Cashew Mac + Cheese

Cashew Mac and Cheese - Under the Monkey Bars

This recipe is magical. It’s mac and cheese, without any cheese. I’m serious — no cheese! You have to try it to believe it. When I stopped eating dairy, I craved cheese like you wouldn’t believe. It’s unbelievable how cheesy this Cashew Mac + Cheese tastes! I swear it tastes even better than the real thing, and it’s super good for you!

Why would you want to make mac and cheese without actual cheese?
1. Dairy should be eaten in condiment servings, and most of us consume far more cheese than we should.
2. The “cheese” sauce is made of veggies. We could all use more veggies in our diet, am I right?
3. The cashews pack in extra protein, fiber, and healthy fats to fill you up and provide energy.
4. When you have a cold or seasonal allergies, avoiding dairy is really smart. So, therefore, this recipe for Cashew Mac + Cheese is brilliant!

Bean requested Cashew Mac + Cheese for her 10th birthday dinner two weeks ago. The monkeys love this dish so much that they actually jump up and down when I make it. High fives all around. After sharing the recipe with many friends, every single person has raved about it — from toddlers to teenagers. It’s especially great for kids on a veggie strike. Another way to get veggies into little monkeys is a winner for sure!

I double the “cheese” sauce recipe every time I make Cashew Mac + Cheese because it freezes really well. Why not make extra for another day? Doubling the recipe makes about 35 ounces of “cheese” sauce. The whole meal takes about 45 minutes from start to finish including sautéing some extra veggies to mix in (peas, zucchini, broccoli), and sometimes cooking up meat like bacon or sausage too (sorry vegan friends!).

Cashew Mac + Cheese is one of those dishes you can tailor to suit your dietary needs or the needs of your friends with food allergies! We’ve never been into breadcrumb toppings for mac and cheese, but if you like breadcrumbs, head over to the original recipe for that version.

Give it a try. I can practically promise you’ll love it. Cómelo todo!

Cashew Mac + Cheese
Serves 6
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  1. 8 ounces pasta
  2. 1 cup red or yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped
  3. 1/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
  4. 1/3 cup onion, peeled and chopped
  5. 1 cup water
  6. 1/4 cup raw cashews
  7. 2 teaspoons sea salt
  8. 1/4 teaspoon garlic
  9. 1/3 cup butter (or non-hydrogenated margarine if you’re vegan)
  10. 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  11. 1 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  12. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  13. less than 1/8 teaspoon cayenne (see notes)
  1. Cook your pasta according to the instructions on the box. Set aside.
  2. After chopping your potatoes, carrots, and onion, put the veggies and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until veggies are really soft.
  3. In a blender, process the cashews, salt, garlic, butter, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, cayenne, softened veggies, and cooking water until perfectly smooth.
  4. In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta and blended cheese sauce until completely coated. Or, add the sauce to individual bowls and store the left overs in a glass container or mason jar.
  5. You do not need a high speed blender for this recipe.
  1. Choose organic ingredients when possible.
  2. I usually throw in extra veggies and it always tastes great.
  3. Leftover cheese sauce can be frozen (in glass ideally). Add a teaspoon of extra butter and and a tablespoon of water to reheat. Warm on low heat and stir frequently.
  4. Use left over cheese sauce to dip veggies or stir it into plain risotto with some veggies.
  5. If you're gluten free, we love Jovial or Andean Dream GF pasta. Also make sure your mustard is GF; we like Annie’s.
  6. When cooking for little ones, be mindful of the cayenne. I started with just two tiny shakes and worked my way up to 1/8 teaspoon for a double batch!
Adapted from VegNews
Adapted from VegNews
Under the Monkey Bars
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  1. Mindy says

    I could cry real tears of joy right now. My son has fairly significant allergies. If my kids eat and like this, you would have solved my biggest kitchen dilemma. {{fingers crossed}}

    • says

      My fingers AND toes are crossed for you! I’m so happy you found Under the Monkey Bars. You are the reason I write this blog. It’s so hard to make these allergy kids feel normal and eat healthy. Here’s hoping he likes the mac + cheese!!! Thanks!