Easy Vegan Mac and Cheese

Amazing and easy vegan mac and cheese, made with basic pantry ingredients! This simple pasta dish is extra creamy, flavorful and comforting. It’s everything you love from regular mac and cheese.

mac and cheese in bowl

One of the best dishes I had in Europe was the vegan mac and cheese at Wulf and Lamb in London. I’ve been dreaming about it ever since, so this recipe needed to happen.

This vegan mac and cheese is made with pantry staples, so you likely have these ingredients on hand. Or at least I’m assuming you have nutritional yeast in your pantry at all times. If not, I’d highly encourage you to start. It’s a great staple in any vegan or vegetarian diet. Make sure it’s fortified with vitamin B12 – It’s one of the best plant-based sources.

ingredients
How to Make Vegan Mac and Cheese:

I promise, this recipe is so much easier than it seems! It’s done in just over 30 minutes and uses basic ingredients.

You start by cooking some onions and garlic in a saucepan. You’ll then add the cashews, potatoes, lentils, spices, salt and water to that same pan and cook it all together for 15 minutes. This will be your sauce later.

While this is cooking, boil your pasta.

Once your sauce ingredients are done cooking, add them to a blender with nutritional yeast and white wine vinegar. Blend it all together and you’ll get the creamiest vegan cheese sauce. Here you can taste the sauce and add more salt, nutritional yeast or spices to taste. You want the sauce to be extra flavorful as it will get less pronounced once mixed with the pasta.

macaroni in bowl
cashews in cup
ingredients from the top
ingredients from the top
ingredients in saucepan
mac and cheese sauce in blender
mac and cheese sauce poured on pasta
mac and cheese in saucepan
A Few Notes on the Recipe:
  • Add vegetables if you’d like! I like to add broccoli or peas with the pasta in the last 2-3 minutes of cooking. You could also stir some baby spinach in the mac and cheese. Cauliflower would be another delicious option.
  • If you want to add an extra step, try roasting some broccoli or cauliflower to serve with the mac and cheese.
  • You don’t need to soak your cashews if you have a good blender. They will soften as they boil, which will make them blend nicely into the sauce. If you have a weaker blender, soak the cashews overnight or for at least 3-4 hours.
  • I added red lentils for a little color and fiber. It’s technically optional, but if you skip it, I would reduce the amount of water added – Try 1 1/4 cup.
mac and cheese in bowl
mac and cheese on fork
mac and cheese with broccoli

This recipe is inspired by Cookie and Kate’s amazing vegan mac and cheese.

Easy Vegan Mac and Cheese

Amazing vegan mac and cheese, made with basic pantry ingredients! This simple pasta dish is extra creamy, flavorful and comforting. It's everything you love from regular mac and cheese.
Course Main Course
Cuisine vegan
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cup)
  • 3/4 cup cashews, raw or dry roasted, unsalted
  • 1 cup potatoes, peeled and diced (1 medium)
  • 1/4 cup split red lentils
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, more or less to taste
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 package (375g) macaroni
  • Broccoli or peas (optional)

Instructions

  • Heat the vegan butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder and salt. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Stir in the diced potatoes, lentils, cashews and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and let simmer, covered for 15 minutes or until the lentils and potatoes are well cooked and the potatoes are fork-tender.
  • Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cook the pasta according to package's instructions. If using broccoli or peas, add in the last few minutes of cooking to cook until just tender, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Once the potatoes, cashews and lentils are done cooking, add to a blender (with its cooking water), along with the nutritional yeast and white wine vinegar. Blend until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Taste and add more salt, nutritional yeast or spiced as needed.
  • Pour the "cheese" over the drained pasta in its saucepan. Stir together until combined.
  • Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

Notes

If you have a good blender, you may not need to soak the cashews. I didn’t have trouble getting the sauce very smooth with my Vitamix blender. If your blender is on the weaker side, soak your cashews overnight or for at least 3-4 hours.
Feel free to add more garlic, salt or nutritional yeast to taste. Taste the sauce and adjust as needed, keeping in mind that once it’s mixed with the pasta, the flavors aren’t as pronounced.
The lentils are technically optional in this recipe. They add a little color and fiber. If you want to skip it, reduce the water. Try 1 1/4 cup of water and add more to the sauce if it’s too thick once blended.

If you make this vegan mac and cheese, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! I love to hear from you guys. And of course, if you try this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram!

2 Comments

  • Andra

    Hi! Excited to try this. Do you add the cooking water along with the potatoes/cashews/lentils to the blender? Or strain them out? Thanks!

    • Nourished by Caroline

      Hi! Good question, I should have specified this in the recipe. Yes, you add the cooking water along with the potatoes, cashews and lentils to the blender. I now added this in the recipe for others too. Thank you and I hope you’ll love the recipe! 🙂

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