Gluten Free Vegan Mac and Cheese

As I’m sure you know, macaroni and cheese is all the rage right now. With entire restaurants dedicated to the creamy, comforting stuff, it’s clear that it’s a childhood favorite that we don’t outgrow. Vegans have long been in the practice of creating amazing versions of animal-ingredient-free varieties. There’s even an entire blog dedicated to it called the Noochy Noodle. But what if you are vegan and also gluten-free? Just because a vegan gets diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity his or her ethical stance about animal products doesn’t change. So, the elimination of gluten gets added to their vegan lifestyle.

The two main components in traditional mac and cheese are dairy and wheat. So, you may wonder how a gluten-free vegan could possibly, of all dishes, manage to eat some. Believe it or not, it’s possible to create a delectable, velvety, savory bowl of noodles that will satisfy even an omnivore. I know of four restaurants in the Bay Area that serve gluten-free vegan mac and cheese: Source, Nature’s Express, Cafe Gratitude (and a raw variety at that!), and Homeroom. However, everyone knows that nothing beats homemade. So, let’s start with some cashews and some rice pasta and take it from there…

Gluten-Free Vegan Macaroni and Cheese

Summary: This makes a cheesy, gooey mac and cheese. I prefer not to bake it so that the nut base doesn’t get too dry or congeal. The base for the cheese sauce was inspired by the Raw Cashew Cheese recipe on Chocolate & Zucchini.

Mac and Cheese Ingredients

Prep time: After soaking cashews, 15 min
Cook time: 10 min
Total time: 15 min (some steps are done simultaneously)
Yield: 4 2-cup servings


  • 1 1/2 cup cashews (soaked for 6 hours or overnight — measure after soaking)
  • 1/2 cup vegan milk (I used homemade cashew milk, but any other type would work)
  • 1/4 cup roasted red peppers (from a jar works fine)
  • 3 tablespoons white wine (find a vegan variety here)*
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Earth Balance (I prefer the soy-free variety, which would also make this a soy-free recipe.)
  • 1 large clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • black pepper to taste (but I recommend a lot)
  • 1 bag Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice Fusilli Pasta (This is the best gluten-free pasta I have found, and it’s only $1.99. It comes in other shapes, but fusilli is the best.)**
  • Trader Joes Brown Rice Pasta

    *The addition of wine and vinegar helps give the sauce the sharp taste that the fermentation in dairy cheese produces.
    **If you are not gluten-free, you can totally use regular wheat pasta here as well.
    Note: If you’re not feeling the macaroni part, you can also just make the sauce and use it for other recipes that call for cheesy concoctions, like a vegan fondue, over veggies, or drizzled on vegan pizza.


    1. Start cooking the pasta according to directions. I’ve learned that exactly 8 minutes is the ideal time for the Trader Joe’s brand.
    2. In the meantime put all other ingredients into a blender and gradually increase the speed to the highest possible, and blend until completely smooth. I highly recommend using a good quality (preferably high-speed) blender like a Vitamix to get the creamiest consistency possible. But whatever blender you use, the key it to get it as smooth as possible and without any gritty texture.
    3. Cheese Sauce in Blender

    4. Pour “cheese” mixture into a pot and over medium low heat, gradually heat sauce while constantly stirring with a whisk.
    5. Drain noodles, rinse for a second, and while still wet combine with cheese sauce.
    6. Stir.
    7. Eat.
    8. You can also customize this recipe easily. Add a little cayenne or jalapeƱos for a kick. Sprinkle with gluten-free bread crumbs or crumbled potato chips. Stir in peas or broccoli florets. Use your imagination! Then grab a bowl, pile in the creamy pasta, and relive your childhood (maybe add some grown-up cartoons for even more authenticity).

      • Kristen

        Oh! I think the Noochy Noodle will have to try this recipe!

      • Vera

        Homeroom cannot make their vegan mac end cheese gluten free. Their website says they can but once you get there it says they can’t on their menu.

      • Jessica

        This sounds really yummy! I recently got some Himalayan pink salt, which is gluten-free, and organic peppercorns from Sustainable Sourcing and I’ll have to try them out in this recipe. Thanks for sharing!

      • Kristen

        Strange! I went to Homeroom with a gluten free vegan when they opened and we didn’t have any problems.


Vi Zahajszky

Vi Zahajszky, originally from Hungary, Boston, and New York, drove across the country to San Francisco a few years ago with her husband Chris and a rescue pup named The Bandit. By day she works at KQED and is involved in the station's new media efforts. By night, her passions lie in vegan food and fashion. Her own blog, plantmade, focuses on vegan and cruelty-free fashion. She is a fashion writer for eco-conscious website One Green Planet, and has contributed to SF vegan lifestyle blog Vegansaurus and San Diego food blog Pizzelles. Currently studying fashion design and pattern-making at Apparel Arts in San Francisco, she has plans to eventually develop a vegan clothing line. You can find her on facebook and on twitter @plantmade.

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