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, gluten free, easy to make and actually cheesy with no potatoes, squash or nutritional yeast!
This recipe is 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. Not to mention it’s way better than the Amy’s and Trader Joes vegan and and cheese! You’ll never go back to store bought.
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 vegan mac and cheese
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 the 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!
The best vegan cheese
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 not very good, but Follow Your Heart, VioLife and Field Roast (the creamy original is great), are all good brands that taste delicious.
How to store
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!
Frequently asked questions
Do I have to use vegan butter?
This recipe calls for 2 tbsp of vegan 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. The butter definitely gives it a more classic flavor.
Can I make it nut free?
I haven’t tested this recipe without cashews, but since we’re making more of a cashew milk vs a cashew cream, you can likely omit the cashews and water and sub for 2 1/2 cups of your favorite plant-based milk. My suggestion for this would be soy, just make sure it is unsweetened.
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.
What vegan cheese is best?
Do I have to bake it?
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.
Just be sure to cook the pasta fully since it won’t have more time to cook in the oven.
Try these next!
- Vegan White Wine Cream Sauce
- Vegan Pumpkin Pasta
- One Pot Spanish Rice
- Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese
- Baked Buffalo Cauliflower
The Ultimate Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese
by: claire cary
- 16 ounces pasta of choice I used gluten free
- 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
- 1/4-1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp paprika
- black pepper to taste
- Optional: 1/2 cup breadcrumbs for topping I used gluten free
- 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 salted 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 or add more water to thin it out.
- 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!