Written by Caitlyn Brenner
Whether you are a long-time vegan, just getting started, or interested in incorporating a few more plant-based recipes into your life, you have come to the right place. At this point, there are a decent number of vegan mac & cheese options on the market as well as many homemade recipes. If you are anything like me, you love a good mac & cheese and you want it to be right. You should not have to give up comfort and taste when going plant based.
I have not tried every mac & cheese option out there, but if I’m being honest, I’ve had my fair share of less than impressive vegan mac & cheese options. That is not to say that there are not good ones on the market, but you have to work your way through a few before you find a good one. Today I hope to save you a little bit of that trouble by sharing my favorite homemade recipe with all of you.
The benefit to this recipe over a boxed version at the store is that it is made from whole food ingredients that are inexpensive and recognizable. You will feel better eating a mac and cheese when you actually know what’s in it. Again, this is not to knock the boxed vegan mac & cheese options out there. They are great if you are feeling extra lazy and want that familiarity of boxed mac & cheese. And there are some pretty convincing ones out there, but it does make you wonder… what’s in this that makes it taste like this? How did they get it so yellow? Instead, here is a healthy, delicious, plant-based mac & cheese recipe that will only leave you wondering, “how did I not find this sooner?”
Double bonus, you can use this cheese sauce recipe for so many other dishes. Loaded nachos, breakfast casseroles, cheese fries… the possibilities are endless. This recipe does call for nutritional yeast. If you have never heard of it, don’t feel bad, I hadn’t either before going plant based. You can find it at most large supermarkets or at a health foods shop. If you don’t have either of those around you, you can also get it online through various retailers like Amazon (personally I like the Bragg’s or Now brand flakes).
Nutritional yeast is different from bread yeast, and it’s great for plant-based cooking because its fortified with B vitamins and it adds a “cheesy” flavor to your dishes. Obviously its great for mac & cheese but I honestly put it on everything as a sort of vegan parmesan. If you don’t have this, its not absolutely necessary to this recipe, in that the sauce will still work, but it will definitely be lacking in the cheese flavor. However, it would still make for a great pasta.
That’s enough from me. Let’s get into the recipe.
One box of macaroni noodles (or pasta of choice)
1 cup potatoes (peeled and diced)
1/3 cup carrots (diced)
¼ – ½ cup diced yellow onion (depending on how much onion you like)
1 cup of water from boiled veggies
½ cup soaked cashews
4 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tsp salt
1 Tsp black pepper
½ Tsp garlic powder
Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
1. Cook the pasta noodles according to box instructions
2. In a medium to large pot, bring 3 cups of water to a boil
3. Add potatoes, carrots, and onions in the pot to boil until tender (approx. 10-15min)
4. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and add the veggies to a blender
5. Add the reserved water to the blender along with the drained cashews* and remaining spices
6. Blend until smooth
7. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot
8. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta, stir, and serve
9. Feel free to top with more salt and pepper if desired as well as any other toppings*
*It is not necessary to soak the cashews. I just find that it helps them to blend more smoothly, especially if you do not have a high-powered blender. You can either soak them in water the night before, or just soak them in boiling water for about 10 min while everything else is cooking.
*This would be great with other mix ins if you want to spice things up. You could add in more veggies like broccoli or even cooked tofu if you are feeling extra indulgent. Just add these to the pasta after the cheese sauce.
I hope you enjoy!