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Grown-Up Macaroni and (Cashew) Cheese

It is not very difficult to make ‘vegan’ macaroni and cheese IF you’re willing to use some kind of cheese substitute that is heavily processed and full of oils. But creating a tasty Mac & Cheese sauce that also meets the ‘One Ingredient Diet’ standards has been a challenge. This specific recipe, however, passes the test: it’s creamy, flavorful, and made entirely with whole foods.

Finally a healthy Mac & Cheese that adults will enjoy as much as the kids!


Makes 4 servings


  • 1 (16 oz) package whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (white wine, apple cider, etc.)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • Sun-dried tomatoes (optional)
  • Chopped basil (optional)

Step One

Add the cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, pepper, and part of the soy milk to a food processor. Blend until smooth.

At this point, you have a killer cheese spread that would go great on crackers (try it sometime!) but for our Mac & Cheese sauce, it probably needs more liquid in order to coat the pasta. Use your judgement to add more soy milk and blend until the mixture is creamy but not runny. It’s best to make it a little too thick because you can always add more milk when mixing with the macaroni.

Ideally, you would refrigerate this sauce for several hours before using. This allows the flavors to meld together and the sauce is improved. But if you’re in a hurry, feel free to make the sauce and pasta at the same time – you won’t notice much of a difference.

Step Two

Cook the macaroni according to package instructions. It should only take about 10 minutes. When fully cooked, drain through a colander and pour the pasta into a large mixing bowl.

Take the cheese sauce and toss it into the macaroni. This may take several minutes, as the sauce will clump together until warmed by the pasta. Keep tossing lightly until all the macaroni is evenly coated. Again, if it feels too thick, you can add a little more soy milk.

You can (optionally) top with black pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, basil or parsley. These can add a lot of color and flavor, so feel free to experiment with what works best for you.

NOTE: The garlic flavor is fairly mild when mixed with the pasta, and it works perfectly in this sauce, but if you’re making this for kids and they may not like garlic, feel free to use only one clove or even omit it all together.

It’s that easy! A healthy, 20-minute Macaroni & Cheese that the whole family will love.




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    • I’m sure it would! I used soy milk and I think the taste/texture of that works well, but I can’t imagine why almond wouldn’t do just as well in this recipe.

  1. Would coconut milk work as a substitute to soy milk in this recipe?

    What is nutritional yeast? Would bread yeast work?

  2. Hello,

    I am confused on how any type of pasta is a one ingredient food…. I haven’t checked out your manifesto but maybe you explain it there.


    • Hi Sharon, well I’m not sure ‘any’ type of pasta would be one ingredient. But if you look at whole wheat pasta, which is used in this recipe, it is typically 100% whole wheat (only one ingredient).

      Also, I’m not incredibly strict about one ingredient foods. I use it as a guideline to help people make better decisions, not an unbreakable rule.

    • Hi Danielle. It is not necessary, but you might get *slightly* better results by soaking for 30-60 minutes first. I’ve done it both ways and, for a cashew cheese sauce like this, I can hardly tell the difference.

  3. Hi Andrew!
    Thank you so much for this recipe. I have tried a variety of vegan cheese sauce recipes; some using tofu, others flour… this was by far the BEST my boyfriend and I have ever had! We added some paprika and prepared mustard and were blown away! I am thinking of trying it on a cauliflower-rice crust pizza! Thanks again!

    • Awesome! Thanks Dani! And if you liked this one, stay tuned – I just created the most unbelievable Alfredo sauce that’s better than the real thing and I’ll be posting it this week (I think).

      Ooh, a pizza crust with the cashew or Alfredo sauce sounds amazing… don’t give me too many ideas 🙂

  4. This is the best Mac and cheese I’ve ever tasted. Ever. And this is coming from a woman who loves “real” cheese!
    Thank you for this receipe!

  5. I made this recipe and baked it in the oven and it turned out delicious! I soaked the cashews for a few hours before making the sauce. Excellent crunchy top. We’ll be making this again!!

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