Vegan Stovetop Mac and Cheese

This vegan stovetop mac and cheese with chickpeas is an easy, but delicious recipe that’s both creamy and savory and you’ll want to make on repeat.

Closeup of vegan stovetop mac and cheese with chickpeas in a white bowl next to a blue kitchen towel

I confess this recipe was inspired by Adee. She loves creating vegan cheese recipes and I like to take credit for that as part of her upbringing. 🙂

I’ve been making vegan mac and cheese for a long time, oftentimes changing the ingredients around to get the perfect flavors. For example, look at my Vegan One-Pot Mac and Cheese. It’s so easy!

So, I love making vegan mac and cheese every which way. But Adee threw me for a loop with a surprise ingredient in this Vegan Stovetop Mac and Cheese.

Looking down on a bowl full of vegan stovetop mac and cheese with chickpeas in the center. A blue kitchen towel surrounds the bowl.

How to Make Vegan Stovetop Mac and Cheese

You’ll need a few ingredients handy to make this Vegan Stovetop Mac and Cheese, including one that I find very odd. They are:

  • A box of elbow pasta
  • Raw cashews
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Tomato Paste
  • Nutritional yeast flakes
  • Salt and pepper.

That’s it! The ingredient I find most intriguing on this is the dijon mustard. I’ve never been a fan of the dijon, to be completely honest. It surprises me because I love hot and spicy foods and dijon has a very small, but a noticeable bit of spice to it. But I still haven’t been a fan.

And I was also surprised to see tomato paste on this list too. Tomato paste in cheese sauce? But Adee had two words for me: trust me.

Loving it!

So, I decided to do just that and I made this recipe, and loved it! In fact, I think you could have just planted me in front of the bowl of cheese sauce and everything would have been well and good in my world.

Looking a smoky roasted chickpeas in a bowl surrounded by vegan mac and cheese.

You’ll need a food processor to grind the cashews. Also, be sure to save some of the water from boiling the pasta. You’ll need that in the sauce as well. Then add that cheese sauce to your cooked macaroni and within a few minutes, you’ve got a delicious meal. But we didn’t stop there.

Smokey Chickpeas

My inclination is to want to call these roasted chickpeas, but it just doesn’t jive with the true definition of roasting, which requires an oven or a fire pit. I used neither.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make these Smoky Chickpeas:

  • 15 oz can of Chickpeas
  • Smoke sauce
  • Agave, or your favorite syrup sweetener like maple syrup or honey
  • Olive oil

That’s it. Seriously! Just drain the chickpeas and place them in a skillet with some olive oil and then pour over the smoke sauce and agave nectar. I put that over medium heat…and sometimes up it a notch because I like ’em good and crispy. You can do this step while the macaroni is cooking, so this Vegan Stovetop Mac and Cheese recipe ends up coming together very quickly.

I usually have it ready from start to finish in around 30 minutes.

Adapting this Recipe

Now, you could totally make this recipe without the chickpeas, but WHY???? Chickpeas add protein and fiber and lots of other nutrients as well. And when they’re seasoned so deliciously they really add a nice contrast in flavor to the savory mac and cheese. But, you know me, I love changing up a recipe. So, here are some ideas for how you could change this one up:

  • Add a pinch of turmeric to the cheese sauce
  • Try adding some grilled onions
  • Use gluten-free macaroni to make this recipe gluten-free
  • Add seasonings like dried basil and or thyme for a foodie mac and cheese

Also, you will definitely want to serve this vegan stovetop mac and cheese with my sweet potato dinner rolls on the side. The colors and the flavors would be so perfect together.

Closeup of Vegan Stovetop Mac and Cheese with Smoky Chickpeas in a white bowl next to a blue kitchen towel

Vegan Stovetop Mac and Cheese with Smoky Chickpeas

This Vegan Stovetop Mac and Cheese with Smoky Chickpeas is an easy, but delicious recipe that's both creamy and savory and you'll want to make on repeat!
4.75 from 4 votes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 419kcal


  • 12 ounces Elbow Pasta*
  • cup Raw Cashews
  • 1 tablespoon Vegan butter
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
  • ¼ cup Nutritional Yeast Flakes
  • ½ teaspoon Sea Salt
  • Additional Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 15 oz Chickpeas , drained
  • 2 tablespoons Agave Nectar
  • 1 tablespoon Liquid Smoke


  • Cook macaroni according to package instructions. When done, drain the water, reserving 1 cup for the sauce. Place cooked macaroni back in the saucepan. Set aside.
  • In a food processor combine cashews, vegan butter, garlic powder, onion powder, mustard, tomato paste, and nutritional yeast flakes. Pulse to combine. Add the reserved water from cooking the macaroni. Pulse again up until a minute, until a smooth sauce forms. Set aside.
  • Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked macaroni and stir to combine. Place over medium-low heat and cook for about 5 minutes, while you prepare the chickpeas.
  • In a skillet, add the olive oil over medium heat. Add the drained chickpeas and stir to coat with olive oil. Add the agave and liquid smoke and stir until chickpeas are coated. Continue cooking over medium heat, about 7 to 10 minutes, until the chickpeas have turned golden. 
  • Transfer Mac and Cheese to a serving dish and top with Smoky Chickpeas.

Recommended Equipment

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* Use Gluten-free pasta to make this dish gluten-free
Calories: 419kcal | Carbohydrates: 71g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 254mg | Potassium: 449mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 150IU | Vitamin C: 1.5mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 3.5mg

The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

I love a good, easy weeknight vegan meal. If you’re looking for some easy vegan dinner recipes, check out my Easy Vegan Recipes, ready in 30 Minutes or Less.

Whatever easy vegan recipe you’re digging into, enjoy!

8 Responses to Vegan Stovetop Mac and Cheese

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyTeresa Reply

    This is a solid mac n cheese recipe that whips up in minutes and uses ingredients I almost always have on hand. This one’s a keeper! 🙂

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      5 stars
      Thanks, Teresa! I’m so glad you liked this vegan mac and cheese!

  2. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyKate Reply

    5 stars
    Wow! That’s not too much sodium per serving! Awesome. I’m definitely sending that snap to you these days.

  3. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyLeona Reply

    5 stars
    I loved the Mac and cheese we had the other day. Is this the same recipe?

  4. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyAria Reply

    4 stars
    This vegan stove top mac cheese looks tasty and delicious. thanks for sharing.

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Thanks, Aria! Hope you love it as much as we do!

  5. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlySummer Neville Reply

    Do you mean liquid smoke or like a barbecue that’s smoky for “smoke sauce”? 🙂

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      YAS! Liquid smoke. Sorry about that, sometimes I get hung up on certain words. I think smoke sauce just sounds so cool so I say it a lot…and then my fingers said it too.

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