Rich, creamy, and lush, this easy yet decadent Vegan Mac and Cheese is for cheese lovers. This incredibly delicious cheese sauce is great on any pasta (or anything else) and contains no nuts, soy, gluten, or oil.
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Hey Internet, I’ve been making a lot of nut-free vegan cheese lately, I keep neglecting my favorite: mac and cheese.
One of my favorite meals before going vegan was a certain frozen entree from the grocery store: wheels and cheese by Michelinas. I could eat multiple boxes at a time, it was so good and I had a bit of a problem.
While there are actual chemicals in dairy products that can cause us to become addicted to cheese, that’s not what I am here to talk to you about today.
Today, I want to talk about this amazing Nut-Free Vegan Mac and Cheese I am sharing with you.
It is SO GOOD.
We finally got wagon wheel pasta the other week and instantly had to try and recreate that delicious frozen meal. After several nights of delicious testing, I nailed it.
The wagon wheel pasta is optional of course. You could use any pasta (gluten-free if needed) or even put the sauce on anything else you like, such as veggies or a baked potato.
But this sauce! I’m salivating just writing about it, lol.
If you want to learn how to make vegan mac and cheese without cashews, you need this recipe. This sauce is rich, creamy, and dreamy, but there’s not a cashew in sight.
Don’t even get me started on how sick I am of seeing cashews in every vegan recipe under the sun. I won’t even buy them as a matter of principle.
Or rather, they’re just really expensive.
Anyway, want to see what makes my vegan mac and cheese the absolute best? Keep reading.
What You’ll Need
So the base of this awesome nut-free vegan mac and cheese sauce is canned coconut milk. It’s rich, it’s creamy, and it lends JUST A TINY BIT of sweetness. It’s really so good with everything else in here.
Can’t have coconut? I’ll talk about what you can use instead in the substitutions section below.
Next, it still needed some body, so I added raw sunflower seeds. They’re cheaper than cashews and they’re great for folks who can’t have nuts.
They blend up much easier than cashews. If you don’t have a high powered blender, you may want to soak the sunflower seeds in boiling water for 10-30 minutes before blending.
Nutritional yeast is an important ingredient in making this sauce cheesy and delicious. If you don’t like nutritional yeast, you can omit it, or substitute some store-bought vegan cheese in your sauce instead.
Though I will say the sauce doesn’t overwhelmingly taste like nutritional yeast thanks to all the other flavorful ingredients like lemon and spices.
Speaking of which, let’s talk about lemon and spices.
The juice of a lemon can help just about any flavor profile. If you don’t have lemon you could use vinegar instead.
Spices. I used a lot of spices here so don’t be intimidated if you have to leave something out, but they all make a big difference in the flavor profile of this vegan cheese sauce.
You’ll need onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, dried thyme, turmeric (mostly for color), black pepper, and a pinch of salt.
Most of the salty flavor comes from this great chickpea miso paste I found at my local health food store. Regular miso paste will work, but soy-free people will need to find chickpea miso or just use a bit more salt.
After adding all this stuff I felt like just a little sweetness would balance it out, so I added just a tablespoon of coconut sugar. Any other sugar will work -- if using cane sugar I’d reduce it to a teaspoon and taste before adding more. You can leave it out completely if you prefer.
Finally, it may sound a bit strange, but Dijon mustard gives this cheese sauce a great tiny zing. I’m not a big fan of mustard, and I love what it gives this sauce so I recommend not skimping out on it.
What Substitutions Can I Make?
To replace either the coconut milk or the sunflower seeds, you could absolutely use cashews or cashew butter if you really want to. But this is a vegan mac and cheese without cashews.
For a lower fat option, try going half coconut milk, half non-dairy milk (unsweetened) of your choice.
For even lower fat, try tofu or white beans and non-dairy milk to blend.
Keep in mind the sauce won’t be as rich, but if you’re looking for a lower fat option, this is a good way to go.
Tips for Making Nut-Free Vegan Mac and Cheese
- This is a 15 minute dish, so start your pasta water before anything else. I recommend salting your pasta water for better flavor, but that’s up to you. Cook your pasta according to package instructions, and drain when finished but do not rinse.
- So to make the nut-free vegan cheese sauce, literally all you do is throw the ingredients in the blender and blend them until smooth. Taste it and adjust if needed.
- Once the pasta is done and in a colander, throw the sauce into the empty pot you used for the pasta and heat it over medium low until heated through. (Note, if you have a high powered blender like a Vitamix you may be able to just add it straight to the pasta, since you can heat it up in the blender itself.)
- Add the pasta back in, give it a good stir, and serve!
- This nut-free vegan mac and cheese goes great with roasted or air-fried broccoli, or any other veggie too.
- Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. You can freeze the cheese sauce in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
More Easy Vegan Pasta Dishes
I probably love pasta more than anything--sorry Mr. Zardyplants, aka Paul. This vegan mac and cheese without cashews is one of my all-time favorites. Which is hilarious to me because I loved cashews as a kid--I'm just sick of seeing them in everything vegan!
Here’s some of my fave pasta dishes right now--if you loved this vegan tuna noodle casserole I bet you’ll like these:
- Perfect for fall: Vegan Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
- Vegan White Cheddar Mac Bake with Mushroom Bacon
- Vegan Hamburger Helper
- Chickpea Florentine (one pot)
- Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese
- Vegan Tuna Casserole
- Savory Coconut Pasta
- Vegan Vodka Sauce (with pasta)
- Vegan Manicotti
- Tahini Pasta with Broccolini
- Vegan Baked Ziti
- Vegan Goulash (American/Chili Mac Style)
As always, I hope you love this recipe--I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does too. I am TOTALLY obsessed and it’s my new go-to.
This nut-free vegan mac and cheese is:
- Oh so delicious!
- And perfect for a quick and cozy dinner, but impressive enough to serve guests!
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!