This gluten-free vegan mac and cheese is made without nutritional yeast or cashews. It's a cheesy delight that is also buttery, garlicky, and allergen friendly - does it get better than that?
Mac and cheese is a comforting classic that took me far too long to create a vegan option for. I tried countless recipes using cashews, nutritional yeast, carrots and potatoes, squash, etc. I switched to boxed versions and again, each fell short. You name it, I've probably tried it. Which is why I can't help but laugh that I didn't just stick to the basics sooner and use a vegan cheese and a few spices. It's so easy yet incredibly tasty. It is also the only mac and cheese I've had that really satisfies the craving.
My favorite things about this recipe:
- It reminds me of Annie's white cheddar mac and cheese (who else lived off of this as a kid?!)
- It comes together quickly and can be done via stovetop or in the microwave
- It's so simple, making it ideal for busy weeknight dinners
- It truly tastes like mac and cheese...because it is macaroni and vegan cheese
If you're looking for a heartier and spicer variation be sure to check out my vegan jalapeno mac and cheese with broccoli - it's also made without nutritional yeast!
Ingredients for vegan mac and cheese without cashews
We are keeping the ingredients minimal and simple.
- Gluten-free pasta
- Vegan cheese
- Vegan butter or oil (optional)
- Garlic powder
- Black pepper
- Hemp hearts: adds a subtle nuttiness to the pasta. Additionally, adds omegas, iron, folate and protein.
For exact measurements and detailed step-by-step directions, scroll to the recipe card below.
How to make vegan mac and cheese without nutritional yeast or cashews
The most time consuming part of this recipe is the water boiling and the pasta cooking. The rest comes together in breeze, with no chopping, blending, or wild techniques required.
- Boil water and prepare pasta according to package instructions.
- Rinse and drain the pasta
Now, you have two options:
Option 1: pour the pasta back into the pan and add cheese and spices and allow 2-4 minutes for it to melt.
Option 2: add desired amount of pasta to a bowl and add cheese, microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute and then mix in spices and top with hemp seeds.
Both ways are delicious, one saves a few minutes of time and makes cleaning the saucepan a bit easier. Do whatever brings you joy!
Top tip: do not skip rinsing the pasta.
Gluten-free pasta: I've made this recipe using just about every gluten free pasta there is. You really can't go wrong! Tolerant, Cybele's, Jovial, and Bionaturae are all made without any fillers, gums, or additional ingredients. Banza is also a great option with additional protein added. Cybele's Superfood pasta is worth highlighting in that they make their pasta out of vegetables like cauliflower, parsnip, and lentils.
Dairy-free cheese: Follow Your Heart Parmesan is my favorite, especially for this recipe. However, it can be swapped out with your favorite vegan cheese.
Garlic powder: alternatively mince 1-2 garlic cloves instead and simmer until toasted on medium-low heat (usually takes 1-2 minutes).
Black pepper: highly recommend, but omit if you are sensitive to heat.
Hemp seeds: can be replaced with gluten-free bread crumbs or your favorite crackers, crushed
Vegan butter: I used Miyokos butter and highly recommend both the hint of sea salt and the garlic parm flavors for this recipe. Alternatively use avocado oil or omit for a less rich mac and cheese.
Vegan mac and cheese with broccoli: when the pasta only has 3-5 minutes left to cook, add 2 cups of broccoli florets to the boiling water. My broccoli jalapeno garlic mac and cheese is also a great variation of this recipe!
Vegan mac and cheese with spinach: while the pasta cooks, heat a skillet over medium to low heat and sauté 5 oz (roughly two cups) of spinach with avocado oil, garlic powder (or minced garlic), salt, and pepper.
Additional add-in options; sun-dried tomatoes, peas, caramelized onions, and carrot bacon.
Store the mac and cheese in the fridge in a closed container for 2-4 days.
To reheat, add to a warm saucepan with a touch of oil or butter. Simmer for 3-5 minutes or until hot. Alternatively, reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds (or until hot).
Easy Vegan GF Mac and Cheese without Nutritional Yeast
- sauce pan
- 1 box gluten-free pasta
Option 1: Stovetop (full box of pasta)
- 1 cup follow your heart parmesan cheese (feel free to add an extra tablespoon or two if you like it extra cheesy)
- 1 heaping tablespoon vegan butter
- 1 tablespoon garlic granules or powder
- ¼-½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2-3 tablespoons hemp seeds
Option 2: Microwave (1 bowl)
- 2 tablespoons follow your heart parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon vegan butter
- sprinkle garlic granules or powder
- sprinkle black pepper
- 1-2 teaspoon hemp seeds
- Prepare pasta according to package instructions
- Drain and rinse pasta.
- Option 1: Add pasta back to the sauce pan, turning the heat down to low. Add cheese and butter (or oil) and let simmer for 3-5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Remove from heat, add garlic, pepper, and hemp seeds. Stir and serve immediately. Option 2: Add desired amount to a bowl and top with 2 tablespoons of cheese. Microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute (watch closely to ensure the cheese doesn't burn). Remove and add garlic, pepper, and hemp seeds. Stir well and enjoy!