The Best Vegan Mac and Cheese (Oil-free, Healthy)

by Alena
Aug 21, 2016
two bowls of vegan mac and cheese with broccoli standing on the counter

If you’re looking for the best vegan mac and cheese out there, look no further! This one is super creamy and tasty, you’d never think it is secretly healthy. And it comes without any bad health consequences.

The one single food item that keeps vegetarians (or even meat eaters, for that matter) from going vegan is almost always the cheese.

We love it so much, we don’t just put it on the pizza – we actually put it inside the crust! And we were both no exception from the rule. Cheese was the biggest reason why our transition to a fully vegan diet took us so long.

We simply couldn’t imagine a life without a block of solidified dairy milk.

It wasn’t before we learned just how much cruelty was behind this food and that it consists of 70-80% artery-clogging saturated fat and cholesterol. Many types of cheese are made with rennet, which is an enzyme that comes from a calves’ stomach lining. So technically, your cheese might not even be vegetarian. It is also likely to be crawling with bacteria and might have been sprayed with mold, especially the slimy cheeses.

What really made us reconsider things was the fact that there is an allowance of somatic cells and pus in every glass of milk. The average somatic cell count in U.S. milk per spoonful is 1,120,000. The fact that milk cows have to be impregnated regularly in order to actually give milk and that their new-born calves will never taste their mother’s milk is just heartbreaking.

So in order to make veganism tasty and very healthy for you, we decided to come up with an easy and delicious vegan mac and cheese recipe that’s made with mostly staple foods that you likely have laying around somewhere. Won’t believe it?

Pasta and Broccoli ingredients

Beautiful Pictures made by Logan Inc

We tasted vegan cheeses before. Many different brands. And we could never get over the artificial taste or the high fat and salt content, so these were not an option for us. But fortunately, there’s a very inexpensive and tasty alternative to sprinkle on your food in order to make it cheesy: nutritional yeast. This food item is also known as the “vegan crack” because a lot of us are likely to be sprinkling it on every dish we’re about to eat.

pasta and broccoli

But it’s still not the same as a creamy cheese sauce. So how did we do it? Instead of using copious amounts of olive or coconut oil like similar recipes suggest, we decided to use veggies as a base. When we don’t have any nuts around, we even make the sauce with veggies alone!

vegan mac andcheese with broccoli

But since we wanted to give you the advanced and even more irresistible version, this recipe does include some nuts. If you can’t or don’t want to have them though, just omit them. And when it comes to your pasta, don’t just limit yourself to macaroni! You can use penne, spaghetti, farfalle, whatever you have in your house.

vegan mac and cheese

And since we’re known to be sneaking some more veggies into our meals for an extra boost of antioxidants and micronutrients, we decided to also add some broccoli. It also makes for some nice color and extra texture! If you have picky kids or grown-ups, feel free to leave out the broccoli. The sauce already has some veggies in it!

Okay so let’s get right into this goodness because who isn’t excited for some pasta? This quick and delicious comfort food will be super creamy and can be made within 15 minutes if you have pre-cooked potatoes on hand. 

Feel free to share with us in the comment below if you liked our vegan mac and cheese and also rate our recipe. You can also tag us on Instagram if you made it or Pin for later!

The Best Vegan Mac and Cheese

The Best Vegan Mac and Cheese

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

This easy creamy mac and cheese recipe is 100% vegan, low in fat and really healthy for you! Homemade with everyday ingredients, it's a family-friendly comfort food prepared in less than 30 minutes total. Great for meal prep and kids really love it!


  • 7 oz dry whole-grain macaroni (200 g)
  • 7 oz broccoli florets (200 g)

Cheese Sauce

  • 2 medium-sized potatoes, cooked and chopped
  • ½ medium-sized carrot, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
  • ½ cup cashews, soaked for at least 30 minutes (65 g)
  • ¾ cup water (180 ml)
  • ¼ cup soy milk (60 ml)
  • 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • dash of paprika
  • dash of cayenne


  1. Get a medium-sized pot and cook your pasta according to package instructions. 5 minutes before the pasta is done, add the broccoli florets.
  2. Once the pasta is al dente and the broccoli soft with a little crunch, drain and set aside.

Make the Cheese Sauce

  1. While the pasta is cooking, heat a small pot over medium and add the onion, garlic and carrot. Sautée in some water or vegetable broth until softened, then add the cooked potatoes to warm them up for a few minutes.
  2. Place all of the ingredients for the easy vegan cheese sauce into a high-speed blender jar and blend until smooth.

Assemble the Pasta

  1. Transfer the cooked and drained pasta and broccoli into a large bowl and add all of the tasty cheesy sauce on top.
  2. Mix everything with a spoon to distribute evenly so all of the pasta is coated with some sauce. Enjoy warm!


  • You can replace the soy milk with any other plant-based milk.
  • Any kind of pasta will work for this recipe.
  • Instead of cashews, you can use blanched almonds. If you don't have a good blender, feel free to add some almond or cashew butter to the potato mixture.
  • To make the sauce creamier, add more plant-based fats like coconut milk or nuts.
  • If you're allergic to nuts, simply omit them or use seed-based butter instead.
  • If you want this dish to be lower in calories and more weight-loss friendly, you can skip the cashews entirely.
  • You can add some white beans to the sauce, replacing some or even all of the potatoes, to make this meal higher in plant-based protein.
  • If you or your family isn't keen on the broccoli, choose another vegetable or omit entirely.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 3 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 426Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 987mgCarbohydrates: 65gFiber: 10gSugar: 6gProtein: 18g
Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated automatically, their accuracy is not guaranteed. Just focus on whole plant-based foods and eat until satiety!
woman in grey vegan shirt with her hands on her hips looking to the left and smiling
Alena Schowalter has been a vegetarian since childhood and vegan since 2012. Together with her husband, she founded nutriciously in 2015 and has been guiding thousands of people through different transition stages towards a healthy plant-based diet. She’s received training in the fields of nutrition, music therapy and social work – currently, she studies for her Vegan Nutritionist Diploma. Alena enjoys ethical discussions around veganism, walks through nature and creating new recipes.
dark grey spotted bowl with a variety of vegetables next to small bottle of green smoothie isolated on light background

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62 thoughts on “The Best Vegan Mac and Cheese (Oil-free, Healthy)”

  1. I just finished making this with walnuts (didn’t have cashews). Sauce consistency is amazing! Very good protein main dish with pea pasta. I’ll try cashews next time and see if there is a major change in flavor. Good stuff!

  2. Great recipe! We love this sauce on baked potatoes with chives from the garden! We added a little turmeric for flavor, anti inflammatory properties and of course, color!
    Beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I made this today for my kids and I. They really liked it! I’m new to the plant-based diet (only a week in) but I already feel amazing! This recipe was easy enough, though I couldn’t get the consistency very smooth. I think next time I’ll blend the cashews separately and see if that helps. It’s definitely going to be a staple for us! Thank you for sharing!

    • Hey Jessica, that’s so wonderful to know! Thanks for the feedback :) Yeah, you truly need a high-speed blender for the cashews. Did you soak them prior to blending for an hour or so?
      Really happy to hear you discovered a new staple for the family! Makes me want to create more such recipes.
      Best wishes,

  4. I’m planning to make this amazing sounding pasta dish and wondered if it’s suitable for freezing.
    Thank you so much.

    • Sounds great, Susan! I haven’t tried freezing it before but wouldn’t know why that should be a bad idea :) Seems like you’re more experienced in this regard, would you like to let us know whether that works?
      In any case, enjoy the pasta x

  5. This is amazing! I am new to plant-based eating and it has been a hard adjustment for my children. This recipe is just what I needed to show them they don’t have to give up their favorite foods. Thank you so much for posting!

    • so happy to read that, Amber! You’re exactly right, just tweaking old favorites and preparing healthier versions is a great way to change someone’s diet for the better :) Really glad they liked it x

  6. If you cook the broccoli florets with the pasta – the last 3 minutes – it will save you some time. Just throw them in with the pasta and when the pasta is done cooking … voila … the broccoli will be ready too.

  7. Wow! Made this tonight and my husband had 4 servings. Said he likes it better than regular Mac-n-cheese. I’m a huge Mac-n-cheese afficianodo so I was skeptical. This is an excellent substitute and I’m enjoying not feeling yucky afterwards like I do with the regular version. Thank you!!

  8. Thank you so much for the extra notes at the end of the recipe – I have had this recipe open in my browser for weeks waiting to make it and I just never seem to get round to buying cashews…so I am glad I can just leave it out. Going to try your suggestion of white beans instead of potatoes too :) Look forward to finding more simple and delicious vegan friendly recipes :D

    • Hi Susan,
      yes you can actually! The consistency might be a bit thicker and the sauce would need some thinning out and adjusting with spices to taste again. When you defrost it, leave it on the counter all day so it can slowly come to room temp. Then slowly heat it in the microwave and stir well.
      Hope this helps! Enjoy our recipe – it definitely needs some updating with more information :)
      Best wishes,

    • great idea, thanks for sharing! Yes, pretty much every soy sauce is vegan. You need to be careful with Asian sauce, though – they often contain fish, oyster or shrimp as a flavoring.


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