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:
4.94 from 82 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.

 

124 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Leah
    09.16.2021

    I am really looking forward to making this version of Mac n cheese! (Mac and cheese is my #1 comfort food)! I can’t seem to find Yukon gold potatoes anywhere though! Is there another potato I could substitute it with? Yellow potato maybe?

    Thank you!

  2. courtney
    09.15.2021

    5 stars
    Oh man!!! I made this and added chipotle and it was SOOOO GOOOD…I made the sauce first then made pasta a few days later and didn’t have much sauce left cause I kept eating it with chips ahaha…soooo good!!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.15.2021

      Ha ha, I’m so glad you loved it!

  3. Lauren Duncan
    09.14.2021

    5 stars
    This was my first time making vegan mac and cheese and it turned out even better than I expected! Going to make this all the time now. So easy and comforting! Thank you for this recipe, I’m in love

  4. Sophie LeBlanc
    09.14.2021

    5 stars
    Truly would eat this over real cheese Mac and cheese any day. Creamy and flavourful!

  5. Rachel Glasmeier
    09.13.2021

    5 stars
    We made this with Bonza’s chickpea pasta. We topped it with red pepper flakes and vegan Parmesan. Thank you so much for sharing!

  6. Marla Berlin
    09.12.2021

    5 stars
    The Vegan Cheese lives up to the hype! Flavorful and versatile. We made the recipe as is which was great but look forward to adding and substituting next time too.

  7. Matt Trentman
    09.11.2021

    We were skeptical of the vegan part of this recipe but we gave it a try and loved it. The texture and color were right on, and the flavor was great despite the lack of cheese. We can’t wait to share with friends and family.

  8. Shira
    09.10.2021

    5 stars
    This recipe is so easy to make and yummy! And it counts as extra Veg for my kids!

  9. Gretchen Kreutz
    09.10.2021

    5 stars
    Delicious recipe! We paired it with a kale salad with tahini dressing for a comforting, guilt free dinner! If in doubt, try it out!

  10. Andrea Brady
    09.10.2021

    5 stars
    So good! I added some liquid smoke and sriracha sauce and served with roasted broccoli and sweet potato.

  11. Elaine Scanlon
    09.09.2021

    This was really good – we were surprised! I made a double batch so we can use the leftovers as a dip throughout the rest of the week. I did add the smoked paprika which we all loved! Will definitely be making this again!

  12. 5 stars
    SO YUMMY! My entire family loved this recipe. What an amazing healthy, vegan option (full of B12 goodness), for this delicious comfort food. Will definitely make again! I’m shocked we have leftovers but am already looking forward to them. Thank you!

  13. Ann Marie Henry
    09.07.2021

    5 stars
    Yummy! So easy and so “cheesy”! I thought the two cloves of garlic would be too much, but it’s not. It adds a nice depth of flavor that keeps you going back for more.

  14. Lauren
    09.07.2021

    5 stars
    Vegan comfort food. This was a really hearty dish and simple to make.

  15. Kaitlyn Coroso
    09.06.2021

    5 stars
    So easy, delicious and nutritious!!😋

  16. Hannah
    09.06.2021

    Made this several times and the vegan cheese sauce is the best, not just for this but for dipping chips or nachos. Genius! I used roasted and salted cashews and it turned out fine

  17. Eve-Marie
    09.03.2021

    5 stars
    This was Delicious! I thought it would be too sweet from the sweet potato, but the vinegar balanced it very nicely.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.04.2021

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  18. Nik
    07.11.2021

    Cashew allergy sadly can they be replaced?

    • Brooke
      09.02.2021

      I can’t say in this recipe for certain, but I’ve subbed hemp hearts in other creamy things with success…I feel your pain, my daughter is allergic to cashews and sensitive to dairy, so it’s a shame they’re such a good substitute!

  19. Jen
    06.11.2021

    5 stars
    This is the best vegan cheese sauce I’ve ever made, and I’ve made MANY.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.12.2021

      Ha ha, I’m glad it was a hit!

  20. Hadley
    05.26.2021

    5 stars
    This is so good! I hadn’t found a truly yummy vegan Mac and cheese recipe before this! It’s so good! I upped the salt, nutritional yeast, and garlic amounts and added a tiny bit of hot sauce. And because it’s not solid cashews it’s also so cost effective to make! Used gluten free brown rice penne. Served it with some yummy roasted green beans! Fantastic!

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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.