A smooth, velvety and creamy ‘cheese’ sauce poured over your favourite pasta, makes this bowl of comfort full on flavour with zero dairy. How can we make a vegan mac and cheese without the cheese? The answer lies in a few secret ingredients!
There are SO MANY recipes on the internet that claim to be the ultimate vegan mac and cheese recipe. They use a range of ingredients from sweet potato, cauliflower or pumpkin to cashews because what can’t cauliflower or cashews do. Personally I have never been happy with the texture of a cashew based sauce and also, I don’t not have the ability to preplan enough in advance to soak my cashews.
With a vegan mac and cheese, there really is no getting around the fact that it isn’t actually mac and cheese. I mean I’m not in denial here, but once I got on board with the fact it was something completely different and accepted that it was just a really yummy, creamy sauce for pasta rather than trying to hard to be a ‘cheese’ alternative, I think I enjoyed it so much more.
Basically it comes down to wanting to create something that is of similar taste and texture because unfortunately there are some of us in this world that just can’t have the real deal.
I actually do not remember what a real mac and cheese tastes like. It wasn’t something I ever ate growing up. But somehow when you can’t eat a certain food, you suddenly get all the cravings for it. Hence my desire to find something that gave me the creamy comfort that mac and cheese is known for.
I have tried many recipes in my quest to find the best but once I stumbled upon this combo, I stopped looking because I love this sauce so much. It is packed full of flavour, has a wonderful texture and is so simple and easy and works out to be really inexpensive as it uses mostly pantry staples, which is always a bonus.
So, I hear you asking, if this mac and cheese is dairy-free and vegan, what exactly is it made of??
There are a few key ingredients in this vegan mac and cheese that make it the best:
- Sweet potato – this is everything. Creaminess, flavour, vibrance.
- Nutritional yeast – weird name, amazing flavour. This adds the cheesy taste without the cheese. Plus it gives the meal some added nutritional value.
- Coconut milk – just enough to make it’s super creamy without tasting like a pina colada.
- Dijon mustard – to balance out the sweetness of the sweet potato and give the meal that classic mac and cheese flavour.
- Soy sauce – weird addition yes, but this ‘cheese’ sauce really needs a strong hit of salty to balance out all the flavours and soy sauce is where that’s at.
- Paprika – for a little spicy, smokey flavour that just elevates the whole thing. Seriously do not leave this out.
Writing this out, I think the ingredients list makes the recipe seem more complex than it is, so here are your steps.
Step 1. Cook your sweet potato until soft and add to a blender.
Step 2. Add everything else to the blender.
Step 3. Blend until golden creamy goodness.
Step 4. Cook pasta!
Step 5. Mix sauce with pasta and it’s mac and cheese time!
That is WAY easier than a traditional mac and cheese which requires you to make a pesky roux!
Also maybe not everyone keeps nutritional yeast in their pantry like I do but I have tried many versions without it and it really is key to the amazing flavour of this sauce. Pick it up at your local health food store. It lasts for ages and it will be worth it to be able to whip this meal up on a Wednesday when you’re not feeling inspired to cook but want something super comforting.
Is this a healthy meal? I’m going with probably. There is a whole lot more nutritional value in this meal when compared to its originator, so it’s definitely a better choice, but I am still going to go with don’t eat a giant plate of carbs and expect your jeans to fit better. Just enjoy it for it’s delicious, creamy, comforting qualities that make it truly magical.
Because seriously, sweet potato making a super creamy, cheese sauce? That is some kind of magic.
If you do make this recipe, please be sure to leave a comment and rating below! And tag any of your creations on Instagram with #eightforestlane as I would love to see.
- 2 cups (approx 350 grams) sweet potato
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 400 grams elbow or spiral 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.
This mac and cheese is best enjoyed straight after cooking. Reheating tastes fine but you will lose some of the creamy texture of the sauce.
Adapted from Running With Spoons.
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