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Easy Vegan Mac and Cheese

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    Alyssa Workman

Tasty mac and cheese that’s a total cinch to make! Vegan, gluten free, and dairy free - it’s the perfect mac and cheese for a healthy lifestyle.

Two bowls of vegan mac and cheese next to a wooden spoon

Want to indulge in yummy comfort food while keeping the ingredients clean and healthy? I’m guessing you’re saying a resounding YES! Isn’t that what we all want? Clean, nutritious recipes that also taste great. This recipe is one of those that proves that eating healthy doesn’t have to suck.

This vegan mac and cheese is total comfort food that you don’t have to feel guilty about! It’s savory, rich, creamy, and topped with my favorite crispy bread crumbs made in the skillet.

What is vegan mac and cheese made of?

Since the main ingredient of mac and cheese is cheese and this recipe doesn’t have any, it’s a great question! The creamy and cheesy characteristics that make mac and cheese so yummy come from the blended cashews and nutritional yeast.

After being boiled and soaked, blending cashews turns them into a creamy base that mimics a creamy cheese. Then, the nutritional yeast provides the cheesy flavor. Combine the two and you’re on your way to a great no-cheese mac and cheese. These two ingredients are commonly found in vegan mac and cheeses.

Grid of images showing steps to make the mac and cheese

Key ingredients

Cashews: Soaked cashews are absolutely magical and when blended transform into a rich, dairy-free cream sauce.

Nutritional yeast: This is what gives the dish a cheesy flavor (plus a ton of vitamins and minerals). I love to sprinkle it over salads, too!

Turmeric: Mostly for color in this recipe, but it also provides anti-inflammatory benefits.

Smoked paprika: Smoked paprika adds a richness and depth to the mac and cheese. You can substitute with regular paprika if you don’t have smoked paprika.

Coconut aminos: The coconut aminos provide the saltiness that comes to mind when you think of mac and cheese and help to make this dish savory. Coconut aminos are made from the sap of coconut blossoms and contain 13 different amino acids! They’re a great soy-free and wheat-free substitution for tamari or soy sauce.

Spoon taking a bite of vegan mac and cheese.

Is pasta vegan?

Most of the time, yes! The one thing to be aware of is fresh pastas that contain egg. As always with any food you buy, just read the ingredients to be 100% sure. I used brown rice pasta for a gluten-free option with simple ingredients (organic brown rice and water only).

A bowl of vegan mac and cheese on a towel.

Tips for serving and reheating vegan mac and cheese

You will want to serve this vegan mac and cheese immediately. As the cheese sauce cools, it will begin to thicken. If this happens, no worries! Just add a bit of warm water and stir until the sauce loosens up a bit.

The best way to reheat this mac and cheese is to warm it over the stove and add a tablespoon or two of water to the pot. This will help the cheese sauce loosen up and become creamy again.


Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 6


  • 1 ½ c raw cashews (soaked)

  • ¾ c water

  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

  • ¼ c nutritional yeast

  • ¼ tsp turmeric

  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika

  • 1 small clove of garlic (or ½ tsp garlic powder)

  • 2 tsp coconut aminos

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 12 ounces gluten free elbow pasta

For the bread crumbs

  • 4 pieces gluten free bread

  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp avocado oil

  • Pinch of salt

  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning (optional)

Optional garnish: parsley


  1. Place the cashews in a pot and cover with water. Bring water to a boil. Once boiling, turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 15 minutes.

  2. While the cashews are soaking, place the 4 pieces of bread in a food processor and pulse multiple times until the bread is crumbly. Heat the avocado oil in a skillet over medium heat until shimmering then add the bread crumbs, salt, and Italian seasoning (if using). Toast the bread crumbs until they become dark and crispy, stirring often. Remove from heat and set aside.

  3. Cook the elbow pasta according to the instructions on the package. Make sure to not overcook the pasta.

  4. Once the cashews are done soaking and while the pasta is cooking, make the cheese sauce. Add the soaked cashews, water, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, turmeric, smoked paprika, garlic, coconut aminos, and salt to the blender. Blend on high for 3-5 minutes or until very smooth.

  5. Once the pasta is done cooking, drain and return it to the pot. Stir in the cheese sauce and serve immediately, sprinkling some bread crumbs over each serving. (I recommend storing the bread crumbs separately from the mac and cheese instead of stirring them into the whole pot so they don’t become soggy.)