Believe it or not, there are many, many ways to make vegan macaroni and cheese.
“Creaminess” can come from silken tofu, non-dairy milk, or commercial vegan cheese. The sauce can be made as a traditional roux, or it can be an unconventional blend of cashews, beans, cauliflower, butternut squash, and any number of additional plant-based ingredients. I’ve seen vegan mac made with coconut, sweet potato, zucchini, and even Noni juice. And this is before we even get to the flavorings: chili mac, caramelized onion mac, spinach mac, spicy mac, and more.
Clearly, operating without milk, butter, and cheese does not limit the possibilities of a mac and cheese dinner. If anything, creating a dairy-free recipe seems to open up a lot more possibilities as far as flavorings and ingredients go.
So, I won’t claim that this is the “best” or the “ultimate” vegan mac. Instead, I’ll tell you (and it’s true) that this is my favorite vegan stovetop mac and cheese recipe, mostly because it’s incredibly easy to make (blending is half the battle) and also because it’s as creamy, flavorful, and satisfying as any conventional mac I can remember.
As you’ll see, my base of choice is a mixture of cashews, white beans, miso, nutritional yeast, garlic, and other seasonings. Much as I like to make fun of myself for using cashew cream in just about everything, this is one recipe in which cashews really do work magic, creating all of the creaminess that this recipe deserves without weighing it down. Stir in some of your favorite spring vegetables—from peas to asparagus tips—if you’re feeling sophisticated.
- 2/3 cup (about 3 ounces) raw cashews, soaked in water for at least 2 hours (and up to 8), drained
- 1/2 cup cooked cannellini, great white northern, or navy beans
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 tablespoons white miso
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 small clove garlic, crushed
- 1 dash cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup water
- 12 ounces elbow pasta or mini shells (whole wheat, gluten-free, and regular pasta are all fine)
- 1 cup cooked green vegetables, such as chopped broccoli or cauliflower florets, blanched peas or chopped asparagus spears, or steamed spinach (optional)
- Salt, to taste