Creamy Vegan Mac and Cheese

Boy oh boy do we have some good news for you today!

You’ve asked us to do a Conscious Cleanse makeover to the ultimate comfort food and the day has finally arrived!

Healthy mac and cheese is here!

We’re so lucky to live in Boulder, where our choices for healthy and nourishing food is readily available. When we met Christine Ruch, owner and chef extraordinaire behind Fresh Thymes Eatery, we felt an instant connection. Not to mention that Jo and I have both been obsessing over the food from Fresh Thymes for some time now.

Inspired by her own experiences living with celiac disease and multiple sclerosis, Christine knows all about how real, nourishing food can make all the difference in your health. For years, she has effectively managed both of her conditions with clean eating and a cheerful outlook (seriously, this lady knows how to laugh), so now she proudly credits her improved wellbeing to the power of good nutrition.

Christine was nice enough to share with us Fresh Thymes’ recipe for vegan mac and cheese with cashew cream sauce so you can enjoy the down-home deliciousness of healthy homemade mac and cheese too.

This dish is a perfect replacement for the traditional dairy-based mac and cheese out there. Not to mention it’s very kid-friendly. They’ll never miss the boxed stuff again.

When I make this for my family, I make the kiddos and hubbie brown rice penne pasta from Tinkyåda and make myself kelp or raw zucchini noodles. Add to that some sautéd mushrooms and greens and you’ve got one healthy family-friendly dish.

While this recipe definitely falls into the 80:20 category, it can be modified pretty easily to be cleanse-friendly by simply omitting the nutritional yeast in exchange for a few simple tweaks (see below for details). When you’re not cleansing, the nutritional yeast gives it that “cheesy” flavor and an extra hit of B vitamins and protein.

Check out this easy and delicious vegan mac and cheese dish and be sure to leave me a comment below. Does this satisfy your mac attack cravings?

With love and creamy goodness,


Fresh Thymes’ Mac and Cheese with Cashew Cream Sauce

Yield: 4-6 servings


  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 TB. olive oil
  • 1 cup cashews, soaked for at least 1 hour
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups canned coconut milk
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast*
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder

To make the sauce, warm a sauté pan over medium heat adding the olive oil, onion and garlic. Sauté until translucent. Remove from heat and allow it to cool.

Meanwhile, in a Vita-Mix or other high-speed blender, add cashews, water, coconut milk, nutritional yeast*, lemon, salt and garlic powder. Then add the cooled onion and garlic.

Turn blender on, gradually increasing speed to high. Blend on high for 3 minutes, or until the sauce is creamy and no bits of nuts remain. Taste for seasoning.

Prepare your noodles by following the directions on the back of the package. Options are brown rice noodles (for 80:20), kelp noodles or make zucchini noodles using a spiralizer.

Place the amount of sauce you would like in a saucepan and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes until it thickens, adding noodles as desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy.

The sauce makes more than you need for 4-6 servings and will keep for up to a week refrigerated.

Option to serve with sautéd spinach and mushrooms.

*To keep this 100% cleanse-friendly, omit the nutritional yeast and add extra 1/2 onion, 1 garlic clove and 1/2 lemon juiced to recipe. Serve with either kelp or zucchini noodles.

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Showing 13 comments
  • sue muro

    The recipe calls for too much liquid. I don’t think you meant to use 4 cups of liquid. I reduced it to 3, but should have reduced to 2 or perhaps even less.

    • Jules Peláez

      Hi Sue, thanks for your comment and feedback. I’ve checked with Christine and reworded the recipe so it says to simmer for a few minutes until the sauce thickens. It will also thicken quite a bit if you put it in the fridge. Hope that’s helpful for all. Thanks again!

  • Danya

    Hi Jules and Jo! I love-love-love this recipe – THANK YOU!! My kids ask for it and actually jump for joy when I make it with rice mac for them! One question (I’ve tried different variations each time I make it & am curious) – when you call for coconut milk are you talking about the creamy thick kind of coconut milk (like the kind the comes in a can) or the non-dairy milk replacement that comes in a carton? Like the previous commenter, I have also found it much too liquid-y when I use 2 cups of “milk” from a carton. . . What does Fresh Thymes do? I generally avoid the canned kind, but would be open to try if that’s the original recipe. Thanks again, you’re the best!! Danya

    • Jules Peláez

      Hey Lovely Danya, Thanks for the great question. I’m going to update the recipe ASAP to clarify. Use the canned coconut milk! Enjoy!

  • Caryn

    Making this for the first time and also using nutritional yeast for the first time. Can’t wait! In reading up on nutritional yeast, it appears that I bought the powered kind instead of the flakes (didn’t know there was more than one kind!). Will the powdered version work in this recipe? Should I use the 1/2 cup that’s called for or cut that back? Thanks so much!

  • heidi

    Hello. Made this and LOVED it! After reading the comments about too much liquid, I decided the water is for the soaking of the cashews, but water should not have been included in the ingredients in which to put into the blender. I made it without the added water and it was thick, creamy, and delicious.

    • Jo and Jules

      We’re so glad you loved it, Heidi!

  • TheBraceletSlinger

    Thank you for this recipe!! It is EXACTLY like how I remember Fresh Thymes’s mac n cheese.
    I took somebody’s advice and did not add any water…even without the water it is for watery at first but after simmering it (as the instructions say) it thickens. I did end up simmering it for about 6 minutes or so instead of two. I added a parsley on top as a garnish. Also – it tastes even MORE like cheese the next day after reheating it. THANK YOU again for posting this!!

    • Jo and Jules

      Yay! We are so glad you loved it as much as we do! Thank you for sharing your tips too! XO, J&J

  • Molly Beucus

    Sounds really good. Can I use lite canned coconut milk or does it require the full-fat version? Thanks

    • Jo and Jules

      Hi Molly, That’s a good question! We’ve never tried it, but imagine it would make the recipe a little less creamy though the overall flavor would still be there. If you try, please let us know how it goes. XO, J&J

  • Jessica Ward

    I omitted the water as the other posts mentioned and halved the recipe. It was fantastic and tasted just like Fresh Thymes, I am here in Boulder too so I was so excited to have this recipe. Thank you!

    • Jo and Jules

      Hi Jessica, Yay! We’re so glad you enjoyed the recipe! We appreciate your feedback. XO, J&J

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