This vegan mac and cheese without cashews recipe has an amazing cheesy flavor that your whole family will love. No soy, no potatoes and no carrots and only five ingredients! Just straightforward, classic vegan comfort food. One pot, easy vegan weeknight lunch or dinner. Kid and budget friendly vegan recipe. Instant pot and stove top directions.
Why you'll love this recipe
- This creamy vegan mac is the ultimate comfort food!
- This is by far the easiest way to make mac and cheese.
- This recipe has minimal ingredients, doesn’t require blending up a cheese sauce in a high powered blender or soaking cashews, boiling carrots and potatoes.
- No cashews to soak and nut free.
- Perfect for a weeknight or lazy, I’m-not-getting-out-of-my-pajamas weekend meal.
- Bonus points: no sink full of dirty pots and pans when you’re done making dinner because it's a one pot meal.
This nut-free vegan mac and cheese is full of simple ingredients that are easy-to-find and great if you have a nut allergy.
- Non-dairy milk – Unsweetened and plain oat milk work the best in this recipe. Bonus points if you can find extra-creamy oat milk. Use whatever plant based milk you have on hand. If you're trying to keep this recipe nut free, then avoid almond milk as well. You can use coconut milk as well, but avoid if you have a nut allergy. My favorite vegan milk to cook savory dishes with is So Delicious unsweetened and plain coconut milk. Oat milk work as well.
- Vegan cheese – Make sure that the brand you use is nut free if you want this recipe to be nut free. Vegan cheddar cheese makes a great cheese sauce. Vegan parmesan cheese is nice to add on top.
- Vegan butter – This will make the creamy sauce even more decadent. Make sure the butter you use is nut-free!
- Seasonings - I love using salt, black pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. You can also add in some paprika.
- Nutritional yeast - This adds a nice savory, umami and cheesy flavor. This is a vegan staple to always have on hand whenever you want to make anything cheesy, but without dairy.
- Pasta – Use whatever is your favorite pasta! Macaroni noodles are great! Use whole wheat pasta if you’d like it to be a bit healthier, or gluten-free pasta, like brown rice pasta, if you’d like it to be gluten free. Cook it al dente if you don’t want it to be too soggy. Use your favorite gluten-free pasta.
- Dijon mustard - This adds a nice acidic balance to the vegan cheese sauce and a lovely pop of flavor.
Substitutions and variations
If you can’t find vegan butter, most margarines work as well.
You can use lemon juice instead of dijon mustard.
Add in some vegan cream cheese for extra velvety creaminess.
Feel free to add any more flavors that you’d like. Some good ideas are: smoked paprika, paprika and mustard powder.
Add steamed peas for some extra protein, broccoli or artichokes to make this even tastier.
Add some cayenne pepper or hot sauce if you'd like a spicy mac and cheese.
- If making in the instant pot - add vegan butter to the instant pot of dry noodles, water and salt. This helps prevent the starchy pasta water from foaming up when you quick release it.
- Make sure to keep the instant pot or pot on a low simmer and stir as the cheese melts. Be patient since vegan cheese takes longer to melt.
- I don’t recommend soy milk. It always leave a weird, unpleasant after taste.
- Add more cheese shreds if you'd like a thicker sauce.
- The sauce will thicken as it cools. Let it sit for 10 minutes before eating.
Instant pot directions
Add the whole box of pasta, water, salt and vegan butter to the instant pot. Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes. Quick release. Be careful of foam spilling over. The fat in the butter should prevent too much foam from spilling.
Don’t worry about draining the pasta after it cooks in the instant pot. The cooked pasta should have absorbed most of the water and the water that is left is starchy and will help to thicken the mac and cheese
Set the instant pot to sauté on medium heat. Add oat milk, vegan cheese, garlic and onion powder, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and salt to taste. Stir until the vegan cheese melts.
Top with some crispy baked tofu for added protein!
Top with some fresh herbs like parsley or chives.
Storing and reheating
Fridge – This dairy-free mac and cheese will last in an airtight container in the fridge for about 5-7 days.
Freezer – This recipe freezes well! The best way to reheat it, is to let it thaw out completely in the fridge before reheating.
To reheat – Add the creamy pasta to a small saucepan. On medium low heat It will need a splash of liquid to get it creamy again, since the pasta will have soaked up some of the cheese sauce. Add a splash of non-dairy and nut free milk or water. Add in a couple shreds of vegan, nut free cheese as well, to add in more flavor. Stir until it warms through. Should take about 5 minutes if it’s been in the fridge.
You can also reheat this cashew free vegan mac in the microwave. Just add a splash of non-dairy, nut free milk or water and stir. Cover with a damp paper towel.
Try these recipes next
This recipe is gluten free if you use gluten free pasta and make sure that the vegan cheese you're using doesn't have any gluten.
I think extra creamy, unsweetened, plain oat milk is the best vegan milk to use. It's creamy and neutral tasting and doesn't leave any weird after taste like soy milk and almond milk do. Coconut cream also works create. Its high fat content gives mac and cheese a super creamy texture.
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Easiest vegan mac and cheese (without cashews, one pot)
- Pressure cooker optional
- 16 oz. pasta shells
- 4 cups water (if making in the instant pot)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter (make sure it's nut free & made in a nut free facility)
- 1 cup unsweetened extra creamy oat milk
- 2 cups vegan cheese (make sure it's nut free & made in a nut free facility)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- Salt and pepper to taste
Instant pot directions
- Add the whole 16oz box of pasta, water, salt and vegan butter to the instant pot. Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes. Quick release. Be careful of foam spilling over. The fat in the butter should prevent too much foam from spilling.16 oz. pasta shells, 4 cups water, ½ teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons vegan butter
- Set the instant pot to saute. Add oat milk, vegan cheese, dijon mustard, garlic and onion powder, nutritional yeast and salt to taste. Stir until the vegan cheese melts.1 cup unsweetened extra creamy oat milk, 2 cups vegan cheese, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, ¼ cup nutritional yeast, Salt and pepper to taste, 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- Bonus: Add steamed peas, broccoli or artichokes to make this even tastier.
Stove top directions
- In a large pot, add the pasta and cover with water. Cook until it's al dente, or the texture you prefer.16 oz. pasta shells
- Once pasta has cooked, save ¼ cup of the pasta water and strain the rest away.
- Return the pasta to the large pot. Add the oat milk, pasta water, dijon mustard, vegan cheese, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and nutritional yeast. Stir on low heat until everything is melted and mixed together and the cheese sauce thickens up.½ teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons vegan butter, 1 cup unsweetened extra creamy oat milk, 2 cups vegan cheese, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, ¼ cup nutritional yeast, 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.