and serve. The sauce will thicken upon standing.
*Two ways to soak cashews: Soak in cool water for 2 – 3 hours OR soak in very hot water for 5 minutes. Drain cashews and rinse before using.
**If not soaking the cashews, add up to an extra 1/2 cup of water when making the sauce. It may seem liquidy but will thicken while baking.
If you use a smaller baking dish or use ramekins, lessen the cooking time to 10 – 20 minutes depending on the size of dish you use.
The chili pepper adds a really nice flavor without being too powerful. If your worried about the spiciness, especially for the little ones, I would suggest using the smaller amount, taste and add more if desired.
To make this gluten free use gluten-free pasta.