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Cauliflower Macaroni and “Cheese”

Cauliflower Mac and "cheese" 1

Sometimes, ya just need a little comfort food. And, knowing that there’s cauliflower hiding in it somewhere just makes it all the more guiltless.

A few weeks ago, I tried my hand at a potato and carrot based “cheese” dip. It was a smashing success. Then I got to thinking… Supposedly cauliflower is super duper healthy. Why not try subbing cauliflower instead of potatoes?  Then add some starchy pasta (gotta have some starch, right?), and there ya go. Vegan comfort food at its finest–with less guilt–because we’re eating cauliflower, right?

Anything with cauliflower in it has got to be good for you.


Cauliflower Mac and "Cheese" 2

While you gawk at pictures of semi-healthy vegan mac and “cheese,” just imagine you’re curled up on the sofa on a rainy day eating a big bowl of this stuff. I’m making myself hungry just thinking about it…


Cauliflower Mac and "Cheese" 3

Before the recipe, I need to get some ideas from you real quick.

Obviously, it has been way too long since we’ve had a dessert recipe on Vegan Yumminess. What are your favorites? What dessert have you always dreamed of having a vegan recipe for? I’m excited to find out.

In addition to more desserts coming up, I am contemplating sharing my vegan testimony, if you will. I always love a good vegan story, even it if it’s a long one (and this one is). How, when, why did I go vegan? Coming soon…hopefully in the next week or so. :)

Cauliflower Macaroni and “Cheese”

Serves 6
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 30 minutes
Allergy Wheat
Dietary Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish, Side Dish
Misc Child Friendly, Serve Hot


  • 1lb dry macaroni pasta (cooked according to package instructions in salted boiling water)
  • 1 Large cauliflower head (or 2 cups cooked and mashed cauliflower)
  • 2 Large carrots (peeled and cut in 1 in pieces)
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs (optional)


Step 1
Cook pasta according to package directions in salted boiling water and drain.
Step 2
In a large pot, bring 6-8 cups of water to boil.
Step 3
While you're waiting for your water to boil, cut the florets off of your cauliflower and peel and cut your carrots. Place cauliflower florets and carrots in the pot of boiling water, and allow them to cook for about 15 minutes, or until cauliflower is soft enough to mash with a fork.
Step 4
Remove vegetables from pot and drain off any excess water.
Step 5
Mash cauliflower with a fork and place 2 packed cups of mashed cauliflower in a high-speed blender. (I use Vitamix.)
Step 6
Add carrots, oil, water, lemon juice, yeast flakes, and seasonings to your blender. Blend until smooth and creamy.
Step 7
Pour cooked pasta back into a pot or bowl from your strainer. Pour all of your "cheese" mixture over your pasta and gently fold it together. At this point, you could serve your macaroni and "cheese," or you could take it a step further.
Step 8
Spoon macaroni and "cheese" mixture into a 9 X 13 baking dish, and sprinkle Panko bread crumbs over the top. Place your dish under the broiler in the oven for about 1 to 2 minutes, tops. You just want the Panko bread crumbs to get nice and golden brown.
Step 9
Serve hot.

And just in case you thought I forgot, here’s some food for thought from God’s Word:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (New International Version)



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{ 67 comments… add one }

  • Amy @ swiss miss in the kitchen June 26, 2013, 3:57 am

    oh Lindsay I’m head over heels in love with this dish!!! It looks wonderful creamy and so guiltfree with the cauliflower!! Amazing recipe! I’m definitely saving this and try it :)
    xox Amy

    • Lindsay June 26, 2013, 9:04 am

      Thanks, Amy! I’m kind of in love with cauliflower lately…;)

  • Tina June 26, 2013, 5:56 am

    I think I need to make these and secretly feed it to my husband. I wonder if he’ll notice! Thanks for sharing!

    – Tina

    • Lindsay June 26, 2013, 9:04 am

      hahaha! He’ll probably notice that it isn’t cheese, but he definitely won’t notice the cauliflower. :)

  • Lauren June 26, 2013, 4:16 pm

    It actually turned out very well and very easy to make. I might add some roasted garlic in next time. My vegan friend is sure to love it!

    • Lindsay June 26, 2013, 8:53 pm

      great, Lauren! I hope he/she likes it!

  • Vicky June 27, 2013, 9:29 pm

    When do we add the yeast?
    Can we reduce the yeast I don’t have that much il

    • Lindsay June 27, 2013, 9:44 pm

      Hi Vicky! Yes, you can totally reduce the amount of yeast flakes used hear, if you want. I probably wouldn’t use less than 1/4 cup in this recipe, but some people who aren’t used to yeast flakes might find the full 1/2 cup to be over-kill (and expensive!). Sorry I wasn’t clear in the recipe when to add the yeast flakes. I guess I considered yeast flakes a seasoning. I would just add it to the blender when you’re blending your cauliflower, carrots, and oil together. :) Hope this helps.

  • Jodi June 28, 2013, 9:55 pm

    I made this tonight and it was really good,nice and creamy! My family always says, “Why don’t you just call it something besides cheese, we will still like it:)”

  • kathy July 7, 2013, 10:30 am

    I’m so grateful for your site. I love the photos you have with each recipe, as well as the step-by-step instructions. I can’t wait to try this Mac N “Cheez”. Thanks so much for the time you devote to your site and your followers. Kathy, Mesa AZ

    • Lindsay July 7, 2013, 2:29 pm

      Aww! Thanks, Kathy! Comments like yours make my day! :)

  • Uncle Chef Scott July 24, 2013, 9:57 am


    For five weeks, I was contracted to cook Vegetarian food (one vegan in the group) for 50 people daily, at the Mangalam Center for Tibetan Research in Berkeley. Tomorrow, cause your food looks so yummy, I am preparing your Cauliflower Mac and Cheese! I’m so excited!

    one-half cup of yeast? really? I know a little goes a long way….

    Uncle Chef Scott

    • Lindsay July 24, 2013, 10:30 am

      Hi Uncle Chef Scott! Thanks for your kind words. You don’t have to put a whole 1/2 cup of yeast flakes in if you don’t want to. But, to me, it is just right. I have tried using more like 1/3 cup, and even 1/4 cup, and it is still delicious, and a little less yeast flaky. I happen to love the flavor of yeast flakes, but if you don’t (or your vegan client doesn’t), feel free to lessen it. :) Let me know how it turns out!

  • laura July 28, 2013, 3:20 pm

    Loved this dish, brought it to a vegan potluck and everyone loved it!! :) should have served it in a warm crockpot instead of a flat pan, it really is better warm. :)

  • Tesha Bair July 30, 2013, 6:09 pm

    Thanks for the recipe! I used half nutritional yeast/ half brewer’s yeast, substituted lime juice for lemon, and used an old (a bit bitter) cauliflower. The result: a sharp cheddar-like flavor. My toddlers loved it!

  • Karenw86 August 3, 2013, 8:29 pm

    I made this with a few changes. I steamed a whole head of Cauliflower, 4 carrots, 1 onion. And pureed as directed. I also added crushed red pepper flakes, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, and a bit more water. Then I mixed everything together and added 3 diced tomatoes. Next time I will also add cayenne pepper, and hot peppers, possibly peas.

    • Lindsay August 4, 2013, 8:40 am

      Sounds delicious! I love your additions!

  • Katherine August 4, 2013, 4:45 pm

    Just threw this entire meal in the trash. It was one of the worst meals I’ve ever tasted in my life. It tasted like garbage.

    • Lindsay August 4, 2013, 7:22 pm

      So sorry it didn’t turn out for you, Katherine. I wish I was there to save it from the trash. ;) Some people aren’t used to the strong flavor of nutritional yeast, so maybe that’s what disagreed with your taste buds. Not sure I’ve ever tasted garbage before, so I couldn’t make that comparison myself.

  • Katherine August 4, 2013, 9:37 pm

    I don’t know what it was, Lindsay, but it just wasn’t pleasant-tasting at all. As a vegan, I use nutritional yeast a lot actually, though I had never used that much. Forgive my use of the word ‘garbage’ for I was just upset at having wasted so much food. Did most everyone else’s dish turn out well?

    • Lindsay August 4, 2013, 10:25 pm

      Huh. Well, I guess I haven’t had anyone tell me that it didn’t turn out for them. The cheese recipe is essentially the same one that I use here, (which has plenty of positive reviews), with cauliflower used instead of potatoes for added nutrition. It tasted great to me. Was it a texture thing or a flavor for you? No problem about the ‘garbage’ thing. It made me chuckle, actually, but I am truly sorry for your wasted dinner!

      • Katherine August 5, 2013, 7:55 am

        It was the flavour. Neither my son or I could eat more than a couple mouthfuls. Please don’t take this personally though because, as with any recipe or food item, you never know until you try.

        • Lindsay August 5, 2013, 2:32 pm

          Awww…no problem, Katherine. I’m just curious, because, of course, my ultimate goal is to make recipes that everyone will like. While that isn’t exactly realistic, I like to figure out what goes wrong when readers make my recipes so that I can make the recipes better. So, I appreciate your feedback. :) Additionally, I’m learning that maybe not all nutritional yeast is created equal? So, 1/2 cup of it might be too strong for some, and just perfect for others. :) Thanks again for your feedback!

          • evi September 3, 2013, 2:59 pm

            you are so right about the different “types” or “tastes” of nutritional yeast, here in our country ( belgium) it is hard to get good nutritional yeast and having ordered online, i never realised that until i ordered online from germany one day , expecting the same product , but nothing like it , it tasted much more cheesy and rich than what i had bought before in our local healthfood store
            for me that was a good thing but i can imagine, it being an issue to other people, so that might be what caused the ‘offset taste ‘ in this particular dish

          • Lindsay September 3, 2013, 8:15 pm

            Very true, Evi! Thanks for your input.

  • Lisa August 7, 2013, 8:41 pm

    Made this for my friends tonight & it was a huge hit!!! great recipe thanks for sharing

    • Lindsay August 7, 2013, 8:46 pm

      Thanks, Lisa! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  • Judy August 17, 2013, 12:44 am

    I made this for my Mac & Cheese loving 6yr old son and he had NO IDEA there was no cheese in it! He says he likes it just as much as my regular mac & cheese! I added my “regular” mac & cheese seasonings (dry mustard & nutmeg) and it was a huge hit. Thank you SO MUCH!

    • Lindsay August 17, 2013, 9:55 pm

      Great, Judy! This makes my day. :)

  • Karen C August 27, 2013, 12:46 pm

    hi…sounds yummy. do you know if this can be made ahead and frozen? thanks!

    • Lindsay August 27, 2013, 4:49 pm

      Hi Karen! I don’t know for sure, because I haven’t tried it myself. However, I would think that it would work. Let me know! :)

  • Mimi August 27, 2013, 10:24 pm

    Great recipe! New to the vegan world. Made the dish and finished it with some truffle salt. (:

    • Lindsay August 28, 2013, 8:04 pm

      Thanks, Mimi! Cheers to you on your vegan journey! Truffle salt–now that sounds delicious. :) Thanks for stopping by.

  • Denise in WI September 16, 2013, 5:16 am

    Yesterday was a chilly, rainy day here in WI and I made this dish. OMG, so good and perfect “comfort food”!

    • Lindsay September 17, 2013, 10:13 pm

      I’m so glad, Denise! I’ll take mac and vegan cheese any day when its cold and rainy. ;)

  • Alex September 24, 2013, 3:43 pm

    Just made this and it was amazing! Added some spices to ‘heat’ it up a bit too. Thanks for the recipe! ;)

    • Lindsay September 24, 2013, 7:42 pm

      Great, Alex! I love your addition of spice to kick up the heat. :)

  • Christina October 6, 2013, 1:09 pm

    Oh good, I don’t have to feel bad about wanting mac n cheese. This was so tasty! I tossed in some quinoa when I took the leftovers in for work and used some sicilian salad seasoning from Penzeys as well (ruins the vegan idea since it has cheese in it but I’m not actually vegan…). Once I get myself a spiralizer, I’ll have to try it again with zucchini noodles so it can be a delicious and nutritious veggie dish!

  • Susan October 8, 2013, 6:59 pm

    Hello Lindsay & everyone else!
    Okay. I’m mostly a vegetarian who is determined to be a vegan. I need food that I can have as leftovers in the fridge so I can grab a bit for lunch, but more importantly, I need to provide really great stuff for my husband so he’ll at least go part way with me on this endeavor.
    Having said this, we both found the recipe to be bland. Reading what others have to say, I’ve gotten some good ideas, and I also thought maybe next time I could add some broccoli. But now I’m wondering if maybe instead of 1/3 c water, I’d try 1/3 c broth. Has anyone else tried this?
    I also agree we shouldn’t call this Mac & cheese, bc the main reason I’ve had such a difficult time being a vegan up until now is bc I love cheese so much. I’ve made cashew cheese, we both enjoy caulitators, and I hope to enjoy the cauliflower version of Alfredo sauce, but even though I added the full 1/3 c of nutritional yeast, I think that while it was creamy enough, it’s still missing something. I’d love some extra suggestions. Thanks! =D

    • Lindsay October 8, 2013, 10:46 pm

      Hi Susan, Thanks for your feedback! Going from vegetarian to vegan can be a tough transition–because, well, no vegan “cheese” (for lack of a better term) really tastes like cheese. I’d love to hear any other good ideas that you find to make vegan “cheese” taste cheesier—or good ideas you have for renaming vegan “cheese.” :D

  • Susan October 8, 2013, 7:01 pm

    Whoops! I DID add the 1/2 c written in the recipe. I just mistyped. Sorry! :)

  • KL November 2, 2013, 1:51 pm

    I just finished making the “Mac & Cheese” and it was tasty. I did however make a few additions. First I added 1/2 a small onion with the veggies to the boiling water. Then I cooked the pasta in the veggie’s water while I prepared the sauce. While the pasta was cooking I steamed some broccoli and sautéed mushrooms and the other 1/2 of my onion. I took your advice and mixed it all together and baked it off with Panko. I think it’s a good alternative to “cheesy pasta” for vegans and 1/2 C. of nutritional yeast was just right.

  • Piyush November 6, 2013, 10:37 pm

    We tried this tonight and it was pretty good. I did only add 1 tbsp of nutritional yeast, and to be honest, I think we have decided we don’t like the taste of nutritional yeast at all. Next time I think I’m going to add an onion or onion powder instead. Thanks for the recipe.

  • Amy November 9, 2013, 8:17 pm

    Just made it with the panko crust and I’m in love! The texture is perfect, tastes good but a little bland: I added sriracha and cajun spices for some kick and voilà! Added to my rotation. I’ll try with other spices soon :) Thank you!

    • Lindsay November 9, 2013, 11:47 pm

      Yumm! I love the sriracha idea! :)

  • Beatriz December 6, 2013, 9:21 am

    Great recipe! Very creamy and delicious. I wasn’t going exactly for a cheese taste because I didn’t have nutritional yeast, but I added a little bit of pepper and garlic and it became one of the best sauces I’ve eaten, vegan or not!

  • Alex February 4, 2014, 6:25 pm

    Not bad! It was even better the next day, reheated! I didn’t have any nutritional yeast, so I substituted with Daiya Cheddar shreds. It seemed to work out pretty good! I added some extra spices also. Thanks for the recipe!

  • carin February 9, 2014, 12:11 am

    i really like this! for me, it needs a fair bit of salt, but i’m a salt-a-holic. i find some of the comments here funny because i found myself thinking, “hmm maybe next time i’ll add a bit MORE nutritional yeast!” could also be that my bulk-bin nutritional yeast isn’t as fresh as others. at any rate, a winner!

    oh and i had it over steamed broccoli tonight instead of noodles.

  • Bree February 22, 2014, 11:21 am

    This recipe looks absolutely amazing I cannot wait to try it out. I love the food for thought at the end. Feed your body as well as your soul. Very awesome!

  • Tina March 10, 2014, 8:45 pm

    I am mostly vegan myself. I came across this recipe while searching for a way to use some of the cauliflower I bought. To be honest, I thought this dish would be just “okay” but to my surprise it was delicious. I will definitely be making it again. Thanks for sharing! :)

  • Deanna June 19, 2014, 7:01 pm

    This was fantastic! I read all the comments and only added a couple more ingredients, other than that I made the recipe as written. Added chopped green chiles, because we love ‘em. Cooked a half an onion with the other veggies and added 1 tsp. dried mustard. Seriously so many possibilities. I had left over cheese because my macaroni box had only 13 ounces in it. Thinking of making nachos tomorrow with the leftovers. My whole family loved it! Thank you so much for this delicious and nutritious recipe.

  • Lisa June 29, 2014, 5:33 pm

    I don’t have yeast flakes. Will it still come out good if I don’t use them?

    • Lindsay July 15, 2014, 5:07 pm

      Yeast flakes are kind of essential for the “cheesy” flavor of this recipe. However, if you can’t find it and can’t order it online, I would leave it out and season it on your own with garlic/onion powders, dijon mustard, tahini, salt, etc., etc. :) Best wishes!

  • Stephanie July 1, 2014, 5:53 pm

    This has become a staple in my house. Even my kinda picky omnivore 12 year old loves it. Thanks for such a great recipe!

    • Lindsay July 15, 2014, 5:07 pm

      Great, Stephanie! So glad your family loves it!

  • Christina July 7, 2014, 7:10 pm

    I am new to vegan eating, and I love using Pinterest to find different varieties of food. I came across this recipe, and I wasn’t sure what to think of this at first. When I had the cauliflower and carrots cooking, I was sure that I wasn’t going to like this because of the smell. I added all of the ingredients to the blender, and when I got a nice consistency I tried the sauce and was really surprised. I did sprinkle some daiya cheese on top with the panko crumbs. This dish is soooooooo good!!!!! I loved it, even my very picky son ate two plate fulls!!!! I didn’t tell him what is in it, because he might not eat it again lol. I am so glad I found this recipe and tried it, even though I was a bit scared lol.

    • Lindsay July 15, 2014, 5:42 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Christina! Yay for hiding vegetables in food to trick picky eaters. :)

  • Chantal July 27, 2014, 11:47 am

    Can i leave out the oil, and add more broth instead? Having a low fat diet, so was wondering if this is an option?

    • Lindsay July 31, 2014, 7:26 pm

      Hi Chantal, I would imagine you could leave out the oil, but I haven’t tried it myself. I’m sure it would still taste good, but might have a slightly different flavor/texture. Hope this helps. Let me know how it turns out for you!

  • Laura September 13, 2014, 4:32 pm

    This Cauliflower Macaroni and “Cheese” is said to be Vegan comfort food, at its finest. Perhaps I am missing something here, but doesn’t pasta have eggs in it? I thought vegans didn’t eat eggs and I am looking for a good recipe for when a vegan friend comes for dinner.

    • Lindsay September 13, 2014, 9:11 pm

      Hi Laura,
      Great question! Actually, there are many pasta varieties that contain no eggs. I’ve never had any trouble finding egg-free pasta at regular supermarkets. Just check the ingredients list to be sure. Best wishes!

  • Donna September 25, 2014, 2:27 pm

    Since becoming vegan two years ago I have tried several mac n cheese recipes. None compared to this one! Even my carnivore daughters and friends love it!
    1 lb. pasta
    1 1/4 cups non-dairy milk (I use Coconut or Almond, original flavor
    1 cup filtered water
    1 Tbsp. Lemon juice
    2 Tbsp. Tahini (sesame seed paste)
    1 tsp. onion powder
    1/2 tsp. garlic powder
    1/2 tsp. turmeric
    3 Tbsp. flour
    2 Tbsp. Sea salt
    1/2 tsp. Dry mustard
    Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
    pinch of Cayenne pepper (optional)
    While pasta is cooking put all remaining ingredients in a blender, blend until mixed well, 1 minute. Drain pasta and return to pan. Pour ‘cheese’ sauce over and cook on medium-low heat until thickened, Stirring constantly. I add baby Kale, peas and/or shredded cabbage. You can sprinkle with panko crumbs. ENJOY!! This is so delicious and simple to make.

    • Lindsay September 25, 2014, 3:27 pm

      Thanks for the yummy-looking recipe, Donna! I’ll have to give that a try. :)

  • Grace October 19, 2014, 7:25 pm

    I really liked it overall. I think it would have been a bit bland had I not added more spices but over all it was great. If I were to do it again, I think I would use stock instead of water and add onion, garlic, and cumin to the sauce. I would also use a little less nutritional yeast.

  • Kathy January 16, 2015, 5:55 pm

    This is Aamazing! My daughter surprised us in coming for dinner. She is a meat/dairy eating lover so when I said we were having macaroni and cheese, she had no idea. I would highly recommend this! I made it exactly as printed with no modifications.

  • Cameron January 17, 2015, 8:43 pm

    Hi there! I made this tonight for my brother and myself. I typically like most vegan dishes so I wasn’t too nervous. It’s not easy mac, stouffers or Marie Calendars, but it tastes good and healthy. I only used 1/3 c of Nutritional Yeast. I wanted to conserve what I had and I didn’t want it to be too overpowering. I also added turmeric for taste. I will definitely keep this recipe around. Thank you. :)

  • Raina March 17, 2015, 5:38 pm

    This is awesome! I only used 1/3 cup nutritional yeast also, as my little one doesn’t like too much of it, but everyone loved it! I added a few other spices too, but just b/c I love spices!! Thanks for the recipe. I like it with potatoes too!


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