Vegan Mac & Cheese with Nutritional Yeast (Nut-Free)

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Learn how to make vegan mac and cheese from scratch. Serve it as a side dish or delicious entrée. It's also gluten-free, nut-free (no cashews), soy-free, and can be customized with your favorite toppings.

Vegan Mac and Cheese with nutritional yeast (no cashews)
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

This vegan macaroni and cheese recipe is delightfully creamy and rich. It’s an excellent alternative to boxed versions, which are often made with super-processed ingredients.

This dish uses our general-purpose Vegan Cheese recipe. The cheese takes about 10 minutes to make, so it’s perfect if you’re looking for a quick meal.

You can customize this dairy-free mac and cheese, too. Blend it with Vegan BBQ sauce for a smoky twist or top it with Coconut Bacon. Toss it with cooked vegetables or spices, like paprika or everything bagel spice.

From there, this vegan mac and cheese can be served as a side dish or entrée. We love pairing it with Vegan Sloppy Joes or Vegan Green Bean Casserole as part of a holiday spread.

vegan mac and cheese ingredients
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

Key Ingredients

  • Vegan butter. You will need vegan butter to make a roux, or thickener.
  • All-purpose flour. When mixed together, flour and butter create a roux. You can use regular or gluten-free all-purpose flour.
  • Nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast offers a cheesy and umami flavor.
  • Plant-based milk. Be sure to use plain unsweetened milk. We used oat milk for this vegan cheese.
  • Pasta. You can use gluten-free pasta, if needed.

How to Make Vegan Mac and Cheese

The following steps explain how to make basic vegan mac and cheese. It can be easily customized with other ingredients, like hot sauce or sautéed vegetables. Here’s how to make this dish:

1. In a small skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk until combined and thick.

Making a roux in a skillet
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

2. Add the remaining ingredients. Whisk well.

Vegan Cheese sauce ingredients mixed in a skillet
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

3. Simmer for 7 to 9 minutes or until thick, whisking frequently. Taste and add more spices if necessary. If it’s too thin, slowly add milk or broth, one tablespoon at a time. Keep in mind that the sauce will thicken as it cools.

Vegan Cheese sauce in a skillet
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

4. Cook the pasta according to the package’s directions. Drain well. You can save some of the pasta water to thin the cheese sauce, if necessary.

pasta shells in a colander
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

5. Toss the pasta and cheese. Add your favorite toppings, if using.

Vegan Mac and Cheese in a white bowl
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

Recipe Tips, Variations, and Substitutions

  • Thin the cheese with liquid. If the cheese is too thick, or if you’re reheating it, add a splash of reserved pasta water. You can also use vegetable broth or non-dairy milk.
  • Use less pasta. For extra saucy mac and cheese, use less pasta per batch of vegan cheese.
  • Mix with other sauces. Stir in BBQ sauce, hot sauce, salsa, or vegan pesto for added flavor.
  • Top with spices and herbs. Try garnishing your mac and cheese with everything bagel spice, crushed red pepper flakes, or fresh herbs.
  • Add vegetables. Elevate your mac and cheese with roasted or sautéed vegetables.
  • Serve with vegan bacon. Vegan bacon is the perfect partner for homemade mac and cheese.
Vegan Mac and Cheese (Nut Free) in a white bowl with a fork
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

Can I store leftovers?

Yes, you can store leftover Vegan Mac and Cheese in the refrigerator in a sealed container. Enjoy it within 3 days. When reheating the dish, rehydrate the cheese with broth or liquid.

Can I freeze it?

Yes, you can freeze Vegan Mac and Cheese, though the texture of the cheese might change slightly. Again, you’ll need to rehydrate the cheese with broth or liquid to make it smooth again.

Serving Suggestions

For another great mac and cheese variation, be sure to try our Creamy Avocado Mac & Cheese.

Vegan Mac & Cheese with Nutritional Yeast (No Cashews)

Learn how to make vegan mac and cheese with nutritional yeast from scratch. Serve it as a side dish or delicious entrée. It's also gluten-free, nut-free (no cashews), soy-free, and can be customized with your favorite toppings.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegan
Keyword: dairy-free mac and cheese, vegan mac and cheese, vegan mac and cheese with nutritional yeast
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 2
Calories: 288kcal
Author: Kirsten Nunez, MS

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp vegan butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 1/4 cup non-dairy milk unsweetened, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 8 ounces pasta gluten-free, if needed
  • vegan bacon, chopped scallions, or spices for topping, optional
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour gluten-free, if needed
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper ground

Instructions

  • In a small skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk until combined and thick.
  • Add the remaining ingredients. Whisk well.
  • Simmer for 7 to 9 minutes or until thick, whisking frequently. Taste and add more spices if necessary.
  • Cook the pasta according to the package’s directions. Drain well. You can save some of the pasta water to thin the cheese sauce, if necessary.
  • Toss the pasta and cheese. Add toppings, if using.

Notes

  • If the cheese is too thick, or if you’re reheating it, add a splash of reserved pasta water. You can also use vegetable broth or non-dairy milk.
  • For extra saucy mac and cheese, use less pasta per batch of vegan cheese.
  • Stir in BBQ sauce, hot sauce, salsa, or vegan pesto for added flavor.
  • Top with coconut bacon, chopped scallions, or vegetables.
  • You can store leftovers in the refrigerator in a sealed container. Enjoy it within 3 days.
  • When reheating the dish, rehydrate the cheese with broth or liquid.
  • The total number of servings will depend on how you serve the mac and cheese.

Recommended Tools & Products

Large pot
Strainer

Nutrition

Calories: 288kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1654mg | Potassium: 729mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1999IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 227mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @CleanGreenSimple or tag #CleanGreenSimple!
Kirsten Nunez

About the Author

Kirsten Nunez is a journalist who focuses on healthy food and cooking. Her vegan and plant-based recipes have appeared on VegNews, eHow, Shape, and more. When she’s not creating vegan recipes for Clean Green Simple, you can find her experimenting in the kitchen and sharing plant-based meals with friends and family. More articles by Kirsten.

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