Creamy Vegan Mac & Cheese

You will not believe that this creamy, dreamy bowl of mac & cheese doesn’t have an ounce of cheese! Replicating the comfort of this iconic dish easier than you think. With the help of a few key players, it’ll quickly become a family favorite. 

First, the base of our sauce is butternut squash. This not only gives it the right hue, but also lends a creamy, sweet component to the sauce. Next, the soaked cashews act as the “cream” in our sauce. When cashews are soaked and blended like this, their creaminess will fool even the biggest dairy fan. Last, the flavorings: We use nutritional yeast to mimic that coveted cheesy flavor, apple cider to balance the sweetness and a combination of garlic, onion and nutmeg to boost the flavor and umami.

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Creamy Vegan Mac & Cheese

  • Author: Danielle Moore
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1x
Scale

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a pot, bring water to a boil for pasta
  2. In a separate pot with a steamer basket, bring water to a boil for squash
  3. Add squash to steamer basket, cover and steam 6-7 minutes, until tender
  4. Add pasta to boiling water and cook 8-10 min, until al dente (or according to your package directions)
  5. Drain squash then transfer to a high speed blender with 1/4 cup water, cashews, nutritional yeast, apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, onion power, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste then blend until smooth, adding water as needed to reach desired consistency
  6. Drain pasta then toss with “cheese” sauce and enjoy

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/2 of recipe
  • Calories: 395.3
  • Sugar: 4
  • Sodium: 23.9
  • Fat: 9.3
  • Saturated Fat: 1.3
  • Unsaturated Fat: 5.2
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 67.7
  • Fiber: 8.1
  • Protein: 13.9
  • Cholesterol: 0

Keywords: dairy free, egg free, oil free, soy free, vegan

Like all of our recipes, these ingredients aren’t just picked on flavor alone. Each of these components adds to the health promoting potential of this sauce.

Butternut squash, one of the most common winter squashes, has a beautiful orange flesh. This vibrant color comes from carotenoids, natural compounds that are precursors to Vitamin A. They have incredible antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential and play a part in vision health, iron absorption and immune system function. Studies have also linked carotenoids to a reduction in risk for certain types of cancer (R).

Cashews have an incredible array of health benefits. Perhaps one of their most notable is their effect on heart health. They have been shown to not only reduces the “bad” LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol (R) but also increases the “good” HDL cholesterol (R). They do this while also reducing blood pressure (R). These protective effects come from their abundance of health monounsaturated and poly unsaturated fatty acids. 

Nutritional yeast, a gift to non-dairy eaters who love the cheesy umami flavor, has been extensively studied for its high concentration of B vitamins. Because animal products are such a key source of Vitamin B12, vegans are at risk of Vitamin B12 deficiency. Nutritional yeast has been identified as an effective (and delicious) supplement to prevent deficiency. While naturally a great source of B vitamins on its own, many of the nutritional yeasts you’ll find are further fortified with B vitamin for an added boost. In addition to its vitamin content, nutritional yeast is a great source of antioxidants, which can protect you from certain types of cancer (R).  

Personalize It

We wrote this recipe for the people that are able to enjoy some wheat. Remember to always choose whole wheat. Luckily, for those avoiding wheat, there are some wonderful wheat-free pastas on the market made from things like buckwheat and rice. Those avoiding all grains can choose some other pasta alternatives, like bean or lentil-based pastas. You can even enjoy this with roasted cauliflower. These cheese sauce is very versatile, so make a big batch and try it on the foods you’d usually enjoy with cheese sauce. 

Try playing with the flavors to meet your preferences. You can increase or decrease the nutritional yeast based on your cheesiness preference. You can also change the flavor profile by changing the spices. If you want something akin to Mexican queso, try adding some cumin or jalapeño chili powder. Or change the taste a bit by swapping butternut squash for sweet potatoes.


Recipe compatibility with your diet type

Everyday
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1–2 times per week
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This recipe has been custom designed for Lean Machine, Mediterranean, Mosaic, Nordic, Okinawan, Paleo Plus and Urban Grazer diet types, learn more.

Danielle Moore

Danielle Moore is a professional recipe developer, Nutrition expert, food photographer and lover of veggies. Read her full bio here.

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