Smokey Vegan Mac and Cheese

One of the things on my list of 30 things to do before 30 was “to be vegan for a month”. An item I checked off in November.

Smokey Vegan Mac and Cheese // Warm Vanilla Sugar

It was hard when with friends, but really easy to do when I was by myself. I tried a lot of great recipes and have been making a lot of vegan meals since.

Smokey Vegan Mac and Cheese // Warm Vanilla Sugar

This recipe for smokey vegan mac and cheese is a total keeper, and one I’ll be making again. The “cheese” sauce is made with soaked cashews, almond milk, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast, giving it a smooth texture and cheese-y flavour. Also, this dish has brown rice noodles making it gluten free! I loved this meal, and I hope you do too!

Smokey Vegan Mac and Cheese // Warm Vanilla Sugar

Happy weekend!

Smokey Mac and Cheese {Vegan}
Adapted from Manifest Vegan

16 ounces brown rice pasta, macaroni, penne, fusili, shells all work well
2 cups cashews, soaked in water at least 3 hours and drained
1 1/2 to 2 cups almond milk, to thin
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups chopped (and de-stemmed) kale
1/2 tablespoon coconut or olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika

Cook the pasta according to package directions, undercooking just slightly by a minute or so. Drain well and rinse completely with cold water to remove any starch.

Transfer the pasta back to the pot and set aside.

Place the soaked and drained cashews, 1 cup almond milk, lemon juice, lemon zest,nutritional yeast, garlic, and 1 1/4 teaspoons salt into a food processor. Blend very well, at least 7 minutes, until completely smooth and silky, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add about 1/2 cup more almond milk until thinned, pulsing between each addition. Add the sauce to the pasta in the pot, and then stir in the remaining almond milk to thin. Warm up gently over medium-low heat, stirring often until desired temperature is reached. Sprinkle on the smoked paprika and fold just to combine.

In a small frying pan over medium-high heat, toss together the kale, coconut oil and sea salt and saute for about 3 minutes, or until bright green and slightly wilted. Stir into the pasta and serve immediately.


  1. This looks better than any mac and cheese I’ve ever seen! And it’s vegan! I think I might have to try the vegan-for-a-month thing too… wouldn’t hurt for sure. Is it hard to find the ingredients and things like that? Vegan ingredients and things are way to complicated for me to even start on… looks awesome!

    • I know what you mean. I went to a health food type of grocery store and they had everything! After you go to the store once, you pretty much have all the ingredients you need to make a lot of other vegan meals. Best of luck!

  2. I really really wanna try this!!! I think most of these ingredients are pretty readily available… even at my backwoods grocery store. I don’t do much vegan cooking because I’m basically in love with cheese but this looks good enough to give a whirl. Thanks!!

  3. Oh wow, this is amazing! I didn’t know you could make a vegan mac and cheese – then again, I know very little about eating vegan so that probably explains a lot :) Anyway, it looks fantastic!

  4. This looks fabulous! I love cashew cheeze and will definitely give this mac and cheese a try!

  5. I’m going vegan in February so I’m trying to stock up on great looking recipes, thanks for the inspiration!

  6. I’m completely drawn to this recipe. Where can I get nutritional yeast/what does it look like/can it be replaced with anything else? I love mac n cheese and this is such a healthy way to enjoy a comforting meal!

  7. Holy goodness this looks good! I normally shy away from fake cheese recipes, but this looks like it deserves a try :)

  8. vegan mac and cheese with so much flavor – i love this! I have to make this cashew based sauce one day. :)

  9. How interesting! It looks so creamy and good. :)

  10. I’ve been on the lookout for a really good “cheeze” sauce. I’ve never gone the soaked cashew route but I’m thinking it’s time. This looks great!

  11. This is so interesting! I never would have thought you could make a vegan mac and cheese, but it actually looks really good!

  12. I tried vegan cashew mac and cheese the other day and really enjoyed it! I’ve been overdoing the cheese lately so I think it’s time to try making it at home. Your recipe looks great.

  13. very impressive! I could never go vegan >_< just love bacon and cheese too much heehee. But this looks surprisingly creamy and I bet it was delicious! Neat post :D

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