A Really Good {Vegan} Macaroni & Cheese

October 6, 2017

A Really Good {Vegan} Macaroni & Cheese by Faring Well

Thanks to you (and my legs’ endurance, walking 23.5 miles in just two days!) I had the most incredible time in Chicago last week. It was so wonderful receiving all of your tips and recommendations on things to do and see. If you’re reading this, Chicago, I know it may seem a bit soon – but I think I’m ready to confess my love for you. I was expecting to be wowed, but the feeling of that city went beyond the wow-factor I experience in others like NYC and San Francisco. There was this small town feeling of community, like everyone in the city was on one team and they were there to crush it – while being non pretentious, incredibly kind, and filled with a sincere love for their town.

There was so much to see and do, I could imagine living there forever and never getting bored. Out of everything I experienced, when asked what my favorite thing was I keep saying the lake. Sitting on it’s shore north of the city while eating a snack. Feeling the gusts of wind come off the surface and through the streets of downtown to give me a breath of fresh air. Crossing over it’s river that wound around the city – which is the prettiest blue/green color – I just loved it in all forms.

I’m simple when it comes to my drinks and eats. My favorite thing I ate was an avocado toast on sourdough from Clever Rabbit, and as for a drink it was the hot chocolate from Oromo Cafe. The latter made all of their own nut milks in house, and not just almond! There was pistachio and hazelnut too. I ordered the hot chocolate with their pistachio milk and sipped it in the corner window while reading Anne of Green Gables – I don’t think I’ve ever been more relaxed. I also tried their turmeric latte, and I just don’t think I like golden milk? I know, I’m in the minority here, but I keep trying to drink it and at one point convinced myself I would just like it last year – but I really don’t. So here it is, publicly documented and I can finally move on, clutching my hot cocoa ;).

To be really candid with you, I left for Chicago feeling burnt out in my work. I think I just needed a break, or to run away from everything, so I did and it was wonderful. But it didn’t cure me. I came back and the creativity-deficient-stick whacked me in the face again. I could bake my face off, but to put something other than a grain and bean bowl on the dinner table was beyond me. Then I opened my desk drawer, started digging through my notebooks, and found this macaroni and cheese recipe I had perfected over the summer. I had planned to wait until the fall season came and things got a bit cozier before sharing it with you. Thanks to my impeccable filing system (sarcasm) we are here today hanging out with something that isn’t cake (yet) and I’m feeling relieved in a small way. Thank you desk drawer, I need to search you more often.

What I like most about this “cheese” sauce is that it seemingly resembles the flavor of cheddar cheese – at least to me and my taste testers. I love my sweet potato or pumpkin/butternut based sauces, but they still taste of the vegetable used in them and it can be easily detected by non-plant-based eaters. Here I tried carrots, and when blended raw – the sauce tasted like carrots. But after simmering the carrots until soft before blending, they went by undetected with just a mellow sweetness. The apple cider vinegar balances the sweetness with some acidity, and the smoked paprika and cumin ground the sauce and bring down the harsh contrast between those two high notes. The chickpeas make the sauce feel rich and creamy, while adding extra fiber and protein to help keep you full. I love broccoli with my mac, and I roasted some here with chili flakes to bring in a little heat. But feel free to use whatever veg you have and love, and to even steam the florets rather than roasting for quicker preparation too.

Sending love and bowls of comfort to you all this week. -xx

A Really Good {Vegan} Macaroni & Cheese by Faring WellA Really Good {Vegan} Macaroni & Cheese by Faring WellA Really Good {Vegan} Macaroni & Cheese by Faring WellA Really Good {Vegan} Macaroni & Cheese by Faring WellA Really Good {Vegan} Macaroni & Cheese by Faring WellA Really Good {Vegan} Macaroni & Cheese by Faring Well


Makes 4 servings.

8 to 10 ounces of elbow pasta

cheese sauce
4 thin carrots, 8 inches in length
vegetable broth
2 cups chickpeas
4 cloves of garlic
2 to 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
sea salt & black pepper
2 cups plant milk, or more to thin

4 cups broccoli florets
olive oil (or vegetable broth for oil-free)
sea salt & black pepper
few pinches of red chili flakes

Begin by preheating the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

Toss the broccoli florets with a splash of olive oil (or vegetable broth) and lay in an even layer on the lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, a few cracks of fresh black pepper, and the desired amount of chili flakes. Roast in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the florets have browned and are fully cooked.

While the broccoli is roasting, prepare the pasta and sauce.

Boil your chosen elbow pasta (I used this one) according to the packages instructions.

While waiting for the water to come to a boil, slice the carrots in half lengthwise, and then once more widthwise. Place in an eight-inch sauté pan, and cover with a half inch of vegetable broth. Add a few cracks of fresh black pepper, bring to a simmer, and cover with a lid. Cook over medium heat until all of the broth has been absorbed by the carrots and they are soft.

Place the carrots, chickpeas, garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons of the apple cider vinegar, smoked paprika, cumin, and nutritional yeast in an upright blender. Salt to taste (start around 1/2 teaspoon), add plenty of freshly ground black pepper, and 2 cups of plain plant milk (I used homemade walnut here, but also love using almond). Puree on high until smooth. Taste. How’s the saltiness and tang? If it needs any more tang, add the extra tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. If the sauce is too thick, add small amounts of additional plant milk to thin (the wet pasta will thin it out a bit too).

Drain the cooked pasta, toss with the “cheese” sauce and roasted broccoli florets, and serve right away.

Store any leftover sauce (if not cooking the full amount of pasta at first) in an airtight container in the fridge and use within one week. Store leftover pasta that has been tossed with the sauce and broccoli in glass tupperware to reheat (or eat cold) during the week for a quick lunch too.

I love seeing what you create! Be sure to tag your photos on Instagram with #FWmakers.

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  • Chelsea October 6, 2017 at 8:29 am

    So excited to try a cashew free “cheese” sauce! Will definitely be making next week.

    • Faring Well October 6, 2017 at 10:48 am

      Oh yay! So happy to hear you like the sound of this one Chelsea, I hope you love it too.

  • Tiana October 6, 2017 at 9:54 am

    Very big day for me because I just got a Vitamix 5200 and I can’t wait to try it out for the first time on this recipe! I am also lactose intolerant so I’ve never gotten to experience mac n cheese and I’ve always felt left out from this cultural experience :) looks amazing!

    • Faring Well October 6, 2017 at 10:49 am

      Oh my goodness such a big day Tiana! How exciting! Have fun blending up everything in sight with that baby ;) and I hope you enjoy this cheese sauce too if you give it a spin, we really love it. <3

  • Ashley October 6, 2017 at 10:39 am

    Funny – I just posted a plant-based white cheddar Mac and cheese with broccoli on IG. One of my Fall favs for sure. Healthy comfort food brings me so much joy – I cannot wait to try this yummy version =)

    • Faring Well October 6, 2017 at 10:49 am

      Thanks Ashley!

  • Meredy October 6, 2017 at 11:07 am

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and perspective, once again. You are always a breath of fresh air! I loved hearing about your Chicago adventures and was following along on IG :) Question: my tummy doesn’t like nutritional yeast. Do you think it will drastically effect the flavor? I’m sure you haven’t tried it without but just wanted to get your expertise. I can’t wait to make this for my son and I (soon)!

    • Faring Well October 6, 2017 at 11:10 am

      Hi Meredy! Thank you for writing me this, so incredibly kind of you and appreciated over here <3. As for the nutritional yeast, I have totally forgotten it when making this recipe in the past and it came out amazing, so absolutely feel free to do so for your tummy's sake! Just give it a taste and maybe amp up the smoked paprika a bit, and possibly add a squeeze of lemon, to give it a flavor boost. I hope you and your son enjoy it so very much :).

      • Hannah October 6, 2017 at 2:09 pm

        Not to butt-in and be annoying, but I’ve run out of nutritional yeast before, and found that a good dollop of mustard helps a TON in the flavor department :)

        • Faring Well October 6, 2017 at 3:33 pm

          That sounds absolutely spectacular Hannah, thank you tons for sharing that tip with us here! xx

        • Meredy October 6, 2017 at 7:51 pm

          Hey there Hannah!! Thank you so much for the tip! That totally makes sense. I have a lovely Dijon that I’ll incorporate. Between the two of you, I’m on my way to Mac n cheese heaven!! (Which my son has never had the pleasure of experiencing!)

      • Meredy October 6, 2017 at 7:49 pm

        Great news!!! I’ve got a great smoky paprika from Spain that I love so I’ll add a touch extra. Thank you for your sweet response…picked up my favorite GF joivial elbow pasta today at the store. Whoop! Getting closer to it!

  • Karlie October 6, 2017 at 11:20 am

    A new vegan cheese sauce combination!! I will be making this for a cozy sunday supper <3

    • Faring Well October 6, 2017 at 3:32 pm

      I know right, as if there needs to be any more! But I’m glad my little version is worthy of a cozy dinner for you Karlie, thank you. <3

  • Zoe C October 6, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    I’m so glad to finally find someone else who just doesn’t like golden milk! I’m also very excited to try this new vegan mac combination! :)

    • Faring Well October 6, 2017 at 3:35 pm

      I’m glad I’m not sitting here alone in this Zoe, thank you! And I also hope you love the combo as much as we do :).

  • Megan October 7, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    This “cheese” sauce looks exceptionally cheesy Jessie! Very excited to make this on my next cozy day in. :)

    • Faring Well October 10, 2017 at 2:00 pm

      So happy to hear you think so, thank you Megan <3.

  • Beth October 8, 2017 at 6:47 am

    Hi Jessie! I tried your recipe last night, and my husband and I both loved it! I loved how easy it was, too…I can definitely see myself making the sauce on the weekend and having it for easy weekday suppers. Thank you for sharing :)

    • Faring Well October 10, 2017 at 2:01 pm

      This just made my week! Thank you Beth, I’m so happy you two enjoyed it.

  • Emily | Gather & Dine October 10, 2017 at 9:52 am

    Good for you for taking a break and letting go for a little! I totally agree that Chicago is amazing- so much food, culture, beauty in one city. I love that you read Anne while sipping your hot chocolate… made me smile because we’re reading that book right now with the kids before bed! What a great recipe to pull out now too since I think we’re all ready for comfort food around this time of year. And I’m sure that roasting the broccoli first makes it extra wonderful. In regards to the continued burn-out, I honestly love all of your baking recipes, so bake away! Your space here is so beautiful and so much fun to read, I enjoy even the simplest of posts. Hope you can find some rest and comfort in that. xo

    • Faring Well October 10, 2017 at 2:06 pm

      Thank you Emily :) and aw that is so sweet about Anne! Love that you are reading it to them, she is so imaginative. And sheesh thank you for the encouragement on sharing more baking recipes, it really would be all too easy. And as for your last (way overly sweet) few sentences, I find infinite rest and comfort in that coming from you – just breathed a little deeper as I type. Thank you friend, always. xx

  • Charlie October 12, 2017 at 2:39 am

    I’m not vegan, but I try to eat a plant based diet 80% out of the week, having grown up in cattle country it has been a challenge, but stumbling up on recipes like this – traditional comfort food but with out the dairy is just the greatest, having moved away from my family and my grandma’s cooking.
    Thank you for sharing

    • Faring Well October 13, 2017 at 2:48 pm

      This is so sweet to read Charlie, I’m really glad this recipe speaks “comfort” to you too. I hope if you give it a go that you enjoy it as much as we do! Have a wonderful weekend now, xx.

  • Nina Nourish Atelier October 12, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    You’really a magician Jessie ♡. I would love to taste this sauce. When you post this kind of recipes I always think that I need to try them asap. Wishing lots of harmony and good vibes for you. X nina

    • Faring Well October 13, 2017 at 2:50 pm

      This is just the greatest compliment to receive from you Nina! I always feel the same about yours too. Thank you tons. And sending hugs and coziness back at you! xx

  • Claudia Cressotti October 15, 2017 at 5:57 am

    I really want to use this recipe for a Thanksgiving party, but I want to make it into a mac & squash recipe . How could I add butternut squash?

  • Tori Danielle October 15, 2017 at 9:43 am

    I’m definitely going to try this tonight. I love cashew-based mac and cheese but sometimes that can get expensive! Looking forward to trying this chickpea version!

    • Faring Well October 16, 2017 at 12:08 pm

      Yay so glad you’re vibing this one Tori! I hope you enjoy it tons <3.

  • Catherine October 22, 2017 at 4:33 am

    I’m so excited to try this! I’ve tried other vegan cheese sauces, but never one with chickpeas. I agree with previous commenters that it will be a cheaper option! Do you think this recipe could freeze well?

    • Faring Well October 22, 2017 at 2:42 pm

      Aw yay I’m so glad you’re excited too, Catherine! I would guess the cheese sauce would freeze okay, but haven’t tried it myself! Do let me know if you give it a whirl <3.

  • Anne November 1, 2017 at 8:57 am

    sorry, but how much is a half inch vegetable broth? In Holland we don’t use inches hihi, so how many ml is this? Or how many cups?

    Thanks! xx

    • Faring Well November 1, 2017 at 1:04 pm

      Hi Anne, it will depend based on what size pan you use – so go by your eye for 1.5 to 2 centimeters high of broth. I never measure the exact amount. The goal is enough to cook the carrots in when covered. You can check and add more if needed at first!

  • Sylvia March 4, 2018 at 7:50 am

    Hi Jessie, thanks for all the recipies you share with us!! I really enjoy your blog! One question about this recipe, in the second photo I can see soaking nuts but then you dont uses them, do you add them in the blender, for the cheese sauce? I made the sauce without and it was very good 🤤
    Thanks, xo!

    • Faring Well March 5, 2018 at 10:46 am

      You’re so kind, thank you Sylvia! And great question too <3 those nuts were soaking for me to make nut milk with, which is used in the sauce :) hope that clears it up a bit! And so so so happy you loved the recipe - yay!

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