Our mac and cheese is the creamy comfort food you have been craving. This recipe happens to be vegan but can be easily made with regular cheese. Vegan or not, you will enjoy this pasta dish any day of the week. It is so easy to make it will be ready in 35 minutes or less.
This Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipe is about as easy as it gets! We basically made a bechamel sauce with plant-based milk, added vegan cheese and a bit of nutritional yeast, and then poured it into a baking dish. Top it all off with bread crumbs and vegan parmesan and give it a quick bake! It’s the best vegan mac and cheese that tastes even better than the real thing.
What is Vegan Mac and Cheese?
Traditionally, macaroni and cheese are made with a thick, creamy sauce that includes heavy cream and shredded cheese. With the availability of some amazing-tasting vegan cheeses, plant-based milk, and vegan butter on the market today, making vegan mac and cheese is easy. With a few simple substitutions, you can have the best vegan mac and cheese around without compromising on flavor or creamy texture.
Ingredients in Baked Mac n Cheese
This is where it all begins: gathering ingredients. Luckily, all of these ingredients can be found easily at your local grocery store!
- Pasta - we use penne, rigatoni, or elbow pasta. ¾ pound of pasta creates the perfect ratio of pasta to sauce! You may also use a bean-based pasta if you want to increase the protein in this dish and make it gluten-free.
- Coconut oil or vegan butter - This will provide the base of the vegan cheese sauce, you can also use extra virgin olive oil if you prefer.
- All-purpose flour - You only need two tablespoons as a sauce thickener! If you’re making this gluten-free, use your favorite flour substitute.
- Plant-based milk - Use plain (not vanilla) flavored, and make sure it’s unsweetened. Almond milk works great here, but feel free to use coconut, soy, or oat milk. If you want to go full dairy, I recommend using whole milk.
- Vegan cheese - Shredded mozzarella is perfect in this! We love the brand VioLife, which we find at our local Whole Foods in our area. Vegan cheeses are easily found at most grocery stores.
- Nutritional yeast - This is a common ingredient when making vegan cheese substitutes because it gives vegan cheese dishes that cheesy flavor.
- Salt and pepper - Taste and adjust as needed
- Optional toppings - panko bread crumbs, dried oregano, vegan Parmesan, salt, and a drizzle of olive oil- finish this baked vegan mac and cheese beautifully.
Homemade Vegan Cheese Sauce
Many popular recipes use a cashew base for homemade vegan mac and cheese. We used a store-bought vegan cheese for this recipe to save time and because the selection of available vegan cheeses is great these days. Our favorite is Violife (not sponsored).
If you prefer not to use packaged cheese, you can make creamy cheese sauce for mac and cheese. Start with a base of our Vegan Cashew Cream, then add nutritional yeast for that nutty, cheesy flavor, garlic and onion powder for some dimension, and a hint of turmeric for the yellow color. Delicious vegan cheese is much more nutritious than the boxed, powdered stuff!
How to Make Baked Mac and Cheese
To begin, boil the macaroni noodles in a large pot of salted water. Make sure to stop at al dente. Drain the pasta and set it aside, then create your roux. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until the cheese has melted. Then, pour your pasta into the cheese mixture and stir it all together. Place all of this in your casserole dish, top it with the breadcrumb mixture, and bake it. This homemade baked macaroni is the definition of comfort food.
Can I Make Vegan Mac and Cheese Without Nutritional Yeast?
The short answer is yes! Just leave it out. The longer answer is that nutritional yeast provides the cheesy, umami flavor that makes this dish taste like the real deal. If you leave it out, it will still be creamy and delicious; it just won’t taste as cheesy.
Additions to Baked Mac and Cheese
If you want to make a whole, balanced meal out of this vegan baked mac and cheese, try adding one of the following to give it a boost!
- Sauteed Mushrooms
- Veggie sausage
- Roasted butternut squash
- Broccoli, roasted until crispy around the edges
- Swap out for bean pasta, which adds protein and makes a gluten-free mac and cheese!
- Make your mac and cheese a little fancier with non-vegan cheeses such as gruyere, Colby jack, sharp cheddar cheese, parmesan, feta, or goat cheese.
- Amp it up even more with the addition of mushrooms or truffles.
- Add a tablespoon of brown mustard for a pop of flavor!
- Breadcrumbs are a traditional topping. We used panko, but if you can't find those, you can use the regular ones or make your own.
- Mustard powder, garlic powder, or cayenne pepper are all very popular aditions you could try one at a time to see if you enjoy the variety.
What to Serve with Vegan Mac and Cheese
Since our homemade mac is a pasta dish, we love to serve it alongside a nutritious salad or hearty soup! It would pair perfectly with a side dish such as Classic Caprese Salad, Cucumber Avocado Salad, or Protein-Packed Minestrone Soup. You could also serve it with our Focaccia with Za’atar Olives and Tomatoes!
Is Vegan Mac and Cheese Good For You?
You can increase nutritional benefits by using bean-based pasta or whole wheat pasta, but to be honest, this is not an especially healthy dish. It has less saturated fat and cholesterol than the full dairy version.
More Vegan Pasta Dishes
- Penne Pasta with Vegan Cauliflower and walnut Kale Pesto
- Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
- Pea & Artichoke Pasta
- One-Pot Chickpea and Butternut Squash Pasta
- Mushroom & Veggie Sausage Pasta
- Edamame & Mung Bean Pasta with Caramelized Onion & Chestnuts
- Spaghetti & Vegan Meatballs
If you enjoyed this recipe, it would help us tremendously if you left us a star rating in the comments below or on the recipe card. Do you have any questions about the recipe? Do you need a swap for any of the ingredients? We are here to help, just leave us a question in the comments below.Print
Our vegan mac and cheese is the creamy comfort food you have been craving. Vegan or not you will enjoy this pasta dish any day of the week. It is so easy to make it will be ready in 35 minutes or less.
- ¾ pound penne, rigatoni or elbow pasta (See note #1)
- 4 tbsp refined coconut oil or vegan butter
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 cups unsweetened plain almond milk or other plant-based milk
- 8 ounces shredded vegan mozzarella cheese (about 2 cups). (We used Violife, see note #2)
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- ¼ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp pepper
- Cooking spray
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ⅓ cup grated vegan parmesan cheese ( we used Violife)
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 2 tsp olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Coat an 8X8 square baking dish with high sides with cooking spray
- Cook the pasta following the package instructions (make sure you use plenty of salt water). Drain well and set aside
- Melt the coconut oil or vegan butter in the same pot you used to cook the pasta
- Add the flour, stir well and cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes
- Slowly whisk in the almond milk and nutritional yeast, whisking constantly and making sure there are no lumps
- Add the salt and pepper and bring to a simmer until it thickens
- Add 1 ½ cups of the shredded cheese, stir well and cook until all the cheese has melted
- Add the cooked pasta and stir well making, sure it’s all well coated with the sauce. Transfer the pasta to the baking dish and set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the panko bread crumb, oregano, vegan parmesan, salt, and olive oil and mix well.
- Top the pasta with the remaining ½ cup of cheese and sprinkle evenly with the topping. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown
- We found that by only using ¾ pound of pasta the ratio of pasta to sauce is perfect. Feel free to cook the whole box of pasta, take a quarter of it out, and save it for later use. Increase the nutritional value and protein in this dish by using bean-based pasta or whole wheat pasta.
- If you prefer not to use packaged cheese you can make your own mac and cheese cheese sauce. Start with a base of our Vegan Cashew Cream, then add nutritional yeast for that nutty, cheesy flavor, garlic and onion powder for some dimension, and a hint of turmeric for the yellow color.
- This post was originally published on June 4, 2012. We have updated it with more useful information, so you make the best mac and cheese every time.
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 25 mins
- Category: Main
- Method: baked
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 1 ½ cups
- Calories: 519
- Sugar: 1.9
- Sodium: 657.3
- Fat: 24
- Saturated Fat: 14.5
- Unsaturated Fat: 3.3
- Trans Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 63.9
- Fiber: 2.3
- Protein: 9.9
- Cholesterol: 0
Keywords: kosher, Mac and cheese, comfort food, vegan