They say that one of the hardest things for folks to give up when going vegan is cheese. I can definitely see why! Before making the switch, I probably ate cheese 5-6 times a week. Most likely more! One of my favorite things to eat has always been mac and cheese. After going vegan, this was definitely a challenge for me. I’d tried a few vegan versions, but nothing ever tasted close to the real thing. Good vegan mac and cheese is hard to come by. Lucky for you, I’ve got an Easy Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese recipe that delivers!
How to Make Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese
Making this Easy Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese is really simple. With just a few ingredients, you’ve got yourself a tasty side that’s ready in no time! Like any vegan mac and cheese recipe, you’ll want to start by boiling the noodles. Once those are finished, you’ll drain the water, then coat them in a tablespoon of butter. The butter will not only add flavor to your mac and cheese, but it will also help keep the noodles from sticking together while you’re preparing the “cheese sauce.”
Choosing the type of vegan cheese to use is totally up to you, so choose your favorite! Lately I’ve been enjoying the new vegan cheese from Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value brand. It’s less expensive than most other brands ($3.99) and gets the job done!
As for other national brands, I also enjoy Violife and Chao (Field Roast). I used a pretty moderate amount of cheese for this recipe (2 cups/ 1 package). However, if you want to go all out, you could opt to use even more for EXTRA cheesiness! I tried using 4 cups and that seemed a little OD, so I think I’ll stop at 3 next time. 🙂
Tips for making this Easy Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese
Because this is such a savory dish, it’s important that the plant milk you use is unsweetened. I used my old faithful almond milk, but as long as your milk is unsweetened, I’m sure that soy milk and others would work fine here too. If you’re thinking about getting creative, and adding in some nutritional yeast… DON’T! It’s gross and tastes soooo inauthentic. Trust me, I’m speaking from experience! I think this is where a lot of people go wrong when making vegan mac and cheese. It seems like the perfect addition because nutritional yeast is known for adding a nice “cheesy” flavor. Welp, it doesn’t work here.
You might also be tempted to add a little extra vegan cheese to the top before putting the dish in the oven. I’d advise against this too. When I tried this, it left a lightly crispy cheese layer on the top. If you reaaaally want to do a top layer of cheese, I think covering the dish with aluminum foil might help. My experience could have also been due to the brand of cheese I used. Some perform differently than others.
I’ve tried a lot of different versions of vegan mac and cheese and this is by far one of my favorites. I served this as part of my vegan Thanksgiving dinner spread and both my husband and dad really enjoyed it! Believe it or not, my husband even went back for seconds. SHOCKING! I look forward to trying this recipe in different variations. I’m thinking a white cheddar version next… Or maybe even a combination of different vegan cheeses.
How to Store Vegan Mac and Cheese:
- Can you freeze vegan mac and cheese? The short answer is yes. However, I prefer fresh or refrigerated. When frozen, the vegan cheese mixture separates and when it’s reheated it doesn’t really come back together like you might want.
- How long will vegan mac and cheese last in the fridge? Store this in an air-tight container in your fridge for up to 3-4 days.
What to Pair with this Easy Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipe:
I’ve got LOTS of ideas for you to make this into a complete meal! I’m a southern girl at heart and I love some good ol’ vegan comfort food. Here are some of my recommendations on what to pair with this Easy Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese:
- Easy Vegan Collard Greens
- Vegan Jackfruit Crab Cakes
- Jalapeño Cornbread Muffins
- Easy Whipped Sweet Potatoes
- Black Eyed Pea Fritters
- Chicken Fried Cauliflower
- Easy Vegan Cornbread
- Cranberry Sauce
I know you’ll love this Easy Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese recipe! It’s thick and creamy, plus it’s super reminiscent of the real thing! Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments below!
Easy Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese
- 1½ cups elbow macaroni noodles
- 1 dollop of olive oil
- 2-3 cups vegan cheddar cheese (I used Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value brand, but you can use whatever brand you enjoy most)
- 3 tbsp vegan butter separated
- 1 pinch of salt
- black pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1½ cups unsweetened almond milk
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Cook the macaroni noodles according to the package instructions with a dollop of olive oil.
- Once noodles are done cooking, drain the noodles (do not rinse) using a colander, then coat with 1 tbsp of vegan butter. Set aside.
- In a medium sized pot, melt 2 tbsp vegan butter over low-medium heat. Add in salt and pepper to taste and smoked paprika.
- Slowly whisk the flour into the mixture until smooth, then add in the unsweetened almond milk. Bring to a boil then stir in the vegan cheddar cheese until melted.
- Combine the mixture with the pasta and place in an appropriately sized baking dish (I used an 8×8).
- Transfer the dish to the oven and bake for about 30 minutes.
- Once finished baking, let cool for 5-10 minutes. Enjoy!