Vegan Mac and Cheese

The BEST vegan mac and cheese recipe! With a creamy, cheesy sauce made from sweet potatoes and nutritional yeast, it's just as good as the real thing.

Vegan mac and cheese

When I’m craving comfort food, this vegan mac and cheese recipe is the first thing I make. It calls for a handful of ingredients that I almost always have on hand, it’s quick and easy, and it’s absolutely delicious. The creamy sauce is rich, luscious, and filled with nutty, tangy cheddar cheese flavor. Even Jack, who LOVES classic mac and cheese, will happily devour a bowl (or two) of this plant-based pasta any day.

In the past, I’ve made dairy-free mac and cheese with coconut milk, cauliflower, or a big scoop of cashews, but this recipe is my favorite by far. The super creamy sauce still contains a small amount of cashews, but its base is blended yellow potato and sweet potato. The yellow potato gives it a delightful gooey texture, and the sweet potato makes it vibrant orange. Apple cider vinegar, garlic, onion powder, and nutritional yeast perfect its cheesy taste. It’s fun, yummy, and even healthy too! I think you’re going to love it.

Potatoes, sweet potatoes, cashews, and nutritional yeast

How to Make Vegan Mac and Cheese

  • First, make the vegan cheese sauceSimmer sweet potatoes and potatoes until tender. Then, drain them, and add them to a blender with raw cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic, onion powder, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, water, and olive oil. Puree until smooth.
  • Next, cook the pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook it according to the package directions, until al dente. Before you drain the pasta, set aside 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water.
  • Finally, toss it all together! Return the cooked macaroni to the pot and add the cashew cheese. Stir to combine, adding the reserved pasta water, as needed, to loosen the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve the vegan mac and cheese with a simple veggie side dish like roasted broccoli, roasted Brussels sprouts, lemony green beans, or roasted cauliflower. Enjoy!

Pouring vegan cheese sauce onto macaroni

Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipe Variations

  • Swap the sweet potato. If you don’t have sweet potato on hand but you still want to try this recipe, don’t worry. An equal amount of diced carrot or butternut squash would work just as well.
  • Make it smoky. Blend 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, to taste, into the vegan cheese sauce for a smoky twist. Or, for texture, stir in a handful of crumbled tempeh bacon bits!
  • Spice it up. Make spicy vegan mac and cheese by pureeing the sauce with 1 tablespoon pickled jalapeños or a chipotle pepper from a can of chipotles in adobo.
  • Go gluten-free. Use your favorite gluten-free pasta! I like to use brown rice elbow macaroni.
  • Add extra veggies. Of course, this vegan mac and cheese tastes good on its own, but adding extra veggies certainly doesn’t hurt. Stir in thawed frozen peas, spinach, or steamed broccoli for a bright pop of green.

How do you like to make your vegan mac and cheese? Let me know in the comments!

Best vegan mac and cheese recipe

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Vegan Mac and Cheese

rate this recipe:
4.95 from 100 votes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves 3 to 4
The BEST vegan mac and cheese recipe! Sweet potatoes, potatoes, and cashews blend into a luscious, creamy sauce with a crave-worthy cheesy flavor.

Ingredients

For the vegan cheese sauce

For the mac and cheese

  • 12 ounces elbow macaroni
  • sea salt, to taste

Instructions

  • Make the vegan cheese: Place the Yukon Gold potatoes and sweet potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Add a few pinches of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until fork-tender, 8 to 12 minutes.
  • Drain the potatoes and transfer to a high-speed blender with the garlic, cashews, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast, onion powder, salt, olive oil, and water. Blend until smooth.
  • Make the mac and cheese: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare the pasta according to the package instructions, cooking until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking water before draining.
  • Drain and transfer the pasta back to the pot. Stir in the vegan cheese sauce, adding up to ½ cup pasta water to loosen the sauce, as necessary. Season to taste and serve.

 

144 comments

4.95 from 100 votes (41 ratings without comment)

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Jess Wright
    05.24.2024

    Does blending the potatoes not make them gummy?

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      05.24.2024

      Hi Jess, nope! We love the gooey, creamy texture of this sauce.

  2. Tammy
    05.02.2024

    5 stars
    I saw this recipe in the “you may like these too…” section while I was looking at another recipe.

    I have been wanting to try a WFPB mac and cheese for about a year. When I saw this recipe and realized I had all ingredients on hand, I made it.

    I am eating while leaving a comment. LOVE AND LEMONS! OMGOSH! This is so very good. My very skeptical husband swiped his finger into the cheese sauce and then did it three more times.

    I followed the recipe to the letter. I am in awe. I will make this again and again! I added some black pepper to my individual dish and I can’t believe this tastes as good as Mac and Cheese I remember from childhood.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      05.02.2024

      Hi Tammy, what a sweet comment! I’m so glad you love the recipe!

  3. Anna
    04.28.2024

    Can you use more sweet potato in place of the white/yellow potato? Or a different vegetable? We are on a diet elimination for my daughter to determine some sensitivities and regular potatoes are currently out for us.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.29.2024

      Hi Anna, yep, you can! The starch in the white potato helps recreate that gooey cheese texture, but it’s still creamy and delicious with all sweet potato.

  4. Mindy
    04.20.2024

    Hi, would it work if I added diced tomato’s? Or would that break the consistency of the sauce? Thanks!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.20.2024

      Hi Mindy, I don’t think it’s necessary – if canned tomatoes, I would cook the sauce more.

  5. Lisa Colucci
    04.13.2024

    5 stars
    Toddler approved 🙏 thank you for the simple and delicious recipe!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.20.2024

      Ha, I’m so glad!

  6. Jacqueline
    03.31.2024

    5 stars
    Time tested and the best mac and cheese recipe I have ever had. We have made this a few times now and it comes out perfect every time. We follow the recipe exactly. I love how fast it comes together too and that it is dairy free, but tastes so traditional and comforting without being heavy. I am happily carrying our firstborn little miracle and had a craving for mac and cheese. This satisfied that craving so well and it felt good knowing that it was full of healthy vitamins and nutrients. We served it with Chicken Sofrito and roasted asparagus. (we are not vegan but love vegan recipes the best for sides). Thank you so much for this great recipe. I know it will be a family favorite as our little one grows up.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      04.05.2024

      Hi Jacqueline, thank you for this sweet comment! I’m so glad you love the recipe.

  7. Anne
    03.29.2024

    Would russet potatoes work in this recipe?

    • Molly
      04.11.2024

      5 stars
      I just made it with a russet as I forgot to set aside a couple Yukons earlier in the week. I think it worked quite well!! I haven’t tried it with the Yukon potatoes but I can see how they would make the sauce a little more gooey. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out though!

  8. Mary Lou
    03.18.2024

    Can the sauce be frozen

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      03.21.2024

      Hi Mary Lou, it can, but it separates as it thaws. For the best consistency, I’d let it thaw overnight in the fridge and then reheat it on the stovetop, adding water as needed until it’s creamy.

  9. Michelle W.
    03.03.2024

    Is there a good substitute for the Yukon gold potato? I’m not seeing those near me. Would yellow potatoes be a good option or white?

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      03.08.2024

      Hi Michelle, yellow potatoes work great!

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Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.