This post contains affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.
The Ultimate Vegan Mac and Cheese ~ super creamy, rich and oh-so dreamy! It takes less than 30 minutes to make and it's gluten-free.
I've been on a little comfort food kick lately, and I'm taking it all in before the warmer weather hits. I love having comforting foods to keep me warm and this Ultimate Vegan Mac and Cheese is the perfect way to do it.
WHAT MAKES IT THE ULTIMATE?
Well, it's super creamy, velvety-smooth, rich, mouth-watering, and the cheesiest mac in town! This is a family favorite and we enjoy it at least once a week, along with BBQ Cauliflower Wings and roasted veggies. It's the perfect combination and total comfort on a plate!
DOES VEGAN CHEESE TASTE LIKE DAIRY CHEESE?
It really depends on the recipe you make or the brand that you buy. Either way, it won't taste exactly like dairy cheese, but many recipes or brands come pretty darn close. It also depends on the person and their taste buds. If you're just switching to non-dairy cheese, things may taste off, but your taste buds do adapt.
In my opinion, this Vegan Mac and Cheese is twice as delicious than any dairy cheese sauce I've tried in the past. Also, it's worlds healthier, and 100% kinder than its animal-based counterpart. It's worth giving it a try and decide for yourself.
WHAT'S IN VEGAN MAC AND CHEESE?
There are lots of ways to make a vegan cheese sauce. I love using cauliflower, cannellini beans, or butternut squash for a healthy and creamy sauce. But, for this Vegan Mac and Cheese recipe, I used potatoes, soy milk, and cashews for a creamy texture and carrots for a cheddar cheese color.
The tangy cheese flavor comes from nutritional yeast (a.k.a nooch) and fresh lemon juice. I like to keep it simple, but feel free to amp up the flavor with dijon mustard, miso paste or apple cider vinegar.
This sauce has a slight stretch to it like dairy cheese and that's created by tapioca starch. It's the magical ingredient that turns your delicious cheese sauce into a melty, stretchy, vegan miracle!
I sautéed fresh garlic in vegan butter before adding the cheese sauce to the pan. It makes everything more savory and gives a buttery-garlicky kick. If you aren't into butter or fresh garlic flavor, you can definitely omit the step entirely. I would add at least ½-1 teaspoon of garlic powder to the sauce though and stir it often so it doesn't burn.
HOW TO MAKE VEGAN MAC AND CHEESE
(SCROLL DOWN FOR FULL PRINTABLE RECIPE)
STEP 1 - Boil the potatoes, cashews, and carrots until tender. Drain and set aside.
STEP 2 - Cook the macaroni until al dente then drain well.
STEP 3 - Blend up the cheese sauce ingredients until creamy and smooth.
STEP 4 - Sauté fresh garlic in vegan butter until golden.
STEP 5 - Pour in the sauce and heat up until thick and stretchy
STEP 6 - Add the macaroni to your sauce and combine.
WHAT GOES WITH VEGAN MAC AND CHEESE?
Well, it's a meal on its own, but it goes nicely with Salads, Roasted Veggies, Vegan Cole Slaw, or Baked Beans. For fun, you can top it with Green onions, Chives, Ketchup, Hot Sauce, Salsa and more. There are no rules so have fun!
CAN VEGAN MAC AND CHEESE BE FROZEN?
I prefer to just freeze the sauce and make the macaroni fresh so the noodles aren't soggy on the reheat. However, if you want to freeze it all together for meal prepping, just make sure to slightly undercook the macaroni so it's not too mushy on the reheat.
To freeze just the sauce, completely cool it and store it in an airtight container in the freezer for 4-6 months. When ready for use, thaw it in the fridge overnight and use within 1-2 days. Reheat on the stove over medium heat and add a few splashes of vegetable broth to thin it out. Stir often to prevent burning and lower heat if needed.
MORE VEGAN CHEESE RECIPES FOR YOU TO TRY:
And here are 12 more Vegan Cheese Recipes from ChooseVeg. They look scrumptious!
I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU
If you make this Vegan Mac and Cheese, let me know what you think by ★ star rating it and leaving a comment below. It would really make my day. You can also follow me on Instagram and share your creation with me. Just tag me @veganhuggs and hashtag #veganhuggs so I don’t miss it.
Vegan Mac and Cheese
- ½ cup raw cashews
- 16 ounces dried elbow macaroni , gluten-free or regular
- 1 cup potato , peeled & chopped into 1-inch pieces
- ½ cup carrots , chopped
- 1 cup unsweetened soy milk (or any plant-based milk)
- ¾ cup vegetable broth , low sodium
- ¾ teaspoon granulated onion
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt , more to taste
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 2-3 tablespoons nutritional yeast , more if preferred
- 2 ½ tablespoons tapioca flour/starch *See note
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice , more to taste
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- Boil the cashews, potatoes, and carrots until tender (about 8-10 minutes). Drain well and set aside.
- Place macaroni in a large pot of salted boiling water. Cook until al dente and according to package directions (about 9-10 minutes). Drain and set aside.
- Place all ingredients in a high-powered blender (except garlic & butter). Blend until potatoes, carrots & cashews have completely broken down and sauce is smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Set aside.
- Heat up butter in a large pan over medium heat. When melted, add garlic and sauté for 30-60 seconds, until lightly golden and fragrant (be careful not to burn).
- Pour in the cheese sauce and cook for 4-6 minutes until sauce thickens up and becomes slightly stretchy. Stir often to prevent burning. If it's too thick, add a splash of broth. Taste for seasoning and add more if needed.
- Now add pasta and gently toss to coat. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
- I usually start blending the sauce 5 minutes before the pasta will be done. This way the pasta isn't sitting too long, and it will be hot & fresh when it goes into the sauce.
- To make it easier, cook potatoes, cashews and carrots the night before and pop them in the fridge.
- If you'd like a thinner cheese sauce, use only 2 tablespoons of tapioca starch, or omit it altogether. The sauce will still be rich and creamy. Tapioca starch provides extra thickness and a slight "cheesy" stretch.
- The cheese has a very smooth and creamy texture. So, if it comes out a bit grainy, you may need to blend longer. If it's still grainy, your blender may not be strong enough to pulverize the cashews completely smooth.
- If you'd like to add another layer of flavor to the sauce, you can try ½-1 teaspoon of miso paste, apple cider vinegar or dijon mustard. Blend it up with the cheese sauce.