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Easy Dairy Free Cauliflower Mac and Cheese {vegan + paleo}

  • Author: Nyssa Tanner
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: about 4 servings 1x


Easy dairy free cauliflower mac and cheese is the healthiest and most delicious way to satisfy your comfort food cravings without any regrets!



for cauliflower base

  • 1 very large head of cauliflower or 2 small heads 
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil 
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • black pepper 

for cauliflower cashew cheese sauce

  • 1/2 cup cashews, soaked in hot water
  • 1 cup very soft cooked cauliflower (reserved from 1st step – cauliflower base)
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard 
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric 
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt 
  • 1/3 cup hot water + more as needed

for garnish

  • paprika
  • black pepper
  • fresh herbs
  • any additional add-ins (see notes)


  1. Soak cashews in boiling water for at least 30 minutes while you prepare the cauliflower. 
  2. Cut cauliflower into equal, bite size pieces. 
  3. Bring about 1/4 inch of water to a boil in a large, shallow pan. Add 1/4 tsp salt and cauliflower florets. 
  4. Turn heat down to medium high, cover and cook for about 6-8 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes so,  until fork tender but not falling apart. 
  5. Remove all but 1 cup of the cauliflower using a slotted spoon. Set aside to drain in a colander or on a cutting board lined with a towel. Cook remaining cauliflower for another 3 or so minutes, until very soft, and falling apart. Add more water if the water in the pan starts to evaporate too quickly and pan is becoming dry.
  6. Move soft cooked cup of cauliflower to a blender or food processor along with soaked and drained cashews, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, mustard, garlic powder, turmeric and sea salt along with the first 1/3 cup of hot water. Blend on high until smooth, adding more hot water if needed. You want the final consistency to be pourable, but still thick. I only ended up adding about 1 additional tablespoon. 
  7. Wipe out skillet that you used to steam cauliflower and heat to medium heat with 1 tsp olive oil. Add drained cauliflower florets back to the pan along with 1/4 tsp salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir to coat in olive oil and salt and pepper.
  8. Pour sauce over cauliflower, toss gently with a spatula to coat. Taste and season with more salt if needed. Top with a little cracked black pepper, paprika and fresh herbs if using. Serve hot, but can be made ahead and easily re-heated. 


  • If you want to add a little more substance to the mac and cheese, you can easy stir in some grass fed sliced hot dogs, cooked peas, cooked chicken breast or anything else that you might want to add to regular mac and cheese.
  • This recipe also translates to a delicious gratin style dish. If your diet allows for you to have actual cheese made with dairy, move the cauliflower mac and cheese to a baking dish and top with shredded cheddar. Broil until the cheddar on top is bubbly and starting to brown. Top with suggested garnishes and serve!
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 15 min
  • Category: dinner
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: american

Keywords: cauliflower, vegan, low carb, dinner, dairy free, kid friendly, 30 minute meal, healthy, keto, whole30, paleo