This creamy cashew mac and cheese is vegan, oil-free, gluten-free and easy to make! Perfect as the main course or a side! Enjoy alone or add in some veggies for a nutritious and well-balanced meal.Jump to Recipe
Get your belly ready to ruuumble!
Because it's time for a MAC ATTACK!
(Insert pounding fists emoji and cheering crowd sound byte here)
In this corner, we have the cashews...yay!
In this corner, we have the blender...wooh!
Today, they join forces to create the ultimate contender for this pasta dish...cashew cheese!
So, if you're ready for some entertainment of the tummy kind, don't close this window.
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor...nutritional yeast.
"Thanks to me and my wizardly powers, you can make non-cheesy things taste cheesy. You're welcome."
OK, way to be humble there nutritional yeast.
So, what nutritional yeast failed to mention is that it is working along with almond milk, lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder, ground mustard, turmeric and salt to flavor the cashews.
And now without further ado, let's get ready to...BLEND!
How to make cashew mac and cheese - step by step
First, you'll need to soak the cashews.
The easiest and fastest way to do this is by covering them with boiling water for 10 minutes.
I like to use an electric kettle to boil water because it does the job much faster than on the stovetop.
If you prefer, you can soak them in cold water for 4-6 hours instead.
While the cashews are soaking, begin cooking your gluten-free pasta of choice according to package directions.
I used Jovial elbow macaroni, which is a brown rice-based pasta, but you can use your favorite brand/shape such as shells, rotini, etc.
While the pasta is cooking, add nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, ground mustard, turmeric and salt to a high-powered blender. I use a Ninja.
When the cashews are done soaking, drain them and add them to the blender followed by water, almond milk and lemon juice.
Blend on high until smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.
When the pasta is done, drain and add to a large mixing or serving bowl.
You can also add it back to the pot, but don't put it back on the heat as this will cause the sauce to clump up.
Stir in the cashew cheese sauce until well-combined.
Ideas for serving
You can enjoy this mac and cheese as is or garnished with black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, fresh herbs or nutritional yeast flakes.
You can also mix in some veggies such as broccoli, peas, kale or spinach.
Or try it with stewed tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes.
Storing and reheating leftovers
This mac and cheese is best enjoyed right away, but can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
To reheat, place in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 15-second intervals until warm throughout, stirring in between.
Note that the sauce won't be as creamy as the pasta absorbs the sauce as it sits.
Therefore, you can mix in a splash of plant-based milk when reheating it if you'd like.
Can I make this ahead of time?
If you need to make this ahead of time, you can make the sauce up to 3 days in advance and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to mix with freshly cooked, hot pasta.
I do not recommend making the pasta in advance.
Give the sauce a stir before mixing with the pasta.
You can allow it to come to room temperature or microwave in 15-second intervals for 30 seconds to a minute, stirring in between before adding to the pasta.
Can I make a smaller batch?
Yes! If you don't need as much and you prefer not to have any leftovers or as much leftover, you can totally cut the recipe in half.
More vegan mac and cheese recipes
Cashew Mac and Cheese
- 1 ½ cups raw cashews
- 12 oz gluten-free pasta (I used Jovial brown rice elbows; Feel free to use traditional pasta if not avoiding gluten)
- 6 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 tsp fine sea salt
- ½ tsp ground mustard
- ¾ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- 1 ½ cups filtered water
- ½ cup unsweetened, plain almond milk
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (substitute with apple cider vinegar, if desired)
- Veggies to mix in such as: broccoli, peas, spinach, kale
- Toppings such as: black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, herbs, hot sauce, nutritional yeast flakes, vegan Parmesan cheese
- Cover cashews in boiling water and allow to soak for 10 minutes. If you prefer, you can soak them in cold water for 4-6 hours instead.
- While the cashews are soaking, begin cooking pasta according to package directions.
- While the pasta is cooking, add nutritional yeast, salt, ground mustard, garlic powder, onion powder and turmeric to a high-powered blender. When the cashews are done soaking, drain them and add them to the blender followed by water, almond milk and lemon juice. Blend on high until smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. If the sauce seems too thin, note that it will thicken upon standing and after mixed with the pasta.
- When the pasta is done, drain and add to a large bowl or back to the pot, keeping it off the heat. Stir in the cashew cheese sauce until well-combined. Serve immediately.
(Please refer to the post above for instructional photographs for this recipe)
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