Easy, cheesy, but entirely dairy free, this sweet potato vegan mac and cheese is sure to be family favorite. It’s rich and creamy without feeling too heavy and perfect for meal prep! Plus, it’s ready in 30 minutes and gluten free!
I bet you didn’t think I could come up with yet another vegan pasta recipe, yet here we are!
I already have a few vegan mac and cheese recipes on the blog, like this baked vegan mac and cheese made with actual vegan cheese instead of nutritional yeast, but I figured it would be a good time for a really simple recipe using pantry staples!
This recipe features cashews and sweet potato as the base. The cashews give the perfect creamy consistency while the sweet potatoes give a natural orange color to the cheese sauce.
But I promise, thanks to the nutritional yeast, this recipe tastes cheesy and nothing like sweet potatoes!
There are a few different steps to this recipe, but they all overlap so it all comes together in just about 30 minutes. A perfect, easy and plant based dinner!
How to make vegan mac and cheese
Add the cashews to a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soak for about 20-30 minutes while we prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Peel the sweet potato, chop into cubes and measure out about 2 cups worth. I used just shy of 2 cups since that’s what I had. It doesn’t need to be exact, just make sure you peel them since the skins add a deep earthy flavor that we don’t want in the sauce!
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. Any pasta works here, I used brown rice pasta to keep it gluten free.
Be sure to salt the water pretty heavily. This adds a lot of flavor to the pasta and helps the sauce adhere to it better since this can sometimes be a challenge with GF pastas.
Add the sweet potatoes to a pot and cover with water. Boil for about 10-15 minutes or until fork tender.
Roughly chop the onion and mince the garlic. Add to a pan with the olive oil. They don’t need to be perfectly chopped since they’ll all get blended up anyway. Saute for about 5 minutes or until the onions start to look translucent.
Once the cashews have softened, add to a blender with 2 cups of water and blend until completely smooth and creamy, about 1 full minutes. This will be our cashew milk and will yield a very creamy consistency that’s much better than using store bought milk!
Add in the onion/garlic and the drained sweet potatoes to the blender once they are done.
Add in all remaining ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and add any additional salt, pepper or other seasonings as desired.
Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta and stir to combine. Top with red pepper flakes, chopped chives & enjoy!
While this recipe is perfectly perfect as written, if you want to make it even better, bake it!
To do so, once the pasta and sauce are well combined, transfer to an oven safe baking dish, top with breadcrumbs and bake uncovered at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes or until the top starts to bubble and get golden brown.
To really brown the tops, broil for about 1-2 minutes, but be very careful since broiling can very easily burn things if you don’t keep a close eye!
How to store, freeze and reheat
Once prepared, this vegan mac and cheese will store in the fridge for about 3-5 days. Let it cool, then transfer to an air tight container for best results.
To reheat, just add it back onto the stovetop with a splash of non-dairy milk to get it creamy again and just heat until warm.
You can heat it in the microwave as well, but also add a splash of milk and cover with a paper towel to prevent the pasta from drying out.
You can definitely freeze this recipe once prepared, but gluten free pasta will fall apart a bit when you defrost and reheat. Store in small containers, then let defrost and reheat on the stove or microwave.
Soy sauce: I know soy sauce/tamari seems like an odd ingredient for mac and cheese, but it adds a really nice savory flavor and a touch more saltiness.
I promise it’s a very small amount and won’t change the color of the sauce!
Sweet potato: If you don’t have sweet potato, you can sub for butternut squash or pumpkin! This will change the flavor slightly, but will still be delicious.
Butter: You don’t need to use butter, but I recommend it! I used Miyoko’s dairy free butter and added that both to the blender when making the sauce, and to the pasta before adding the sauce to ensure the noodles don’t stick together.
You can sub for olive oil or leave it out if that’s just not your thing!
This recipe makes quite a bit of sauce, but because I used gluten free pasta, I used all of it.
Because of the different starches in gluten free pasta, it has a tendency to get a bit dry as it sits, so I always save a bit of sauce on the side to keep when I heat up any leftovers.
If you don’t like really saucy mac and cheese, just start by adding half the sauce and add until it reaches your desired consistency.
Try these next!
Vegan Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese
by: claire cary
- 16 ounces uncooked pasta
- 2 cups peeled and cubed sweet potato about 1 medium sweet potato
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 2 cups water
- 1 medium yellow or white onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon dijon mustard
- ⅓ cup nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce/tamari
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter
- Add the cashews to a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soak for about 20-30 minutes while we prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Peel the sweet potato, chop into cubes and measure out about 2 cups worth.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. Any pasta works here! Be sure to salt the water pretty heavily. This adds a lot of flavor to the pasta and helps the sauce adhere to it better.
- Add the sweet potatoes to a pot and cover with water. Boil for about 15 minutes or until fork tender.
- Roughly chop the onion and mince the garlic. Add to a pan with the olive oil. They don’t need to be perfectly chopped since they’ll all get blended up anyway.
- Saute for about 5 minutes or until the onions start to look translucent.
- Once the cashews have softened, add to a high speed blender with 2 cups of water and blend until completely smooth and creamy, about 1 full minute.
- Add in the onion/garlic and the drained sweet potatoes once they are done.
- Add in all remaining ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and add any additional salt, pepper or other seasonings as desired. I usually start with 1/2 tsp of salt but end up adding an additional 1/2 tsp since the salt somehow enhances the cheesy flavor!
- Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta and stir to combine.
- Top with red pepper flakes, chopped chives & enjoy!