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Two side by side bowls of vegan mexican mac and cheese topped with green onions, jalapeno, and fresh cilantro. On a light background surrounded by sliced lime, cherry tomatoes, and fresh herb.

Vegan Mexican Mac and Cheese {vegan + gluten free}

  • Author: Nyssa Tanner
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


This vegan mexican mac and cheese is dairy free and gluten free. Made on the stove top with a delicious cashew cheese sauce, sweet corn, black beans, tomatoes, and all the fresh garnishes. A healthy comfort food meal that is FULL of flavor.



For the cashew queso

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • Just boiled water for soaking cashews
  • 3/4 cup just boiled water
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard OR 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder (optional – for color)
  • about 1 tablespoon of your favorite hot sauce 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite salsa

For pasta

  • 1 cup sweet corn kernels – frozen or fresh
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 8 oz box of gluten free pasta of choice – I used chickpea pasta. You could stretch the sauce for up to 12 ounces of pasta, but if you want to use a whole pound, double the recipe for the cashew cheese sauce
  • salt to taste 

To garnish

  • cilantro
  • thinly sliced green onions
  • thinly sliced jalapeño 
  • hot sauce



  1. First, prepare the cashews for the queso. 
  2. Start by soaking the raw cashews in just boiled water for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight. 
  3. While soaking the cashews, prep the rest of the ingredients for the mac and cheese. 
  4. Drain and rinse the black beans, halve the cherry tomatoes, measure the sweet corn or cut fresh off the cob, chop cilantro, slice jalapeño, and slice green onions. 
  5. Set all prepped ingredients aside until ready to assemble the pasta. 
  6. Once cashews have soaked and are soft and plump, drain and rinse them with cold water. Transfer to a high speed blender along with more just boiled water, mustard, lime juice, chili powder, nutritional yeast, turmeric powder, hot sauce, and sea salt.
  7. Blend on high for a minute or two, until very smooth and creamy.
  8. Once fully blended, add salsa and pulse a couple of times to mix in. Taste and add more salt or hot sauce if desired.
  9. Cook pasta according to package instructions. You may want to slightly undercook it, since it will continue cooking a bit when you add the cashew cheese and heat it back up. Add the corn about 1 minute before the pasta is done, whether using frozen or fresh. 
  10. Drain pasta, rinse, and move back to the pot you cooked it in. 
  11. Turn heat on low and add tomatoes and black beans. 
  12. Pour the cashew cheese sauce over pasta, corn, tomatoes, and black beans, and stir gently to combine and warm over low heat. Once warm, season to taste with salt and serve topped with cilantro, green onions, thinly sliced jalapeño, plus a little extra hot sauce if desired.
  13. Serve warm and enjoy!



  • This recipe for vegan mexican mac and cheese is dairy free + gluten free, but the sauce does contain nuts. If you’re looking for a dairy free cheese sauce made without cashews, you might want to give this vegan cheese sauce a try.
  • Use a high speed blender. I personally haven’t tried making this cashew cheese sauce with anything but my vitamix, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be nearly as creamy without a high speed blender.
  • For the best cheesy texture, start with raw cashews. I know they can be a little harder to find, but they will blend so much more smoothly than roasted cashews. Trader Joe’s carries them, and most natural food stores will have them in their bulk section. If you can’t find them in stores, or simply want to order online, you can find them HERE.
  • I used an 8 ounce size box of pasta in this recipe, but the sauce could probably stretch for up to 12 ounces. If you’re making a whole pound of pasta, double the recipe for the cashew cheese sauce.
  • Category: comfort food
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: mexican

Keywords: gluten free, vegan, dairy free, cashew cheese, black beans, salsa, healthy dinner