Vegan Mac and Cheese

A simple vegan mac and cheese is everything! I mean, who doesn’t love mac and cheese? It is creamy, cheesy, and very wholesome. You can serve it as a side dish or enjoy it as a main course.

When you don’t have anything else to make, simple mac and cheese are all you need.

vegan mac and cheese in white bowl on white background

Are you looking for a vegan mac and cheese recipe? Look no further; this is by far the best vegan mac and cheese recipe; it is so reminiscent of my mom’s mac and cheese recipe.

This vegan macaroni and cheese recipe is so creamy and flavorful. It is the best thing that has ever happened to you. 

It is super easy to make, and thus you can enjoy it literally any time of the day. Even when you feel untimely hunger pangs, mac and cheese can come to your rescue!

Although making vegan mac and cheese is easy, it’s tricky to get the right flavors and textures. Over the years, I have tried hundreds of recipes in search of a perfect recipe. But unfortunately, I haven’t had a very memorable experience. All these vegan mac and cheese are either too bland, too dry, or too tangy. In short, there is always a punch missing.

That’s what compelled me to create my own recipe. I took notes, and thanks to my unlimited brainstorming sessions, I came up with a recipe that gives you mac and cheese that will blow your mind.

Why You’ll Love This Vegan Mac and Cheese

  • Cheesy: The perfect mac and cheese have to be cheesy without too much overpowering flavor. Now I have used a combination of nutritional yeast or noni juice and coconut milk which is not just a vegan ingredient but also gives this macaroni cheese a cheesy flavor. The vegan cheese sauce adds a cheesy flavor to your mac and cheese and boosts the nutritional value of your meal, making it a guilt-free indulgence.
  • Velvety: The texture should be rich and velvety. It’s the Cashews and coconut milk that give you the perfect velvety texture.
  • Creamy: You can either add heavy cream or dairy milk to get creamy mac and cheese in a traditional recipe. However, for a vegan version, Cashews and coconut milk shine here.
  • Buttery: You don’t need butter to make mac and cheese buttery. You can use Coconut milk which helps to give a buttery flavor.
Vegan macaroni and cheese in a white bowl with black rim

Where did mac and cheese come from?

Macaroni and cheese are undoubtedly the most popular and loved comfort food of all time. That is because of its ease of preparation, its rich and creamy texture, and its cheesy flavor. Have you ever given thought to how it came into being? If you don’t know, let me tell you a little bit about this amazing dish.

The earliest record of a recipe that is very similar to modern-day mac and cheese came from a cookbook published in the 13th century in Italy, of course. However, there is another record of a similar recipe mentioned in a cookbook that dated back to the1769. Then there is one more mention in a cookbook published in the 18th century.

However, it wasn’t until the famous company “Kraft” came up with their premade macaroni and cheese as dinner in 1937 that the dish actually gained popularity. It was known by almost every person in the USA back then. It was a quick fix for so many and was super comforting.

Of course, the original recipe used macaroni, cheese, and cream. All these ingredients were fairly basic, so people really adopted the dish and gave it their heart and soul.

As for the vegan version, there is no true record of who first came up with the vegan version, to but whoever that was: You rocked, truly!

Ingredients For Vegan Mac And Cheese

Scroll down to the recipe card for the full list of ingredients and instructions.

Ingredients for vegan mac and cheese

How to Make The Best Vegan Mac and Cheese?

Making vegan mac and cheese is very easy. It’s a matter of a few simple steps. These are:

Step 1: Firstly, you have to cook your pasta according to the directions given on the package. Once it is al Dante, drain it and set it aside.

Step 2: Meanwhile, you can work on the cashew cheese sauce. It is super quick to make. You literally have to through everything in the blender jug and blend. That’s all. If you are out of fresh lemon juice, you can either use lime juice or bottled lemon juice.

Step 3: Now, it’s time to assemble all the ingredients. Add all the ingredients to a large pot and mix well over low to medium heat until everything is well combined and the mac and cheese is warm enough for your liking.

Expert Tips

Making the best vegan mac and cheese is an art! You have to keep these tips in mind to enjoy perfectly cooked vegan mac and cheese:

  • Nutritional yeast is an amazing ingredient. However, not everyone uses it. So, if you are living in a place where it is not available, or you don’t have or don’t like it for any reason, you can use noni juice instead of nutritional yeast. This ingredient is vegan and gives you the same cheesy flavor without using any dairy ingredients.
  • Keep an eye on the pasta when cooking it. It shouldn’t be undercooked or overcooked. Because different brands of pasta may offer different cooking times, always read the directions before cooking it.
  • make sure you are using full-fat creamy canned coconut milk. The coconut cream is what makes the coconut milk creamy. Without it, it is pretty much like any other plant-based milk. So, if you want creamy, velvety, and rich vegan mac and cheese, don’t skip adding coconut milk.
  • There is no specific brand I would recommend to you. All vegan and gluten-free pasta are created equal. So, you can use your favorite brand. Moreover, you can try a few different brands to see which one you like the most. I love using Barilla Pasta.
vegan mac and cheese on white dishes on a white background surrounded by ingredients and utensils

Substitutions and Variations

  • Though not necessary, you can choose to bake this vegan mac and cheese after following the instructions. If you do, bake it at 350 degrees F for 20-30 minutes. Baking it will give the top a beautiful golden color.
  • A word of caution: Now, If you decide to make vegan baked mac and cheese, you will need to make some extra sauce or add extra water/broth, so it doesn’t dry out.
  • You can substitute the red bell pepper with cooked carrots for the nice orange color.
  • Substitute the coconut milk with any other unsweetened non-dairy, plant-based milk like almond or soy milk. You can also use vegan sour cream or vegan cream cheese instead of plant-based milk.
  • Take your macaroni and cheese to another level, and add pieces of sautéed vegan sausage, vegan bacon, and broccoli. Use spices like Italian seasoning or paprika for more flavor.
  • Try stirring in vegan cheese shreds (Daiya or Follow Your Heart brands), mayo (Just Mayo brand), and melted vegan butter (Earth Balance brand) or cream cheese (So Delicious brand). This version is best served to skeptics- they will be blown away!

Storage Tips

Refrigerator

Cool your macaroni and cheese completely and place it in a container with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Freezer

Vegan mac and cheese can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Reheat

You can easily reheat refrigerated vegan mac and cheese. Now, you don’t have to reheat all the leftover mac and cheese every time. You can scoop out the portion you want to eat and reheat it in the microwave or over the stovetop.

If you feel it’s a bit dry (which usually happens when you refrigerate mac and cheese), you can add a dash of water, vegetable stock, coconut milk, or any other plant-based milk and stir until you get the desired consistency and the mac and cheese is heated completely.

Moreover, if you have stored your mac and cheese in a casserole dish, simply remove it from the refrigerator or freezer, and let it sit for 5 minutes. Add about ¼ cup of water or plant-based milk and cover it with parchment paper followed by aluminum foil. Place it in a preheated oven for about 30 minutes. Remove the parchment paper and aluminum foil and continue to bake for ten more minutes until its top is golden and bubbly.

What to Serve with Vegan Mac and Cheese

Vegan mac and cheese is a perfect side dish or a main course. You can serve it with a number of other dishes. Here is a list of ideas you might want to try:

  • Cauliflower Nuggets: Cauliflower nuggets are crispy and very wholesome. They taste even better when you pair them with vegan mac and cheese.
  • Vegan Coleslaw: Coleslaw is very versatile. Its refreshing flavor and crunchy texture are a perfect combination with the velvety and creamy vegan mac and cheese. It also goes well with salads like kale salad or any other vegan salad.
  • Garlic bread: Enjoy crusty garlic bread with vegan mac and cheese. You can also pair it with vegan cheese bread. It is a perfect start and is just the right choice with this mac and cheese recipe.
  • Black Eyed Peas Curry: A rich and tasteful curry and mac and cheese may sound like an unusual combination, but it is a good one. But you will have to try to find out!
  • Vegan Soups: Whether it is creamy leek soup or roasted butternut squash soup, it pairs well with this vegan mac and cheese recipe.

Recipe FAQs

Can vegans eat macaroni and cheese?

Why not? Even if a classic mac and cheese have dairy ingredients in it, you can still satisfy your craving by switching a few ingredients. Choose plant-based substitutes for dairy ingredients, and that’s it! A few tricks can help you enjoy rich, creamy, and tasteful mac and cheese. Most brands of pasta available in the market are vegan, which is very good news for us. However, you should still double-check the labels.

Can I make this vegan mac and cheese gluten-free?

Yes! You can easily turn any pasta recipe into gluten-free. The same goes for this Mac and cheese recipe. You can do so by choosing gluten-free pasta. You can find these in the gluten-free aisle of any grocery store. For instance, choose Walmart 365 brand! It has gluten-free pasta.

Can you make vegan mac and cheese without nutritional yeast flakes?

Yes, you can. It will taste yummy but it won’t have as much cheesy flavor if you leave it out. Don’t forget to substitute with noni-juice if you want the cheesy flavor and you don’t have nutritional yeast flakes.

What vegan milk Is best For mac and cheese?

Any plant-based milk can be used for your mac and cheese. However, my favorite for a rich and creamy taste and texture is coconut milk.

Can you make vegan mac and cheese without coconut milk?

Although you can use any other plant-based milk, I recommend you use coconut milk. That’s because coconut milk is naturally very creamy. Since you don’t have any dairy ingredients to bring that creaminess, coconut milk is the perfect ingredient that helps us reach that level.

Can you use any other shape of pasta for this recipe?

Of course, you can. I mean, as long as it is pasta, the shape doesn’t really matter, does it? Most people use elbow-shaped pasta because they are pretty common. However, you can use a spiral shape, shell, or any other shape you like.

More Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipes

  1. Instant Pot Vegan Chili Mac And Cheese
  2. Nut-Free Vegan Mac And Cheese
  3. Cajun Vegan Baked Mac And Cheese
  4. Sweet Potato Vegan Mac And Cheese

Other Delicious Vegan Pasta Recipes

vegan mac and cheese in a white bowl with black rim

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vegan mac & cheese recipe on white bowl on white background

Vegan Mac and Cheese

A simple vegan mac and cheese is everything! I mean, who doesn’t love mac and cheese? It is creamy, cheesy, and very wholesome. You can serve it as a side dish or enjoy it as a main course.
4.99 from 93 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: Vegan mac & cheese
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 281kcal

Ingredients

  • 8 oz elbow pasta or your favorite pasta ( I used gluten-free pasta)
  • 1 cup cashews raw, soaked for a couple hours
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk full-fat
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/2 red bell pepper medium, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons onion chopped
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
  • 1 pinch Cayenne pepper
  • parsley flakes for garnish
  • paprika for garnish

Instructions

  • Cook pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions until al dente. Drain and return to pot.
  • Drain cashews and discard water. In a high-speed blender process cashews, water, coconut milk, nutritional yeast flakes, red bell pepper, onion, garlic, lemon juice, salt, cayenne until smooth and creamy. Add additional optional ingredients for an extra special mac and cheese.
  • Pour sauce over pasta and stir to fully coat, add extra salt if needed. Cook on low until thickened.
  • Serve immediately or transfer to a greased baking dish and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 281kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 395mg | Potassium: 305mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 318IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 2mg

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260 Comments

  1. It sounds so good. Mac a Cheese is my son’s favorite meal. I love it from time to time. Thanks for sharing this recipe with us.

  2. 5 stars
    This looks delicious and like regular Mac and cheese! I am from the south and can make a mean batch of this stuff but love that this is vegan and want to try it! Thank you for sharing!

  3. 5 stars
    Now everyone in my house will eat mac and cheese. I am so glad to make this vegan version to my daughter!

  4. Yum yum! This looks absolutely delicious and tempting 😋! I can’t wait to try this recipe!

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