I know that many of you, like me, prefer to avoid cheese alternatives. They have finicky tastes and textures, and aren’t usually made with whole food ingredients. Fortunately, this creamy dairy-free mac and cheese uses simple, clean ingredients and doesn’t call for any cheese substitutes! And yet, it’s perfectly cheesy and incredibly delicious. It’s adapted from my flagship book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook!
Creamy Dairy-Free Mac and Cheese with Stovetop & Casserole Options
This easy, cheesy, recipe is not only dairy-free, it’s also vegan, soy-free, and optionally gluten-free. The sauce is made without any type of soy and is completely free of flours and starches. The cashews act as a natural thickener while providing a rich, creamy finish.
Make it a Meal
You can stir in cooked chicken or canned chickpeas for protein, or use pure lentil pasta. The latter option is grain-free and vegan. You can also stir in steamed broccoli, carrots, spinach, bell peppers, or cauliflower.
- Nutritional yeast provides the cheesy flavor to this sauce. If you want more cheesy oomph, you can increase the nutritional yeast, one tablespoon at a time.
- Lemon provides tang and contrast to the nutritional yeast. If your worried that it might be too tangy, add the lemon juice slowly, to taste.
- Garlic powder is more of a flavor add on. If you aren’t a big fan of garlic, you can reduce the garlic powder to 1/4 teaspoon, or omit it.
- Roasted red peppers are not spicy at all, but they help to add body, color, and flavor to this sauce. Don’t omit them!
Special Diet Note: Creamy Dairy-Free Mac and Cheese
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, optionally gluten-free, optionally grain-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, and vegetarian.
- 1 (8-ounce) package uncooked elbow macaroni (gluten-free, if needed)
- 1 cup cashews
- 1⅓ cups water or unsweetened plain dairy-free milk beverage
- ⅓ cup lemon juice, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon salt, plus additional to taste
- ⅓ cup oil
- 4 ounces roasted red peppers, drained
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
- Cook the macaroni according to the package direction.
- In a high-power blender or food processor, mix the cashews, water or milk beverage, lemon juice, and ½ teaspoon salt until smooth. Gradually blend in the oil, roasted red peppers, nutritional yeast, onion powder, and garlic powder. Blend until smooth.
- Pour the sauce through a fine mesh sieve into a saucepan (to catch any remaining nut bits). Cook over medium heat, whisking, until thickened. Season the sauce with additional salt, as needed. (I usually add another ½ teaspoon or so.)