Buffalo Cauliflower Mac + Cheese (vegan | plant-based)

Perfecting vegan mac and “cheese” has been my personal challenge/project for years now, and I’ve pretty much nailed it at this point. I like a mixture of white beans and cashews to create the ultra creamy sauce flavored with savory onion, garlic and “cheesy” nutritional yeast. From there I get creative and have fun with different variations. For this spicy buffalo version, I use hot sauce for the heat factor and for ranch-y flavor, dried parsley and dill.

I created this Buffalo Cauli Mac + Cheese in honor of the Super Bowl coming up. To be real, I couldn’t care less about the Super Bowl, football is not my jam. But I can get behind any event with good food, especially bar-style food which is one of my favorite cuisine genres. Give me spinach artichoke dip, pretzels with beer cheese and seven layer dip and I’m a happy camper. And now I’m adding this creamy, spicy pasta dish to that list too.

Buffalo Cauliflower Mac + Cheese
serves 6


for the cauliflower

1 large head cauliflower, cut into big bite-size florets
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt, fine grain
1/4 cup hot sauce

for the sauce + pasta

1 lb dry elbow macaroni pasta
1 large sweet onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, crushed/peeled/roughly chopped
olive oil
sea salt, fine grain
1 teaspoon paprika
1 can white beans, drained/rinsed
1 heaping cup raw cashews
2 cups water
2 cups oat milk (or other non-dairy milk)
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/4 cup hot sauce + more for topping

for the topping

1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon dried dill
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil

To Make

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When water comes to a boil, add pasta and cook to al dente. Reserve 1+ cups cooking water before draining.

Toss cauliflower in olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Spread onto a lined baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl and toss with hot sauce. Reduce heat to 375 when finished roasting. Set aside.

While cauliflower cooks, make the sauce. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a pan over medium-low. Add roughly chopped garlic cloves. When they start to brown, add onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook on medium until onion is soft and starting to brown, 8 minutes. Turn off heat. Add 1 teaspoon paprika, stir to coat. Deglaze pan with a splash of water.

Transfer onion/garlic mixture to a blender with white beans, cashews, 2 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt and nutritional yeast. Blend until super smooth. Add oat milk and dried parsley. Blend at medium-low speed until just combined.

When the pasta is drained, add the sauce to the pot and pour in the cooked pasta, 1 teaspoon salt, hot sauce, 1 cup pasta water and roasted cauliflower (reserving 10-12 florets for the top).

Transfer pasta mixture to a large baking dish. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Top with reserved cauliflower, nestling them into the top. Combine bread crumb topping ingredients. Top with bread crumb mixture, broil until golden. Douse with more hot sauce.

3 thoughts on “Buffalo Cauliflower Mac + Cheese (vegan | plant-based)

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