This vegan macaroni and “cheese” is so creamy and delicious, no one will miss the dairy! You can make this with a few simple pantry staples, no vegan cheese or nutritional yeast required.

Years ago, when I was a vegan, the two foods I never seemed to be able to replace were cheese and yogurt. A lot of the vegan versions have come a long way since then, but I still haven’t been able to find a vegan macaroni and cheese that tasted as creamy as the real thing.

vegan macaroni and cheese on a wooden board

I’ve been wanting to create a vegan macaroni and cheese recipe for years but I was never able to get it quite right. Until now. I’m so excited to share this recipe with you because while it’s vegan, it doesn’t require any weird ingredients or processed “fake” cheese. You don’t have to soak any cashews overnight and you don’t have to buy ingredients you’ll never use again.

macaroni and cheese in a bowl

How to Make Creamy Vegan Macaroni and Cheese

The trick to this velvety vegan macaroni and cheese? The humble potato. Who would have thought? The starch from a simple russet potato gives the sauce an amazing texture. You’ll swear it contains cream but it’s just vegetables, a handful of cashews and a touch of oil. That’s why russet potatoes are essential for this recipe. Don’t try to substitute sweet potato or red potatoes.

How to Make Vegan Macaroni and Cheese without Nutritional Yeast

Most vegan macaroni and cheese recipes call for nutritional yeast. And while I love the cheesy flavor that it can give your noodles, I know that a lot of people don’t have it in their pantry. And that’s ok! You can still achieve a deliciously cheesy flavor with the other seasonings. Feel free to add a little nutritional yeast if you have it, but this recipe doesn’t require it.

nutritional yeast

How to Make Gluten-Free Vegan Macaroni and Cheese

The sauce is already gluten-free, so to make this whole recipe gluten-free, just use chickpea noodles! I love Banza because their pasta has extra protein and fiber since it’s made with chickpeas! But you can use any pasta you like.

vegan cheese sauce

Tips for a Smooth Vegan Cheese Sauce

  • Boil the vegetables until completely soft. The potatoes should practically fall apart when poked with a fork.
  • Blend the cashews, oil, mustard, and garlic with the cooking water before adding the vegetables.
  • Once you add the vegetables, blend blend blend! You may need to blend for up to 3 minutes to get it completely smooth. This works best with a high powered blender but you should be able to get it creamy with a regular blender.
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vegan macaroni and cheese

Vegan Macaroni and Cheese

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.8 from 26 reviews
  • Author: Liz Thomson
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 cups 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Vegan


This vegan macaroni and “cheese” is so creamy and delicious, no one will miss the dairy! You can make this with a few simple pantry staples, no vegan cheese or nutritional yeast required.


  • 16 oz macaroni (regular or chickpea noodles)
  • 1 medium russet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1/3 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup cooking water, reserved
  • 1/3 cup cashews (raw or roasted is fine)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Add the potato, carrots, and onion to a large pot.
  2. Cover with water and bring to a boil.
  3. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are fork tender.
  4. While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the macaroni according to the package directions in a separate pot.
  5. Once the vegetables are soft, reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the rest of the water from the pot of vegetables.
  6. In a blender or food processor, blend the cooking water, cashews, salt, garlic, mustard, and oil.
  7. Add the vegetables and continue to blend. Since the veggies will be hot, be sure to let steam safely escape through the top of the blender.
  8. Blend until completely smooth.
  9. Stir the cooked macaroni with the cheese sauce and serve immediately.

I’m so excited about this recipe. Macaroni and cheese has been one of my favorite comfort foods since childhood. Cracking the code on a good vegan recipe has taken a lot of trial and error, but I really think you’ll enjoy this one!

vegan macaroni and cheese

How to Store Leftover Vegan Macaroni and Cheese

If you have extra cheese sauce, you can freeze it for up to 1 month. Simply reheat in the microwave and stir. If it separates, just re-blend until smooth. If you have leftovers, store in the refrigerator and reheat in the microwave.

If you try this vegan macaroni and cheese, leave a comment below and let me know how you liked it!

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