This vegan Instant Pot mac and cheese is made with dairy-free cashew sauce and artichokes, and is velvety, creamy and full of flavour. Enjoy this healthier, lighter version in about 35 minutes.
If you love a good mac and cheese but would like to avoid that heavy, bloated feeling you can get after too much dairy or if you’re trying to avoid dairy products for other reasons, this recipe is exactly what you need. Our Instant Pot vegan mac and cheese has all those creamy, dreamy characteristics of a classic dish BUT it’s made with a completely dairy-free sauce.
The secret to our sauce is in the starch that comes from cooked white potato and the creaminess of soaked cashew nuts, which are blended with a few other delicious things to achieve a velvety, silky and thick texture that coats the pasta perfectly. Artichokes add a lovely gourmet touch (not to mention the flavour) and extra fibre to this dish.
We made this recipe for dinner with a couple of friends who are actually neither vegan nor dairy-free, but even though this mac and cheese had no actual cheese, they raved about how good it was and helped themselves to seconds, and then to thirds as well.
So, whether you’re following a plant-based diet or simply need a lighter version of the classic, make sure to give this creamy Instant Pot pasta recipe a go. Let us know what you thought!
This Instant Pot vegan mac and cheese is velvety and creamy without the use of dairy. The sauce is made with starchy white potato, cashews and lovely seasonings, giving this dish a wickedly good flavor.
For the pasta
450 g / 1 lb elbow pasta (egg-free)
2 tbsps olive oil
6 cups of water
1/2 veggie stock cube (we like this organic brand)
1 onion stock cube
For the creamy sauce
1 small brown onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium white potato, peeled and diced into small cubes
1 tsp margarine/dairy-free butter or 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup vegetable stock
1 cup cashew nuts
2/3 cup almond milk
1 clove of garlic, diced
2 heaped tbsps of nutritional yeast flakes
2 tbsps lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard (or yellow mustard)
1 tsp salt
For the final step
1 tsp vegan margarine/butter
Zest of 1/2 lemon
250 – 300 g / 9 oz tinned or marinated artichokes (we love the ones in olive oil), cut roughly
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon pepper
For garnish: extra parsley and deep-fried shallots
Soak the cashews in double the water for 1 hour before using. Rinse well.
Turn the Instant Pot on, add the pasta ingredients to the inner pot and mix through.
Pop the lid on, lock and set the Instant Pot to Manual, High pressure for 4 minutes. After 3 beeps, the Instant Pot will begin to build up the pressure and the cooking will commence. Pressurizing and cooking should take about 12-15 minutes total.
Once the cooking stops, allow 5 minutes for natural pressure release and then use a quick release method (point the steam valve to Venting) before opening the lid. Once the pasta is cooked, strain any remaining cooking liquid and set it aside. Make sure the Instant Pot is off at this stage.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce.
Make the first part of the sauce first. Add the onions, diced potatoes and margarine or olive oil to a small pot and place over medium-high heat. Stir for two minutes, then add a cup of vegetable stock to the pot (it should just cover the potatoes). Bring to a boil and cook for about 7 minutes, stirring a few times, until the potato is soft and the mixture has thickened.
Make the rest of the sauce. Add the cashew nuts (minus the soaking liquid), almond milk, garlic, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, mustard and salt to a blender and process until smooth (about a minute). If your blender is big enough, add the cooked potato and onion mixture to the nut cream. Process together until smooth.
If you have a small blender like me, then you can transfer the creamy nut mixture to a bowl, then add and process the potato mixture next. Then, combine and stir the two parts of the sauce until well combined.
The final step is to add the margarine, lemon zest, artichokes, parsley and pepper to the pasta in the pot. Pour in the sauce and mix through. Taste for salt and season with more if you like.
Transfer the pasta to a large casserole dish and top with deep-fried shallots and parsley. I like to reserve a few artichokes to add on top for presentation. Serve and enjoy!