Vegan Mac and Cheese

For creamy, dreamy stovetop mac and cheese without the dairy, try our vegan mac and cheese recipe. Made with simple ingredients like potato, carrot, and nutritional yeast, it’s almost as easy as the blue box stuff.

Pot of Vegan Mac and Cheese with a Wooden Spoon

Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

All of my life, I have enjoyed macaroni and cheese six ways from Sunday. And now, that includes macaroni without the cheese. If you avoid dairy for any reason at all, this recipe will change the landscape of your weeknight dinners. It comes together on the stovetop in about 30 minutes and hits all the marks: Creamy? Check. That familiar orange tint? Heck yeah.

For the same amount of work as making the dairy-infused stuff from scratch, you can make lucious, flavor-packed vegan stovetop macaroni and cheese using pantry ingredients and wholesome, recognizable foods. After years of tinkering, I got this recipe to a point where my daughter—a vocal non-vegan and proud connoisseur of mac and cheese—receives it with cheerful gusto. 

The Secret to Creamy Sauce

What makes this vegan mac and cheese so good? Potatoes. Plus some other things, but the potatoes are what launch this recipe into a higher plane of mac and cheese-dom.

I took Coco Morante’s Vegan Queso recipe from our site and fussed around with the seasonings to make it cheesier and less nacho-y. Soaked raw cashews add a dairy-like richness, and cooked potatoes make the sauce silky smooth.

Two Bowl of Vegan Mac and Cheese Next to Two Spoons and a Table Napkin

Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

A Cheesy Flavor Without the Cheese

To get a classic stovetop macaroni and cheese taste, you’ll drive into the arsenal of vegan flavor boosters. Each one is available at most mainstream grocery stores. By combining them artfully, you’re essentially making your own gourmet fake cheese from scratch. 

  • Nutritional yeast: Lovingly referred to as “nooch” in many circles, nutritional yeast flakes are not active baking yeast. They’re inactive, dehydrated flakes whose yeasty character calls to mind a cheesy aroma and taste. A little nooch goes a long way; I prefer to cap mine at 1/4 cup.
  • Miso: Any type of miso paste will do. It adds a suave depth to sauces that I’d describe as “instant yum.” 
  • Apple cider vinegar: A small touch of acidic tang helps to cut through the creamy richness of the sauce.
  • Oil: The cashews contribute some fat, which is important for the sauce’s body. But adding one tablespoon of oil really goes a long way in making this sauce taste like macaroni and cheese and not just cooked pasta tossed with puréed potato goop. You can use any mild oil you like.
  • Turmeric for color: Since we eat with our eyes, a sauce that’s not ghostly pale is more visually inviting and gets our brains set for a cheesy meal before the first bite. To get that all-important orange color, we boil a carrot and then boost it with a fat pinch of deep yellow ground turmeric. 
Bowl of Vegan Mac and Cheese

Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

Make It Your Own

This macaroni and cheese easily stands on its own, but it’s pretty rare that I make mac and cheese without add-ins. Here are a few combos that I love.

  • Cajun: Add Cajun seasoning to the sauce. Most kinds from the store have tons of salt, so omit or reduce the miso accordingly.
  • Nacho: Add 1 small (4-ounce) can diced green chiles, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, and 1/2 teaspoon cumin to the sauce. Put 1 cup frozen corn kernels in the bottom of the colander and drain the pasta over them. Then add 1 (15-ounce) can of drained and rinsed black beans to the hot cooked pasta in step 5.
  • Broccoli: About halfway through cooking the pasta, add up to 1 pound of fresh broccoli florets and peeled, chopped stems.
  • Chilimac: After draining the pasta, add a bunch of vegan chili to the hot pot. Stir in the sauce and cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until warmed through. Then add the hot drained pasta.
  • Peas: This one is a major staple around my house when our cupboards are otherwise bare. Add up to 2 cups of frozen peas to the colander and drain the hot pasta over them. Then return to the pot and proceed with the recipe.
Pot of Vegan Mac and Cheese with a Wooden Spoon

Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

More Comforting Vegan Dinners

Vegan Mac and Cheese

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 6 to 8 servings


  • 1/2 cup raw cashew pieces

  • 1 cup boiling water

  • 8 ounces Yukon gold potatoes (about 2 medium), peeled and diced into 3/4-inch pieces

  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces (1/3 to 1/2 cup)

  • 1 cup water

  • Salt, for the pasta water

  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes

  • 1 tablespoon miso

  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil or mild olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 pound macaroni or your favorite pasta


  1. Soak the cashews:

    Put the cashews in a small heatproof bowl and pour 1 cup of boiling water over them. Set aside.

    Cashews Soaking in a Bowl of Water for Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipe

    Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

  2. Boil the potatoes and carrot:

    Put the diced potato and carrot in a medium saucepan. Add 1 cup water, or enough to barely cover the vegetables. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to maintain a hearty simmer and cook, covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

    Simple Tip!

    As the potatoes and carrots simmer, start heating a pot of water on the stove for the pasta.

    Boiled Carrots and Potatoes in a Pot for Macaroni and Cheese Vegan Recipe

    Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

  3. Purée the sauce: 

    Pour the potatoes, carrots, and cooking liquid into the jar of a blender. Add the cashews and 1/4 cup of their soaking water, along with the nutritional yeast, miso, oil, vinegar, garlic powder, turmeric, and cayenne. Purée until creamy, about 1 minute. If the sauce seems too thick, add a little more of the cashew-soaking water.

    Cashews, Nutritional Yeast, Boiled Vegetables, and Miso Added to a Blender for Vegan Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
    Vegan Mac and Cheese Sauce in a Blender

    Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

  4. Boil the pasta:  

    Put a large pot of salted water on to boil over high heat. Add the macaroni to the boiling water and cook according to package directions until al dente (tender but with just a bit of resistance when you bite in). 

    Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, then drain and return the pasta to the still-warm pot.

    Macaroni Boiled in a Dutch Oven for Vegan Mac & Cheese Recipe

    Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

    A Ladle of Pasta Water Removed to Reserve for Vegan Mac and Cheese

    Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

  5. Mix the sauce and macaroni: 

    Pour the sauce into the pot with the macaroni and stir to combine. Add the reserved 1/2 cup pasta cooking water to the blender and run it for about 30 seconds to coax out any sauce still clinging to the sides, then pour into the sauce.

    Simple Tip!

    As the macaroni and cheese sits, the starches in the sauce and pasta will absorb liquid. This last infusion of pasta cooking water helps smooth out the sauce.

    Vegan Mac and Cheese Mixed Together Using a Wooden Spoon

    Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

    Reserved Pasta Water Poured into Blender

    Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

    Pasta Water Blended with Residual Sauce in the Blender

    Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

    Pot of Vegan Mac and Cheese with a Wooden Spoon

    Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

  6. Taste and serve:

    Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve immediately.

    Refrigerate leftovers, tightly covered, up to 4 days. Add a few tablespoons of water when reheating to help smooth out the sauce.

    Love the recipe? Leave us stars below!

    Bowl of Vegan Mac and Cheese Next to Two Spoons and a Table Napkin

    Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
200 Calories
6g Fat
29g Carbs
8g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 200
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 169mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 29g 11%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 8g
Vitamin C 3mg 16%
Calcium 22mg 2%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 304mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.