Vegan mac & cheese? How can it be? Cashews are used to give the sauce a creamy consistency, and nutritional yeast brings the cheesy flavor. You won’t even know it’s dairy free! Cashews are a great source of heart healthy monounsaturated fats and nutritional yeast is a great source of B vitamins! Bonus: between the whole grain pasta, peas, and cashews, there’s plenty of plant based protein to make this a complete meal.
Why should you make vegan mac and cheese? This is a great option if you follow a vegan diet (obvi) or can’t tolerate dairy products. It can also be an easy crowd pleaser to make if any of your guests have these dietary restrictions! If you don’t have dietary restrictions, this is just a tasty #meatlessmonday meal to add in more variety! Cashew cream has quickly become one of my favorite meal additions and it is so versatile! Not only is it delicious as a “cheese” sauce for vegan mac & cheese, but you can also create cashew queso dip, creamy alfredo sauce, freeze and blend it to make a milkshake…the possibilities are endless!
So how do you take cashews and turn them into a delicious creamy cheese sauce? Well you first need to simmer them in water (or broth) with grated potato, onion, and garlic. Once they’ve softened, they can go right into the blender (careful they’re hot!) along with nutritional yeast and vinegar and whirled up to create a thick, delicious sauce! I definitely recommend a good quality blender over a food processor to make sure you get a creamy consistency.
Looking for more meatless meal ideas? Check out these 11 protein packed vegetarian recipes!
Creamy Vegan Mac & "Cheese"
- 1 box pasta whole grain medium shells
- 1 bag green peas frozen
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 onion diced
- 1 Potato medium russet; peeled and grated
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp Red pepper flakes
- 1 cup cashews
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 Tbsp vinegar white or apple cider
- Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook to al dente. Add peas to the pot right before finished cooking. Drain immediately and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until it starts to soften. Add potato, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, until potato is soft.
- Add cashews and water and simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to blender and add nutritional yeast and vinegar. Blend until smooth.
- Pour cashew mixture into pot with pasta and peas. Return pot to medium heat, stirring gently, until pasta is warm. Serve immediately.
Nutrition info is approximate and may contain errors.
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An award winning recipe developer, Dietitian Kaitlin’s mission is to empower others to reach their health goals by encouraging them to get back into the kitchen. Co-author of Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating and Cooking with Diabetes.