vegan mac and cheese

Ah, how dreamy to have a delicious, warm, comforting bowl of mac and cheese… and to have it be vegan, cholesterol free, pretty healthy, and have a punch of protein in there too! This is one of my all time favorite recipes. I’ve been working on this recipe throughout my years of being vegan. Tweaking here and there, adding more of things, taking away unnecessary things, and making it as simple and delicious as possible. This recipe is also great because it’s been a big hit amongst my dairy eating friends, they’ve had zero complaints that there was no real cheese, and many requests for more servings. I recommend you try this for your family, and even test is out on a few people to see if they can even tell thats it’s vegan. Most likely they will have no idea it’s dairy-free and they will absolutely be asking for more. 
3/4 to 1 cup carrots – roughly chopped
1 small onion (about 3/4 cup) – roughly chopped
1 cup butternut squash – roughly chopped/cubed
1 1/2 cup potatoes roughly chopped/cubed (preferably of the creamy or red variety, but if all you have is a standard idaho, thats fine too, just not preferred) 
1/2 cup raw cashews (raw, whole or pieces. I buy whatever is cheaper– usually pieces)
1 cup nutritional yeast(check your local natural food store or whole foods. almost always they will have it in the bulk bin section, where its substantially cheaper)
1/2 stick (about 6 tablespoons) vegan butter (we love earth balance) Optional: plan to set aside one table spoon for bread crumb topping.
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 to 2 cloves garlic 
a pinch of cayenne (optional)
bread crumbs (optional, for topping)
smoked paprika (optional, for topping, but we all know: in my house, smoked paprika is king)
1 package of your favorite pasta.  I’m partial to shells. 
In a large pot, combine: potato, carrots, butternut squash, and onion. Fill with enough water to slightly cover the vegetables (about 3 – 3 1/2 cups) and bring to boil. Add a generous amount of salt. Once boiling, lower heat, and allow to simmer, until all the vegetables are soft (about ten to 15 minutes, depending on the size of your vegetables)
Prepare pasta as directed on package, and set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
While your vegetables are simmering, combine: cashews, butter, garlic, lemon juice, and if you choose to use them: cayenne and turmeric. Add a heavy pinch of salt and pepper (you can add more later, after everything is mixed). Puree with immersion blender, vitamix, or food processor. You want to make sure to puree the cashews first because you want them as smooth as possible. Add a bit of the simmering vegetable water to add moisture, if necessary. Blend blend blend. Slowly, begin to add nutritional yeast and a bit more of the vegetable water and continue pureeing. Once the vegetables are ready, begin to combine those too. Add more of the vegetable water, as necessary. Don’t just pour everything in all at once. Patience and step taking is key so that you are left with a creamy mixture, and not buttery vegetable soup. More than likely you will end up using all the water anyway, just be sure to add in as necessary. Once everything has been mixed and your “cheesy” sauce has been made, add salt and paper to taste. Remember, there is no salt coming from a packaged cheese product, this is your salt, so don’t be afraid of it.  Combine “cheese” sauce and pasta and pour into an oven safe casserole dish.
If you’d like, melt the extra butter, mix with breadcrumbs, and sprinkle over mac and cheese with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, and a bit more salt. 
Cover with tinfoil and bake for ten minutes, or until slightly bubbling around the sides. Uncover and broil for one to two minutes, until breadcrumbs are brown. 
Serve hot, and enjoy 🙂 

vegan mac and cheese 1
Sometimes it’s just so good that some of it goes missing, before it even get’s photographed 😉 


  1. I cannot wait to try this recipe! My son has a nut allergy and I was wondering if I could substitute the cashews. What is the importance of them in the recipe? Thanks!

  2. Just made this today and it was so delicious! I've been running out of food ideas for my toddler and he loved it as well. Thanks for the awesome recipe! 🙂

  3. this is an amazing post! i just love your blog. i made something very similar to this tonight, with jalapeno and rosemary. mmm!

  4. Instead of using pasta have you tried using spaghetti squash? I want to try it , but wonder which tastes better!

  5. I finally made this tonight, and it was delicious! My 2-year old loved helping me make it (especially sprinkling the breadcrumbs, which she then referred to as 'sprinkles'). And then she ate a ton of it, with sides of broccoli and kiwi. I ate a ton of it too. 😉 Thank you for the recipe!

  6. I just made this and was blown away by how delicious it was! I am currently trying out vegetarianism and my boyfriend is definitely not anywhere close to vegetarian, and we both loved it and polished off an entire pan in one day. Thanks for this recipe and hope you post more!

  7. I'm a new reader so I've been reading thru old posts and I was so hoping you would share your Mac and cheese recipe! It looks so good!

  8. 🙂 thanks

    @emily: I've always added a touch of mustard in the past, this is the first time I didn't cause last time I added too much of the wrong kind and it was awful. So glad you liked it 🙂

  9. I made the mac and cheese last night. Best I've ever made. I added mustard, garlic, and liquid aminos instead of salt. Thanks a bunch for posting this! 🙂

  10. you know i love your food posts! Thanks Drea…and Marlowe is too cute in that video, my 3 year old loves the fact that Jerry is right at her feet!