Real talk: I am not usually a fan of baked vegan mac and cheese. Why? I don’t think a ton of nutritional yeast makes for a good flavor. Some folks love it, I do not. I also don’t love a ton of cashews in replacement for cheese.
That is why I created the perfect vegan baked mac and cheese recipe which doesn’t rely on any of those ingredients. Enter my friend cauliflower florets. Unlike nutritional yeast which has a noticeable flavor, cauliflower blends up soft and can even be used as a mashed potato substitute.
When you are making baked mac and cheese vegan at home, you are going to have to get creative, and this is my fail-safe way!
Believe it or not, this baked vegan mac and cheese recipe cooks up quite quickly! If you are in a rush or looking for a tasty and kid-friendly dinner, this is perfect for you. From start to finish, you can make vegan mac and cheese in under 30 minutes!
The best part about this recipe is that it can easily be gluten-free using your favorite ingredients and is nut-free as-is! I know it is very hard to find a good gluten-free baked mac and cheese, so hopefully, you will enjoy this one.
Simply choose your favorite gluten-free pasta and your favorite gluten-free breadcrumbs, or make your own using gluten-free bread or crackers, and you are in for a real treat! Making baked mac and cheese vegan and gluten-free is extremely easy, as you will see.
Why You Will Love This Vegan Baked Mac And Cheese
- It whips up super quickly. Making baked mac and cheese vegan at home doesn’t have to take forever. This recipe only takes 10 minutes of active prep time with 20 minutes of cook time. You will have dinner on the table in no time.
- Kids love it. This vegan mac and cheese bake is perfect for kids because they see the yellow color and hear “mac and cheese” and they are all in. Nobody will ever know that you are sneaking in veggies by way of cauliflower, and it will be so creamy and delicious that they won’t ever realize that this baked macaroni and cheese is vegan!
- Perfect for meal prep. You can make a big batch of this vegan baked mac and cheese and use it for meal prep throughout the week. Just slice it into individual portions, freeze, and store in a freezer-safe container. Then you can take it out and reheat it and have a yummy meal whenever you want it.
- It is healthier than the store-bought stuff. This isn’t medical advice, but making baked mac and cheese vegan at home is better [in my opinion] than buying it from the store in a box. Fewer additives, more flavor!
How To Make Vegan Breadcrumbs
Making vegan breadcrumbs is so easy! You can save yourself a ton of money and time and just quickly make them at home! If you don’t want to, that is fine to buy them, but it is so easy to make your own.
It you want this vegan baked mac and cheese to be gluten-free, you are going to want to make your own breadcrumbs just so you know you are safe and good to go.
Toast 3-4 slices of bread, depending on how many breadcrumbs you want, break them up into small pieces, and then put them into a food processor, chopper, or blender. You want to chop them until they are coarse. Be careful not to chop too much because you don’t want them to blend into a meal or flour!
Then simply top your baked vegan mac and cheese with them at the end of this recipe and you are good to go!
ANY bread works fine for this process, as long as you toast it before you chop or blend it! This is how you can easily make this recipe gluten-free.
What Makes Vegan Mac And Cheese Creamy?
Since there is no real cheese, you may be wondering what makes this baked vegan mac and cheese creamy! The answer is the cauliflower! Cauliflower has a wonderfully creamy texture that is mild and adapts to all the add-ins that you include.
This is not a vegan cashew mac and cheese, which makes it more accessible to those with a nut allergy or food sensitivity.
This recipe also calls for either 1/4 a cup of nutritional yeast [just enough that it gives it a flavor I like without going over the top] OR 1/4 a cup of vegan cheese. I know some people prefer vegan cheese so I leave it up to you.
As you know, I am not a huge nutritional yeast fan when it is the star of the show. In this dairy-free baked mac and cheese recipe, it is simply an accent that makes it perfect.
I like nutritional yeast in small batches, and 1/4 a cup is enough to give the perfect flavor. Some people prefer all natural and vegan cheese is processed, so I wanted to provide an alternative option. If you want to go all out, then use the vegan cheese in the flavor of your choice!
There are no cashews in this dish, making it the best vegan mac and cheese recipe if you are nut-free! Not everyone can have cashews and not everyone likes the taste or texture, so it is just easier and better to omit them!
Finally, paprika is the secret weapon to adding flavor when making “cheesy” vegan treats. A little bit goes a long way. It adds color and flavor and really enhances this vegan baked mac and cheese recipe.
How To Make Baked Vegan Mac And Cheese
Making baked mac and cheese vegan at home has truly never been easier!
I create and share recipes with two things in mind. One is of course taste, but almost more importantly, time! I don’t want you to be out all over town chasing weird ingredients that are hard to find! I want you to be able to make the best baked vegan mac and cheese with your pantry ingredients!
First, you are going to steam your cauliflower and chopped carrot until tender and then blend in a food processor or blender. I have used both to make vegan mac and cheese sauce throughout the years and both work just fine.
You will then add in milk, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika and blend until creamy. Do not under mix! You want to ensure that everything is smooth and creamy for this baked vegan mac and cheese to work correctly! Transfer this mixture to a pot and stir in the nutritional yeast or vegan cheese and combine.
I prefer to mix the ingredients on the stove over medium heat, just so the vegan cheese can melt. Vegan cheese does take longer than normal cheese to melt, so if you are using it, just stir until it becomes liquid. This is another reason I prefer nutritional yeast, but it is up to you when making your baked mac and cheese vegan at home.
While you are making the sauce, you have your pasta cooking on another burner. You will then toss the cooked pasta with the sauce and transfer to your baking pan.
Finally, you will combine your breadcrumbs, either homemade or store-bought, with vegan butter, paprika, and salt and then sprinkle over the vegan mace and cheese. You can add as many breadcrumbs as you like depending on how you like your vegan baked mac and cheese to turn out.
Then you bake for 20 minutes until the recipe is golden and bubbly! That is it! That is how easy it is to make the best baked vegan mac and cheese ever! It takes only a few steps and is majorly kid-approved! If you loved this recipe, you may also like my Vegan Pumpkin Pasta Recipe!
- 2 Cups cauliflower florets
- 1 Cup Non-Dairy Milk
- 1 Carrot
- 1/4 Cup vegan cheese or nutritional yeast
- 1 Tsp salt
- 1/2 Tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 Tsp onion powder
- 1/2 Tsp paprika
- 3 Cups elbow pasta, cooked (Can be gluten-free pasta)
- 1/2 Cup breadcrumbs (Sub with gluten-free bread)
- 2 Tbsp vegan butter or olive oil
- 1 Tsp paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and cook elbow pasta in a pot on the stove while preparing the vegan mac and cheese sauce.
- Steam cauliflower florets and the carrot until tender. Transfer to a food processor or blender. Pour milk, add salt, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika and pulse until creamy. Make sure that the mixture is smooth!
- Transfer vegan mac and cheese sauce to a pot and add vegan cheese or nutritional yeast and mix until combined. If you use vegan cheese, mix until cheese is melted fully.
- Drain elbow pasta and combine with the cheese. Toss until pasta is coated with the vegan cheese sauce. Transfer to a baking pan or casserole dish.
- In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs with vegan butter, paprika, and salt. Sprinkle over vegan mac and cheese.
- Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown and slightly bubbly.
You can easily make the vegan baked mac and cheese ahead of time! Simply prepare the sauce and prepare the pasta. Combine once cooled and store in the refrigerator, covered. When it is time for baking, simply cover with breadcrumbs and bake according to the instructions!
Amount Per Serving Calories 364Total Fat 13gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 20mgSodium 897mgCarbohydrates 49gFiber 5gSugar 8gProtein 13g