This classic baked vegan mac and cheese recipe is out of this world. We'll use the same technique as many regular mac and cheese recipes use, with a few substitutions for butter, cheese and milk. Bring the finished product to a party, or save it all for yourself. Promise it won't last long in your house.
Ready to learn about how to make my homemade vegan mac and cheese? Read on.
Plant based mac and cheese sauce
The base of my vegan mac and cheese sauce is a roux. Roux is a french word that literally means a mix of fat and flour. In this case, the fat is vegan butter, and flour is, well, flour. This is an express version, but the principles are the same. The key is to melt the butter first, then add flour slowly, whisking into into a thick paste. As the butter melts and browns, you'll start to smell a nutty aroma (yum).
Then, you'll add your plant milk in parts, whisking to ensure the thick roux fully dissolves into the coconut milk before adding more. This step is what produces that really thick, velvety sauce consistency. Whisk constantly, otherwise your sauce might burn. If you see a layer of film on top of your sauce, give it a little stir. You'll know it's ready when it can coat the back of a spoon.
Once the sauce has come together, we'll remove it from the heat, and add our cheese shreds. I use Miyoko's Cheddar shreds here, but Trader Joe's has some good options too. The cheese shreds will melt into the sauce...and you might need to keep yourself from drinking it out of the saucepan.
Pasta & prep
Ideally before you start your cheese sauce, you'll boil some water and get the pasta moving. I like shells or macaroni, but whatever you have is fine. Cook al dente - you want the pasta to have a little bite, but not much. If you feel it "crunching" at all, it's not ready.
To prepare your casserole dish, rub the butter wrapper around the bottom and sides to prevent sticking. Once your pasta is ready, drain and return to pasta pot. Pour cheese sauce over pasta, and stir to combine. If you have mozzarella (like Miyoko's), add those pieces now. These really are a gamechanger, especially if you like the extra creamy consistency that you'd get from using cream cheese in a dairy mac and cheese.
Top with breadcrumb of choice and bake at 350 F for 20-30 minutes, until cheese gets extra gooey and breadcrumbs are light golden brown. Pro tip: place casserole dish on top of baking sheet to catch any drippings. Thank me later when you don't have to clean burnt bits out of your oven...
I can't find your suggested vegan cheeses and butter substitutes, help! No worries, use what you can find. Earth Balance butter and Daiya cheese appear to be readily available in most grocery stores. If all else fails, order online!
Can I add veggies to this mac and cheese? OF COURSE!! If you're looking for more veggies, broccoli and cauliflower are two great additions. If you like spice, maybe some jalapeno pepper or cayenne. The recipe is a blueprint - embrace your creativity and go for it!
Will this taste like real mac and cheese? I don't typically like vegan cheese. If you find a vegan mac and cheese that tastes more like the real deal than this recipe, please let me know because I need it in my life. In all honesty, vegan cheese doesn't taste exactly like regular cheese yet, it's just a fact of life. IMHO, anyone who says otherwise is either willing to settle, or hasn't had real cheese in a long time. This is the best plant based mac and cheese I've ever had, but that's not to say it beats the real thing. It's similar to the mac and cheese we know and love.
But if you're still on the fence, check out my butternut squash mac and cheese.
Classic baked vegan mac and cheese recipePrint
- 1 lb pasta of choice
- 1 package vegan cheddar shreds
- Optional: vegan mozzarella (half a wheel of Miyoko's vegan mozzarella is perfect)
- 2 ½ cups coconut milk
- ¼ cup flour
- 3-4 Tbsp vegan butter
- 1 Tbsp mustard powder
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
1. Preheat oven & prepare pasta: preheat the oven to 350 F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta to al dente (not crunchy, but not perfectly chewy yet). Drain and return to pot. Meanwhile, prep the sauce.
2. Prep the roux: in a medium saucepan on medium heat, melt 3-4 Tbsp butter. Add ¼ cup flour, 1 tsp salt, and ½ tsp pepper, and stir until a ball of dough forms. Add the coconut milk in four parts, whisking to combine. It's ok if there are a couple small lumps, but try to whisk them out - we want a smooth, creamy sauce here.
3. Add flavor to sauce: off the heat, add package of cheddar shreds and 1 Tbsp mustard powder. Stir to combine. Once melted, add to drained pasta and stir to combine. If you have mozzarella, add to the pasta and sauce.
4. Prep casserole dish: grease bottom and sides of casserole dish with a Tbsp of vegan butter or with butter wrapper. Then add mac and cheese. Top with thin layer of breadcrumbs.
5. Bake: bake for 20-30 minutes or until breadcrumbs are a light golden brown. If they brown too soon, cover with foil.
6. Enjoy: let mac and cheese cool for 10 minutes before digging in. Enjoy!
Frequently asked questions for this classic baked vegan mac and cheese
What's in vegan mac and cheese? This vegan mac and cheese recipe uses vegan butter, flour, and coconut milk to make a roux, vegan cheese for cheesiness, pasta, and breadcrumbs, plus salt and pepper to taste. This is the same technique used to make regular mac and cheese.
How do you make vegan mac and cheese from scratch? The first step is to make a roux, then add plant milk stirring constantly. This makes a thick sauce. Then add cheese off the heat, and and stir to melt. Pour cheese sauce over al dente pasta, top with breadcrumbs, and bake at 350 F for 20-30 minutes, or until breadcrumbs are a light golden brown.