This Vegan Thai Red Curry Mac and Cheese is the ultimate comforting fusion dish! The supremely creamy sauce – made from cashews & coconut milk – includes Thai red curry paste for a spicy new twist on vegan mac and cheese.
If you don't already know, I LOVE vegan mac and cheese. Like, I'm basically obsessed. Because I couldn't give up my mac and cheese when I went vegan, I just decided to make plant-based versions of my favorite comfort food like:
- Creamy Vegan Cashew Mac and Cheese
- Vegan Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
- Buffalo Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
- Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
I've got a number of others up my sleeve (especially since I got my new Robin Robertson Cookbook!), so stay tuned!
Why You'll Love This Thai-Inspired Recipe
Aside from mac & cheese, my other food obsession is Thai food. I've already created a few Thai-inspired dishes for the blog like my Thai Basil Noodles with Tofu and my Easy Thai Quinoa Salad.
Considering my love of both Thai food and vegan mac and cheese, how could I deny you the glory of this Thai Red Curry Mac and Cheese from Robin Robertson's new book? This recipe is:
- Creamy & Comforting. Made with BOTH cashews and coconut milk, this spicy, cheesy curry mac is ridiculously decadent – but still completely dairy-free!
- Spicy Without Being Over-The-Top. The Thai red curry paste adds a real depth of flavor to the pasta sauce (kind of like the vodka does in my vegan vodka sauce). It's piquantly spicy, but won't blow your lid off.
- Versatile. I love adding veggies to all kinds of meals, and this Thai curry macaroni dish is no exception. Feel free to load it up with your favorites, or add some plant-based protein. I have lots of ideas for you under the "Optional Variations" section. 🙂
- Budget-Friendly. Essentially made with just dried noodles, a can of coconut milk, some raw cashews, and a few spoonfuls of red curry paste, this simple recipe is perfect for a rent-week meal.
Oh, and if you're a nerd like me, I have a feeling you'll like my little play on this recipe. Since I made this dish with farfalle noodles, I've dubbed it my Tie Curry Mac n' Cheese. GET IT?!? Bowtie, tie, Thai? I know. I'm hilarious.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Neutral Oil (optional) - Robin's recipe calls for a neutral oil (e.g. avocado). You can also skip the oil if you're oil-free.
- Yellow Onion - Honestly, any color of onion will do here.
- Thai Red Curry Paste - Make sure to check your labels, as some commercially available curry pastes include shrimp or fish sauce.
- Salt, Pepper, & Water - Easy enough, right?
- Raw Cashews - Unsalted raw cashews magically replicate the consistency of cream after being soaked and blended. Be sure to reach for RAW nuts; this won't work with roasted ones.
- Unsweetened Coconut Milk - For the best flavor and consistency, use full-fat canned coconut milk.
- Small Pasta - Any short noodle shape will work. Feel free to sub in gluten-free pasta as needed. Cook according to package directions.
- Roasted Peanuts - Roasted, salted peanuts make for a deliciously crunchy topping. Feel free to swap in roasted cashews instead.
- Thai Basil - The herbaceous flavor of Thai basil is a delight, but it can sometimes be hard to find. If that's the case, try using chopped fresh cilantro instead.
- Red Pepper Flakes - I like my curry nice and spicy, so I usually add some red pepper flakes to the top of this curry mac. You can also swap in sriracha, sambal oelek, chili garlic paste, or any other spice-maker you prefer.
- Lime - The bright acidity of fresh lime juice helps to cut through the richness of the curry cheese sauce and makes this dish more reminiscent of Thai curry.
How To Make Vegan Curry Mac and Cheese
This recipe for Thai Red Curry Mac & Cheese is a snap to make. Here's how it's done:
Step 1: Make The Curry Cheese Sauce.
In a skillet over medium heat, heat the vegetable oil. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the curry paste, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
Stir in 1 cup (240 ml) of water and remove the skillet from the heat.
In a high-speed blender, combine the cashews and remaining 1 cup (240 ml) of water. Blend until completely smooth. Add the curry mixture and blend again until smooth. Set aside.
Step 2: Make The Pasta
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions until al dente. Drain well and return it to pot.
Step 3: Assemble & Enjoy!
Stir in the curry sauce and coconut milk. Place the pot over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes to heat through and thicken the sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning, as needed.
Transfer to a large serving dish and serve hot, sprinkled with peanuts, basil, and red pepper flakes (if using), with lime wedges on the side for squeezing.
While this vegan curry mac and cheese is pretty perfect just the way it is written, there's always room for customization! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Add veggies. As a nutritionist, I am all for adding veggies to every meal. Try adding some quickly stir-fried veggies like red bell pepper, carrot, broccoli, green peas, snap peas, or snow peas into the mix.
- Add protein. While me and carbs are on very friendly terms, I like to add protein to most of my pasta dishes to help keep me fuller for longer. Here are some options:
- Make it green. Thai curry paste also comes in a spicier green flavor. Try switching it up! If you do, feel free to lean into the green theme by adding spinach, broccoli, peas, asparagus, or other green veggies.
- Salt your pasta water. You only get one shot to add flavor to your noodles; don't waste the opportunity! If you're on a low-sodium diet, try boiling the noodles in low-sodium veggie broth instead.
- Store noodles and sauce separately for freezing. If you decide to freeze your leftovers, they'll fare better if you can store the sauce and noodles separately. If not, the noodles can get kind of soggy on reheating.
- Roll your limes to get the most juice! Giving your citrus a firm roll on the countertop for 10-15 seconds before cutting it into wedges will help you extract more yummy juice with every squeeze.
While many commercially available brands of Thai curry paste are vegan (like Thai Kitchen, for example), some include traditional ingredients like shrimp or fish sauce. Just be sure to read your labels!
I'm of the opinion that if the veggies would taste good in a regular curry, they'd also taste good in this curry mac! Some of my favorite veggies for Thai red curry are broccoli, zucchini, summer squash, any color of bell pepper, snow peas, snap peas, green peas, and baby corn.
Not to worry! You can swap in equal amounts of either green curry paste, harissa, or even curry powder for a different interpretation of this curry mac recipe.
Cookbook Review: Robin Robertson's Vegan Mac and Cheese
As a self-proclaimed mac n' cheese fanatic, I was totally pumped when I was asked to review Robin Roberston's new book Vegan Mac and Cheese.
Robin's book includes more than 50 delicious plant-based comfort food recipes. It's amazing how many versions of vegan mac and cheese there are!
Her chapters include:
- Basic Vegan Mac & Cheese - with recipes such as Soy-Good Mac & Cheese, One-Pot Cheesy Mac, Mom's Baked Mac Uncheese
- Global Cheesy Macs- with recipes such as Italian Macaroni Pie, Käsespätzle, Mac and Creole
- Mac and Veggies (my favorite!): - with recipes such as Cheesy Primavera Mac, Arugala Pesto Mac Uncheese, Brussels and Bacon Cheesy Mac
- Meaty Macs - with recipes such as Chili Mac, Shepard's Mac, Brat & Kraut Mac & Cheese
- Fun with Mac & Cheese - with recipes such as Cheesy Mac Mug, Waffled Mac Uncheese, Mac Uncheese Balls
If you are also someone who loves a bowl of creamy, cheesy, plant-based carb-y goodness, I highly recommend this book.
More Tasty Vegan Comfort Food Recipes
If you make this recipe and LOVE IT, please give it 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐!
Thai Red Curry Mac and Cheese
Thai Red Curry Sauce
- 2 teaspoon neutral vegetable oil such as avocado oil (omit if you're oil-free)
- 1 small yellow onion, minced
- 3 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups water, divided
- .75 cup unsalted raw cashews, soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes, drained
- 13 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
- 16 oz small pasta I used gluten free
- chopped roasted peanuts
- fresh Thai basil, or chopped fresh cilantro
- red pepper flakes
- lime wedges for serving
To make the sauce:
- In a skillet over medium heat, heat the vegetable oil.
- Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the curry paste, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
- Stir in 1 cup (240 ml) of water and remove the skillet from the heat.
- In a high-speed blender, combine the cashews and remaining 1 cup (240 ml) of water. Blend until completely smooth. Add the curry mixture and blend again until smooth. Set aside.
To make the pasta:
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions until al dente. Drain well and return it to pot.
- Stir in the curry sauce and coconut milk. Place the pot over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes to heat through and thicken the sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning, as needed.
- Transfer to a large serving dish and serve hot, sprinkled with peanuts, basil, and red pepper flakes (if using), with lime wedges on the side for squeezing.
PLEASE NOTE: Nutritional information data is computer generated and only an estimate so it should be used only as a guide.
Mary Ellen Valverde MS, CNS, LDN is a Licensed Nutritionist and Certified Nutrition Specialist who empowers vegans to feel clear and confident about what is uniquely nourishing to them. Mary Ellen's recipes and nutrition information have been featured on Yahoo News, Parade, VegNews, LIVESTRONG, Dr. Axe, Greatist, LIVEKINDLY, Brit+Co, Well+Good, and more.
can you freeze the sauce?
Mary Ellen says
Hi Bev! Yes, you can freeze the sauce. When reheating stir often because the cashews can get thick easily. You can add a little more milk or water to thin it out a bit if you need to.
Julia Lindsay says
This is an outstanding recipe. I’ve made it several times and my husband even made it once. We always make it in our Instant Pot. I told my hubby tonight that it is the most satisfying meal I’ve ever eaten. Delicious!
Mary Ellen says
I'm so happy you like it, Julia! That's saying something if your husband makes it too. 🙂
What a great idea to make it in the instant pot, I'll have to try that next time!
I really appreciate you coming back to review it!
I don't know when you published this recipe, but I somehow just saw it. It looks amazing! I love the idea of topping with roasted peanuts. In fact, it may get on the menu this weekend!
Mary Ellen says
Thanks Kate! It's tasty! I hope you get a chance to try it! Let me know what you think!