Vegan Macaroni and Cheese (nut free)

vegan mac n' cheese nut free

Cheese. The one food that, for years, I claimed I could not live without. The very same food that most people mention when finding out that I’m vegan and when trying to imagine themselves living the lifestyle.

It should come as no surprise, then, to read that cheese does actually possess addictive qualities:

The primary protein in milk is casein. When the human body digests casein, it produces casomorphins, which have an opiate-like effect on humans. Because cheese is denser than, for example, milk, the casein is more heavily concentrated, meaning that eating cheese produces a larger amount of casomorphins in the body compared to eating other dairy products.

As I mentioned before, there was a time when I thought I could never give up the salty, fatty deliciousness that is cheese. Now, almost 8 months into my vegan journey, I am here to say that it’s possible to give it up, and it’s surprisingly not that hard!

Thanks in part to a wealth of cheesey vegan recipes online and also to an episode of my favorite vegan podcast entitled “Life After Cheese,” removing cheese from my diet was practically painless – even when I went to Italy for my wedding and honeymoon!

I’ve tried a few recipes for vegan macaroni and cheese and have been impressed by how creamy and delicious this dish can be with absolutely NO dairy. Many recipes rely on nuts like cashews or almonds to provide the creaminess, which works really well because it provides the texture and the fat flavor that we are looking for when we are craving cheese.

This is not always an option for everyone, however. For instance, a good friend of mine has been trying to prepare mostly vegan meals at home but has one limitation – her husband is allergic to nuts! This got me thinking about possible ways to make macaroni and cheese without them. She had mentioned that she tried a recipe that used carrots and nutritional yeast, but in her opinion, way too much of it!

vegan mac n cheese nut free

I’ve had good luck using nutritional yeast, so I did include it in my recipe, but relatively small amount just to add a touch of flavor. I’ve seen recipes use cauliflower and even potatoes to achieve a thicker, creamy texture. I liked the idea of using the carrot to provide a sweetness and even amore cheddar-like color. What I ended up using was sweet potato!

vegan mac n cheese nut free

After blending all of the ingredients together I laughed a little to myself how closely the color resembled the macaroni and cheese prepared out of a box which I used to eat as a kid. For those of us who may miss the familiarity of the non-vegan foods we used to eat, this should help!

In lieu of cashews, I decided to make a roux out of flour and vegan butter to thicken the cheese sauce. For one final touch, I added some fresh bread crumbs to the top for texture and baked to a toasty brown.

vegan mac n cheese nut free


Vegan Macaroni and Cheese (nut-free)
Yields 4
A creamy dairy-free, nut-free version of a classic dish!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
  1. 4 cups cooked macaroni
  2. 1 cup sweet potato
  3. 1/3 cup chopped onion
  4. 3/4 cup water
  5. 1/2 cup plant-based milk such as coconut or soy
  6. 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  7. 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  8. 1 teaspoon salt
  9. ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  10. 1 pinch paprika
  11. 1 tablespoon flour
  12. 2 tablespoons vegan butter (like Earth Balance)
  1. Cook the macaroni according to the package instructions and set aside.
  2. Peel and chop the sweet potato and onion and boil them in water until softened.
  3. Strain the potato and onion, saving about a cup of the water.
  4. Blend the potato, onion, water, plant-based milk, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt and paprika into a blender(I used my Vitamix)
  5. In a saucepan, make a roux by melting the vegan butter and then stirring in the flour to form a paste.
  6. Cook the roux for about a minute and then whisk in the sweet potato cheese mixture.
  7. Simmer the cheese on low for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Taste and add salt and pepper, as needed.
  8. Pour the macaroni into a baking dish. Pour the cheese mixture on top and combine.
  9. Top with bread crumbs and sprinkling of salt and pepper. I thew some fresh crusty Italian bread into my food processor to make the bread crumbs pictured.
  10. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the bread crumbs are browned.
What Vegetarians Eat
Los Angeles Vegan Events: Golden Road Brewer’s Supper at Chloe’s September 2014 Los Angeles Vegan Events  

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    Meredith @ Unexpectedly Magnificent
    August 23, 2014 at 12:39 pm - Reply

    I love that you use sweet potato! The first vegan mac & cheese I ever made had sweet potato and white beans. Yum! My favorite vegan mac & cheese has cashews—I’m glad I’m not allergic to them! ;)

    • Taylor
      August 25, 2014 at 11:10 am - Reply

      Nice! White beans are an excellent idea for creating a creamy texture, and also providing extra fiber and protein. I will have to try that, too. I also really like the version with cashews but I’m glad I was able to create a nut-free version for those who can’t have them.

    August 25, 2014 at 10:57 am - Reply

    This was amazing!!!! Thank you for creating a nut-free version for Andy and I to enjoy. This was the vegan macaroni and cheese redemption we were searching for!!!! So, so, so good!

    • Taylor
      August 25, 2014 at 11:11 am - Reply

      I’m SO glad that you liked it! And thanks for the idea of combining this with the no-meat loaf to create a vegan TV dinner. I’m definitely making that combo soon, yum!

    Jan Oliver
    September 5, 2014 at 10:09 pm - Reply

    Sounds and looks amazing! Cannot wait to try it!

    November 11, 2014 at 8:32 am - Reply

    Do you think I could substitute butternut squash for the sweet potato?

    • Taylor
      November 11, 2014 at 10:28 am - Reply

      Hi Amy! I think that would probably work great since it has a similar texture and flavor. Let me know how it goes :)

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