Bringing up the topic of veganism can elicit a passionate response, whether someone practices it or not. The health ramifications of dairy overconsumption are debatable. However, my reasons for creating the best vegan macaroni and cheese recipe are purely selfish and have nothing to do with the ethics of a plant-based diet. Truthfully, since discovering (or finally giving in to) a dairy sensitivity several years ago, I craved the mouthfeel of eating something creamy. That's it. So, I set out to make the best vegan mac and cheese.
I wanted to experience my favorite comfort food without being extremely uncomfortable hours later, my stomach lurching with every step I take. For years, I've had to politely decline macaroni and cheese at the family dinner table for the sake of my body's inflammatory response, and frankly, I felt left out until I created this creamy, dairy-free recipe packed with two kinds of vegan cheese. This vegan mac and cheese recipe is so easy and satisfying to make, and you will see why this recipe deserves a spot in any potluck or holiday meal rotation.
Ready in about 30 minutes (minus the time needed to soak the cashews), this recipe is perfect for parties or weeknight dinners served with a side salad. I like to start soaking the cashews right at the beginning while getting all my vegetables prepped and chopped, and a pot of water on the stove to boil.
If you have a high-speed blender like a Vitamix, a 5-minute soak will do the trick, but if your blender isn't up to speed, simply soak the cashews for about 30 minutes, disregarding the soaking water once you add the cashews to the blender.
Place the vegetables in a pot, add just enough water to cover, and bring to a boil. While the vegetables are boiling, add the drained cashews, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and seasonings to the blender. When the vegetables are tender, drain (save that broth!), and add to the blender.
Blend with the top of the lid off to prevent pressure from building up and add about a tablespoon of the reserved broth and gradually add more as it gets going. Once you reach your desired consistency and taste, combine the sauce with the prepared macaroni noodles and add the vegan cheese shreds. Finally, add the mixture to a 9x13 pan, top with remaining cheese, and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
Dairy-Free Southern Mac and Cheese
- 1 cup sweet potatoes diced and peeled
- cup ¼carrots diced
- cup ¼onion diced
- cup ½of reserved broth
- cup ½of raw cashews
- 4 tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Pinch smoked paprika
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 8 oz elbow macaroni
- 1 cup of vegan cheddar
- 1 cup of vegan mozzarella
- Preheat oven to 375°F
- Soak cashews in hot water for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, boil the sweet potatoes, onions, and carrots until tender. Drain but reserve broth. Set veggies aside.
- Boil macaroni in 2qt water until tender. Drain and set aside.
- In a blender, combine sweet potatoes, carrots, onion, soaked cashews, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, garlic powder, and smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. An immersion blender can work here as well. Add reserved vegetable broth to make sauce as thick or thin as you would like.
- Combine vegan sauce with macaroni in a 9x13 pan. Mix in ½ cup of vegan cheddar and ½ cup of vegan mozzarella.
- Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and bake for 15 minutes or until melted.
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