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Masala Mac and Cheese

Creamy, luscious, rich but also vegan and dairy-free. This mac and cheese won't disappoint.
Creamy, luscious, rich but also vegan and dairy-free. This mac and cheese won't disappoint.TODAY

Chef notes

I was definitely a boxed mac and cheese gal growing up, but I've evolved and can now proudly make mac from scratch ... and I can make it delightfully creamy without any dairy! This recipe uses cashews as a base to create a surprisingly thick and luscious sauce. The masala also adds a spicy kick, which brings the dish from a kid classic to adult dinner status. 


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • cups raw cashews, flash soaked then drained (flash soak cashews by soaking in boiling water for one hour or soak overnight in room temperature water)
  • 1/4 cup (about 1/2 medium sweet potato) steamed, peeled, and mashed sweet potato
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 (10-ounce) package pasta (elbows, bow ties or penne work well)
  • Cilantro or parsley, for garnish



Make the sauce: Heat a medium skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil.


When the oil shimmers, add the onions, season with salt and black pepper and saute until they become translucent and start to brown around the edges, about 5 to 7 minutes.


In a blender, blitz together sauteed onions, soaked and drained cashews, peeled sweet potato (lightly mashed), vegetable broth, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, turmeric, cumin and cayenne. Blend until sauce is creamy, velvety and smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. For a spicier dish, add more cayenne.


Make the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve about ¼ cup of starchy pasta water.


Combine the sauce with the pasta. Add hot pasta water if necessary to thin out the sauce.


Garnish each serving with cilantro or parsley.