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Cauliflower Mac ‘n Cheese

This whole food plant-based macaroni and cheese contains no cashews (like most versions) and yet it’s creamy, filling, and easy. Yes, I love all that about this recipe. However, my favorite part is that my little kids think they are eating macaroni and cheese, and I know they’re actually eating chickpeas (if using chickpea pasta) and cauliflower.

Yep, deceptive deliciousness at it’s finest.

Chickpeas in macaroni form. If you haven’t tried Banza pasta yet, it’s about time you get on the bandwagon!

However, yes, you can use any pasta for this recipe!

cauliflower mac and cheese

Let’s Talk about the Sauce

Cauliflower makes the creamiest dairy-free pasta sauces! We love cauliflower alfredo, and now this cheese sauce. It uses nutritional yeast for the cheesy flavor, which has had to grow on me. At first it did not taste at all like cheese to me, and I didn’t like it much. Now, I love it, and I love how packed with B vitamins it is. If you don’t like it at first, just keep trying it. It is such a great ingredient for both flavor and nutrition. This brand, Sari, is the variety I order time and time and time again on Amazon (affiliate link). It seems expensive, but it lasts a long time and is much cheaper than cheese.



So satisfying.

Can be gluten-free.


Plant-based and oil-free, as always!


Re-heats great for leftovers.

We love this recipe and make it really often. If you enjoy it, too, you’ll also like the Pasta Alfredo in my cookbook, Plant-Based Cooking for Kids.

5 from 4 votes
Cauliflower Mac 'n Cheese
Prep Time
30 mins

A creamy "cheese" sauce made of cauliflower, but you'd never taste it!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cauliflower mac 'n cheese, macaroni, vegan mac 'n cheese
Servings: 5 people
Author: Faithful Plateful
  • 16 oz whole grain or chickpea pasta (we love Banza!)
  • 1 head cauliflower (using about 380 grams of florets)
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 small orange sweet potato/yam (about 1 cup diced)
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened plant milk, such as soy or almond
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika (reduce to 1/4 if you're sensitive to heat)
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.

    (I like to also steam some vegetables to go with it, like peas or broccoli. You might have a lot of pots going on, but they clean up fast.)

  2. Meanwhile, cut cauliflower into florets. Peel carrots and slice into thin slices so they'll cook as quickly as the cauliflower. Slice and dice the sweet potato, too.

    In a medium pot, place the cauliflower, carrots and sweet potato in (or in a steamer basket) with 2 inches of water in the bottom.

  3. In a high speed blender or food processor, add the remaining sauce ingredients, then the steamed vegetables. Blend until a smooth "cheese" sauce. If needed, add a bit more milk. Stir in 1/4 tsp black pepper (if it gets blended it can be pretty spicy).

  4. Pour over cooked pasta and enjoy. Sprinkle paprika, salt and pepper on top, if desired.

Recipe originally published in 2019. Updated in 2023 with addition of the sweet potato, less smoked paprika and not blending the black pepper.

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  1. Since going plant based I have tried a few recipes because my kids ask for it. So, I had low expectations that plant based macaroni and cheese can even be enjoyed. I was wrong! This recipe is delicious! Both my children loved it!!! This will definitely be our go to mac-n-cheese recipe in the future. Thank you Faith!

    1. I’m so glad to hear that! Cashew-based mac and cheese is more creamy and traditional, but I was going for a more veggie low-fat version here. I didn’t expect my 2 year old to love it, but she eats so much every time.

  2. Absolutely delicious and completely nourishing and guilt-free. Thank you for this recipe, we eat it regularly!

  3. My kids (except my five year old) all LOVE boxed Mac and cheese, and so I’ve been hesitant to make this. But I bit the bullet today and to my amazement, they all liked it! Even the picky 5yo ate a ton!!! Definitely a keeper. I did double both the garlic and onion powder as my family likes those flavors a lot.

  4. Very easy but very good! It has the perfect blend of saltiness, “cheesy” taste with a little smoked flavor from the smoked paprika. I love that it’s made from cauliflower and carrots! Favorite plant based Mac n cheese so far!

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