Kid-Friendly Vegan Penne Mac ‘n Cheese-ish

This Vegan Penne Mac ‘n Cheese is my new starch-based comfort food. With a creamy sauce and hearty penne pasta, this dish is sure to become a favorite. It’s been kid-tested and approved.

Way back when I first gave up eating meat, I basically lived off of cheese-filled dishes—from pizza to grilled cheese and everything in between. However, my favorite dish to make was macaroni and cheese.

My original recipe came from watching my mom make this dish for almost every family gathering or dinner party. It was her most-requested dish and everyone loved it. I took mental notes as I watched (and later helped) her make her yummy, cheesy goodness.

When I moved out on my own after college, I would frequently make this “real” mac and cheese for dinners with friends, perfecting the recipe each time. It was a comfort food I thought I’d never be without.

And then, in my early 20s, I got a health scare that I briefly mentioned in this Starch Solution post. In researching what I could do naturally to reverse my situation, I discovered that a plant-based, whole-foods diet could really help.

So I made the switch and swapped my “real” mac and cheese for a vegan version, and after a few trials and errors, my vegan penne mac ‘n cheese-ish dish was born.

And now, I seriously love it just as much as my “used-to-be-real” mac and cheese. Does it taste just like the non-vegan version? No. But the taste of the vegan version is so rich and delicious, I actually prefer it.

Ready to give it a try? Once you do, let me know what you think.

Kid-Friendly Vegan Penne Mac ‘n Cheese-ish

Recipe by Roz Walker | Simplifying My LifeCourse: MainDifficulty: Beginner


Prep time


Cooking time



Macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite comfort foods. So I knew I had to find a substitute when I went plant-based. After trial and error, this Penne Mac ‘n Cheese is now my new starch-based comfort food.


  • 8 oz whole wheat penne pasta

  • 6 tbsp coconut milk

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard

  • 2 tbsp miso paste

  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast

  • 2 tsp garlic powder

  • 2 tsp onion powder

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews


  • Soak cashews in water for one hour. Drain and rinse.
  • Boil penne pasta according to package directions.
  • Blend remaining ingredients in blender. Add water if too thick. Blend until smooth.
  • You can use the cheese sauce at room temperature or heat briefly in a saucepan over low heat.
  • Pour cheese sauce over penne pasta and serve immediately. Sprinkle with vegan parmesan cheese, if desired. 
  • Store leftover cheese sauce in a mason jar in the fridge for up to a week.


  • Not a fan of penne pasta? No problem! Just substitute the pasta of your choice.

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