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: