A creamy, cheesy, comforting Vegan Mac and Cashew Cheese recipe! This simple, healthier version is made dairy-free with a protein-rich cashew cheese sauce. (Vegan, oil-free, gluten-free option.)
Sometimes you just need a big bowl of creamy, cheesy, comforting mac and cheese.
And this recipe brings you comfort food made healthier! It's completely dairy-free with a creamy cashew cheese sauce.
Plus it's rich in plant-based protein, fiber, and iron.
I also enjoy adding broccoli to this dish (mac and cheese with trees!) It's a delicious pairing and nice nutrient boost.
Ingredients for Cashew Mac and Cheese
For this recipe you will need a high-speed blender or food processor and these ingredients:
- Pasta of choice: Be sure to use gluten-free pasta if desired. I like to use brown rice shells, elbow macaroni, or other small pasta for this recipe.
- Raw cashews: I use organic, unsalted raw cashews. We will soak them first to help them blend better and achieve a creamier sauce.
- Nutritional yeast: This provides the rich, savory, cheesy flavor.
- Vegetable broth: Be sure to use low sodium if desired. You could also try substituting the broth with dairy-free milk (plain & unsweetened) for an even creamier sauce. (But I haven't tested this yet.)
- Fresh lemon juice: You will need 2 tablespoons for this recipe, which is about a half lemon.
- Apple cider vinegar
- Smoked paprika: Be sure your pantry spices are fresh (not expired) for best flavor.
- Dried onion powder
- Dried garlic powder
- Ground turmeric: This helps give the sauce that classic yellow color.
- Salt: I use fine grain salt. You can also stir in black pepper to taste.
Flavors: Change up the vegan cheese sauce as you see fit! Add white miso for umami flavor, vegan butter for richness, a teaspoon Dijon mustard, or whatever other spices and seasonings sound good.
Vegetables: Serve a bowl of this vegan cashew mac with steamed broccoli, peas, or whatever else sounds good.
Note: This makes a fairly large batch (about 8-9 cups) so be sure to halve or reduce the recipe if you prefer!
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. We find they keep for about 2-3 days. Simply reheat in the microwave when ready to enjoy.
Want a flavorful twist? Check out this amazing vegan Mexican Mac and Cheese as well!
For more inspiration, also browse all easy vegan dinner recipes.
Vegan Mac and Cheese (with Cashew Sauce)
- 12 oz. small pasta (gluten-free if desired)
For the cashew cheese sauce:
- 1 cup raw cashews (soaked*)
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
- 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp. onion powder
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1/4 tsp. salt (more/less to taste)
- Cook pasta according to package instructions, leaving al dente (slightly firm, not mushy). Drain when finished.
- Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce: Place all sauce ingredients in a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.
- In a large pan over medium to medium-low heat, add cheese sauce. Heat for about 6-7 minutes, stirring often until slightly thickened.
- Add drained pasta and stir well. Cook for 3 minutes or until sauce is desired thickness. Serve while warm.
Nutrition Per Serving (Estimate)
Sodium: This is omitted as I cannot provide an accurate number. I encourage you to calculate your own to provide a much more precise reading based on the exact ingredients, brands, and amounts you're using.
If you are enjoying this vegan cashew mac and cheese recipe, also check out:
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This was a super delicious weeknight meal! Served this with the recommended steamed broccoli and it was a hit. We all loved the flavours in this dish, and I appreciated how simple it was to make after a busy work day. Thanks for sharing another yummy recipe!
Great to hear from you again, Jennifer! Love that you gave this a try, and so glad it brought some comfort after a busy day. Sending all my best and wishing you and your family a lovely rest of the week!
Made this tonight with steamed broccoli and it was super delicious! Will definitely make again!
So great to hear, Sabrina! Thanks for giving it a try and sharing your very kind feedback!
This looks fantastic. I use a cashew based sauce as well. One tip I learned from a friend: reserve some of the water used to cook the pasta. When you transfer the sauce to the stovetop, if you want to smooth out the texture use the pasta water. It is now starchy and will serve as a thickener so you can make the sauce smooth without making it runny. Just discovered your website and am loving it. Thanks!
Kaitlin | The Garden Grazer
Excellent tip - thanks for sharing!