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Vegan Mac And Cheese

This super creamy and cheesy vegan mac and cheese recipe will take you straight back to childhood!

Vegan Mac And Cheese

Vegan Mac And Cheese – The Ultimate Vegan Comfort Food

Growing up, my mom was usually the one who cooked for us, preparing elaborate and wholesome meals from scratch, with plenty of vegetables.

But every now and then, my dad would take over the kitchen. One of my absolute favorite lunches he’d make us was boxed Kraft macaroni & cheese, which I called “cheese soup” because he’d always add extra milk so there was twice as much cheese sauce.

Although I haven’t eaten the Kraft version in years, I still love my mac and cheese with A TON of extra cheese sauce.

Serve me a bowl of homemade macaroni drenched in so much creamy cheese sauce that you can’t even tell there’s pasta in the bowl, and you will never hear me complain!

Update –> Be sure to try this recipe for Cauliflower Mac And Cheese

Vegan Kraft Mac & Cheese

How To Make Vegan Mac And Cheese

The vegan macaroni and cheese recipes out there are definitely hit or miss… and the bad ones are really bad.

I remember back when I first went vegan, trying a recipe that attempted to mimic the cheesy taste by using a combination of nutritional yeast and Dijon mustard. The recipe claimed to taste JUST LIKE REAL MAC AND CHEESE! Spoiler alert: it didn’t even come close.

I’ve also tried some restaurant versions or packaged varieties (not naming names) so far away from tasting anything like mac and cheese that I honestly don’t know how they ever made it onto shelves.

With this simple vegan mac and cheese recipe today, I’m not going to tell you it tastes exactly like Kraft or Velveeta, but it is absolutely delicious in its own right and completely satisfies even my strongest mac and cheese cravings.

The recipe received a resounding stamp of approval from every non vegan who’s tried it, which is hugely important to note, because if someone who remembers what traditional mac and cheese tastes like says it’s good, you know it must be true!

I’m not saying vegans have inferior taste buds (obbbbviously my taste buds are super awesome), but I do admit that sometimes we can get excited about a dish simply because a plant-based version is offered.

I can think of quite a few examples of this from over the years, especially with things I’ve ordered at restaurants.

(Those vegan cannoli that tasted like someone who’d clearly never been to Italy had simply stuffed vanilla frosting into a cannoli shell… were they they best cannoli I’d ever had in my life? No. But on the other hand, I got to order vegan cannoli on a restaurant menu!!!! So actually yeah, best cannoli ever!)

You May Also Like: Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cashew Cheese Sauce

Recipe Notes

The cheese sauce can be used with much more than just pasta. If you’re on a keto or low carb diet or simply don’t feel like boiling noodles one night, feel free to use the sauce as a cheese dip or pour it over steamed veggies, rice, or even spaghetti squash.

(My recommended method for cooking spaghetti squash can be found here: How To Cook Spaghetti Squash.)

You can also bulk up the mac and cheese by stirring steamed or roasted veggies in at the end. I especially love adding steamed broccoli.

Or give the pasta a protein boost by adding crumbled tempeh or your favorite protein of choice.

Pretty much any noodles will work here – I’m partial to tube noodles because they trap more cheese! For the photos, I really wanted the recognizable Kraft pasta shape but couldn’t find it anywhere, so I ended up buying boxed vegan mac and cheese and used my own sauce recipe instead of their packet.

Unlike many other dairy free macaroni and cheese recipes, this one has no butternut squash or cauliflower, although I do also have a Cauliflower Alfredo Recipe on the blog.

To add thickness and creaminess without flour or heavy cream, I turned to cashews this time, which gives the sauce a rich and velvety texture. I’ve also linked a nut-free and soy-free vegan cheese sauce.

With mac and cheese, it’s good to have options.

Finally, if you’re crazy like me and want to drown your pasta in a gallon of cheese sauce, feel free to make a double batch!

Also Try These Buffalo Cauliflower Wings

Above – watch the video of how to make vegan mac and cheese

The Best Easy Vegan Mac And Cheese Recipe (Soy Free)
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Vegan Mac And Cheese

An easy recipe for how to make vegan mac and cheese that even non vegans will love.
4.94/5 (82)
Total Time 5 minutes
Yield 3 servings


  • 1/2 cup raw cashews or macadamias (for nut-free, try this Vegan Cheese Sauce)
  • 1 medium peeled carrot, steamed or roasted (80g)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, OR cheese style shreds as desired
  • 1 tsp white or cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water, plus more for soaking
  • optional 2 tsp buttery spread or oil, for richness
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3 servings pasta of choice, or you can put the sauce over veggies or use it as a dipping sauce


  • Completely cover the nuts in a bowl with water. Let soak anywhere from 2-6 hours, or refrigerate and soak overnight. Drain fully. Combine all ingredients (including 1/2 cup water, but not including the optional cheese-style shreds), and blend in a blender or with an immersion blender until completely smooth. Transfer to a small pot and heat to your desired temperature, stirring optional cheese shreds in at the end. Taste, and add extra seasonings (onion, salt, nutmeg, pepper) if desired – I like to add another 1/2 tsp salt and a pinch more nutmeg. Serve over cooked pasta, rice, veggies, etc.
    View Nutrition Facts


Recipe adapted from my Creamy Red Pepper Alfredo.

Have you made this recipe?

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4.94/5 (82)

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Published on June 21, 2020

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  1. Amy says

    This looks great. My daughter can’t have dairy & really misses Mac & cheese. We haven’t found a good cheeses style shred yet, & it was getting expensive to keep trying them. What brand do you or your other readers like? Thanks for all the great recipes!

    • Jason Sanford says

      Hi Amy! Have you tried Miyoko’s? Or Chao? Or Follow Your Heart? I’m guessing you’ve tried Daiya, and I know that one is either something vegans love or hate!

    • Sarah says

      We like the almond shredded cheese from Trader Joe’s. They also sell an almond cheese brand at Nugget Markets. I think it’s the best tasting out of all of the cheeses….and we’ve tried a LOT.

      • Emily says

        That’s because the almond cheese at Trader Joe’s still has Casein in it which is a dairy product. It may be lactose free but it is not 100% dairy-free.

    • Lisa says

      Amy, if your daughter is lactose intolerant and not actually allergic to dairy, she should be fine with eating aged cheeses like Sharp Cheddar.

      • Lydia says

        Also, Miyoko’s is AMAZING. All of their products are just incredible. I just tried their cream cheese and it is outstanding–their vegan butter is amazing too. They never use plan oil, either, so that is a huge plus to say the least. I’m really looking forward to trying their mozzarella as I’ve heard great things and this company has never failed to amaze me.
        Chao is extremely good and now there’s another company similar to them that makes all kinds of vegan cheese products and they fortify it with B12 which I find really cool. I know chao is plan oil free and I believe the new company I referred to is, as well (sorry I don’t remember the name but it’s at whole foods all the time). Then you have nutritional yeast which is just awesome (and so healthy!)… you can make so many homemade vegan cheese recipes with it and it is AMAZING on popcorn. The website the vegan 8 or something like that, has the best vegan garlic alfredo sauce recipe ever! I don’t know why their site now says the nutritional yeast is optional because it’s absolutely necessary and they also now say to use more lemon juice as an option but use the lower amount they say because you definitely don’t want it too lemon-y.

    • Alyssa says

      Chao vegan cheese is, by far, the best vegan cheese we’ve found (get the creamy original flavor). It comes in a block of slices, but we just treat it like a block, and shred it, when needed. The closest thing I can compare it to is a cross between american cheese and provolone. Does it taste exactly like regular cheese? No, but it is absolutely as close as we’ve found, and my daughter actually LIKES it. No other one we’ve tried even tasted remotely good. Sometimes it’s hard to find, and it’s expensive (as are most non-dairy foods), but Whole Foods carries it, and recently Walmart started to sell it as well. Walmart has it for the cheapest I have found anywhere.

      • Michelle McSwain says

        I second your choice of Chao cheese. I think it’s the closest to the real thing, too. I also agree that Walmart carries this product at the lowest price. One of my local stores carries this cheese but for $2 more than Walmart. I like that the chao cheese melts like regular cheese when making grilled cheese sandwiches. Not a fan of Miyoko’s. I think the Trader Joe’s cream cheese taste better than Miyoko’s. I’m looking forward to making the mac n cheese recipe. It looks divine.

    • Nicole Holder says

      I’m fond of the Daiya mozzarella shreds, but not any of their other shreds. Their cheddar slices are okay fro grilled cheese if you combine it with other sauces. I used to use veganaise roasted garlic spread, but they don’t make it anymore. These things are also not great on their own, they definitely need to be combined with other ingredients and seasonings. The best thing I’ve heard anyone says comes very close is the non-dairy evolution cookbook. It’s inexpensive. I’ll warn you: most of the recipes require a high quality food processor or immersion blender, or strange ingredients you have to buy online, but I’ve read many comments that these recipes are the best people have tried.

  2. Emily says

    Made this yesterday and it was amazing, really creamy and tastes pretty close to the real thing. Thank you, Katie, for consistently great recipes 🙂

  3. Shontel says

    Yummmmmy my 2 two boys 7 and 9 absolutely loved it , I also served it with broccoli and they didn’t even make a fuss about ?

  4. Lauren says

    I saw on Instagram you used boxed mac and cheese noodles and your own sauce for the pictures. Which brand of vegan mac noodles did you buy? I’m dying to make them with the nostalgic noodle shape and I haven’t found any that are right yet. Thanks!

  5. Miriam says

    This is delicious! I substituted low sodium veg broth for the water and added in a quarter of a red bell pepper and a sprinkle of smoked paprika. Will definitely be checking out more of your recipes! Thank you!

  6. Amber says

    I’m sorry but this did not taste like cheese at all. The only reason I even gave it 2 stars is it is creamy and rich. This is the first recipe from your site that I have ever not liked, and I’ve tried both sweet and savory. I have made vegan cheese recipes many times, with three different recipes as bases (depending on the ingredients in my pantry and what I’m making it for). I have done two different cashew cheese sauces and the one you referred to that uses potato, carrot, and mustard. All of them tasted better than this. I have never seen any cheese recipe using nutmeg before. Based on the taste of this recipe, I will never use it again. I had to add garlic powder, paprika, salt, and an ounce of goat cheese to make it taste decent (I’m not vegan, but use a lot of vegan recipes because I’m allergic to cow’s milk, and goat’s milk products get expensive very quickly).

    • Jason Sanford says

      Not every recipe is for everyone, and that’s completely ok. I happen to really like this one (and I’m not vegan either) and have made it numerous times, but different people have different tastebuds and there’s no problem with that. However, I did want to mention that if you google mac and cheese recipes, many of them including Saveur, Food Network, and Martha Stewart do include a pinch of nutmeg. You don’t want too much, just a small pinch!

    • Kelly says

      ?? I stumbled upon this blog looking for a vegan Mac & cheese to prepare for thanksgiving. Did you use cashews? I’ve found that I do not like the use of cashews AT ALL in sauces and people rave about. Cashews leave a weird after taste. I will try using macadamia nuts to see if that makes a difference ?

  7. River says

    I made this sauce for the first time yesterday (substituting real butter I had on hand as I’m lactose-intolerant, not vegan) and here’s my non-vegan input:
    it certainly doesn’t pass as cheese but I could understand it being called “cheesy” by vegan standards. That being said it’s incredibly delicious in its own right and I scraped every last bit to lick off the spatula! I’ll definitely make this again!

  8. Tracey Meyers says

    I’ve never been a fan on Mac n cheese but now I have stopped eating dairy I decided to give this version a try!
    WOW!! Its delicious!! I made double the cheese sauce and poured extra on my 2nd helping! Everyone loved it!
    Thank you!!

  9. Gabby says

    Katie! Your recipes are amazing, and this one is no exception. Seriously, the best vegan Mac and cheese I’ve ever made! I mixed in Daiya shredded cheeze and a little bit of nooch, and it was a great combo. I did double the recipe so my fiancé and I could have lots of leftovers. Thank you for creating and sharing such tasty recipes. You’re wonderful!

  10. Rach says

    This was really yummy and not as many ingredients as some vegan cheese sauces. I made the version without cheese shreds, but did use the buttery spread. I think that’s what sold it 🙂

  11. Deirdre says

    OK, this looks AMAZEBALLS! Can’t wait to try it. I clicked on it after seeing it on Instagram yesterday and on a vegetarian and vegan Facebook group today, because it looked so like the Kraft macaroni and cheese which I adored. I normally never buy nutritional yeast, even though I love it, because here in Spain it’s really expensive, but you’ve inspired me to go get it!

    Plus it must have been the hardest subject to get a good photo of! Kudos for the great food photography, as usual!

  12. Grace says

    I’ve made this twice and I love the flavor but I can’t get it creamy! The first time I thought maybe soaking the cashews longer would do the trick although it didn’t make a difference the second time (I soaked for over 6 hours). Any ideas??

      • Mommabear says

        I agree with Dawn. If you don’t have a high speed blender, it’s harder to get the nuts really smooth and creamy without. Before I got a vitamix, someone said starting with a smaller amount of water also helps get them creamier.

  13. marina says

    Omg this was soooo good! Really similar taste to Kraft mac n cheese and definitely one of the best vegan mac n cheeses I’ve ever had!

  14. Becca says

    Hi. You said a serving of of the cheese for the Mac and cheese is 1/3 of the recipe so got much is that for just the sauce?

  15. Alexa says

    Made this last night and the best part is that the kids loved it. Thank you for helping us start the new year in a more healthy way.

  16. Amanda Stear says

    Non Vegan here. Made this for family that’s doing plant-based diet.
    They, my 9 year old son and I really liked it!
    My picky 4 year old was not happy it tasted a little different than his usual boxed Mac and opted for plain noodles.
    But the rest of us had seconds and the recipe was shared!
    Warning: it did smell a little bad while blending. But it was worth the taste! It really did taste like cheese. I followed the recipe to a tee (nutritional yeast).
    Yummy. Plus, one person noted that their air fried cauliflower was good in the sauce as well! Will definitely do this again. So much healthier than the other stuff. Thank you Chocolate covered Katie!

  17. Jennypoo says

    This was a hit with my cheese crazy husband. I used olive oil instead of butter because that’s what I had on hand. And I used garlic powder instead of onion. I added a little bit of the pasta water to make it a little silkier. It was definitely gourmet quality. We’ll be eating this again for sure.

  18. Terje says

    A bit of background – I’m doing veganuary so not usually vegan (I’m veggie though).

    This was pretty good! Tastes like Cheetos (the crisps). I think my blender isn’t very good so the sauce was a wee chunky but overall a solid 7/10

  19. dawn says

    i really like this sauce. how i like it most is as a dip for vegetables or as a nacho cheese sauce. looking forward to discovering what else i like it with!

  20. Erin says

    I’m not sure what I did wrong but the taste of this was not palatable. I expected it to be delicious but it was yeasty and both my cousin and I, crestfallen, gave up on our late night mac n’ cheese dreams.

    • Jason Sanford says

      Yeasty? Nutritional yeast definitely has a flavor that not everyone is a fan of. Just try it with the non-nutritional-yeast option if you aren’t a nutritional yeast fan 🙂

  21. Taylor says

    Just made this and thoroughly enjoyed it. I used apple cider vinegar, roasted carrot, added a little garlic powder and paprika, left out the nutmeg because I just don’t like it (and my taste buds pick it up from a mile away), and completely spaced on using the butter substitute. It came out great. I followed the advice I read in a comment to mix the cashews and water first, and the sauce came out a perfect consistency. Even made that mac ‘n cheese snicky sound when stirred. Such a nice, savory, warming dish on this cold and rainy day. I’m going to enjoy making this again, and trying different variations – thanks so much for posting.

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