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
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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!

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

This delicious creamy mac and cheese recipe is 100% vegan, free of any oil and made with no-fuss ingredients in just 15 minutes or less! Kids and omnivores love it, guaranteed.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4
Calories: 400kcal
Author: Alena @ Nutriciously

Ingredients

  • 7 oz dry whole grain maccaroni (or any kind of pasta) (200g)
  • 7 oz broccoli florets (200g)

Sauce

  • 2 medium sized potatoes, cooked
  • ½ medium sized carrot
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
  • ½ cup cashews (65g)
  • ¾ cup water (180ml)
  • ¼ cup soy milk (or any plant-based milk) (60ml)
  • 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • dash of paprika
  • dash of cayenne

Instructions

  • Cook pasta according to package instructions. Meanwhile, peel the cooked potatoes and the carrot, then chop finely. Put in a small pot together with the chopped garlic and onion. Heat up with a little bit of water and let cook until soft enough to blend and the water has almost disappeared.
  • Remove pot from stove and put the warm sauce ingredients in a blender jar together with the spices, milk, water, and cashews. Blend cautiously until smooth.
  • Chop up the broccoli florets and sauté with water in a non-stick pan until soft but still a little crunchy. Add all ingredients in a bowl, mix thoroughly until everything is coated with the sauce. Enjoy warm!
woman in grey vegan shirt with her hands on her hips looking to the left and smiling
Alena has been eating a plant-based diet for 6 years and is passionate about sharing her learnings in the fields of nutrition, wellbeing, and vegan ethics. She is the co-creator of nutriciously and loves music, reading, nature, traveling, yoga & good food. Alena received training in the fields of nutrition, music therapy, and social work.
dark grey spotted bowl with a variety of vegetables next to small bottle of green smoothie isolated on light background

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55 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,
      Alena

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

    • 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.

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