This rich and creamy vegan mac and cheese without cashews is made completely plant-based, vegan and nut free thanks to a combination of sweet potatoes, nutritional yeast and a few spices. This easy pasta recipe will become a favourite weeknight meal!
This recipe was originally published in April 2019 and has been updated with new photos and content.
There is honestly nothing more comforting than a big bowl of mac and cheese and this recipe yields a velvety sauce without the dairy and without cashews or any nut as a substitute.
We’re using a few ingredients in this one to make sure that there is big flavour in each mouthful. This is much more than your everyday hidden vegetable pasta sauce!
The secret to making a really ‘cheesy’ mac and cheese without using actual cheese is the addition of nutritional yeast. This magic ingredient gives the sauce a rich, deep, cheesy flavour that will make you want to lick the bowl clean.
One thing I do love about this recipe is that while it ticks all the boxes of being the ultimate comfort food that a traditional mac and cheese does, I can enjoy this one and feel a little bit better about my choices thanks to the abundance of healthy ingredients that it contains.
This vegan mac and cheese is made without cashews (or cheese!) using the following ingredients, all of which you’ll find at your local grocery store.
- Sweet potato – this is the star of the sauce adding creaminess, flavour, and vibrance.
- Nutritional yeast – this adds the cheesy taste without the cheese. Plus it gives the meal some added nutritional value which is a little bonus.
- Coconut milk – just enough to make it super creamy without giving it any ‘coconut’ flavour. You could also use oat milk or soy milk if coconut wasn’t an option due to allergies.
- Dijon mustard – to balance out the sweetness of the sweet potato and give the meal that classic mac and cheese flavour.
- Soy sauce – this ‘cheese’ sauce really needs a strong hit of salt to balance out all the flavours and soy sauce is where that’s at. Use a gluten free option if needed.
- Paprika – for a little spicy, smoky flavour that just elevates the whole dish. Seriously do not leave this out.
- Garlic powder and onion powder – essential for flavour! I like using powder in this recipe as it eliminates a step of cooking the onion and garlic first that you’ll find in other recipes.
- Pasta – I’m using elbow pasta for that classic look, but any small pasta like shells or spirals work well. You can also use gluten free pasta as a substitute to make this a gluten free mac and cheese.
To make this recipe you’ll need a pot to boil your sweet potatoes and pasta in and a blender to create that ultra smooth sauce.
Start by peeling and chopping up the sweet potatoes into smaller cubes. This helps speed up the cooking time and makes them easier to blend up later.
Add the cubes to a saucepan with water and bring to the boil, cooking until the potatoes are soft and tender. Drain and set aside.
Next, you can put your pasta on and cook it according to the package instructions while you make the sauce.
To your blender, add the cooked sweet potatoes and all of the other ingredients. Blend until the sauce is super smooth and creamy.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add back into the pot. Pour over the sauce and mix through, adjusting the salt as needed to taste.
And that’s it! This recipe is honestly so easy making it a great option for weeknights when you need something easy, flavourful and comforting.
There are so many options for making a vegan mac and cheese with the most common having a base of either cashews or root vegetables such as potatoes, pumpkin or carrots. To get that truly cheesy taste, most recipes including this one will also use nutritional yeast, or ‘nooch’ as it’s commonly called to get that rich, savoury, cheesy flavour without the dairy.
This version is nut free, so it’s made without cashews and instead uses a base of sweet potatoes and other flavour additions to create a luscious creamy ‘cheesy’ sauce.
You can keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days without any issues, making it a great option for meal prep. You can also freeze the leftovers or just the vegan cheese sauce on its own for up to 3 months.
Storing the vegan cheese sauce separately will ensure the leftovers are just as smooth and creamy as freshly made so I recommend this option if you’re intentionally making this recipe ahead of time.
To reheat the vegan cheese sauce alone, either microwave in 1 minute bursts, stirring between each or add it to a small saucepan over low heat and stir until the sauce is smooth and creamy.
To reheat any leftover mac and cheese, you can again do this on the stove in a small saucepan or in the microwave, just add a splash of extra plant based milk to help loosen up the sauce and ensure it gets creamy again as you stir.
More vegan pasta recipes:
Vegan Mac and Cheese
- 2 cups (approx 350 grams) sweet potato
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup coconut milk
- ⅓ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- 400 grams elbow pasta
- Peel and chop sweet potato into 2 cm cubes. Add to a small saucepan with enough water to cover and place on the stove on high heat. Boil sweet potatoes until soft.
- While the sweet potatoes are cooking, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and add pasta back into the saucepan. Set aside.
- Drain sweet potato and add to a blender. Add in the rest of the ingredients excluding the pasta and blend for 2-3 minutes until completely smooth.
- Pour sauce over the cooked pasta and stir until all pasta is completely combined. Taste and adjust salt as necessary. Serve.
Nutritional information is provided as a guide only and is calculated using automated online tools, therefore we cannot guarantee the accuracy. We encourage you to make your own calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe.