Who else had a love-hate relationship with Kraft Dinner as a kid? We definitely did. But, what if we told you we'd created a creamy and delicious mac and cheese with almond milk that's protein-packed, would you give it a try?
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This recipe is inspired by our mutual love for a classic dish. There is nothing quite as nostalgic as that blue and yellow box. Unfortunately, realizing how terrible the ingredients actually are in KD, we knew something had to be done.
We really wanted to create a dish that was not only tasty, but also had quality ingredients you can actually pronounce. Most importantly though, we wanted it to be plant-based and simple to make.
After a few (or a lot) of failed attempts, we believe our cheese sauce will be an absolute crowd-pleaser for both vegans and non-vegans alike. So throw on your trusty apron, and let's get down to business!
🍲 Key ingredients
- Nutritional yeast: also referred to as "nooch", this makes the mac and cheese taste so cheesy! Nooch is often fortified with B12, which is essential for vegans and vegetarians.
- Cashews: cashew nuts make the cheese sauce velvety smooth without having to use any animal products. Win-win, right?
- Almond milk: instead of milk or cream, almond milk is a great alternative for plant-based eaters. It combines really well with the cashews to create a creamy consistency that you may think is only possible with dairy.
To start this plant-based mac and cheese off right, you'll need to get a little teary-eyed with some onion chopping. The caramelized onions add such a sweet, mouth-watering flavor. It brings the dish to a whole new level.
The cashews are really the star of this cheese sauce, which is why it's so hard to replace them with other ingredients. Although, we've tried to save your bank account by using less than a cup in this whole dish.
Don't worry though, we did not skimp on flavor or creaminess.
Make sure to sauté your onions low and slow, otherwise you run the risk of burning them. The deeper the brown, the sweeter they'll be. But if you're in a pinch for time, it's okay to sauté them on a higher level. Just make the pieces even smaller, and stir them more frequently.
Once your cheese sauce blends together, mix it with the caramelized onions and macaroni in an oven-safe pot or dish. Top all that creamy deliciousness off with some more nutritional yeast and lots of panko bread crumbs before broiling.
Just remember, do not walk away from the oven when broiling something. We have a lot of personal experience with burning dishes. Just don't walk away.
We mean it.
Leftovers will keep well in your fridge for up to 3-4 days.
💭 Budget tips
We think everyone should be able to eat better for less, so here are a few tricks to make this recipe even more affordable:
- Don't use onion
- Try making your own plant milk
- Use water instead of vegetable broth
🍴 Tasting notes
After your mac and cheese is nice and crispy on top, garnish it with green onions or cilantro and some paprika for a nice flavour. We hope you enjoy this meal! Its:
If you try this recipe, please rate it and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter. Make sure to save this recipe for later on Yummly or Pinterest too. Happy eating!
Mac & Cheese With Almond Milk
- Large pot
- Frying pan
- High-speed blender
- 3 cups elbow macaroni ($0.32)
- 1 small yellow onion ($0.20)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil ($0.12)
- 2 cloves 2-3 garlic cloves ($0.08)
- ¾ cup raw cashews, soaked ($1.29)
- 1 ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk ($0.35)
- 5 tablespoon nutritional yeast ($1.23)
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar ($0.05)
- ½ tablespoon dijon ($0.03)
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder ($0.04)
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes ($0.01)
- Sea salt to taste ($0.01)
- ¼ cup vegetable broth ($0.06)
- 2-3 tablespoon panko bread crumbs ($0.06)
- 1-2 tablespoon nutritional yeast ($0.24)
- Preheat your oven to broil.
- Chop the onion into thin slices.
- In a pan on low-medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add in ¼ cup of vegetable broth and the onion slices.
- Cook the onions for about 25 minutes, or until they turn a caramel color. Remember to stir them occasionally to avoid burning. If they start to darken too quickly, turn the heat down.
- Bring some water to a boil in a medium-large pot about ½ to ¾ full. Once boiling, add in a pinch of salt and your macaroni shells. Cook them according to the box instructions, or approximately 8-10 minutes.
- Once finished, drain pasta and throw it back in the cooking pot.
- In a high-speed blender, add 2-3 garlic cloves, ¾ cup cashews (drained), 1 ¼ cups almond milk, 5 tablespoon nutritional yeast, ½ tablespoon Dijon, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 2 teaspoon garlic powder, and ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes.
- Blend until you get a creamy consistency. Add in sea salt to taste, and adjust other seasonings as needed.
- Pour your cheese sauce over the macaroni. Cook on low heat for another 1-2 minutes to thicken the sauce up.
- Mix in the caramelized onions, and if your pot is NOT oven-safe, transfer everything to an oven-safe pot or pan. Smooth the top of your macaroni with a spatula, then top with panko bread crumbs and more nutritional yeast.
- Broil for 1-2 minutes, or until golden on top. Be careful to watch closely to avoid burning. Do not walk away.
- A high-speed blender, like a Vitamix, works best for creating the creamiest cheese sauce. However, you can still achieve similar results with whatever food processor or blender you have at home.
♻️ Similar recipes
For more tasty pasta dishes, check out our:
- Vegan basil pesto pasta for a herbaceous and Mediterranean meal you won't be able to get enough of.
- Lentil bolognese for a vegan take on a classic dish we know you'll love.
- Vegan fettuccine Alfredo if you like an extra creamy sauce, thick noodles, and no upset stomach.
We've only tried almond and soy milk with this recipe, but both have worked! Most other plant milks should be fine too.
We have used both sweetened and unsweetened almond milk, and it doesn't really make a huge difference. Using unsweetened almond milk does save you some calories though.
No, you definitely don't have to bake the mac and cheese. We just find it adds a nice crisp to the top layer and panko breadcrumbs.
No, adding in the caramelized onion is totally optional. We think it adds the perfect amount of sweetness to this mac and cheese, but you can save some time by not including the onions.