Chef Amy's Gluten-Free Macaroni with Dairy-Free Cheese Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Note that the prep time doesn't include the soaking of the cashews - plan ahead!
Serves: 6 to 8 servings
  • ¾ cups raw cashews, soaked in warm water for at least 2 hours and up to 5
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ medium yellow onion, rough chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ¾ cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1½ tablespoons non-GMO cornstarch or arrowroot starch
  • 1 ½ tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1¼ teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground mustard
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric (add 1 teaspoon if you like a slightly spicier sauce)
  • 1 roasted red pepper (jarred or homemade)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 lb gluten-free macaroni pasta
  1. While cashews are soaking, prep the other ingredients. This way, once the soaking is done, the sauce can be make in under 10 minutes.
  2. In a medium to large pot, saute onion in olive oil until soft and golden, being careful not to burn. Add a little salt if the onions are looking dry. Once the onion is almost all done, add the garlic and cook 30-60 seconds. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Save the pot to use later. Note: If you are going to make the sauce later, this is a good step at which to stop. Once the onion is cooked and the other ingredients are measured, the sauce comes together quickly.
  3. If you are going to use the sauce for pasta, start heating the water now. Place a large pot of water on the stove with a cover. See tips below for cooking gluten-free pasta.
  4. Drain and rinse the cashews, and add them to a large food processor or blender (I have found a high powered blender makes this sauce very creamy and smooth).
  5. Add the remaining ingredients, except pasta, along with the onion and garlic mixture. Process or blend mixture until smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. If using a food processor, scrape down the sides after 1 minute.
  6. Taste sauce. It will be a little gritty from the starch but check for flavor. Add more salt if it tastes “flat” or more nutritional yeast if you want more of a “cheesy” flavor.
  7. Transfer the sauce to the pan which was used to saute the onion and garlic. Place on stove and heat over medium, stirring every few minutes. The sauce needs about 10-15 minutes to heat up and thicken. While the sauce thickens, cook the pasta al dente (see gluten-free pasta cooking tips in the post above).
  8. Once the pasta is cooked and the sauce is thick enough, place the pasta in the same pot which was used to cook it. Slowly pour in the sauce, stirring in between, until pasta is well coated but not “swimming”.
  9. Simmer sauce and pasta together, then serve. Add more sauce to the pasta if needed. Remaining sauce should be place in the fridge and should be used within 5 days.
Recipe by Go Dairy Free at