Make this oil-free vegan stovetop mac and cheese recipe on a busy worknight or a date night in with your sweatpants and cat! Using a silken tofu cheese sauce, this vegan mac and cheese is an easy dinner to make with simple methods and just 3 steps – boil, blend, and stir! It’s kid-friendly and omnivore approved, packs a plant protein punch, and has a dreamy creamy texture that is the real deal. You won’t believe this creamy sauce is made from tofu.
This post contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates, we earn a small commission from qualifying purchases (at no cost to you). Click here to read our full policy about affiliate links. Thank you for shopping our affiliate links, as it helps us keep the free vegan recipes coming your way!
As vegans, we often find a lot of cashew mac and cheese recipes when searching the internet. But if you’ve ever wondered “What can I substitute for cashews in vegan mac and cheese?”, the easiest answer is silken tofu!
Silken tofu can be simply blended with just a few other ingredients to create the same creamy texture as cashews at a fraction of the price (and fat!). It’s the easiest method with the most delicious results!
When I first went vegan, we didn’t have a fancy Vitamix, and thus many of the vegan mac and cheese recipes were out of my capabilities. That is, until I found silken tofu mac and cheese. And now I want to share this great recipe for my go-to mac n cheese from the early days with you!
This vegan stove top mac with a silken tofu cheese sauce is going to change your world, so let’s get to it!
Why You’ll Love This Easy Vegan Mac and Cheese
- Great as a side or all on its own – This is the best silken tofu recipe for dinner – a cozy and comforting dish, but also one that packs some protein!
- It’s oil-free – Using silken tofu is a great way of reducing fat in your meals to lighten things up without things tasting like you’ve lightened them up.
- It’s nut-free – Perfect for those with a nut allergy.
- A budget-friendly vegan mac – Most vegan macaroni and cheese calls for cashews which can be expensive and require special equipment to blend! You can make this vegan mac and cheese with any blender or food processor and for a fraction of the price of cashew-based sauces.
- Easy to make – Just boil, blend, and stir. Simple ingredients; simple methods.
- The ultimate comfort food – queue up your favorite new show, grab your PJs and your cat, and settle in.
Ingredients in Silken Tofu Mac and Cheese
You’ll need 10 key ingredients + spices to make these cheesy plant-based shells – starting with a 1-lb box of medium shells (sometimes called “sea shells”) or elbows.
For the silken tofu cheese sauce, you’ll need:
- Silken tofu – or soft tofu
- Plain unsweetened non-dairy milk – It’s vital you use a plant-based milk that is both plain and unsweetened. Oat milk, almond milk, etc will all work, but it needs to be plain and unsweetened. You also want something as neutral-tasting as possible. We love the unsweetened line of plant milks from Elmhurst®.
- Nutritional yeast – This is a savory deactivated yeast that adds a cheesy nutty flavor
- Tomato paste – This adds a little flavor, but is more for the color!
- Lemon juice
- Miso paste – We love the mellow white miso from Miso Master
- Yellow mustard
- Tapioca starch – This thickens our sauce and adds a gooey-ness factor.
- Spices: onion powder, turmeric, sea salt, white pepper
Substitution Options for WFPB Mac and Cheese
If you need a substitution for this recipe, here are our best tips. When choosing a substitution for an ingredient in any recipe, keep in mind it may change the result. And that change may not always be a pleasant one! Let us know if you try any of these substitution options in the comments below, so this post can become a more complete resource for future readers!
For the pasta: To make a vegan and gluten free macaroni and cheese, use your favorite gluten-free pasta.
For the silken tofu: Soft tofu would work as a 1:1 sub. Medium firm tofu might work, but you would need to add more liquid. Soaked cashews or raw sunflower seeds would also work, but you would need to add liquid there too.
For the nutritional yeast: You could probably skip this or sub vegan shredded cheese. Vegan parmesan could work too.
For the tomato paste: You can sub tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, or even a little salsa for a different vibe.
For the lemon juice, miso paste, and yellow mustard: All of these ingredients combine to create that classic cheesy flavor and tang. Feel free to play around with the amounts or sub apple cider vinegar, rice wine vinegar, or white wine vinegar for any one of these ingredients. Dijon mustard and stone ground mustard with a dash of vinegar could also work.
How to Make Easy Dairy Free Mac and Cheese
This easy dairy-free mac and cheese is super simple – just boil, blend, and stir for the best vegan mac!
Step 1: Cook the pasta.
Cook the pasta for 1 minute less than the package instructions direct for al dente. You’ll be cooking it again when you add it to the sauce, and you don’t want mushy macaroni.
Step 2: Blend the sauce.
Add all the tofu cheese sauce ingredients to a high powered blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Stop to scrape down the sides of the mixer as needed during this process. Then, cover and set aside until ready to use.
Step 3: Stir the sauce and pasta.
When the pasta is done cooking (and slightly less than al dente), strain it and add it back to the pot along with the vegan cheese sauce.
Stir the cooked pasta and creamy vegan mac sauce gently to combine and heat over medium low heat, stirring often, until completely warmed through, about 1-2 min.
Taste and adjust seasoning. If desired, this is where you will add the extra salt if needed.
How to Serve Silken Tofu Mac and Cheese
Serve this cheesy dish hot on its own as a main dish (It has tofu in the sauce, so it’s technically a protein, right?!) or as a dairy-free side dish to a larger meal.
If serving as part of a larger meal, we like these combos:
How to Store Oil Free Vegan Mac and Cheese
This mac and cheese makes fantastic leftovers – hot or cold! (I’m a big cold mac and cheese person, anyone else?!)
In the fridge: Store leftover silken tofu mac and cheese in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-7 days. We do not recommend freezing this mac and cheese. The texture of the silken tofu changes drastically after freezing and thawing.
To reheat: Reheat refrigerated mac and cheese with a splash of non-dairy, unsweetened plain milk or vegetable broth to loosen it up a little bit. Reheat in the microwave at 75-80% for 3-3:30 minutes until hot.
I hope you’ll try silken tofu mac ‘n cheese. I think you’re going to love it much more than the cashew-based versions out there. The sauce is just as creamy but far more budget-friendly and perfect for those with nut allergies!
When you do make it, don’t forget to let us know by leaving a comment and star rating below. It helps more people find our recipes, and we so enjoy hearing about your experience and sharing in your kitchen wins!
Nut Free Vegan Mac and Cheese
- 1 lb. medium shells or elbows
For the silken tofu cheese sauce:
- 1 16-oz package silken tofu
- 1/2 cup plain unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp miso paste
- 2 Tbsp yellow mustard
- 2 large cloves garlic
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp tapioca starch
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/2 – 1 tsp sea salt optional, taste first
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- Prep the pasta: Cook the pasta according to the package directions for 1 minute less than the instructions for al dente.
- Bring it together: When the pasta is done cooking, strain it and add it back to the pot along with the vegan cheese sauce. Stir to combine and heat over medium low heat, stirring often, until completely warmed through, about 1-2 min. Taste and adjust seasoning. If desired, this is where you will add the salt and white pepper.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-7 days. We do not recommend freezing this particular recipe.
- For the silken tofu: Soft tofu would work as a 1:1 sub. Medium firm tofu might work, but you would need to add more liquid. Soaked cashews or raw sunflower seeds would also work, but you would need to add liquid there too.
- For the non-dairy milk: You can use vegetable broth or 2 Tbsp vegan mayo mixed with 1/3 cup water. (It may sound weird, but it works!)
- For the lemon juice, miso paste, and yellow mustard: All of these ingredients combine to create that classic cheesy flavor and tang. Feel free to play around with the amounts or sub apple cider vinegar, rice wine vinegar, or white wine vinegar for any one of these ingredients. Dijon mustard and stone ground mustard with a dash of vinegar could also work.
- For the tapioca starch: Either skip it and cook the sauce a little longer or try cornstarch or arrowroot starch for a slightly different texture.