This vegan baked mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. You can whip this up in 30 minutes or less, it's easy to make, full of cheesy flavor, and the best vegan mac I have ever had!
After being vegan for over five years and never being fully satisfied with a vegan mac n cheese recipe, you know, the one that actually tastes like traditional mac.
So, as a result, I made my own easy vegan mac. And boy, am I glad I did!
I have made more than my share of vegan mac and cheese fails from varied recipes… just ask my kids.
They now ask if I made it from scratch or a box or remember those gross green noodles….but not this one.
They beg for this one because it tastes like the real deal.
I make this classic vegan mac for most holidays. My non-vegan family always requests it!
What I love about this recipe is just how dang good it tastes.
- It is creamy, hearty, and delicious.
- Comfort food at its finest.
- It's super easy to make and comes together quickly.
- You can make a stovetop version or bake it in a casserole dish.
Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipe Q&A
What's the best vegan milk to use?
You can use whichever is your favorite, keeping in mind you want it to be unsweetened plant milk; the thicker, the better.
The thicker ones are soy milk, oat milk, and cashew milk. Coconut milk is incredibly creamy, but it tastes like coconut, so I would not use it.
You can use thinner ones like almond milk, rice milk, etc., but it won't be quite as thick, but I've made it many times, and no one has complained.
What's the best vegan cheese?
There are SO many delicious vegan cheeses on the market, and to answer this, I think many vegan cheeses go well with this recipe.
I have made this with Violife, Krogers brand vegan cheese, Whole Foods brand vegan cheese, and pretty much any vegan cheese you like the taste of.
When I first made this recipe many years ago, Daiya was one of the only brands you could find everywhere; however it smelled bad, didn't melt, and wasn't great.
Since then, they have definitely stepped it up.
I've also made it with a mix of vegan cheddar cheese and vegan pepper jack or mozzarella.
I love the flavor profile when mixing the different vegan cheeses.
Do I have to do a breadcrumb topping?
No, traditional baked mac and cheese tend to have buttery breadcrumbs on top.
I like to use either bread crumbs or panko crumbs. I know panko crumbs may sound weird, but it works!
What are the best noodles to use for classic mac?
Elbow macaroni noodles are most typically used for mac and cheese.
However, if you prefer a different noodle, feel free to use it.
Can you make this a vegan gluten-free mac and cheese?
Yes, you will need to sub a couple of things.
Use gluten-free pasta, gluten-free breadcrumbs, and all-purpose gluten-free flour to thicken the creamy sauce.
What is vegan mac and cheese made of?
Vegan mac and cheese can be made in a variety of ways.
Some people like to go the whole foods route with a combination of nutritional yeast and raw cashews.
I'm not a fan of that variety, and I prefer this classic mac and cheese take.
You can use all the regular ingredients you use with real mac and cheese but use vegan substitutes.
Can you make this ahead of time?
Yes, if you want to make this a day before you need it or the morning of, feel free to do so.
Just wait to bake it before your event, so it's warm and bubbly.
I've also made this and frozen it, defrosted it, and then baked it up, and it's been wonderful.
What ingredients do you need for this simple vegan mac?
Check out the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full recipe.
- dry macaroni noodles
- vegan butter (dairy-free butter)
- all purpose flour
- unsweetened milk (I use almond milk, soy milk, or oat milk)
- black pepper
- Daiya pepper jack cheese shreds or Violife Mozarella
- Daiya shredded cheddar (from the farmhouse series) or Violife Cheddar Cheese
- vegan parmesan cheese (recipe link in notes)
- panko crumbs or Italian Bread crumbs
How do you make this vegan macaroni and cheese?
To make the baked version;
Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees and lightly spray an 8 x 8 pan with cooking spray.
Take a medium to a large pot and boil enough water to cook your noodles in.
Once it's boiling, add your noodles and cook to package directions for al dente; when finished, strain in a strainer and put the cooked noodles aside.
Use either the same pot you cooked your noodles in or a frying pan and place it on medium-high heat.
Get your 1 cup of non-dairy milk ready and set aside; add with the ¼ cup of earth balance butter, and once melted, whisk in the flour for about 30 seconds.
Then slowly whisk in the milk- this will thicken pretty quickly.
Then add the vegan cheeses, whisking after each addition.
When all the vegan cheeses have been added, remove them from heat, you can then add the salt and pepper.
Take your strained cooked pasta and mix them with the vegan creamy cheese sauce in the skillet.
Once it is all mixed, place the mixture into the prepared 8x8 pan.
In a separate bowl, melt the 1.5 TB of vegan butter; once melted, mix with the panko crumbs or bread crumbs, stir, then spread on the top of the vegan mac and cheese.
Cook in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before enjoying.
If you want to keep this a stovetop vegan creamy macaroni and cheese instead of baking it, follow the recipe until the baking instructions.
How do you serve this pasta dish?
This is best served warm. You can bake it like above or serve it before baking it as a stovetop mac and cheese.
This is great, either as the main dish or side dish.
Served with a salad, roasted vegetables, or whatever you love.
We love to add this to our Thanksgiving dinner menu.
How do you store leftovers?
Let the mac and cheese come to room temperature before placing it in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Reheat in the microwave until warm.
Can you freeze leftover mac and cheese?
Yes, you can.
Let it come to room temp and then place it in a sealed freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
Let it defrost, then heat up in the oven or microwave.
Want some other delicious vegan dinner recipes?
The best vegan Macaroni and Cheese
- 2 ¼ cups dry macaroni noodles
- ¼ cup vegan butter
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup any unsweetened milk I use almond, soy, or oatmilk
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ⅔ cup Daiya pepper jack cheese shreds or Violife Mozarella
- 1 cup Daiya shredded cheddar from the farmhouse series or Violife Cheddar Cheese
- ½ cup Cashew Parmesan recipe link in notes
- 1.5 tablespoons vegan butter
- ¾ cup panko crumbs or Italian Bread crumbs
- Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees and lightly spray an 8 x 8 pan with cooking spray.
- Boil enough water to cook your noodles in. When boiling, add your noodles and cook to package directions; strain and put aside when finished.
- Get your 1 cup of milk ready and set aside; heat a skillet with the ¼ cup of earth balance butter; whisk in the flour for about 30 seconds once melted. Then slowly whisk in the milk- this will thicken pretty quickly. Then add the cheeses, whisking after each addition. When all the cheeses have been added, remove them from heat, you can then add the salt and pepper.
- Take your strained noodles and mix them with the cheese mixture in the skillet. Once it is all mixed, place the mixture into the prepared 8x8 pan.
- In a separate bowl, melt the 1.5 TB of earth balance butter; once melted, mix with the panko crumbs, stir, then spread on the top of the mac and cheese.
- Cook in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before enjoying.
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