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We might be biased, but this super creamy, vegan mac and cheese is hands down the best vegan mac and cheese recipe you’ll ever make. Made with a seriously delicious vegan cashew cheese sauce with nutritional yeast, this stovetop vegan mac and cheese is pretty much the best thing we’ve ever made.
The Best Vegan Mac and Cheese
You guys. Say hello to possibly my favorite savory recipe of all time: tMind-blowing Vegan Mac and Cheese.
Before you pass this off as some vegan alternative to the “real deal,” let me just say I love cheese. 1-year aged Manchego. Humboldt Fog. Triple cream brie. Espresso Bellavitano. Vermont Creamery Goat.
I mean…I love cheese ok?! And yet, I still LOVE THIS VEGAN MAC AND CHEESE.
So whether you’re vegan or a cheese fiend like me, you’re going to devour this vegan mac and cheese.
What is Vegan Mac and Cheese Anyway?
Vegan mac and cheese is essentially the same thing as regular mac and cheese, so…pasta with a cheese sauce, duh. BUT it isn’t made with cheese. That being said, it still tastes like macaroni and cheese AKA the ultimate comfort food. And as long as it tastes good, we don’t care what you make it with.
We’re spilling the beans on how to make cheese sans cheese and hint…it’s cashews.
How Do You Make Vegan Mac and Cheese?
So how do you make cheesy pasta without cheese? The answer is cashews and nutritional yeast.
I know, I know, it sounds crazy, but hear me out. The creamy, dreamy texture of this vegan cheese comes from soaked cashews, while nutritional yeast gives this cheese sauce all the cheesy goodness of the traditional version.
Nutritional yeast: We love Bob’s Red Mill Nutritional Yeast. It’s what gives this sauce it’s cheesy flavor and it’s packed full of vitamins and minerals!
Raw cashews: The cashews will give this sauce that dreamy creaminess that usually comes from cheese and milk. Simply soak the cashews to soften them up and they’ll blend right up into a thick and creamy sauce.
Dairy free milk: We used almond milk, but any neutral flavored nondairy milk would work! Cashew milk or pea milk would be great, but I’d steer clear of coconut or soy milk which tend to have a bit of an after taste. Make sure you are using an unsweetened version without any vanilla or other flavorings as this will lead to a funky after taste.
The perfect blend of spices: We used garlic powder, chili powder, onion powder, and paprika to give this vegan mac and cheese the kind of deep flavor profile that you would get from using a blend of cheeses.
It has that home cooked, stovetop mac and cheese taste without any dairy cheese. Top it off with some toasted bread crumbs and fresh thyme and you are in for a real treat!
Pro Tip: You could also easily make this vegan macaroni and cheese gluten free by subbing gluten free pasta (we love brown rice pasta!) and breadcrumbs!
What is Nutritional Yeast?
What makes this mac and cheese so special is the nutritional yeast. My absolute favorite is Bob’s Red Mill’s Nutritional Yeast, because the flavor is unbeatable. It mimics the taste of real cheese more than any other nutritional yeast I’ve tried, and the umami flavor is really pronounced, meaning even though it’s technically vegan, it has a deep, rich flavor.
And if you’re into this vegan mac and cheese, you’ll love this vegan queso too!
Our tips for the best vegan mac and cheese
This vegan mac and cheese is a pretty straight forward recipe to make, but these few tips will guarantee you perfect macaroni and cheese every time
Use a high powered blender: The key to that creamy, cheesy texture is really blending your cashews up until they are super smooth and creamy. We have a Vitamix, but any high powered blender will get the job done.
Soak your cashews until they are super soft: The smoooshier your cashews are, the easier it will be to blend them up into your cheese-free cheese sauce!
Cook your pasta al dente: The pasta will continue to cook in the oven so you’ll want to make sure it’s underdone to prevent it from getting too mushy!
What to serve this vegan mac and cheese with
While this vegan mac and cheese is plenty filling and nutritious on its own, I also love serving it with a big salad and roasted broccoli or another veggie to really complete the meal. I also sometimes makes this with chickpea or lentil pasta to pack it with protein that will leave you feeling super full and satisfied!
This mac is the creamiest, dreamiest pasta ever. And this cheese-lover is, well, obsessed.
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil for the pasta. Carefully scoop out a cup of water and pour it into a smaller bowl over your cashews. Soak cashews for 15 minutes in water until soft.
Cook pasta for 7 minutes, until al dente. You don’t want your pasta to be fully cooked, as it will continue to cook when you bake it later on. Drain pasta and set aside.
In a small bowl stir together all the spices and salt.
Drain cashews and transfer to a blender or food processor. Add in the spices, nutritional yeast and 2 cups of the almond milk. Blend on high speed until creamy. Add in remaining cup of almond milk and blend again. Mixture will be thin, but this is correct!
Toss pasta with vegan cheese sauce, then pour mixture into a baking pan (we used an 8″x11″ oval baking pan). Set aside.
To make the breadcrumb topping, heat the vegan butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add in panko breadcrumbs and thyme and cook until fragrant and lightly golden. Sprinkle over macaroni.
Cook for 10 minutes, then remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before devouring!!!!!!
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This post is sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill. All text and opinions are 100% my own. Thank you for continuing to support the brands who help make Broma possible!