This isn’t just any vegan mac and cheese, this is THE (baked) vegan mac and cheese that puts all the other ones to shame. It’s rich, creamy, easy to make and actually cheesy with no potatoes, squash or nutritional yeast!
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Ooooooook you guys. I’m almost at a loss for words for how to describe this recipe. Delicious doesn’t seem to do it justice, so I’ll just try to explain myself in more than one word.
It’s most definitely not like any other vegan mac and cheese recipes out there. While I love a good potato, cashew, squash and nutritional yeast based sauce from time to time, it’s not really mac and cheese.
Us food bloggers tend to call it that because it takes the place of the traditional version, but it’s just not the same and I’ll be the first to admit that.
This one, however, IS the same. It’s rich, creamy, *actually* cheesy, delicious baked or not baked, FULL of flavor, kid approved, and made with some of the best vegan cheeses on the market. This is the REAL deal and is designed to please anyone and everyone whether or not dairy is excluded from your diet.
If you aren’t really into vegan or dairy free cheeses, I fully understand your reservations (this sweet potato mac is for you), but the ones used in this recipe are truly so, so good. They’re not sweet or artificial tasting, just cheesy and delicious!
How to make this recipe
The first step is to add cashews to a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soak for 30 minutes. If you’re using a regular blender and not a high speed blender (like a vitamix) you may want to soak them for a bit longer or just process them for longer to ensure they’re completely blended.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
During the final 10 or so minutes of soaking the cashews, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. This is one case where you actually want to slightly undercook the pasta because it will continue to cook in the oven. However, if you aren’t going to bake it, cook it as usual.
When the cashews are done soaking, drain and rinse and add to a high speed blender with 3 cups of water. Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds to 1 minute depending on your blender.
Add in all remaining ingredients. It helps to cut the cheese into chunks and separate each slice so it’s not all stuck together. If you notice anything getting caught in the blade, just use the tamper tool and mix everything up.
Blend until completely smooth, about 1 full minute. Taste with a cooked piece of pasta and adjust seasonings as desired.
Combine the sauce with the pasta and then transfer to a baking dish. This recipe makes quite a bit of sauce, so if there is any extra, drizzle it on top of the pasta before putting in the oven. It gets bubbly and crispy and so delicious!
Sprinkle with breadcrumbs if desired and put in the oven uncovered for 15-20 minutes.
After 15 minutes, set the oven to broil and let broil for a few minutes to crisp the top. Be sure to watch it closely because broiling can burn things quickly!
Serve warm and enjoy!
Tips to make it perfectly!
- Once prepared, this baked vegan mac and cheese will keep in the fridge for about 5 days. It reheats really well and manages to stay cheesy. I would suggest leaving it in the container you bake it in and cover it with foil, then pop it back in the oven at 300 for about 10 minutes or until it’s nice and warm!
- When making the sauce, start with ¼ tsp of turmeric, and add more if you want to deepen the color. The orangey color darkens when the mac and cheese bakes, so avoid adding too much turmeric to the sauce.
- This recipe calls for 2 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp of oil. You can use all of one or the other, but I think using some of each gives the best flavor.
- A lot of vegan mac and cheese recipe are made from potatoes, squash, nutritional yeast etc. to (try to) give it a cheesy feel. That never really satisfied my dairy free cheesy need, so this one is made from actual vegan cheese! It does have cashews to make it creamy, but there is no cashew taste to the final sauce.
- While there are a lot of other cheeses that you can use in place of the ones I listed, using different ones will change the flavor slightly. Some vegan cheeses are (unfortunately) not very good, but Follow Your Heart, VioLife and Field Roast (the creamy original is great), are all good brands that taste delicious.
- While this recipe is technically for baked vegan mac and cheese, you don’t actually have to bake it! I fully understand if you’re just so hungry and need to eat it right now, I’ve been there, trust me. Just be sure to cook the pasta fully since it won’t have more time to cook in the oven.
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The Ultimate Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese
- 16 ounces pasta of choice
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 3 cups water
- 2 tbsp dairy free butter*
- 2 tbsp olive oil*
- ½ – 1 pack Violife Mature Cheddar Slices* (depending on how rich you want the flavor)
- 1 pack Follow Your Heart American Style Slices*
- 1 pack Follow Your Heart Provolone Style Slices*
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp arrowroot powder
- ¼-1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp paprika
- black pepper to taste
- Optional: ½ cup breadcrumbs for topping (gluten free as needed)
- Add cashews to a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soak for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- During the final 10 or so minutes of soaking the cashews, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. This is one case where you actually want to slightly undercook the pasta because it will continue to cook in the oven. However, if you aren’t going to bake it, cook it as usual.
- When the cashews are done soaking, drain and rinse them and add to a high speed blender with 3 cups of water.
- Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds to 1 minute depending on your blender.
- Add in all remaining ingredients. It helps to cut the cheese into chunks and separate each slice so it’s not all stuck together.
- Blend until completely smooth, about 1 full minute. Taste with a piece of pasta and adjust seasonings as desired.
- Combine most of the sauce with the pasta and mix well. Transfer to a large baking dish. Save about 1 cup worth of the sauce and pour over top the pasta once it’s in the baking dish.
- Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and put in the oven uncovered for 15-20 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, if you want to crisp the top up more, set the oven to broil and let broil for a just few minutes. Be sure to watch it closely because broiling can burn things very quickly!
- Serve warm and enjoy!
This recipe is adapted from Mississippi Vegan.