Do you dream of an irresistible savory, surprisingly cheesy, creamy, nut-free, oil-free, and gluten-free vegan mac and cheese to cure you of your insatiable cravings for the real deal? Fear not, because the ultimate recipe is finally here, and you won’t believe how surprisingly healthy it is for you- considering it is sweet potato and tahini based!
There are few nights when I come home after a long day and don’t want to dive head first into a giant bowl of mac and cheese. And while avocado mac can satisfy this craving, I wanted to create a vegan mac and cheese recipe that was closer in appearance to a classic mac and cheese that would also be suitable for my friends with all kinds of dietary restrictions. This sweet potato mac tastes shockingly similar to the classic mac ‘n cheese I used to love before going vegan. Being the sweet potato and tahini enthusiast that I am, why wouldn’t I combine two of my favorite ingredients to create an irresistible cheese sauce?!
It is important to use a super smooth, high quality tahini, like this Seeds of Collaboration tahini that is sourced in the Middle East and contributes to Middle East Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow! You can buy it here!
- Sweet potato: The base for this sauce that adds creaminess and a beautiful golden, “cheesy” color!
- Tahini: Adds creaminess and umami flavor to this vegan cheese sauce. This affects the quality of the final product and is a staple in my vegan pantry, as its so versatile! Get my favorite here.
- Nutritional yeast: The ultimate vegan staple, giving so many recipes a cheesy flavor! I love to buy it in bulk here.
- Non-dairy milk: Adds creaminess and thins the consistency.
- Lemon: Adds acidity for a cheesier flavor.
- Roasted garlic & onion: Infuse the vegan cheese sauce with rich, savory flavor.
- Pasta: I used cavatappi in the photos, but I also love using gluten-free penne.
Why you’ll love this sweet potato based vegan mac and cheese:
- Incredibly delicious: This is my favorite way to make vegan mac and cheese- it’s super creamy and surprisingly cheesy. The sweet potato flavor is definitely noticeable, but in the best way, leaving an impression without taking away from the cheesy, garlicky flavors at play.
- So easy: All you do is roast the sweet potato, garlic, and onion, cook the pasta, blend the sauce ingredients, and combine! This dish comes together in just under 40 minutes, most of that being passive time anyways.
- Few ingredients: You only need 10 inexpensive ingredients!
- Easily made gluten-free & oil-free: Simply omit the oil when roasting the garlic and onion, and this recipe will still be delicious. For a gluten-free option, use GF pasta (I like brown rice penne) and top with GF panko breadcrumbs if you’d like.
- Nut-free: Since this sweet potato mac is tahini based, it’s nut free!
Ways to serve:
- Top with toasted breadcrumbs
- Top with my shiitake mushroom bacon or add roasted brussels sprouts
- Add broccoli, sautéed vegan sausage, peas, or any veggie you’d like!
- Top with my homemade vegan parmesan
Sweet Potato "Cheese" Sauce
- 1 1/2 cups roasted or cooked sweet potato (about 1 sweet potato)
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp almond or other non-dairy milk
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder (optional)
- 1/2 peeled yellow onion
- 1 head garlic
- 1 tbsp olive oil (optional)
- 12 oz. brown rice penne (or other gluten-free pasta, or regular elbow noodles if not gluten-free)
- Gluten-free panko breadcrumbs for topping, toasted (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425F. Slice off the very top of the garlic head. Drizzle the garlic head and onion half with olive oil, and wrap them in foil. (Omit olive oil if oil-free). Bake for 25-30 mins. Cook sweet potato at this time if needed (see notes).**
- Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta and set aside.
- Blend all ingredients for sweet potato "cheese" sauce, along with roasted onion and garlic, in a high speed blender until smooth. You may need to blend half of ingredients at a time if your blender is not large enough. If you are having trouble blending or your sauce is too thick, you can add more non-dairy milk 1 tbsp at a time until you reach the desired consistency. Taste and add more salt if needed. If you want even more garlicky flavor, add the garlic powder.
- Combine pasta and sauce in large pot, heat and stir over medium-high heat if needed, and then serve! You can top it with or add toasted breadcrumbs, roasted broccoli, vegan parmesan, or my shiitake bacon!
*For my favorite super smooth, authentic tahini sourced from the Middle East, check out SoCo Tahini!
**You may wish to roast or cook the sweet potato at this time. You can pierce 1-2 sweet potatoes with a fork and roast them for about an hour at the same temperature. The quicker way is to boil the sweet potatoes. Peel and dice them, then bring a pot of water to boil. Place potatoes in and simmer, covered for 15 mins, or until fork-tender.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 303Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 697mgCarbohydrates: 49gFiber: 4gSugar: 7gProtein: 9g
Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although zenandzaatar.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.