Easy Vegan Mac and Cheese (oil-free)

July 23, 2018

Appetizers and Sides

By: Jasmine Briones 

The only vegan mac and cheese recipe you will ever need! This dish is made with simple plant-based ingredients and will be a hit with any vegan or nonvegan you serve it to! #vegan #macandcheese #best #musttry #cheesy #nutritionalyeast #breaded #sweetsimplevegan #cashews #cream #turmeric

The only vegan mac and cheese recipe you will ever need! This dish is made with simple plant-based ingredients and will be a hit with any vegan or nonvegan you serve it to!

overhead image of vegan mac and cheese in cast iron skillet

The only vegan mac and cheese recipe you will ever need! This dish is made with simple plant-based ingredients and will be a hit with any vegan or nonvegan you serve it to! #vegan #macandcheese #best #musttry #cheesy #nutritionalyeast #breaded #sweetsimplevegan #cashews #cream #turmeric

This vegan mac and cheese definitely stole my heart. For one thing, it is SO easy to make and I can have dinner ready in just 30 minutes. Secondly, it requires simple plant-based ingredients that we usually have on hand at home, so it basically can become a mac and cheese kind of night every night if we really let it be!

The only vegan mac and cheese recipe you will ever need! This dish is made with simple plant-based ingredients and will be a hit with any vegan or nonvegan you serve it to! #vegan #macandcheese #best #musttry #cheesy #nutritionalyeast #breaded #sweetsimplevegan #cashews #cream #turmeric

To create a cheesy yellow color for the mac sauce, the Sunfood turmeric, and some carrots will do the trick. They also help pack this dish with some extra nutrition, because if you can have a delicious AND healthy mac and cheese, you’re WINNING!

three quarter angle of cheese sauce being poured over pasta

The star of this recipe is the raw cashews we used from Sunfood Superfoods. It is truly a super ingredient, and definitely creates magic in plant-based cooking! You can use it to make (vegan) frostings, cream sauce, cheese, cheesecake, mayo, milk alternatives, ice cream, dips…the list probably goes on and on! Today we are highlighting it as a cream sauce and it is truly SO GOOD.

We should note that getting raw cashews is a must to obtain the best result!

overhead image of vegan mac and cheese in skillet

We’ve really been diggin’ all of the superfood goodness that Sunfood has to offer. So much so that we decided to top this mac n’ cheese with Sunfood hemp seeds to enhance the nutritional value and add the perfect boost of flavor.

overhead image of vegan mac and cheese with scoop taken out

If you make our mac and cheese or any or recipe on our blog, please let us know what you think in the comments below! + If you post any photos on Instagram, make sure you tag us @sweetsimplevegan and @consciouschris so that we don’t miss it, we love seeing your photos!

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overhead image of vegan mac and cheese in cast iron skillet

Easy Vegan Mac and Cheese (oil-free)

  • Author: Jasmine @ Sweet Simple Vegan
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 9 servings


The only vegan mac and cheese recipe you will ever need! This dish is made with simple plant-based ingredients and will definitely be a hit with any vegan or nonvegan you serve it to!


  • 1 cup Sunfood raw cashews
  • 1 lb. elbow (macaroni) noodles, gluten-free as needed
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons vegetable broth
  • 1/2 large or 1 cup steamed russet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, only if the sauce is thin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sunfood turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste


  • 1/2 cup carrots, steamed
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Scallions, chopped
  • Smoked paprika
  • Sunfood hemp seeds


  1. Soak the raw cashews in water overnight. If you need to speed things up, you can boil water and soak the cashews in the hot water for about 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until soft. Drain and set aside.
  2. Cook the noodles according to the packaging directions.
  3. In a medium cast iron skillet, add in 2 tablespoons of vegetable broth. Add in the onions and garlic, and for 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant and the onions become translucent. Set aside.
  4. In a small steamer, steam the potatoes and optional carrots until fork tender, about 8 minutes.
  5. Add the cooked onions and garlic, soaked cashews and the steamed vegetables to a high-speed blender along with the remaining ingredients except for the cornstarch and blend until completely smooth. Add additional vegetable broth or water if too thick or cornstarch if too thin, and blend again until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  6. Add the noodles into the cast iron skillet (used above) and then pour over the cheese sauce. Carefully mix until all of the noodles are coated and uniform.
  7. You can dig in there, or you can take one more optional step: Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the mac and cheese and place it in the oven to broil until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and toasted.
  8. Top with hemp seeds, scallions, and smoked paprika, as desired. Serve warm.


  • You can bake or boil the potatoes if needed, you just need to make sure they are soft and cooked through!
  • If you would like to replace the cashews, we suggest opting for a seed butter such as sunflower or tahini (sesame seed). These will bring in the fat content that will be taken away with the cashews and will also bring in a creamy factor. These will also bring a new flavor into the dish, so we just suggest tasting as you go and making adjustments as needed. Start with 1/2 cup of the seed butter. You could also opt to just make a potato cheese sauce by removing the cashews. It will not be as decadent and creamy, but it should still work. For this, just add in about 1/2 cup more potatoes plus more liquid as needed to blend. Please note that we have not tested out these substitutions and cannot guarantee results. If you do try these out, please let us know in the comments below so that others can refer to it as well!
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Entree, Pasta, Lunch
  • Cuisine: Vegan

Keywords: Entree, Pasta, Lunch, Vegan, Mac and Cheese, Potato, Carrot, Cashews

Nutrition facts label provided by Nutri Fox.

Disclaimer: This page may contain affiliate links, which simply means that we earn a commission if you purchase through those links, but your price remains the same. Thank you for supporting Sweet Simple Vegan!

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Recipe rating

  1. Danielle says:

    This looks so yummy!!!! Will the cheese sauce still be successful if I used baked or boiled potato instead of steamed? Not sure whether or not I actually have a steamer! Can’t wait to make this 🙂

  2. Alexandria Elise Johnston says:

    Can you replace the nuts with anything if there is a nut allergy?

    • Hello! You can opt for tahini or sunflower seed butter. I have added a note to the recipe card for a nut-free version so that you can refer to it 🙂 Let us know how it goes!

  3. Gretchen says:

    Hi! This recipe look delicious and I just bought all the ingredients to make it. Do you know what the severing size is for the nutritional information that you provided? Thank you!

  4. Talley says:

    Hi! Step 3 says “add in 2 tablespoons,” but doesn’t say of what.

  5. Lisa says:

    Any alternatives to cashews for people with nut allergies? Cashews and peanuts are a no-go for me. Xx

  6. Grace says:

    Thoughts on almonds instead of cashews? Cashews don’t always agree with me but almonds are usually fine 🙂

    • Hey Grace! For this recipe, I am not sure if almonds would work as I have not tested it yet. I would say that something that would work better is sunflowers, sesame seeds (in the form of tahini) or tofu! I have not tested this recipe with those, but I have seen dozens of cheese recipes using those so I am confident with a few tweaks it will be delicious.

  7. Melanie Arce says:

    I omitted the cashews and vegetable broth and used a raw yellow squash, came out wonderful! (:

  8. Shira Golan says:

    Can I replace the onions with red onions or with onion powder?

    • Yes! Either would work. The red onions may shift the color a little bit and bring in a stronger flavor but it will probably be delicious! Onion powder would be great too, just use 1/2 tablespoon 🙂

  9. Joe Brush says:

    This was great and I discovered that it tastes great cold. Thanks!

  10. What a genius cheese sauce idea! Is it weird that I actually prefer oil free recipes? The feeling of consuming something super greasy and oily was never appealing to begin with. Your mac n’ cheese looks fabulous the addition of hemp seeds is an amazing way to incorporate omega-3 fatty acids for a healthier recipe 😀

  11. Joanne says:

    Looks fantastic! Can’t wait to make it. Is a serving size 1 cup?

  12. Christina Newton says:

    So good! I tossed my diced potatoes in the pot with the pasta and cooked them at the same time. One less dish to clean! I just had to separate the potatoes from the pasta in the colander, but that wasn’t a big deal to me.

  13. nikkijordon says:

    I made this recipe after seeing your youtube video. It was amazing! So easy and delicious! I look forward to trying many more of your recipes!

  14. Michelle says:

    I made this for supper tonight, and it totally scratched the Mac and cheese itch! Thanks guys! Love your content!

  15. Suzanne says:

    I made this and it did not disappoint! I used yellow potatoes, since that’s what I had on hand, and mixed in some frozen peas. I baked it with breadcrumbs on top and topped it with a bit of Cajun seasoning. Absolutely delicious!

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