This classic vegan mac and cheese is ultra cheesy, saucy and creamy. Topped with breadcrumbs and baked until golden brown and crispy. Seriously satisfying.
This classic baked vegan mac and cheese is everything you want a mac and cheese to be.
It’s creamy, saucy, ultra cheesy and topped with a delicious crispy breadcrumb topping and baked to perfection.
This is really a ‘classic’ vegan mac and cheese recipe in the sense that a classic mac and cheese usually involves a bechamel sauce with heaps of cheese added to it, and then it’s placed into a dish and topped with breadcrumbs and baked.
And that’s really very close to what we did here.
We made a vegan bechamel sauce and added all sorts of cheesy flavorings to it in lieu of actual cheese so that even non-vegans will find this cheesy as all heck, and then we topped it with delicious breadcrumbs and baked it. Just like the classic version.
How To Make Vegan Mac and Cheese
This vegan mac and cheese is ultra cheesy yet we did not use one shred of actual vegan cheese in it. So if you’re living somewhere where it’s hard to find vegan cheese in the supermarket, no worries, this recipe is for you.
I did try a version with some vegan cheese added to the sauce, and quite honestly I just didn’t think it worked as well as the version without, so this is it.
I created a bechamel sauce with some vegan butter, all purpose flour, coconut milk and vegetable stock and once that was thick and creamy like a white sauce should be, I added some cheesy flavorings in the form of dijon mustard, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.
The spices in this sauce really make it, you won’t have any doubt that this is a cheese sauce. We used our cheesy garlic vegan alfredo sauce as major inspiration for this.
Add the cooked macaroni to your big pot of sauce and toss it all together and then transfer into a 9×13 baking dish, top with breadcrumbs and bake for 20 minutes until beautifully golden brown on top.
Super easy and extremely satisfying.
How To Make Vegan Breadcrumbs
I made my own breadcrumbs for this which is easy and works great!
I toasted 3 thick cut slices of white bread and then broke them into pieces and put them into the blender. Blitzed them into breadcrumbs in the blender. Transferred to a bowl and added some melted vegan butter and tossed them up with it and then placed on top of the mac and cheese.
You can use brown or whole wheat bread but white bread actually works best for this recipe.
What can I use instead of vegan butter? You can use a dairy-free margarine which is basically the same thing. Just read the ingredients of the margarines and find one that is dairy-free. Alternatively you can make your own homemade vegan butter and use that in this recipe.
What kind of coconut milk did you use in this recipe? I used full fat coconut milk that comes in cans. That created the richest sauce for this recipe. Definitely do NOT use any kind of coconut milk that is sweetened, that would not work in this recipe. It needs to be canned full fat unsweetened coconut milk. If you’re not a coconut fan then see below!
How can I make this vegan mac and cheese without coconut milk? You can use soy milk instead of coconut milk, the end result is slightly less rich but you can definitely do it, I have tested it this way and it was great. I have not tested any other plant milks and while almond milk may work fine, my only worry is that it will create a sauce that is a little thin.
Can I leave out the nutritional yeast? The nutritional yeast really brings it with the cheesy flavor in this sauce! But yes you can leave it out without it ruining the recipe, but I do recommend you leave it in.
Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipe Q&A
Like the best comfort food ever! It’s super cheesy and so close to the ‘real thing’ you might not even know it’s vegan. Seriously!
The sauce can be made gluten-free if you use a gluten-free all purpose flour blend instead of the regular flour. And then of course you can use a gluten-free macaroni. You would also need to use gluten-free bread for the crumb topping, or alternatively you could add vegan cheese to the top instead of breadcrumbs.
Yes! If you need to make it ahead of time you can make up the sauce and macaroni up to 2 days before and mix it up and assemble in the 9×13 dish. Cover with foil and keep refrigerated. Then when you’re ready to bake it, add the breadcrumbs and bake. In this case, since it is going into the oven cold from the fridge, add an extra 5 minutes of baking time.
Leftovers keep very well in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Yes you can! This freezes very well.
What Goes With Vegan Mac and Cheese?
If you’re thinking of what to eat with vegan mac and cheese then there’s some great sides that go perfectly with this!
Some vegan coleslaw or a delicious vegan kale salad or black bean and corn salad would also go very well. If you’re looking for an appetizer then something like our vegan tomato soup or vegan tomato basil soup would fit the bill perfectly.
More Vegan Pasta Recipes
- Our vegan butternut squash mac and cheese recipe is made with butternut squash and cashew nuts! It’s quite different to this one, and it’s not baked but it’s so good.
- Our vegan pesto pasta will not disappoint and is a wonderfully quick and easy recipe.
- Our vegan pasta bake is perfect for when you want to feed a crowd. Our vegan pasta salad is an ultra quick 15 minute recipe that you will love! And if you’ve ever been a fan of spaghetti bolognese then our vegan bolognese will be right up your street!
- And then our recipe for the easiest vegan lasagna is totally divine but we also have a recipe for the best vegan lasagna which is fancier but oh so worth it!
- Also check out our vegan mushroom stroganoff and our vegan mushroom pasta.
Did you make this recipe? Be sure to leave a comment and rating below!
Classic Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese
For the Cheese Sauce:
For the Macaroni:
- 18 ounces Elbow Macaroni (500g)
For the Breadcrumb Topping:
- 3 Thick Slices White Bread Toasted, or 1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
- 2 Tbsp Vegan Butter Melted
- Add the vegan butter to a pot and let it melt. When it’s melted add in the all purpose flour and stir it vigorously with the melted butter.
- Then pour in the cans of coconut milk and the vegetable stock. Use a hand whisk to whisk out the lumps. Keep whisking until it starts to boil and then keep whisking for a few minutes after it has boiled until it thickens. It will continue to thicken as it cools, so it doesn’t have to be all the way there when you remove it from the heat, as long as it has thickened considerably from when you started.
- Remove it from the heat and add in the dijon mustard, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper and whisk in. Now your sauce is ready, you can prepare your macaroni.
- Cook your macaroni according to the package directions and then rinse and drain.
- Add the cooked macaroni into the pot of sauce and toss it up with the sauce.
- Then transfer the macaroni and sauce to a 9×13 baking dish and smooth down.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Prepare the crumb topping by breaking up the 3 thick slices of toasted white bread and placing into the blender. Pulse blend until you have crumbs. Then transfer to a mixing bowl, and add in the melted vegan butter and toss up the crumbs with the melted butter.
- Place the breadcrumbs evenly over the top of the macaroni cheese.
- Bake for 20 minutes until the topping is golden brown and crispy.
- If you want to replace the coconut milk with a different non-dairy milk such as soy milk then you definitely can. We have tested this recipe with soy milk and it works great.
- The coconut milk must be canned full fat unsweetened coconut milk. I would never use a sweetened coconut milk for any recipe and have never used it. Canned full fat unsweetened coconut milk is the way to go. There is a link to a good brand in the ingredients list. Alternatively, use soy milk (as per instructions above).
- If you have someone to help you then you can work on the sauce and they can cook the macaroni at the same time. But the sauce is very ‘hands-on’ so if you’re on your own it works best to just focus on the sauce and then do the macaroni. But if there are two of you it will save considerable time to do both at once.
- You don’t have to use macaroni, you can use a different pasta but of course it should be one that is suited to this kind of meal, like penne or shells and not something like spaghetti or linguine.
- If you’re using store-bought breadcrumbs then just eyeball it for the right amount to use so that it easily covers the top of your mac and cheese. In the case of panko breadcrumbs the amount to use is 1 cup.