High-Protein Mac and Cheese (Vegan)

Author: Sarah Cobacho

Published: February 18, 2024

This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy

Close-up view of a glass bowl with vegan high-protein mac and cheese garnished with parsley on a marble surface.

Since going vegan, I have tried so many mac & cheese recipes I’ve lost count. I’ve always wanted to have a healthy one on hand that I could recommend. After all, it’s a huge crowd favorite, and one of my favorite things to do is to veganise classic comfort food and make it extra nourishing. I’ve tried many things, including cauliflower, white beans, vegan cheese, and béchamel… and although it was pretty good, it just was not IT. Until this High-Protein Mac and Cheese! It’s so creamy, gooey, and…. cheesy?! I could barely believe it, and Cam’s face confirmed this is the perfect ratio! And the best part? It’s all made with wholesome ingredients and without needing to use vegan butter or cheese!

I’m also thrilled by the nutrition in this recipe. The combo of legumes, vegetables, nuts, and spices makes the sauce beautifully balanced and is a delicious and nourishing meal once combined with your favorite pasta. It’s even rocking 35 g of protein and 14 g of fiber per serving! I’m so excited to eat this through the week, and I hope you also give this High Protein Vegan Mac and Cheese a go.

Nutritionist, Sarah Cobacho stirring a large white pot full of vegan high-protein mac and cheese, with a side of grilled broccoli on a white plate.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Rich in protein: Thanks to the lentils and cashews, it’s packed with plant-based protein.
  • Nutrient-dense: Full of vitamins and minerals from whole foods.
  • Easy to make: Simple instructions and common pantry ingredients.
  • Comfort food: A healthy twist on a classic favorite.
  • Dairy-Free: a great allergen-friendly meal.
  • Customizable: Easily adaptable to be served with your favorite veggies and greens.
An overhead shot of four glass bowls containing vegan high-protein mac and cheese on a marble background, accompanied by fresh parsley.

Ingredient Notes

Ingredients for vegan high-protein mac and cheese neatly arranged on a marble countertop, labeled for easy identification

  • Raw cashews add creaminess and are excellent for heart health.
  • Split red lentils boost the protein content significantly.
  • Nutritional yeast provides a cheesy flavor and is a great source of B vitamins.
  • Soy milk can be substituted with any plant milk, though soy is preferable for its high protein content.

Step-By-Step Instructions

Rinse the lentils until the water runs clear. Add the onion, carrots, cashews, and red lentils to a large pot of salted water. Cook for about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside. Cook the pasta as per the packet’s instructions, reserving some pasta water. Blend the cooked veggies with soy milk and seasonings until smooth. Cook the sauce with the pasta, adjusting the taste with salt and pepper, and serve topped with fresh parsley.

Variations and Tips

  • For a smokier flavor, add smoked paprika instead of sweet.
  • Increase the veggies by serving the pasta with broccoli, spinach, or kale for an extra nutrient kick.
  • Make it gluten-free by choosing your favorite gluten-free pasta.
  • Make it even higher in protein by choosing legume pasta (my favorites are red lentils for the best texture), or add some sauteed tempeh or tofu on the side.
  • Adding a bit of chili gives it a nice kick.
  • Make it nut-free: swap the cashews for sunflower seeds.
  • And remember, always adjust the salt and pepper to taste!
  • Storage option: it keeps well in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days. If you’re not planning to eat it straight away, I recommend slightly undercooking the pasta for the best texture once reheated. If you would like to freeze it, I recommend freezing the sauce only and giving it a little blend once thawed and before reheating for the creamiest texture.
  • Reheat: on a saucepan with a splash of dairy-free milk or in the microwave.
A glass bowl of vegan high-protein mac and cheese on a marble countertop, with a gold spoon, ready to be served.

Why You’ll Love This High-Protein Mac and Cheese

  • Nutritious
  • Yummy
  • Protein-rich
  • Comforting
  • Easy
Two glass bowls on a marble counter filled with creamy vegan high-protein mac and cheese, topped with chopped fresh parsley.

High-Protein Mac and Cheese (Vegan)

4.8 from 20 votes
Indulge in this vegan High Protein Mac and Cheese, a creamy, comforting dish packed with nourishing ingredients. This recipe is not only delicious but also boasts a whopping 35 g of protein per serving. Perfect for meal prep and absolutely satisfying!
Sarah Cobacho (plantbaes.com)
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes

Video

Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 400 g pasta (wholemeal prefered)
  • 2 medium yellow onions chopped in quarters
  • 2 medium carrots diced
  • ½ cup raw cashews
  • ½ cup dry split red lentils
  • 2 cups soy milk
  • tbsp tapioca startch
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp vegetable stock powder (low sodium)
  • 2 tsp garlic granules
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp white miso paste
  • 1 sprig of rosemary (optional)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

To Serve

  • Your favorite greens eg. broccoli ( grilled or stir-fried with chili flakes to taste)

Instructions

  • Rinse the lentils until the water runs clear.
  • Add the onion, carrots, cashews, and red lentils to a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes, until the carrots are fork-tender. Drain the water and set aside.
  • Cook the pasta in salted water according to the packet instructions. Reserve ¼ cup of pasta water.
  • Transfer cooked onions, carrots, cashews, and lentils to a blender with soy milk, tapioca starch, nutritional yeast, paprika, vegetable stock powder, garlic granules, lemon juice, miso paste, and a pinch of salt. Blend on high speed until perfectly smooth.
  • Transfer the sauce to a large pan (big enough to contain both the sauce and pasta), along with the rosemary sprig, and cook for 5 minutes on medium to low heat, stirring regularly to thicken the sauce.
  • Add the pasta and reserved pasta water. Stir well to coat, and cook for a further 5 minutes. Remove the rosemary, adjust salt and pepper to taste, top with parsley, and enjoy!

Per Serving

Calories 678kcalCarbohydrates 113gProtein 35gFat 14gSodium 624mgFiber 16gVitamin A 325IUVitamin C 8mgCalcium 196mgIron 7mg
COURSE Main Course
CUISINE American
KEYWORDS Comfort Food, Dairy-Free, High Protein, Meal Prep, Nutritional Yeast
Tried this recipe?Tag us @_plantbaes_ on Instagram!

FAQ

Is this recipe gluten-free?

Yes, with the right pasta choice, it can be entirely gluten-free.

Can I use another type of milk?

Absolutely, any plant-based milk works, though soy milk is recommended for its high protein.

Are there any nut-free options?

Yes, seeds like sunflower seeds can replace cashews for those with nut allergies.

How can I make it spicier?

Add chili flakes or cayenne pepper to taste.

Can I freeze leftovers?

Yes, the sauce freezes well for up to 3 months. Thaw and do a short blend before heating up, for the best texture.

plantbaes ebook

get our complimentary
recipe ebook

“10 Easy, Healthy, Plant-Based Breakfasts”
learn more

5 Comments

  1. Hi,
    I can’t find tapioca starch at my local supermarkets and an online order won’t get here in time- could I substitute or omit it?

    1. Hey Tegan, I would skip it in that case, the tapioca starch gives it a bit of a goey cheesy texture but it would still be delicious without 🙂

  2. Hello there, I’m new to this channel and am trying to increase my protein intake. Can you give a breakdown of how this is 35g per bowl please?

    1. Hey Divya, super happy to have you here 💚 I’ll put you the breakdown of the main protein sources bellow, let me know if you have any questions at all 🙂

      For the full recipe:
      – soy milk 17 g
      – cashews 12 g
      – nutritional yeast 28 g
      – lentils 25 g
      – pasta 55 g

Leave a Comment & Rating

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating