Mac & cheese is the token American comfort food, but this cheesy, hearty dish is not traditionally vegan. But believe it or not, it’s easy to capture the creaminess and flavor of the dish without using cheese. And you don’t even need to use vegan cheese! Although mac & cheese is rarely thought of as a health food, this version of vegan mac & cheese contains some great ingredients that pack a nutritional punch. But don’t worry; it will still make you feel like you’re having a cheat day.
And best of all, our recipe can be prepped and on the table in as little as 30 minutes!
What is vegan mac & cheese made from?
Almost everyone has grown up eating mac & cheese. It’s a recipe that’s easy to throw together in a pinch since there are minimal ingredients, and it only takes about 30 minutes to make. It’s literally just cheese and pasta, so even the pickiest eaters can’t really complain about the taste, which is likely why it’s become so popular.
Going vegan doesn’t mean you have to miss out on this classic comfort food. Some vegans aren’t huge fans of vegan cheese, and people that aren’t plant-based are even more hesitant to try it. That’s why we’ve created a recipe that contains other ingredients that are easy to find at your local grocery store and that everyone will love.
But how can we make a vegan cheese sauce without vegan cheese?
The sauce is what makes the mac & cheese more than just a bowl of plain pasta. We make the base of our sauce using butternut squash. Butternut squash might not taste like cheese, but when it’s cooked and blended with other ingredients, it provides the creaminess and thickness of a cheese sauce.
Our sauce also includes plant-based milk. It’s your choice what type of milk you want to use, but we recommend using soy milk. Soy milk has a mild and creamy flavor, which is perfect for this recipe. Whichever milk you choose to use, make sure that it’s unsweetened. The last thing you want is a sweet mac & cheese. We also use spices and flavorings like onion powder, garlic powder, and sea salt to give the recipe some depth.
The last ingredient that is absolutely essential to this vegan mac & cheese recipe is nutritional yeast, which gives it the cheesy flavor and is also packed with tons of vitamins and minerals.
The benefits of nutritional yeast
Nutritional yeast is one of the most essential ingredients for any vegan’s toolkits. The cheesy taste of nutritional yeast is an excellent addition to pasta sauces, soups, popcorn, salad dressings, and more.
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast made from the same type of yeast as beer or bread. The difference is that it’s deactivated, meaning it wouldn’t work if you tried to use it the same way as regular yeast, plus it’s much more bitter in taste. This form of yeast is extremely high in protein, B vitamins, and minerals that are essential in a balanced diet. That’s why the ingredient is so popular with vegans and why we’ve included it in our recipe (beyond just the cheesy taste).
Some of the nutrients in nutritional yeast include protein, B12, B6, riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, zinc, manganese, and much more!
Can vegan mac & cheese be gluten-free?
Many people choose to avoid gluten in their diets, even if they aren’t celiac. Gluten sensitivity is becoming more common, and some people struggle to digest it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t eat pasta!
You can absolutely make this vegan mac & cheese recipe gluten-free by simply substituting regular pasta for a gluten-free option. Since gluten intolerance is so common, you can easily find gluten-free pasta at your local grocery store or health food store and use that in this recipe.
Can you add anything extra to this vegan mac & cheese?
If you want to include some vegetables, you can add some steamed broccoli, kale, cherry tomatoes, or brussel sprouts.
Why not serve this delicious vegan mac & cheese alongside your favourite vegan pizza.
Vegan Mac & Cheese Recipe
- 4 cups pasta of choice
For the sauce
- 4 cups of cubbed and peeled butternut squash
- ½ cup of unsweetened plant milk of choice we recommend soy
- 8 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
For the garnish
- One bag of All Y’alls Black Pepper & Sea Salt Jerky
- Parsley to taste
- Start by peeling and cutting the butternut squash into cubes and steaming it until it’s soft. Add the squash to your steamer basket after the water is already boiling, and steam for around 10 minutes.
- If you have time, we’d also recommend roasting the squash if you have some extra time to complete the recipe. Roasting will provide a more smoky flavor to the recipe overall. You can roast the cubed squash at 400° for about 40 minutes.
- While your squash is steaming or roasting, you can prepare your pasta of choice. You can use just about any pasta you like for this recipe; it doesn’t necessarily need to be macaroni. We actually chose to use a thicker rigatoni in our recipe. You can also use a gluten-free option if you’d like.
- Add the cooked squash to a blender with the rest of the sauce ingredients and blend it until the sauce has a smooth consistency.
- Once your sauce is ready, you can mix the sauce and pasta together until the noodles are all coated.
- Top with All Y’alls Black Pepper & Sea Salt Jerky and a sprinkle of parsley.