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This Vegan Mac And Cheese Is Full Of Gooey, Creamy Deliciousness

Nutritional yeast and cashews are the secret ingredients.

mac n cheese
Chelsea Kyle

If you’ve started eating a plant-based diet, chances are you’ve had a craving or two for comforting non-vegan dishes. Perhaps you’re hungry for your mom’s classic mac and cheese, with its super creamy sauce, funky, cheesy flavor and a crispy breadcrumb topping. But...that's not exactly vegan-friendly. Enter: the Women's Health test kitchen's vegan answer to this nostalgic staple with the same luxe flavor and texture, without any of the cheese.  

A combo of garlic, mustard powder, cayenne pepper and nooch (a.k.a. the almighty nutritional yeast) create an epic cheesy flavor to rival any cheddar-filled pasta casserole. And the rich sauce gets its ultra-creamy texture from boiled and blended cashews. 

This vegan mac perfectly combines creamy sauce and a crunchy topping with the addition of olive oil-toasted panko breadcrumbs and parsley for some added freshness. Trust, you won’t miss a single bite of the mac and cheese from your childhood.

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Yields: 4 servings
Total Time: 0 hours 30 mins
1 tbsp.

plus 2 tsp olive oil


small onion, finely chopped

Kosher salt and pepper


cloves garlic, pressed

1 c.


1/3 c.

nutritional yeast

1/4 tsp.

mustard powder or 1 tsp Dijon

Pinch cayenne

12 oz.

short pasta (like cavattapi or medium shells)

1/3 c.


1/4 c.

fresh parsley, finely chopped

  1. Heat oven to 425F. Cook pasta per pkg directions; drain and transfer back to pot. In a small bowl, combine panko with 2 tsp oil and spread on a baking sheet and roast until golden brown; toss with parsley.
  2. Heat remaining Tbsp oil in a small saucepan on medium. Add onion 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper and cook covered, stirring occasionally until tender, 8 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in cashews, mustard powder and cayenne. Add 1½ cups water and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until cashews are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. 
  3. Transfer mixture a blender, add nutritional yeast and ½ cup water and puree until smooth. Transfer mixture back to saucepan and cook, stirring occasionally until thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. 
  4. Toss with pasta and serve sprinkled with parley crumbs.
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