Rich, creamy and velvety vegan macaroni and cheese, made using only real whole foods. Totally plant based, vegan, oil-free recipe without cashews. Decadent and gooey, an easy dairy-free substitute for velveeta mac and cheese.
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You don't need cashews or nuts of any kind to make a rich, creamy dairy-free vegan mac and cheese. You also don't need flour or vegan butter.
Potatoes, carrots with a few spices produce an incredible and easy to make hidden vegetable pasta sauce that your kids will devour. Just start with my silky, rich fauxveeta vegan cheese sauce.
🧄 Ingredient notes
The plant-based, vegan cheese sauce is made without cashews using:
- Macaroni pasta - Use your favorite macaroni or small pasta. You can use standard pasta, whole wheat pasta, gluten-free pasta or any kind you like. Besides macaroni, you could also try rotini, shells, ditalini, penne or farfalle.
- Potatoes - The starch in the potatoes make this sauce rich, silky and creamy without the need for nuts or seeds.
- Carrots - The carrots give the sauce a hint of sweetness and add to the color and nutritional value.
- Onion and garlic - The onion and garlic are for aromatic flavor.
- Plant-based milk - The almond milk adds to the creaminess and is needed to thin the mixture in the blender. I use almond milk, but to make this completely nut-free, use soy milk or oat milk. Be sure it's plain, unsweetened, unflavored milk.
- Nutritional yeast - The nutritional yeast gives it the cheesy, umami flavor. Use more to amp up the cheesiness! Some people prefer the flavor of unfortified nutritional yeast (aka nooch), but we like the taste of the fortified nooch just fine. Find nutritional yeast at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Amazon or in the bulk bin of your local health food or well-stocked grocery store.
- Ground turmeric - the ground turmeric contributes health benefits and aids in the bright orange faux-velveeta color of this sauce.
Here are some optional, but highly recommended, flavor boosters that can take the sauce to the next level.
Only use ONE to start out with. Taste and then adjust or add another option.
- Smoked paprika - adds smokiness and depth of flavor, but don't overdo it.
- Lemon juice - adds brightness
- Apple cider vinegar - adds brightness and a hint of tang
- Miso paste - adds umami saltiness, but again, don't overdo it. Start with less and see if you like it.
Looking for a gluten-free version? Try this decadent-looking Nut-Free Vegan Mac And Cheese recipe.
Here's step by step instructions and photos for how to make this vegan macaroni and cheese without using cashews, flour, vegan butter or other nuts and seeds to make the sauce.
Step 1: In a medium-large stock pot, add cut potatoes, carrots and onion. (For a mild garlic flavor, add it now.) Cover with water.
Then, boil potatoes, carrot, onion until fork tender, then drain.
Use a high-speed blender to blend this sauce completely smooth. I recommend Blendtec, Vitamix or Ninja.
Step 2: Blend it up with spices and almond milk. Add cooked veggies to blender with garlic, nutritional yeast, turmeric, salt, almond milk and optional (but recommended!) flavor boosters, if using. (Adding the raw garlic now will give you a stronger garlic flavor). You may need to do this in more than one batch, depending on your blender size.
Blend until completely smooth (I use a Blendtec and press the soup button). If it will not blend, you may need to add a bit more almond milk.
Step 3: Use as you would use any cheese sauce!
Step 3: Cook pasta according to package directions, then drain. Warm sauce in a small saucepan over medium low heat until bubbly.
Step 4: Pour over cooked macaroni or small pasta of your choice and enjoy!
👨👩👦👦 Serving suggestions
This makes enough sauce (about 4+ cups) to completely coat one pound of macaroni pasta, for mac and cheese.
This should serve four people, with a side salad or other type of vegetable side.
Steamed broccoli goes really well with this. Also, steamed green peas.
And, if you've never tried a drizzle of ketchup on top of your macaroni and cheese, you've got to give it a go. It's amazing.
Do I have to peel my potatoes?
- For a smooth sauce, peel your potatoes.
- If you don't mind a speckled sauce and are using Yukon gold potatoes, which have a thin skin, you can leave the skins on (but be sure to thoroughly scrub them when washing).
- If you're using potatoes with a thicker skin (like russets), they should definitely be peeled before cooking.
How long will this sauce last?
This vegan cheese sauce will last up to 5 days in a sealed container in the refrigerator. It will last up to 3 months in the freezer.
Will this freeze well?
Yes! I've tested freezing the cheese sauce alone and mac and cheese already prepared and both ways they freeze well. They will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
I recommend freezing it in single serving containers, so it's faster to thaw and reheat. Or, you can freeze a baking dish of mac and cheese and reheat, covered in the oven for an easy weeknight meal.
How can I reheat frozen cheese sauce?
- To reheat the sauce alone, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Then, heat it up either in the microwave or on the stove.
- Microwave: Remove lid and microwave for 1 minute, then stir. Repeat until hot and smooth again, as needed.
- Stovetop: Add thawed sauce to a small-medium saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. It will look separated at first, but keep heating and stirring it until the smooth, silky consistency has returned.
How can I reheat frozen vegan mac and cheese?
To reheat a frozen single serving container of vegan mac and cheese, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight, if you can. Then, place it in the microwave for 1-4 minutes, depending on how big your single serving is.
To reheat a frozen baking dish of macaroni and cheese, cover well with parchment paper and then aluminum foil. Bake at 325 F until hot in the center.
If it's too dry, add more cheese sauce (if you have it) or a splash of plant-based milk and stir.
How can I get my kids to eat more vegetables?
Make a hidden vegetable pasta sauce!
This cheese sauce looks like velveeta, but it's packed full of hidden veggies. We've got potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic in there. Plus, immune-boosting turmeric!
🚦 Calorie density score
🟢 This recipe gets a green light on the calorie density chart. All of the ingredients are lower than 600 calories per pound, so eating meals like this, especially when paired with non-starchy vegetables regularly may help you lose body fat. Learn more about calorie density from Jeff Novick, MS, RDN.
Get your own printable calorie density chart for your refrigerator and free ebook explaining calorie density in simple terms.
💜 More recipes you'll love
All of these recipes use the same cheese sauce you'll make for this vegan mac and cheese recipe, but in other delicious ways!
Vegan Mac and Cheese (without cashews)
- 3 cups potato 530 grams potato, about 5 medium yukon gold or russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large squares
- 1 ½ cups carrot 210 grams carrot, about 5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces the same size at the potatoes
- 1 onion 175 grams, quartered
- 5 cloves garlic 20 grams garlic, chopped
- 3 tablespoon nutritional yeast optional, but recommended
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup almond milk or other unsweetened, unflavored plant-based milk
- 16 ounces macaroni pasta
- Boil potatoes, carrot and onion in water until fork tender, then drain.
- Cook the macaroni pasta in a separate pot of well-salted water, cook according to package instructions, then drain and return to pot.
- Add cooked potato, carrot and onion to high speed blender with garlic, nutritional yeast, turmeric, salt, almond milk and any optional flavor boosters (see Notes). You may need to do this in more than one batch, depending on your blender size.
- Blend until completely smooth (I use a Blendtec and press the smoothie or soup button). If it will not blend, you may need to add a bit more almond milk.
- Taste the sauce and adjust salt, as needed.
- Pour sauce over drained macaroni pasta, stir and warm up on the stove, if needed.
- Serve with generous freshly cracked black pepper on top.
Optional (but recommended!) Flavor Boosters (add to cheese sauce when blending)
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon miso paste
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar