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.
- 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 (Learn more about How (and Why!) to Soak Cashews in this post)
- 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)
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
*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.
- Prep Time: 1
- Cook Time: 10
- Category: Entree or Side
- Method: Stovetop + Blender
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: the best vegan mac n cheese