Vegan Mac 'n Cheese with Broccoli.

Vegan Mac 'n Cheese is one of my favorite meals to make for anyone curious about plant-based cuisine because from my experience, everyone loves a big steamy bowl of cheesy elbow pasta! And adding veggies helps make it a complete meal. I adding love broccoli or green peas because they add a good dose of plant-protein. Broccoli has 17g per bunch and peas about 8g per cup. Kale is also a great leafy-green add-in, as I did in this cheesy mac recipe.

This sauce is my best cheese sauce yet. With a hint of spiciness mingling with a creamy, cozy, rich cashew and sweet potato base. This pasta tastes even better the next day, as warmed-up leftovers, because the sauce marinates the pasta so nicely.

I hope you can try this soon and make it a staple go-to vegan dinner in your household! Get my recipe for creamy, cozy, dairy-free, Best Vegan Mac 'n Cheese with Broccoli..

Or you can just smother some broccoli in this sauce too!..

I rarely use the phrases "the best" or "perfect" anymore when describing my recipes, because I like to save those titles for the recipes that are truly worthy. And this dish is one of them! I have shared a wide range of variations on my vegan Mac 'n Cheese sauces over the years. The very first one back in January 2010. And then again in 2011 with my Fake-Out Mac 'n Cheese, which has over 22,000 shares on social media.

And a bunch of recipe posts in between. I did a spicy chipotle spin and even a butternut squash version for fall - loved that one!

And I have dined on so many vegan cheesy Mac recipes over the years too at vegan restaurants - trying variations of a classic recipe really helps give a chef a greater authority on what makes a "best" recipe for that dish.

And after all that, for me, these are my preferences for a vegan mac 'n cheese sauce...

- I like the texture that sweet potato adds, but I do not like to add too much sweet potato because the sweetness and velvet-y heavy potato texture can become overpowering. So the amount in the recipe below feels ideal. Just enough to add color and creaminess, but little enough so that you don't really know it is there.
- I love the savory, cheezy flavor that nutritional yeast adds, it is a must-have ingredient for me, but it is good to remember that a little nooch goes a long way!
- I like a hint of Dijon mustard. You can barely taste the "Dijon" part, but it adds a tangy, salty accent that really compliments the richness and earthiness from the other ingredients.
- I tried to avoid adding too much oil or fat in the beginning, using the sweet potato as a "fat replacer" but the truth is, that really flattens the flavor and texture. I love the texture and flavor from vegan butter. It is great because I find I do not need to eat as large a portion when my sauce has that "buttery" richness. So even if you try to avoid vegan butter, please consider it here, you will see what I mean once you taste it!
- Cashews are the perfect base for creaminess and flavor. Cashews have a lovely plain, almost milky, lightly sweet flavor all on their own, so they absord all the other flavors so well. And they work with the vegan butter to make your cheese sauce truly remarkable and rich --- yet still made from plants and dairy-free!!
- A Vitamix is the perfect kitchen tool for this sauce recipe. It not only makes perfectly creamy sauce, but it also allows you to warm the sauce right in the container by blending at a high speed for a long period of time -- you cannot do that in a basic blender or even a food processor. (Order from my Vitamix link and receive free shipping! There is a $70 off offer going on now through 9/10/17)

- Turmeric adds some beautiful golden color and doesn't interfere with the flavor at all.
- Garlic, cayenne and black pepper add just enough peppery spices! I love adding cayenne and increasing the warmth of this dish. It really makes it more cravable for me. I usually add a few pinches of cayenne to the main dish and then add more to personal portions, if desired. Red pepper flakes also work.

I love how the broccoli florets absorb the sauce and get all creamy and tender.

- Pasta. I use a lovely brown rice elbow pasta. I found this brand on Amazon and buy it in bulk because it is so awesome. You can get 6lbs, six bags of different varieties of gluten-free pasta for around $18! So obsessed. But any variety elbow pasta (or another shape pasta!) works well.

And just fyi, I am not gluten-free, but I do like to use gluten-free pastas most of the time. I generally try to not overdo gluten in my diet, and adore gluten-y things like bread and bagels and pizza and veggie sausages, so gf pasta is kinda my fix for when I do want a gluten-free meal. I just LOVE this brand of gluten free elbow pasta so much I actually prefer it over any gluten versions! I love the softness and plumpness of these elbows. I personally always to to over-cook my elbow pasta a bit when using it for mac 'n cheese.

- "But I want a healthier, low-fat Mac ' Cheese..." I think most of us can agree that Mac 'n Cheese is meant to be rich and comfort food-y at its core, so if you are looking for a fat free recipe, or want to change things around to lighten it up, you definitely will be missing some of that soul of what Mac 'n Cheese means to most people. Understandably, many vegans or plant-based folks WANT the healthiest, "cleanest" possible recipe. (even though I kinda don't like the word 'clean' at all, I don't like any words that put vegan foods into 'good' or 'bad' categories, really.)

Well if you are a "clean food" seeker, I invite you to at least try this richer version recipe - and just challenge yourself to just eat a smaller portion. Kinda what the French are known for doing! Rich recipes, smaller portions. And you can add loads of oomph by adding more and more veggies if desired. Does that make sense? I only say all this because I used to be a "clean recipe" seeker many years ago and it really hurt my mindset of foods. I always felt like I was missing out a bit, even though I tried to convince myself I wasn't. Eating foods that feel richer was a healing thing for me way back when! I even wrote a blogpost about that early on in my blogging career. So anyways, sorry to ramble about that in a Mac 'n Cheese post!!! But I want EVERYONE to try this recipe exactly how it is! Because it works wonders for your soul. Comfort food is real and this is it...

Best Vegan Mac 'n Cheese with Broccoli

Kathy Patalsky

Published 09/05/2017

Best Vegan Mac 'n Cheese with Broccoli

This super creamy past and cheese is dairy-free, vegan, made using cashews and sweet potato. It has a hint of spiciness from cayenne and is loaded with cheezy, rich flavor. It coats your pasta and veggies, like broccoli or peas, to perfection!


  • Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews (no soaking required if you have a powerful blender or food processor)
  • 3 Tbsp vegan butter
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 clove raw garlic
  • 1 cup unsweetened plant milk
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric (for color)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup mashed sweet potato (baked and peeled) - (1 small potato or about 1/2 medium)
  • 1/2 - 1 cup water (as needed for desired consistency)
  • pinch of cayenne (to taste for spiciness)
  • optional, but suggested: 1-3 Tbsp vegan Parmesan or aged cashew cheese to add flavor depth
  • Pasta: elbow pasta, 1 lb
  • 1 bunch of broccoli, florets or florets and stems chopped (your preference) -- you could also use peas or another veggie green like chopped kale


  1. Bake the sweet potato, you can do this in the microwave or oven. Remove the skin before using.
  2. For the broccoli, slice into florets and rinse. You can either include the stem, chop into small pieces) or discard it. Rinse well and set aside.
  3. Add all the cheese sauce ingredients to a high speed blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Blend at highest speed for 2-3 minutes to warm and thicken the sauce. If your blender is not powerful enough to get a smooth blend, you can soak the cashews overnight, drain and rinse before using.
  4. Fill a large pot with water, add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. When boiling, add your elbow pasta. Cook as long as package indicates. 1-2 minutes before the pasta is done cooking, add the broccoli to the water. You can add it right in, or use a steamer basket right on top of the boiling water. This allows the broccoli to quickly cook in the same pot as the pasta. (Or you can steam, boil or roast the broccoli separately.)
  5. Drain water from veggie and pasta pot. Pour about a cup of the cheese sauce over the pasta and broccoli. Toss well. (You can do this in the large pot on the stove or a separate large mixing bowl.) Add more sauce to taste. Scoop pasta and broccoli into serving bowls and add additional sauce over top to taste. Serve warm! Store leftovers in the fridge, covered. The pasta is actually even better the next day as the cheese sauce marinates the pasta a bit!

Yield: 4-6 servings

Prep Time: 00 hrs. 20 mins.

Cook time: 00 hrs. 20 mins.

Total time: 40 mins.

Tags: pasta,mac and cheese,dairy free,entree,vegan,lunch,cheese,kids,dinner,recipe,easy,broccoli

Watch this short video of how creamy the texture is upon pouring into hot, steamy pasta..

Pretty green broccoli, ready for a vegan cheese sauce shower!..

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