Try this creamy and healthy vegan mac and cheese for a low-fat comfort dish! It’s kid-friendly, nutritious and ready in under 30 minutes.
Macaroni and cheese is a familiar childhood favorite for many, and while our whole food plant-based version doesn’t exactly taste like the boxed version, we’re positive that you’ll love it!
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Zero dairy or oil is needed for the creamy cheese sauce made with accessible ingredients, and you can serve it cooked with some added broccoli or bake it in the oven!
With major upgrades in the health department, you won’t feel heavy after enjoying this delicious dinner, and you probably have most of the components needed for the recipe already at home.
Here’s why you need to try our silky smooth, tangy and savory pasta dish.
Images by Logan Ink
Recipe overview & features
- Dairy-free, oil-free & super creamy
- Completely whole food plant-based
- Easy beginner recipe for veg-curious people
- Ready in under 30 minutes (almost as fast as boxed!)
- Customizable & great for meal prep
- Kid-friendly and family favorite comfort food
Once you try this mac and cheese, we can promise that you’ll want to make it all the time! It’s lower in calories but full of yum.
- Pasta – choose wheat, whole grain or legume-based pasta; any shape is fine. We went with fusilli because that’s what we had in our pantry.
- Broccoli – drenched in our homemade cheese sauce, it won’t taste half bad – even if you’re no brocco-holic!
- Cashews – the whole food plant-based foundation of our dairy-free cheese sauce; make sure to soak them for a few hours if you don’t have a high-speed blender!
- Potatoes and carrots – adding more volume and nutrition to the sauce without the extra fat; works great with leftovers.
- Nutritional yeast – the cheesy secret ingredient in many vegan sauces! Definitely don’t skip this one.
This healthy vegan mac and cheese gets its signature flavor from a combination of nutritional yeast, salt and lemon juice.
Together with some creamy blended cashews, you can make a speedy and healthy dairy-free cheese sauce at home to be served with your pasta of choice!
How to make healthy vegan mac and cheese
Cook your pasta
Get a medium-sized pot and cook your pasta of choice according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, cut the broccoli into florets and add it to the pot with the pasta around 5 minutes before it’s al-dente!
Make the cheese sauce
While the pasta is cooking, heat a small pot over medium heat and add the onion, garlic and carrot.
Sauté using water, vegetable broth or a splash of olive oil to make it richer. Once the veggies have softened, add the cooked potatoes and let them warm up for a few minutes.
Next, place the cooked veggies together with the rest of the ingredients for the sauce straight into a blender jar and blend until smooth. Add more liquid if needed and adjust to taste preferences.
Assemble the dish
Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add back to the pot. Pour the cheese sauce over the drained pasta and broccoli.
Mix well with a spoon but don’t overdo it if you want the pasta and broccoli not to get too mushy! Enjoy warm.
Storage & reheating
Store any leftover vegan cheese sauce separately in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days. It also freezes well and can be thawed to add to a quick weeknight meal!
You can also store the whole meal in a sealed container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Be sure to add a splash of water or soy milk when you reheat your mac and cheese!
You can certainly enjoy this delicious vegan dinner all by itself – but if you’re wondering what goes well with vegan mac and cheese, here are a few ideas!
- Simple side salad
- Baked sweet potato fries
- Carrot or broccoli slaw
- Freshly baked garlic bread
- Roasted veggies
- White beans or chickpeas stirred into the pasta
- Steamed green beans or leafy greens
Tips & FAQs
Vegan cheese sauce tips
Feel free to play around with the ratios to make your cheese sauce higher or lower in fat by increasing the cashews or the potatoes.
You can also add a splash of olive oil, a handful of vegan cheese shreds or swap soy milk for coconut milk to make this meal heartier. A handful of steamed cauliflower reduces calories in the sauce.
If you don’t have a high-speed blender, use cashew butter or almond butter instead of cashews.
For a deeper flavor, add a bit of mustard and miso paste to the sauce or add stretchy Daiya cheese shreds when combining the pasta with the sauce!
How many calories are in vegan mac and cheese?
Our whole food plant-based mac and cheese with broccoli is a super satisfying yet “skinny” or low-calorie dinner option.
It’s super comforting and remarkably cheesy despite being low in calories! One serving comes to about 420 calories while offering a good amount of volume and satiety.
For an even lower calorie version, skip the cashews and add some cooked cauliflower to the sauce! Butternut squash also works well if you have it on hand.
Add more plant-based fats like coconut milk to the cheese sauce to make a more decadent version.
Make this recipe nut-free by replacing the cashews with tahini or hemp seeds; you can also omit the cashews, increase the potatoes and add some olive oil for the creaminess.
Feel free to add cooked butternut squash or pumpkin to your cheese sauce for a lovely orange color!
If needed, you can use legume-based or gluten-free pasta and add other veggies like baby spinach, cauliflower, kale, peas, or bell peppers to your healthy vegan mac and cheese instead of broccoli.
Suggested add-ons include breadcrumbs, vegan bacon, jalapenos and buffalo bites.
For a baked vegan macaroni and cheese, preheat the oven to 350° F while preparing the pasta and sauce.
Pour the low-fat cheese sauce over the cooked pasta, stir, then place the mixture into a baking dish and bake for about 20 minutes.
If you want to add a crunchy topping, sprinkle some breadcrumbs on top before baking!
More easy vegan recipes
If this vegan mac and cheese hits the spot, don’t miss out on our other delicious vegan meal ideas!
- Quinoa Pasta Salad
- Healthy Vegan Grilled Cheese
- Low-Fat Mushroom Risotto
- One-Pot Pasta Marinara
- Spicy Thai Potato Curry
Did you try our vegan mac and cheese and like it? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to rate the recipe! You can also Pin it here or share it with your friends.
- 7 oz dry whole-grain macaroni (200 g)
- 7 oz broccoli florets (200 g)
- 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 & drained (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
- Get a medium-sized pot and cook your pasta according to package instructions. 5 minutes before the pasta is done, add the broccoli florets.
- Once the pasta is al dente and the broccoli is soft with a little crunch, drain and set aside.
Make the Cheese Sauce
- While the pasta is cooking, heat a small pot over medium heat and add the onion, garlic and carrot.
- Sautée in some water or vegetable broth until they have softened, then add the cooked potatoes to warm them up for a few minutes.
- Now, place all of the ingredients for the easy vegan cheese sauce into a high-speed blender jar and blend until smooth.
Assemble the Pasta
- Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add back to the pot. Pour the cheese sauce over the drained pasta and broccoli.
- Mix well with a spoon but don’t overdo it if you want the pasta and broccoli not to get too mushy! Enjoy warm.
- Try to soak the cashews for at least 30 minutes. If you don’t have a high-speed blender, go for overnight soaking.
- You can use frozen broccoli instead of fresh!
- 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.
- You can replace soy milk with any other plant-based milk.
- If you or your family isn't keen on broccoli, choose another vegetable like kale or peas, or omit entirely.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 3 Serving Size: ⅓ recipe
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 426Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 987mgCarbohydrates: 65gFiber: 10gSugar: 6gProtein: 18g