Paleo Mac and Cheese—Perfection Without The Pasta

Last Update: February 25, 2023

The ever versatile cauliflower subs in for pasta in this grain-free take on macaroni and cheese, while cashews and nutritional yeast recall the dish’s distinctive creaminess. To keep things vegetarian, skip the bacon “breadcrumb” topping. 

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Yield: 6 servings
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes


2 large heads cauliflower
2 cups cashews, soaked overnight
1 shallot, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/4 cup ghee
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Topping Ingredients

4 ounces bacon, chopped
1/2 cup pine nuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced


Put a pot of salted water to boil over medium-high heat and preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Break cauliflower florets into bite-sized pieces (these are your “noodles”) and cook in boiling water 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Drain cashews from soaking water and place in bowl of food processor. Process with shallot, nutritional yeast, ghee, tomato paste, mustard, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar. Process until smooth. Add in turmeric, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne, along with salt and pepper and process until completely homogenous and smooth. If need be, dilute with a bit of filtered water or coconut milk to achieve the consistency of a creamy sauce. Toss sauce with cauliflower and place in a cast iron skillet.

For the topping, cook the bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat until fairly crispy and toss with pine nuts, hazelnuts, and garlic. Sprinkle over top of cauliflower mixture and roast in oven 5 to 10 minutes to warm through.

Photo credit: Paul Delmont

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Merce Muse

Thrive Market Food Editor

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