This is the best vegan mac and cheese you'll ever make: it's easy to make (7 ingredients!), only takes 20 minutes from start to finish, nut free, and just like the real thing! Our version is super cheesy, creamy, gluten free and doesn't contain any weird ingredients. The ideal weeknight comfort food!
Want to learn how to make the BEST vegan mac and cheese without cashews, nutritional yeast, a blender, potatoes, carrots or any other weird ingredients?
You've come to the right place!
This insanely cheesy, comforting, delicious mac and cheese is made in one pot with just 7 simple ingredients. It tastes just like the real thing!
Don't get me wrong, I love a good cashew cream-based pasta sauce. We even have a recipe for a vegetable-based vegan mac and cheese that's surprisingly cheesy.
But nothing – and I mean nothing – compares to this recipe when it comes to cheesy, comforting deliciousness.
The secret? We took grandma's classic mac and cheese recipe and made it vegan! (We all know grandma's mac and cheese is the best.)
Anybody can make this recipe. Even better, anybody can make it on a busy weeknight! Even better, your family might not even know that it's vegan!
Excited?! Me too. Let's get started!
As we mentioned above, there are no cashews or nutritional yeast in this recipe. Just a few simple pantry ingredients that you probably already have on hand!
- Macaroni pasta: gluten free or regular macaroni both work fine.
- Vegan Butter
- Gluten free all purpose flour: or regular all purpose flour if you're not gluten free.
- Vegan milk: Opt for plain, unsweetened plant-based milk. (Be sure to check the ingredient label as some unsweetened nut milks still contain vanilla flavoring!) We prefer oat milk in this recipe for its neutral flavor.
- Pepper (optional)
- Vegan cheese: we use shredded vegan cheddar cheese in this recipe. You can use a mix of cheddar and mozzarella, or one or the other. We've tried this recipe with a few different store-bought options and they've all worked well!
- A few of our favorite brands for shredded vegan cheese that actually melts: VioLife, Daiya, Miyoko's and Follow Your Heart. *Note: some vegan cheeses contain nuts so be sure to read the label if you have an allergy.
- Get your macaroni cooking in salted water. We use 1 teaspoon of salt for every 4 cups of water. Cook until al dente.
- Meanwhile, start the cheese sauce by melting the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Once it's melted, add in the gluten free flour and whisk well until it forms a smooth paste.
- Slowly pour in the milk, whisking while you add it, until no lumps remain. Let simmer for a few minutes to thicken, stirring occasionally so the bottom doesn't burn.
- Whisk in the salt, pepper and vegan cheese. Vegan cheese takes a bit longer to melt and fully incorporate, so be patient and keep stirring! After a few minutes of whisking over medium-low heat, you'll have a super smooth, creamy, velvety cheese sauce.
- Add in the cooked macaroni and stir well until fully coated.
That's it! Perfect vegan mac and cheese in 5 simple steps.
If you so desire, you can top it with some toasted breadcrumbs for extra texture. To do so, melt 1-2 tablespoon of vegan butter and stir together with ⅓-1/2 cup breadcrumbs of choice. Perfect easy topping!
Does it taste cheesy?
YES. So, so cheesy.
Thanks to an increased number of high quality vegan cheeses on the market, this super easy mac & cheese actually tastes like the real thing! It also has the same gooey texture. Your guests seriously might not realize it's dairy free!
Is this vegan mac and cheese creamy?
Another enthusiastic YES.
This is by far the creamiest vegan mac and cheese we've ever tried (and we've tried A LOT). I find that cashew and potato based sauces tend to seize up when they start to cool down, but this version stays super creamy!
If you don't eat the whole pot at once (it's hard not to!), let cool completely before storing in the refrigerator in an airtight container. It will last for about 5 days in the fridge.
Can you freeze it?
Yep! Transfer the mac and cheese to a freezer-friendly container or a plastic or reusable bag. It will keep for up to 6 months.
Note: if you plan to freeze a large batch, you may want to slightly undercook the pasta as it will cook more when you reheat it.
How to reheat
For best results, transfer to the refrigerator to thaw overnight. Then, reheat in a saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently, until warmed all the way through.
More favorite vegan comfort food recipes:
- Mushroom Stew with Mashed Potatoes
- Creamy Mushroom Alfredo
- White Bean and Vegetable Pot Pie
- Creamy Polenta with Mushrooms
- Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Shells
- Lemon Rice Soup
If you make this vegan mac and cheese recipe, we’d love for you to leave a comment and rating below! We also love to see your creations on Instagram – tag us at @crowded_kitchen so we can see what you’ve been cooking.Print
The Best Vegan Mac and Cheese
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4
- Diet: Vegan
This is the best vegan mac and cheese you'll ever make: it's easy to make (7 ingredients!), only takes 20 minutes from start to finish, nut free, and just like the real thing!
- 12 oz macaroni pasta, cooked in salted water (gluten free or regular)
- ¼ cup vegan butter
- ¼ cup gluten free all purpose flour (or regular AP flour)
- 2 ½ cups plain unsweetened oat milk (or other unsweetened plant-based milk)
- 3 cups shredded vegan cheddar cheese
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. We use 1 teaspoon of salt per 4 cups of water.
- In a medium pot, melt butter over medium heat. Once completely melted, whisk in gluten free flour until it forms a smooth paste.
- Slowly stream in milk, whisking well, until completely incorporated. Let simmer for a few minutes until it starts to thicken, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
- Add in salt, pepper and vegan cheese and stir well. Vegan cheese takes a bit longer to melt, so keep stirring over medium heat until fully incorporated into a thick, smooth, cheesy sauce.
- Add in cooked pasta and stir well until fully coated. Enjoy!
Can use a mix of vegan cheddar and mozzarella if desired.
For texture, add an optional breadcrumb topping. To make, stir together 1-2 tablespoon melted vegan butter and ⅓-1/2 cup breadcrumbs of choice. Sprinkle on top of mac and cheese.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 468
- Sugar: 2.3 g
- Sodium: 642.9 mg
- Fat: 11.9 g
- Saturated Fat: 3.2 g
- Trans Fat: 0.1 g
- Carbohydrates: 71.7 g
- Fiber: 3.3 g
- Protein: 17 g
- Cholesterol: 12 mg
Keywords: vegan mac and cheese
I have been looking for the best vegan mac and cheese for a few years, and this is seriously it. I've tried cashews and nutritional yeast, and while they were good, they didn't hit the spot like how I remembered mac and cheese growing up. This recipe hit the spot. I loved how creamy and thick it came out, it was so good. I did a little dance. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe!
Not made yet but will for Xmas for my hubby who loves mac'n'chz.. totally agree, the cashew macs I make for him seize up and dry quick so it's annoying. I hope this transfers well, have to make at home then transport to another location. BTW.. carrots, potatoes & cashews are not weird ingredients.. lol.. I'm sure you said it tongue in cheek. Can't wait to try this!
I want to try this for my church potluck. Do you think it will hold up well if I bake it the day before and then re-bake to warm it the day of? Or would it be best to keep the cheese sauce separate from the cooked noodles then incorporate and bake on the day of?
I would keep separate and bake day of!
Turned out perfect, thick creamy and delicious!
Great, glad you enjoyed!
It is definitely delicious!
It made double the amount of sauce for the 12 oz of pasta.
So, I’m coming up with some ideas for the other half of the sauce.
Maybe as a sauce for some roasted veggies, like a primavera.
Can someone explain what happened, everything was going great up until I added the cheese. As soon as I did that the oils from the cheese separated so I just have a pot of gunk. We are new to this and I have never cooked with vegan cheese.
Hi Melissa, I'm so sorry to hear that! We've never had that issue. Do you mind sharing which brand of cheese you used?
I am planning to make this Christmas Day, serving dinner about 1:30 Can I put it all together in the morning, top it with bread crumbs and bake it for 15 minutes at 350 degrees to reheat it?
That should definitely work! Enjoy.
I just made this and worked out calories and it was 984 calories. Dont know where i have gone wrong
Hi Barbara, is that for the whole batch or a single serving? The nutritional info on our site is for 1 serving and the recipe makes 4 servings.
I've been trying to find the best homemade Vegan/GF Mac N Cheese... and here it is!! This recipe is simple and tastes the most like my moms I've been trying to recreate but Vegan. I caramelized onions in butter in the pot then removed onions before starting recipe. I later folded the onions in at the end. I made my own almond milk with JOI and used VioLife Cheddar and Colby shredded cheese. This recipe was so good, my picky Godson even loved it!
I LOVE the idea of adding in caramelized onions. Will definitely try that next time I make it. So glad you enjoyed, thank you so much for your comment!
Omg, caramelised onions. Why didn't I think of that? Totally trying that next time!!!
I'm with ya!
What kind/Brand of Cheese would you suggest? I am doing an elimination diet for my allergies and Have no clue what brands are good or not.
Hi! We love the following brands: Miyoko's, Follow Your Heart, VioLife and Chao (Field Roast).
What are you eliminating?
What is vegan cheese made out of, if neither nuts nor yeast? I live in a part of the world that does not have vegan butter or cheese.
Hi! A lot of popular vegan cheeses here use potato starch and coconut instead of nuts.
My mac 'n cheese turned out thick and lumpy and I don't know why.
Hi there, what kind of vegan cheese did you use? Depending on the type of cheese, the sauce may need more time and more whisking over heat. We've made this with several different varieties of vegan cheese and it takes longer with some varieties. It takes quite a bit longer than you might think - usually 5+ minutes.
Make sure the the milk is room temperature if not the roux will seize up.
The best vegan Mac I’ve ever made!!!!!
Hi!! This is by far the best and easiest Mac n cheese I’ve ever had!! If I wanted to bake it with bread crumbs in the oven would I just do the same thing as non vegan baked Mac n cheese? Or is there something special I should do for the vegan version? Thank you so much for this recipe!!
So glad you enjoyed!! Yes, you could definitely bake this with breadcrumbs. Since this recipe makes quite a bit of sauce, it shouldn't dry out or anything. Let me know how it goes!
I'm 14 and I'm trying to go vegan, and I've been looking for recipes to do on my own. This recipe was simple, quick, and delicious !! I'll be trying more 🙂
That's so awesome! So glad you enjoyed. Please feel free to reach out if you ever have any questions 🙂
thank you! every mac n cheese recipe I've seen uses nuts, carrots, nutritional yeast, etc. I just wanted a simple recipe to use with vegan shreds. Making for dinner tonight.
I’ve made the other kinds with nuts and nutritional yeast. They are fine, but I’ve always had to add more, which means vegan shreds. This isn’t much different than how I’d make my non-vegan Mac and Cheese -using shredded cheese. You’re doing great for making this!
I added garlic and onion, plus dry mustard, nutmeg, and cayenne, in case you’re looking for ways to doctor it up. Then I bake it, but I eat it unbaked too.
Love your additions to the recipe!! Especially the dry mustard - I'll have to try that next time. Thanks so much for your comment and so glad you enjoyed!
This recipe is really yummy! It makes a lot of sauce for only 12 ounces of noodles, so I would suggest making more noodles. Also, I added some garlic powder to my batch and it turned out great. I will definitely be using this recipe again.
So glad to hear that! Thanks so much for your comment!
This is a delicious and easy recipe, even my non-vegan eaters enjoyed it. Tip: save it and eat the following day. For some reason, the texture of the cheese is even better. And this is coming from someone who hates left over food. I find a combination of Violife and Parmela’s is perfect. Overall, highly recommend you try this!
Thank you so much, Josie! So glad you enjoyed and great tip!
What is your favorite vegan cheddar? We can generally only find Daiya but, don’t care for the flavor/smell. On the hunt for another option.
Oh gosh, you totally say above and I missed it. Sorry to be a bother!
No problem at all, Erin!! Hope you can find one of those options to try soon!
We use the vegan cheddar from Whole Foods their brand and Kroger vegan simple truth cheddar
I love this recipe I use it as my dump recipe. Cheeses I buy and don't like, typically I use 3-five in it with no issues. Blocks and slice that I shredded, melt better then pre-shredded product. I always put violife feta and parm, 2 slices each of chao creamy and spicy and then the rest is what ever cheddar I am trying. I don't haven't found 1 I like tried everything on the market. That is why they get hidden in this. My 2yr and 7yr will eat it and so will husband.
Thank you. Now to find lasagna
Wondering about adding in broccoli. Suggestions for amount and size of pieces.
Broccoli would be a great addition! I would definitely cut the pieces pretty small – probably about 1 1/2 cups total would be a good amount for this much pasta.
Can't wait to serve this to my kids! It looks sooo creamy and delicious. Real comfort food! Thank you for sharing this simple and healthy recipe with us, and for
tips for buying cheese, so we don't have to wander 🙂
Thanks so much, Caitlin! Enjoy!!
Pauline @ I Really Like Food
Might try this recipe the next time one of my kids friends tries to convince me to make them a Kraft dinner!
Yes, love that! Let me know what you think 🙂