This vegan cauliflower buffalo mac and cheese is the perfect football Sunday appetizer or dinner recipe. It’s easy to make, rich, creamy and completely dairy free!
It’s that time of year where I put buffalo sauce on everything and anything in sight. Avocado toast, chickpea salad, cauliflower, and now mac and cheese!
This vegan baked cauliflower buffalo mac and cheese is rich, creamy, perfectly spiced and SO easy to make. It’s the perfect recipe for the Super bowl!
Both Kraft and Annie’s make vegan mac & cheese, but it’s so much better making it from scratch. This vegan mac & cheese is made with a base of cashews, cauliflower, buffalo sauce, vegan butter, non-dairy milk and nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor.
I decided to put the cauliflower right into the sauce itself, because sometimes I just don’t want vegetables impending on my mac and cheese eating experience, ya know?
If you want, you can make my buffalo cauliflower wings and stir them right into the mac though! If you love this recipe, try my buffalo taquitos next!
How to make vegan mac and cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions.
Add the cauliflower florets and cashews to a pot and cover with about an inch of water.
Cover and let steam until the cauliflower is fork tender. When it’s done, drain off the excess water and add to a blender.
Add in all remaining ingredients aside from the breadcrumbs and blend until completely smooth. Start with a lower amount of buffalo sauce and add more as needed.
Some are much spicier and saltier than others, so taste and adjust as needed.
When the sauce is ready, pour over your cooked pasta and stir to combine. Serve as is, or move onto the next steps for baking instructions!
Transfer to a baking dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
Broil for about 2 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Keep an eye on it, all ovens are different and broiling can turn to burning very quickly!
Serve with chopped scallions and enjoy!
Instead of baking this like traditional mac and cheese, I just opted to broil it for a couple of minutes instead.
When you bake it, I find that the sauce can dry up a bit and get absorbed by the noodles. I like to keep it nice and saucey and cheesy, so just broiling for a few minutes will give you a crispy top without drying out the inside.
If you prefer to bake it, just preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for about 20 minutes.
How to store
Once prepared, this recipe will keep in the fridge for about 3 days. You can reheat it in the oven, microwave or stove.
This vegan mac and cheese is also freezer friendly! If you use gluten free pasta like I did, it will likely fall apart when you reheat, but the flavor will still be delicious.
Simply freeze in a freezer safe container, let thaw in the fridge, then heat until warm!
BUFFALO SAUCE. I used the Medium one by the brand The New Primal, but any buffalo sauce will do! Some are much saltier and spicier than others, so start small and add more as needed.
CASHEWS. If you can’t have cashews, you can sub for extra cauliflower instead. The sauce won’t be as rich or creamy, but it will still be delicious. You can also add in some tahini for the same creamy feel.
MILK. Any kind of plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk will work. My favorites to use in savory recipes are almond and soy.
BUTTER. I like using a dairy free butter for a richer flavor, but you can sub for olive oil if you prefer.
Try these next!
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Vegan Buffalo Mac and Cheese
by: claire cary
- 16 ounces pasta of choice I used brown rice pasta
- 2 cups cauliflower florets fresh or frozen
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 ½ cups plain/unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 3-6 tbsp buffalo sauce see notes
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- ⅓ cup nutritional yeast
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp paprika
- ¼ cup olive oil or vegan butter
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ⅓ cup breadcrumbs I used gluten free
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions.
- Add the cauliflower florets and cashews to a pot and cover with about an inch of water.
- Cover and let steam until the cauliflower is fork tender. When it's done, drain off the excess water and add to a blender.
- Add in all remaining ingredients aside from the breadcrumbs and blend until completely smooth. Start with a lower amount of buffalo sauce and add more as needed.
- Some are much spicier and saltier than others, so taste and adjust as needed. Mine was fairly mild, I ended up adding about 6 tbsp, but some spicier ones you probably only need about 3.
- When the sauce is ready, pour over your cooked pasta and stir to combine. Serve as is, or move onto the next steps for baking instructions!
- Transfer to a baking dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
- Broil for about 2 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Keep an eye on it, all ovens are different and broiling can turn to burning very quickly!
- Serve with chopped scallions and enjoy!
YUM! Just made this for dinner, without the cashews & it was still very creamy + delicious. Thank you Claire! Xoxo.
Jessica McManus says
I have a nut allergy, so cashews are a no-go for me. What are your thoughts in sunflower seeds as a substitution? Same prep method and everything.
Claire Cary says
Everything about prep/method else will be the same, but I can’t guarantee the flavor profile will work well. You can also try adding silken tofu to get the same creamy feel or just use extra cauliflower, though it won’t be as rich.
We made it for Valentines Day. It was delicious!
Claire Cary says
Perfect! So happy you enjoyed it!
Amazing!! I used 1 tbsp of Buffalo sauce the first time and it definitely wasn’t enough. I used 3 tbsp the 2nd time and it was perfect!!! Our 3 kids – ages 7, 5, and 3- who are not usually fans of vegan “cheese”- DEVOURED it! I mean several bowls each.
Claire Cary says
That sounds perfect! Kid approved recipes are the best 🙂
Where is the Cheese for Vegan mac&cheese Do you use any kind of Cheese or vegan
Claire Cary says
No, it’s the cashew based sauce with nutritional yeast for the cheesy flavor. Feel free to add some vegan cheese if you want!