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I don’t know about you but mac and cheese is one of those foods that doesn’t quite work when you don’t eat grains or dairy, since, well… mac and cheese is just that—grains and dairy! It’s pretty easy to find or make it gluten free, but grain free and dairy free is another story. Plus, if you’re like me, you don’t want a complicated recipe! I like simple, easy recipes, so when I figured out that blending up cashews with coconut milk can make a smooth creamy base for a lot of yummy things, I had to use it to create “cheese” sauce! In addition to cashews and coconut milk, nutritional yeast and a bit of seasoning make this dairy free sauce taste like the real deal. That’s it!
You can use any pasta you want. These days there are a lot of options. There are many varieties of gluten free pasta made from rice, corn, and quinoa, plus grain free versions made from chickpeas or lentils. Any will work in this recipe.
This recipe makes a lot! It calls for 16 oz. of pasta which is two 8 oz. boxes. Feel free to make half the pasta, but I don’t recommend making a half batch of the sauce because there won’t be enough volume in the blender for it to blend properly and your sauce won’t be smooth!
High Powered Blender like a, Vitamix, Nutri Ninja, or Blendtec*
For a super smooth and creamy sauce, I do recommend a high-power blender like a Blendtec. You can use a regular blender, but it may take longer or the end result might not be as creamy.
1 c. Organic raw cashews** (weigh)
1 can Full fat coconut milk (I used Thai Kitchen organic)
4 tbsp. Nutritional yeast
1-1/2 tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Garlic powder
Pinch Cayenne powder (optional)
16 oz. Gluten or grain free pasta***
Soak cashews for 1–2 hours. You can get away with soaking for less time, but you will get a smoother sauce if the cashew have been soaked.
Drain the cashews and place in blender with rest of ingredients. Blend until very smooth and creamy (about 2 minutes). I use the smoothie button on my Blend-tec blender.
Makes about 2 cups of cheese sauce.
Prepare pasta as directed and drain. Pour about 1 cup of the cheese sauce over noodles and gently combine. You may want to add more sauce depending on the type of pasta you use or if you prefer more cheese. Some pastas absorb more of the cheese sauce than others. Makes about 6 servings.
** Make sure your cashews are raw and unsalted, with no additional ingredients.
*** For gluten/grain free pasta, I recommend Banza chickpea pasta.
After you’ve tried the recipe, share your pics! Tag me on Instagram @cindy.hilliard.nutrition
Dairy and Grain Free Mac & Cheese
- 1 c. Organic raw cashews**
- 1 can (14 oz) Full fat coconut milk I used Thai Kitchen organic
- 4 Tbsp Nutritional yeast
- 1-1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Garlic powder
- Pinch Cayenne powder optional
- 16 oz Gluten or grain free pasta*** (2 boxes)
- Soak cashews for 1–2 hours. You can get away with soaking for less time, but you will get a smoother sauce if the cashew have been soaked.
- Drain the cashews and place in blender with rest of ingredients. Blend until very smooth and creamy (2 minutes or more). I use the smoothie button on my Blend-tec blender.
- Makes about 2 cups of cheese sauce.
- Prepare pasta as directed and drain. Pour sauce over noodles and gently combine. You may want to add more sauce depending on the type of pasta you use or if you prefer more cheese. Some pastas absorb more of the cheese sauce than others. Makes about 6 servings.