The Best Vegan* Macaroni and Cheese Ever

I don’t maintain a strictly vegan diet, but copious amounts of dairy upsets my stomach. As you can imagine, that makes it challenging to satisfy my mac & cheese craving. I’ve tried numerous vegan mac & cheese recipes over the years, and this one is the only one I’ll eat. I like it because it doesn’t call for nutritional yeast, which I’ve never been crazy about.

Here’s the deal: While this doesn’t taste exactly like mac & cheese, it 100% fulfills my mac & cheese craving. I’ve served it to plenty of non-vegans and no one has ever been disappointed.

*Asterisk included because I make mine with real butter. It can easily be made entirely vegan if you use margarine or Earth Balance though.


  • 4 quarts of water
  • 8 ounces macaroni
  • 2 slices of bread, toasted and torn into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon + 1/3 cup butter (or a vegan alternative)
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup red or yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1/3 cup onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until al dente. In a colander, drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
  2. In a food processor, make breadcrumbs by pulverizing the toasted bread and 1 tablespoon butter to a medium-fine texture. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, add shallots, potatoes, carrots, onion, and water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.
  4. In a food processor, process the cashews, salt, garlic, 1/3 cup butter, mustard, lemon juice and black pepper. Add softened vegetables and cooking water to the food processor and process until smooth.
  5. In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta and blended “cheese” sauce until completely coated. Spread mixture into a 9 x 13 baking dish, sprinkle with prepared breadcrumbs. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the top has turned golden brown.

*Recipe adapted from Veg News*

Pumpkin Mac & Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Apples

Sounds like an odd combination, but it works. The pumpkin flavor isn’t very strong at all – it just gives it a nice creaminess.

Serves: 4-6


  • 8 oz dry macaroni pasta (I used orecchiette)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 apple, peeled and chopped (I used Fuji)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin beer
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/4 cups grated cheddar cheese (Note: I used half applewood smoked cheddar and half seriously sharp cheddar. It was pretty smoky. If you’re not a fan of smoky, you can use all sharp cheddar.)
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water, according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, stir to coat with oil, and let cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper. Let cook another 5 minutes or so and then add the chopped apples. Lower heat to medium-low. Continue to cook apples and onions, stirring occasionally, for an additional 5-10 minutes or so, until onions are caramelized and apples are softened and golden brown. Set aside.

Start your roux. Add butter to a medium saucepan and let melt over medium heat. Add flour to the melted butter and whisk continuously for about a minute. Raise heat a bit and add the beer.  Reduce until almost evaporated and mixture is quite thick, then whisk in the maple syrup and milk. Season with mustard powder, nutmeg, and salt and pepper. Let cook until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Whisk in the pumpkin then whisk in the grated cheese until incorporated.

Stir together the pasta, cheese sauce, onions, and apples. Spread the mixture into an 8×8 glass baking dish and sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes, let cool slightly, then serve.

*Recipe adapted from Pumpkin Mac & Cheese with Apples and Caramelized Onions*