Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese! We are crazy about ooey, gooey, velvety mac and cheese. We need all the flavors, and this fun twist right here is bringing all the must haves: creamy texture, bold taste, and cozy goodness.
This healthy, oil-free Vegan Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese recipe is perfect for little kids and big kids alike featuring the perfect blend of ketchup, mustard, and pickles for a POW of cheeseburger flavor! You won’t believe how tasty it is. It’s hard to beat warm comfort food that only a great macaroni and cheese dish brings. The whole family is sure to love it too!
Whole Food Plant Based, Vegan, plant based, oil free, refined sugar free, no highly processed ingredients and gluten free.
Hi there, Ameera here!
This Whole Food Plant Based Mac and Cheese recipe was developed with kids in mind, especially for Reader Sam. Sam sent us an email and specifically requested a Kid’s Mac and Cheese recipe without nutritional yeast as he has family members who can’t tolerate nutritional yeast very well.
Mom and I got down to business and developed this “nutritional yeast-less” mac and cheese for kids. Sam, we hope you and your family enjoy this recipe as much as we do!
It is reminiscent of a cheeseburger. You get the flavors of ketchup, mustard, and pickles. Obviously, there is no ‘burger’ element in there, but you get the idea.
We tested this recipe out on some friends. Some absolutely LOVED it, but there were a few who simply couldn’t get past the chopped pickles. I think it was a textural thing. We loved the chopped pickles; they are warm and slightly crunchy – exactly how they would be on a cheeseburger, ya know? We thought they were perfect especially for pickle lovers like us.
You gotta give this one a try!
Tips for Success:
- Frozen Cauliflower vs Fresh Cauliflower: You can use either fresh or frozen cauliflower. If using fresh cauliflower, cut pieces into small florets. We used frozen cauliflower for convenience.
- Russet Potatoes: We used 1 cup small diced peeled potatoes cut into ½ inch cubes.
- Nutritional Yeast Free Recipe: We had readers ask us to create a mac and cheese recipe that is nutritional yeast free. If you are looking for a ‘cheesier’ mac and cheese, feel free to add nutritional yeast to the sauce. You may need slightly adjust the liquids to accommodate the nutritional yeast added.
- Flavor: This mac and cheese has the flavors of ketchup, mustard, and dill pickles. It is reminiscent of a cheeseburger. We want our readers to understand that this mac and cheese is unusual. We loved it; however, we had friends taste test this recipe. Some loved it while others had a hard time reconciling the flavor profile in a mac and cheese dish.
- Cashew Substitutes: You can leave the cashews out of this recipe and rely on the blended veggies in the ‘Boil Ingredients’ to create the sauce. Add an extra cup of cubed potatoes to the boil ingredients. Additionally, by removing the cashews, the dish will become low in fat and you will not experience that endorphin rush that is typically associated with eating a dish that is higher in fat.
- Sauciness: You can control the “cheese” sauce to macaroni ratio by simply using 10 oz. of macaroni. If you want a little less sauciness, then use 12 oz. We used 10 oz. of elbow macaroni.
- Cooked Macaroni: Shake off any excess water and allow to drain for a few minutes. Any lingering water that hangs onto the pasta will water down your sauce.
- Pasta of choice: You can use your favorite pasta in this dish. We used a traditional elbow macaroni.
- Dill Pickles Slices vs Dill Relish: We used 10 dill pickle slices which we diced into small pieces. We took 10 pickles and laid them on a paper towel to drain off any excess liquid, then chopped them. We don’t recommend using relish since it will overpower the sauce.
- Amount of Sea Salt: Our family was completely divided over the amount of sea salt that this dish needed to be properly seasoned. Most landed on 1 ¼ teaspoons of sea salt. The good news is that you can taste test the sauce while in the high-speed blender to determine if you need additional seasonings.
- Quick Cook Method and Serve: You can skip over adding the topping and baking in the oven and go straight to the dinner table as a mac and cheese without the topping. Simply cook the macaroni, then set aside. Follow Steps 3 through 7, then serve. The Boil Ingredients are hot enough to cook the sauce in the high-speed blender, then pour over the cooked macaroni, stir well, and serve immediately.
Leftovers and Freezing:
Leftovers will generally keep for 4-5 days in the refrigerator. Store in a covered container. Reheating can be done on the stovetop, or in the microwave.
This dish can be frozen; however, it is best if served immediately after making or after refrigerating leftovers. Pasta does tend to get a little mushy after freezing.
Pantry Products Used:
- Vegetable Stock: We use Pacific Organic Low Sodium Vegetable Stock. We love this brand because it is Whole Food Plant Based compliant, as it does not contain MSG, has no oil, and does not contain any highly-processed ingredients.
- Tamari: We used San J Tamari Soy Sauce, Gluten Free, Reduced Sodium. You can substitute the tamari with reduced sodium soy sauce, Braggs Liquid Aminos, or Braggs Coconut Liquid Aminos.
- Frozen Cauliflower: We used a 14.4 oz bag of Birds Eye Frozen Cauliflower Florets. Feel free to use your favorite frozen cauliflower. Or use fresh cauliflower florets.
- Hot Sauce: We used Frank’s RedHot Original Hot Sauce.
Kitchen Products Used:
- Stock pot to cook the pasta
- Stock pot to boil the potatoes, carrots, red bell peppers, cauliflower, and cashews
- High-Speed Blender
- Casserole/Baking Dish (we used an 11x7x3)
We certainly hope you give this deliciousness a try.Print
This healthy, oil-free Vegan Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese is perfect for the whole family featuring bold flavor and creamy goodness!
- 1 – [ 14.4 oz. bag ] frozen cauliflower florets *
- 1 carrot, sliced thinly
- ½ red bell pepper, small dice
- 1 cup Russet potatoes, peeled, small dice (1/2-inch cubes)
- ½ cup (raw) cashews
- Sprinkle sea salt
- 2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- ¼ cup low-sodium vegetable broth *
- 2 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari *
- 2 Tablespoons tahini
- 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon hot sauce *
Sauce Herb/Spice Ingredients:
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried ground mustard powder
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¾ to 1 ¼ teaspoon sea salt (+/-) *
- 10 to 12 oz. elbow macaroni (or pasta of choice)
- 5 to 10 dill pickle slices, chopped *
- ¼ cup panko crumbs (or bread crumbs) *
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon sweet paprika
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt (+/-) *
- Pinch smoked paprika
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Place the Topping Ingredients into a small bowl, mix well, set aside.
- Place the Sauce Spice/Herb Ingredients into a small bowl, mix well, set aside.
- Cook macaroni according to package directions to al dente, drain, rinse with cold water to remove any excess starch, shake well, set aside.
- In the meantime, place the frozen cauliflower florets, diced potatoes, carrot, red bell peppers, and cashews into a medium stockpot, cover with water, sprinkle with sea salt and bring to a boil. Then immediately lower to a gentle simmering boil. Boil until the potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower are fork tender (about 10 to 15 minutes). Drain off the water, shake well to remove any lingering water, then place in a high-speed blender.
- Add all the Sauce Ingredients and Spice/Herb Mix into the high-speed blender with the cooked cauliflower, carrots, bell peppers, potatoes, and cashews. Blend on high until smooth and emulsified. Taste test and adjust seasonings accordingly.
- Place the cooked pasta and chopped pickles back into a large bowl, then pour the sauce over top, mix well to combine.
- Pour the mixture into a casserole dish, then sprinkle the Topping over the top.
- Bake uncovered in a preheated 350 F oven for 20 minutes, switch to high-broil just to toast the top to a golden brown, then remove from the oven and allow to set for 5 minutes.
*Please reference the blog post for Tips for Success, Pantry Items Used, Storage and Freezing, and Kitchen Products Used.
*Sea Salt: Please adjust the sea salt based upon your family’s sea salt preferences and/or based upon dietary needs.
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