The Best Vegan Mac ‘N Cheese

This lusciously creamy and rich vegan Mac ‘N Cheese is perfect for a cold winter night as an entree or side dish.  It has an easy one-minute dairy-free cheese sauce that is made in your blender with pantry ingredients you likely have on hand.  This is truly a simple recipe that you can get on your table with minimal effort.  The sauce is thick, savory and exactly what we all need from a steamy bowl of cheesy pasta.  This dish offers plant-based protein and a vegetable, making this a healthier pasta dish that you will want to cozy up to again and again.

The Best Vegan Mac N Cheese

After trying many mac and cheese recipes I have finally found the ONE!  This really is the BEST Vegan Mac ‘N Cheese I have ever had and there is no going back now.  Nothing will ever compare to this cheesy, flavorful, rich and creamy steamy bowl of macaroni and cheese.

The Best Vegan Mac N Cheese 

Here is why I’m loving this creamy, dreamy flavorful sauce (and why it makes the BEST mac ‘n cheese ever):

Vegan Mac N Cheese Sauce

  • It is super quick and easy to make.  Just throw everything into your blender and in one minute the cheese sauce is ready to rock your elbow noodles’ world.  Literally that is it.  It is just as easy (and so much more delicious and nutritious) than boxed mac ‘n cheese.  It is the ultimate lazy and comforting weeknight dinner.  
  • It contains a vegetable and plant-based protein.  The sauce has a rich flavor and smooth texture from the cashew and sweet potato base.  The sweet potato also offers the yellow-orange color you expect in a cheese sauce.  Plus, it offers a very subtle sweetness that makes this sauce.  It also keeps the sauce thick and substantial so every noodle is coated in creamy goodness.  It is so nice that in every bite you are getting a veggie and some protein.  Depending on the noodle you use you are either getting a whole grain or potentially a legume with additional protein.  You could also add a green veggie to this dish such as steamed broccoli to amp up the nutrition even more.  
  • It uses wholesome ingredients that you likely have on hand.  The sauce is made from ingredients I typically have in my pantry that are not quickly perishable which means this meal is easy to pull together without much forethought.  I always seem to have pasta (any type will work), sweet potatoes, cashews, almond milk (or any plant-based milk really), garlic and seasonings in my kitchen.  If I have the forethought to meal prep and cook the sweet potatoes in advance then that is a total bonus and makes this meal even faster.

Pouring Vegan Mac N Cheese Sauce Over Elbow Noodles

This recipe is definitely not just for vegans. 

My husband is a cheese-loving non-vegan and absolutely loves this recipe more than any mac ‘n cheese he has ever had.  True story.  And it is definitely kid-friendly too (like any mac ‘n cheese dish).  No one will detect that it contains a vegetable and is entirely plant-based.  I promise.  In fact, my 6-year-old daughter recently had a girlfriend over for dinner and she requested mac ‘n cheese.  I made this recipe for her and she asked for seconds.  The kids were ALL licking the bowls. 

Vegan and Gluten-Free Mac N Cheese Recipe

What are the health benefits of sweet potatoes?

Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite vegetables to incorporate into recipes whenever possible.  Their vibrant orange color lets you know you are getting all that immune-boosting vitamin A (also helpful for vision and bone health).  They also offer dietary fiber and potassium and are high in vitamin C.  They are convenient and versatile and somehow serve as both a comfort food and health food all at once.

Compared to russet potatoes, sweet potatoes have similar calorie content but offer more fiber.  Plus, one medium sweet potato offers almost 700% of your daily recommend intake of vitamin A, while russets offer none.  Sweet potatoes offer almost double the amount of vitamin C as compared to russets. 

Homemade Vegan Mac N Cheese Recipe

Looking for more cheesy vegan and gluten-free recipes?

If you can’t get enough of cheesy dairy-free goodness in your life you should also give my Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce and Vegan Baked Cheesy Spaghetti Squash with Broccoli a try!  

The Best Dairy-Free Mac and Cheese

Now, let’s get to making The Best Vegan Mac ‘N Cheese!

The Best Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipe

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The Best Vegan Mac and Cheese

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The Best Vegan Mac N Cheese

The Best Vegan Mac N Cheese


  • Author: Elaine Gordon
  • Prep Time: 1
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 11 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x

Description

This lusciously creamy and rich vegan Mac ‘N Cheese is perfect for a cold winter night as an entree or side dish.  It has an easy one-minute dairy-free cheese sauce that is made in your blender with pantry ingredients you likely have on hand.  This is truly a simple recipe that you can get on your table with minimal effort.  The sauce is thick, savory and exactly what we all need from a steamy bowl of cheesy pasta.  This dish offers plant-based protein and a vegetable, making this a healthier pasta dish that you will want to cozy up to again and again.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces brown rice elbow pasta
  • 1 cooked sweet potato, skin removed (3/4 cup sweet potato packed from a 15 ounce sweet potato)*
  • 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk or oat milk
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional for added cheesy flavor)**
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/16 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • Parsley, chives and flaky sea salt for garnish (optional)
  • 1/4 cup reserved pasta water as needed (see directions)

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and add pasta and 1 tablespoon of fine salt. Stir well and cook according to package instructions (mine took 10 minutes).  (For this recipe we will be reserving some of the pasta water so be sure not to drain it all through a colander.  I use a strainer to transfer the pasta from the pot into a mixing or serving bowl once it is finished cooking).  
  2. While the pasta cooks, make the cheese sauce.  Add the cooked and peeled sweet potato, cashews, water, milk, nutritional yeast (if using), garlic, onion powder, salt and cayenne (if using) to a high speed blender and puree on the highest speed for one minute.  Scrape down the sides with a mini spatula and re-blend if needed so it is silky smooth and no gritty bits remain in the sauce.  Set aside until pasta is done cooking.
  3. When the pasta is done cooking, transfer it to a large mixing bowl (be sure to save 1/4 cup of pasta water).  Pour the cheese sauce overtop the cooked and drained pasta.  Stir well.  Add the 1/4 cup pasta water to make it creamier if needed.  Divide into bowls and serve piping hot.  Garnish with chopped parsley, chives and flaky sea salt if desired.

Notes

*I cooked my sweet potato in my Instant Pot pressure cooker.  To do this, place one or more sweet potatoes on the steamer rack in the pot.  Add 1 cup of water.  Cook on manual high pressure for 19 minutes (no need to peel the potato first).  Make sure the valve is on sealed not venting.  When it is done cooking, manually release the steam.  Use tongs to transfer the potato(es) to a cutting board and slice in half lengthwise.  Once cooled you can remove the skin with your hands by peeling it back.  It should come right off without much effort.  If you do not have a pressure cooker you can also bake your potato whole in the oven.  Here is how I recommend baking a sweet potato in the oven: Place a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil on the bottom rack of your oven.  Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.  Pierce the sweet potato with a fork on one side then place directly on the middle rack (not on a baking sheet and not wrapped in foil). Bake for 40-45 minutes or until tender and the skin is thin and toasty.  Baking time will vary based on the diameter of your sweet potato.  You may need up to 60 minutes for a large sweet potato.  The bottom baking sheet will catch any drippings for an easy cleanup.  Remove from oven and pierce with a knife to ensure it is fully cooked.  Allow the potatoes to cool for 5-10 minutes for easier handling.  Slice the potatoes in half and split the flesh down the center.

** You definitely do not have to use the nutritional yeast in this recipe.  It adds additional cheesy flavor but the sauce is still incredible without it.  I typically make it without.

  • Category: Entree or Side
  • Method: Stovetop + Blender
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: the best vegan mac n cheese

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Best Vegan Mac and Cheese

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8 Comments

  1. Lauren

    Any recommendations on a substitute for cashews? My son is allergic to cashews, peanuts, pistachios.

    Reply
    • Elaine Gordon

      Yes! Great question! My six-year-old daughter actually had a cashew allergy her entire life until recently she grew out of it so I feel your pain. And pistachios although we are still awaiting the food challenge next week for that so fingers crossed. Anyways, you can try raw blanched slivered almonds (not sliced almonds). I buy them in the bulk foods section. If you don’t have a high speed blender I would recommend soaking them in boiling water first (at least one hour). This helps to soften them a bit. Please let me know if this works well for you and if you have any other questions. Good luck!

      Reply
    • Leslie

      Instead of cashews you can an use white bean. Butternut squash is a good substitute for sweet potato.

      Reply
      • Elaine Gordon

        Ooo sounds like good ideas! I will have to try sometime! Thank you for sharing 🙂

        Reply
  2. Ellen

    First, Elaine is excellent! Her recipes are delicious and so healthy! She responds back immediately and she is so caring! Secondly, the mac and cheese recipe was delicious and so healthy!!!

    Reply
    • Elaine Gordon

      Thank you so much, Ellen! So glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply
  3. Kathy

    Hi Elaine!
    I just made this recipe and the taste was absolutely fantastic. My cheese wasn’t as creamy as seen in the photos but I suspect it had to do with the fact that I used a food processor and not a high speed blender. Other than that, the texture didn’t take anything away from how delicious it was.

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Elaine Gordon

      Thank you so much! Yes, using a good quality blender is key to getting a super creamy sauce. I definitely would not recommend using a food processor in the future. You could also soak the cashews in advance to help them blend better. Glad you still liked it regardless. Hoping next time it will be even better for you!

      Reply

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