Vegan Mac and Cheese with Silken Tofu Sauce

A vegan mac and cheese that even picky kids will love? This is the one! Classic mac and cheese flavour, with a silken tofu mac and cheese sauce (no cashews!) that takes just 5 minutes to whip up in the blender.

Vegan Mac and Cheese in white bowl with wooden spoon
This creamy, nourishing vegan mac and cheese is made with silken tofu, not cashews!

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My eight year old daughter’s favourite food is mac and cheese. But not just any mac and cheese. She likes it out of the box. Or from local restaurant White Spot. That’s it. The “fancy” kind with five pounds of cheese? Nope. Not for her. She likes it creamy, cheesy and MILD.

As a vegan dietitian cooking for a family of omnivores, I’ve come up against plenty of challenges to create plant-based recipes my family would celebrate but this, my friends, was the biggest so far. Could I create a vegan mac and cheese that my daughter would gobble up, without complaints, or pushing her pasta around her plate to make it look like she’s eaten? 

Honestly, this one took some doing. It was all about the little flavour tweaks but after about 6 different iterations, I’ve perfected a creamy, savoury silken tofu mac and cheese sauce that she actually gobbled up! Nutritional yeast creates the cheesy base. Onion and garlic powder layer on umami and depth. And dijon mustard give it that aged old cheddar vibe.

It’s a very different type of dairy free mac and cheese because honestly, I haven’t loved a lot of the other ones I’ve tried! A lot of vegan mac and cheese recipes use either butternut squash or cauliflower as their sauce base but honestly, I don’t love them…because they don’t really taste like classic mac and cheese. Plus, you’ve got to cook the vegetables, which so the sauce takes longer. 

And as much as I LOVE cashew cream-based sauces, like my vegan alfredo, I know that A) cashews are pricey and B) allergies are common so I wanted to challenge myself to make a fully nut free vegan mac and cheese that was SO delicious that even my eight year old likes it. 

Silken tofu makes a perfect base for dairy free pasta sauces because it’s mild in flavour and blends up super smooth in addition to adding plant-based protein (about 4g per ⅓ cup) as well as calcium, iron and potassium meaning that yes, this mac and cheese packs plenty of nutrition! 

This dairy free mac and cheese recipe is super weeknight friendly because all you have to do is boil your favourite pasta on the stovetop, blend the sauce and toss it with the cooked pasta. THAT’S IT.

Bonus: the sauce is naturally gluten free so if you have celiac disease, just pair with your favourite gluten free pasta! You can enjoy it as a side dish, or do as we typically do in my house: roast up a big batch of veggies (I like cauliflower!) and serve this vegan mac and cheese as a main dish. It’s a comforting, nourishing dinner for the whole family.

How to make this 15 minute vegan mac and cheese

I love how simple this recipe is: by the time the pasta is cooked, you’ve blended up the sauce and cleaned up the kitchen! Plus, since there are no cashews in the recipe, you don’t need a fancy blender: any blender – even an immersion blender – will do!!

vegan mac and cheese ingredients
Each ingredient adds dimension: paprika for colour, garlic and onion powder for depth, butter for richness.

Step One: Gather your ingredients. In addition to your favourite pasta, you’ll need a package of silken tofu, nutritional yeast, onion and garlic powder, salt, paprika, dijon, lemon, sugar and vegan butter. Can’t find silken tofu? Soft tofu has a lower moisture content but it works…I’ve done it both ways.

Step Two: Boil your pasta according to package directions, drain, rinse and return to the pot.

Step Three: While your pasta is boiling, toss all the sauce ingredients, minus the butter, into the blender. Start blending on medium low for 20 seconds, scrape the sides to incorporate all the powdered ingredients, then increase to medium for about 20 seconds, scrape the sides, then take it up to medium high until smooth, about 30 seconds. Yep, that’s it. 

Taste and then adjust salt, sugar or dijon as desired. The base sauce is meant to be delicious of course, but mild. The dijon gives it that aged white cheddar vibe so if you want more flavour, try adding more, a teaspoon at a time until you hit that sweet spot. I also really love adding a tablespoon of Frank’s hot sauce but obviously not if you’re feeding littles!

Step Four: melt the vegan butter over the pasta, pour the dairy free mac and cheese sauce over, toss and serve!

Want to fancy this up? You could toss the pasta with some toasted panko breadcrumbs, like the ones from my roasted beet and carrot salad (I would skip the lemon zest). OR you pop the pasta into a baking dish, top with some shredded vegan cheese or breadcrumbs toss under the broiler until the cheese is melted (or crumbs toasted!)

More nourishing vegan pasta recipes

Vegan Mac and Cheese in white bowl with wooden spoon

Vegan Mac and Cheese with Silken Tofu Sauce

A vegan mac and cheese that even picky kids will love! Classic mac and cheese flavour, with a silken tofu mac and cheese sauce (no cashews!) that takes just 5 minutes to whip up in the blender.

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  • 12 ounce silken tofu, or soft tofu
  • cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon sugar, yes, it makes a difference!
  • 1 pound your favourite pasta
  • ¼ cup vegan butter
  • Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and return to the pot off of the heat.

  • While the pasta cooks, add the silken tofu, nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, garlic and onion powder, salt, lemon juice, paprika, and sugar to the blender. Blend for 20 seconds on medium low, scrape the blender, then blend for 20 seconds on medium, scrape the blender, then finish by blending on medium high for 30 seconds until the sauces looks silky smooth.

  • Add the vegan butter to the hot pasta, toss to coat and then pour over the cheese sauce and toss again.

Optional toppings

  • If you like, it’s also nice to transfer the pasta to a baking dish and either top it with melty vegan shreds or seasoned panko crumbs and broil just until the cheese is melted or the crumbs are golden brown.

Pro tip: one of the earlier iterations of this used Frank’s red hot in place of Dijon. The grown ups really liked it! Franks is both acidic and sweet and salty all at the same time. 
Hence the lemon juice and tiny bit of sugar in this recipe.