4.72 from 14 votes

Vegan Mac and Cheese with Red Pepper

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Vegans and non-vegans alike will love this vegan mac and cheese with red peppers! It’s a creamy, cheesy, and tangy dish you won’t want to miss!
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
£1.20
Makes: 5
mains
Italian
Freezable

While some vegan mac and cheese recipes just don’t hit the mark, you won’t be disappointed with this delicious option! It features a tangy, creamy red pepper and cashew sauce that tastes just as cheesy and decadent as regular mac and cheese! Pair it with veggies for a filling meal.

A green bowl of macaroni and cheese with a spoon on a white background.

Why this vegan mac and cheese is the best!

This vegan mac and cheese is so good you’ll impress all your non-meat-eating friends! It’s made with a creamy sauce that’s achieved with soaked cashews, seasoning, roasted garlic and veg, and nutritional yeast (for a cheesy flavour).

The roasted red pepper in this vegan mac and cheese recipe adds a delightful brightness and slight sweetness to the recipe, creating a deliciously complex flavour. Creating a creamy cashew sauce is the secret to making the best vegan mac and cheese.

The sauce has a similar consistency as with regular mac and cheese, but without the dairy or animal products! Another bonus, this recipe is ready in 30 minutes!

Other recipes you might like… Vegan Roast Dinner, Vegan Cashew Curry and Easy Red Lentil Dahl with Coconut Milk

Ingredients

Ingredients to make macaroni and cheese laid out on a pale blue background and labelled.

Cashews
Making this vegan mac and cheese tasty is easy with a cashew vegan cheese sauce. You can use sunflower seeds instead of raw cashews if you have nut allergies. You will need to soak sunflower seeds (like cashews) before making vegan macaroni and cheese.

Nutritional Yeast
The cheesy flavour in this cashew mac and cheese mainly comes from the nutritional yeast. However, you can substitute this with a non-dairy cheese instead. Consider using a vegan mozzarella or cheddar with this recipe.

Soy Milk
This recipe will work with any unsweetened, unflavoured, non-dairy milk. Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing soy milk with another non-dairy alternative.

See the recipe card for full information on all ingredients and quantities.

Variations/ Adaptations

You can make this a gluten-free recipe by using gluten-free pasta instead of regular pasta. Use a 1:1 ratio when making this vegan mac and cheese with gluten-free noodles.

If you want to turn this red pepper mac and cheese into a higher protein dish, consider adding chopped pieces of cooked plant-based chicken nuggets. These pair well with the flavour of this recipe and add a tasty crunch to the dish.

How to make vegan mac and cheese

Preheat oven to 160°C/320°F

  1. Start by pouring water into the bowl of cashews and leave to soak (the water should be room temperature) (Image 1).
  2. Let evenly distribute the sliced red pepper and onion onto a foil lined baking tray. Add the garlic cloves into the tray without removing their skin, this will prevent the garlic from burning. Then drizzle the olive oil over the veg and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat and pop in the oven for 25 minutes (Image 2).
2 step by step photos, the first with a bowl of cashews in water and the second with a foil lined baking tray with sliced peppers and onions.

3. Add the macaroni to salted boiling water, setting the timer to the packet instructions time, minus 2 minutes (Image 3).

4. Prepare the ingredients to make the sauce that’s the soy milk, nutritional yeast, cashew nuts, lemon juice and Dijon mustard (Image 4).

When the oven timer goes off, remove the tray from the oven and remove the garlic and their skins.

2 step by step photos, the first with pasta in a saucepan in hot water mixed with a spoon and the second with the ingredients for the sauce around a blender.

5. Using a blender, add the roasted red pepper and onion along with the soy milk, nutritional yeast, cashew nuts, lemon juice and dijon mustard.Blend for a couple of minutes until smooth and creamy. Just a warning – when cold it doesn’t taste like the final dish don’t worry! (Image 5).

6. Reserve a mug of pasta water before draining the pasta and adding to the pan (Image 6). 

2 step by step photos, the first with creamy sauce in a blender and the second with drained pasta being poured into the pan.

7. Now add together the drained pasta and the roasted pepper, cheesy sauce into the pan (Image 7).

8. Heat on low until the pasta is al dente and the sauce is nicely incorporated. Add some salt is needed and serve with lots of black pepper (Image 8).

2 step by step photos, the first with macaroni in a pan with sauce being poured over and the second with macaroni with the sauce mixed in with a wooden spoon.

Here are some other vegan recipes to give you inspiration ; Crispy Soy Tofu, Aubergine & Rice, Quick Yaki Udon and Vegan Creamy Pea and Mint Soup.

A green bowl of macaroni and cheese with a spoon on a green background with the pan of Mac and cheese in partial view..

Tips for the best result

Always soak the cashews first
Avoid using cashews that have not been soaked, as they will create a chunky sauce for this easy vegan mac and cheese. The goal of this dish is to make a creamy sauce, which requires softened cashews. 

Use a high-powered blender
A high-powered blender helps create the creamiest, chunk-free sauce for this yummy mac and cheese recipe. You can use a regular blender or food processor, though you may notice some bits of cashews in the sauce.

Try topping the vegan mac and cheese with protein
As mentioned, you can add some plant-based or vegan protein to this recipe to increase the protein content. Chunks of vegan chicken nuggets or crumbled vegan bacon bits work well as a topper for this recipe.

Season as you like
This delicious recipe is easy to adjust to your taste. Add spices like garlic powder or onion powder so it better fits your taste buds.

Close up of macaroni and cheese with a wooden spoon.

FAQs

How do I store this recipe?

Pack this vegan mac and cheese in an airtight container, and it will last in the refrigerator for up to three days. You may need to add a small amount of water when reheating so the sauce is not too thick.

Can I freeze this recipe?

Yes and no. If you have leftover cashew sauce, you can freeze it in batches, and it should reheat well. However, cooked pasta does not typically freeze well, as it can become mushy upon reheating. It’s best to make a fresh batch of pasta for any sauce you freeze.

Can I make this vegan mac and cheese recipe nut free?

Yes, you can make this recipe nut-free. Simply use de-shelled sunflower seeds instead of cashews for the creamy sauce. Alternatively, you can use a non-dairy cheese and melted vegan butter to make the sauce instead. However, you will need to adjust the liquids in the sauce. You’ll also need to heat the sauce on the stove to create a creamy, “cheesy” sauce.

If you tried this Vegan Mac and Cheese recipe, it would be mean so much to me if you could leave a review & a star rating to let me know how you found it! I love hearing about your experiences – it motivates me to keep creating more and more recipes for you guys 💛 Let’s get cooking! – Mimi x

Vegan Mac and Cheese with Red Pepper

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4.72 from 14 votes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
£1.20
mains
Italian
Freezable
Servings: 5
Vegans and non-vegans alike will love this vegan mac and cheese with red peppers! It’s a creamy, cheesy, and tangy dish you won’t want to miss!

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, sliced into thin wedges (£0.09)
  • 1 red pepper, sliced into strips (£0.50)
  • 3 garlic cloves (£0.69/3)=(£0.23)
  • 100 g cashews (£1.70/2) =(£0.85)
  • 400 g macaroni (£0.54)
  • 400 ml unsweetened soy milk (£0.85)
  • 4 tbsp nutritional yeast (£3.00/3)=(£1.00)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard (£0.37)
  • ½ lemon, juiced (£0.20)

Cupboard Essentials

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Pepper
  • Side: Serve with peas or broccoli

Method

Preheat oven to 160°C/320°F

  • Start by adding the sliced red pepper and onion to a foil lined baking tray. Add the garlic cloves into the tray without removing their skin, this will prevent the garlic from burning. Drizzle the olive oil over the veg and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat and pop in the oven for 25 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, soak the cashews in room temp water.
  • After around 15 minutes, add the macaroni to salted boiling water, setting the timer to the packet time minus 2 minutes.
  • When the oven timer goes off, remove the tray from the oven. To a blender, add the contents of the tray (garlic skin now removed), soy milk, nutritional yeast, cashew nuts, lemon juice and dijon mustard. Blend for a couple of minutes until smooth and creamy. Just a warning- when cold it doesn’t taste like the final dish don’t worry!
  • Reserve a mug of pasta water before draining the pasta. Add the drained pasta and roasted pepper cheesey sauce into the pan and heat on low until the pasta is al dente and the sauce is nicely incorporated. Taste to check if any salt is needed and serve with lots of black pepper.

Notes

  • Soak cashews before using them to achieve a creamy sauce in vegan mac and cheese.
  • Utilise a high-powered blender for a smoother, chunk-free sauce.
  • Enhance the dish by topping it with plant-based proteins like vegan chicken nuggets or bacon bits.
  • Customise the flavour by adding spices such as garlic powder or onion powder to suit your preferences.

Nutrition

Servings: 5 servings
Fat: 15g
Calories: 506kcal
Carbohydrates: 71g
Protein: 21g
4.72 from 14 votes (14 ratings without comment)

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