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Incredible Vegan Mac and Cheese

10 reviews / 4.2 average

Truly incredible Vegan Mac and Cheese is ready for you! Silky cheese sauce, made with plant-based milk and nutritional yeast, is poured over macaroni noodles and comes together with creamy plant butter. It’s luscious!

Dear mac and cheese lovers of the world,

It’s my pleasure to introduce you to this wonderfully creamy, silky, and buttery vegan mac and cheese that is totally delicious and completely nut-free!

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This is such a fun and supremely yummy recipe – I love it so much.

Some vegan mac and cheeses involve boiling and puréeing sauces.

Some use nuts (like raw cashews) to create the creaminess.

But this one has no puréeing, no nuts, and comes together in a very Easy Mac type of way: a “cheeze” powder with the best cheesy flavor whisked into the plant milk of your choice to create a silky vegan cheese sauce, poured over macaroni noodles, and mixed all together with a knob of vegan butter.

VOILA. First lunch, second lunch, after-school snack, midnight noodle craving… it checks all the standard mac and cheese boxes.

Ingredients for vegan mac and cheese with purple text bubbles over the top.

Vegan Mac and Cheese: Frequently Asked Questions

What type of non-dairy milk is best here?

Cashew milk is a great option and is highly recommended if you can find one that isn’t too watery! Almond milk was pretty good, oat milk was great, and soy milk is great if you can find one with no flavor – we had a batch that was supposedly “unsweetened” and “unflavored” but definitely tasted like vanilla, so you’ll want to look for a milk with as neutral of a flavor as possible.

Can you make this vegan mac and cheese in the Instant Pot?

Yes and it turns out great! Check out the notes for how to do this at the bottom of the recipe card.

How do I store my extra cheese powder?

Just store it at room temp in an airtight container.

How long does the cheese powder keep?

If stored in an airtight container, it should keep for up to 6 months.

What Is This Vegan Mac and Cheese Made Of?

Here’s our very short ingredient list:

  • Noodles
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Cornstarch
  • Some spices for flavor and color – like onion powder, garlic powder, turmeric, and paprika
  • Non-dairy milk of choice – I like soy milk or oat milk
  • Vegan butter to make it extra luxe

All the dry stuff is going to make an Easy Mac-style cheeze powder which looks like this:

Vegan cheese powder being scooped with a spoon.

AND HOLY BUCKETS LOOK AT WHAT IT BECOMES.

A creamy, luscious sauce that coats every nook and cranny of your macaroni noodles and brings you to the mountaintop of the macaroni and cheese experience with minimal time, minimal effort, and maximal delight.

Vegan mac and cheese in a pot with a wooden spoon.

How To Make This Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipe

Pull out your blender and your favorite pot and let’s go! You’re literally just 10 minutes away from the vegan mac and cheese magic.

  1. Make your “cheese powder” – blend everything up in the blender for 30 seconds.
  2. Boil and drain your macaroni.
  3. Add your milk and powder to a pot and stir to make the sauce, then pour in the macaroni.

That’s it. You’re done. Magic, right?

Okay, But Does It REALLY Taste Like Mac and Cheese?

All vegan mac and cheese has its own flavor based on what you use for the sauce, but this one is pretty straightforward.

Texture-wise, it’s super, super similar to just a regular box of mac and cheese, which is just a wonderful gift from the mac and cheese angels

Flavor-wise, the nutritional yeast drives the bus with a nutty, umami-ish, salty cheeze vibe, and the taste of the sauce will vary slightly with the type of milk you use. But the best news of all is that I find that this truly tastes buttery in the best way with the addition of a little knob of vegan butter melted in at the end.

Obviously we are no strangers to true cheesy goodness combined with noodles over here at Pinch of Yum (see here, here, and here), and I personally eat mostly everything, including real cheese, but I love having a good plant-based option in my back pocket and this one is just glorious.

Vegan mac and cheese in a pot with a wooden spoon.

Prefer To Watch Instead Of Read?

Source Notes: I got this idea from The School Night Vegan blog! I had literally never heard of anyone making vegan mac and cheese by making a dry cheeze powder until I came across his blog post. It’s such a smart idea! His cheeze powder used a few ingredients that I don’t normally stock, so I just made it a little more pantry-friendly for what I normally have on hand. But the cheeze powder method is his genius idea – and he has a super fun website with lots of vegan recipes that is worth some perusing if you like plant-based recipes!

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A picture of Incredible Vegan Mac and Cheese

Incredible Vegan Mac and Cheese


  • Author: Lindsay
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 45 servings 1x

Description

Truly incredible Vegan Mac and Cheese is ready for you! Silky cheese sauce, made with plant-based milk and nutritional yeast, is poured over macaroni noodles and comes together with creamy plant butter. It’s luscious! 


Ingredients

Units Scale

The “Cheese” Powder:

  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric and paprika (for color)

The Mac: 

  • 1/2 box elbow macaroni pasta
  • 1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (unsweetened almond milk, soy milk, or oat milk are my favorites)
  • 3 tablespoons non-dairy butter
  • teensy squeeze of lemon juice (optional)

Instructions

  1. “Cheese” powder: Blend all cheese powder ingredients until you get a fine powder, about 30 seconds. Store this powder in a jar and this will be enough powder to make 3-4 future batches of vegan mac and cheese for ya!
  2. Noodles: Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain.
  3. “Cheese” Sauce Magic: Pour milk + 3 tablespoons powder into a small saucepan. Whisk thoroughly and gently bring to a slow simmer until you are looking at a creamy, “cheesy” sauce.
  4. Finish and Delight: Combine cheese sauce and cooked macaroni. Stir in your knob of butter. Finish to taste – I like just a tiny squeeze of lemon juice (not enough to taste like lemon, but just enough to wake the whole thing up), plus some freshly cracked black pepper. So creamy, so “cheesy”, so yum.

Notes

Instant Pot instructions: Add macaroni, 1 1/2 cups of water, and a pinch of salt to the Instant Pot. Cook for 3 minutes on high pressure. Use the Quick Release function to release the steam. Uncover and add in 1/2 cup non-dairy milk, 3 tablespoons of “cheese” powder, non-dairy butter, and stir. If the macaroni seems too liquidy, let the macaroni cook for a minute on the Sauté function until it begins to boil. Press cancel and give it a good stir. The macaroni will thicken as it sits. If the macaroni needs more milk, add in 1/4 cup at a time. 

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: vegan mac and cheese, vegan pasta, vegan cheese

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51 Comments

  1. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I am new at cook but your recipes and tips are really useful. I mean I follow your recipe and I can’t believe myself. Did i do this? 🙂






    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      We haven’t tested with arrowroot, but we think it’s worth a try!

    2. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Abby

      Hi,

      Just tried making this recipe. My cheese become extremely goopy and slimy?
      I used xanthan gum instead of cornstarch. Do you think this could of been why?

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo
        Ted

        Xanthan Gum as a replacement for Cornstarch would result in the goopy, slimy mess indeed. I would suggest arrowroot or better, if available pea starch.

  2. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Eveline

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I’m a vegetarian leaning towards vegan, and I make a lot of your recipes, both the veg(etari)an ones as the meat ones since many of them are so well-flavoured I can easily swap the meat for tofu, roasted mushrooms, you get the idea. But it makes me really happy to see so many vegan recipes with your (and Bjorks) seal of approval on it, and I’ve never heard of the Schoolnight Vegan before, but his recipes look amazing, so thanks for the heads up, too!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      Glad to hear you’ve been enjoying the vegan recipes! We hope you love this one!

  3. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Betsy H

    I can’t wait to try this with gluten free noodles- for myself -and see what my kids say!

  4. Pinch of Yum Logo
    stacyq

    looks yummy – we try to avoid cornstarch/corn/grains – do you have a recommendation to replace the cornstarch?

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      We haven’t tested this, but you could try arrowroot or tapioca flour.

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo
        Ted

        As mentioned in a nother comment. arrowroot or better pea starch would work fine. Pea starch would require about 2/3 rd of the Cornstarch amount. Tapioca Starch would not work very well for this recipe, as it would be too gummy. Another option would be using Cassava Flour, but most likely adjusting amounts to desired consistency.

  5. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Carly

    Do you recommend a certain brand or nutritional yeast? I’ve never purchased it before.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      We usually have Trader Joe’s nutritional yeast on hand, but we think any brand would work just fine!

  6. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Brooke Ashley

    Hello, is it 1/4 tsp of BOTH paprika and turmeric or 1/4 tsp total of either? Thanks in advance for clarifying 🙂

  7. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Maybe I’ve been vegan for too long, but I wouldn’t call it ‘real cheese’. I would call it dairy cheese and plant-based cheese. There are so many different ways to make a cheesy sauce with both dairy and plants and it all seems like ‘real’ cheese to me.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      We haven’t tested the recipe with coconut milk, but we think it’d work just fine.

  8. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Sophie

    Hiya, this looks brilliant! I just want to check, how much is half a box of macaroni in grams or cups? I’m from the UK so we don’t get pasta in a box.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      Hi Sophie! Half of the box is usually 8 ounces, so 226.796 grams would get you the right amount!

  9. Pinch of Yum Logo
    PeterNZ

    Urrghh, sorry you lost me at “cheese powder” .
    I think vegetarian dishes should be vegetarian and not fake non-vegetarian. There are thousands of great vegetarian dishes which do not need to copy non-vegetarian recipes.






    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Although for some of us vegans and vegetarians, it’s great to be able to enjoy the foods we used to love – like Mac and Cheese – animal free. I became vegan because I love animals – but I still love a good ol’ bowl of cheesy noodles! A great recipe for us non-dairy types. Thank you.






  10. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Tami

    My kids loved it – thanks! Trader Joe’s makes a soy milk that’s just soybeans and water. It’s the only one I’ve found that doesn’t add vanilla and/or sweetener.

  11. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Martie

    Just made this for supper. I feel it tastes nothing like Kraft but it is wonderful!! Super easy and very creamy. I even made it in the insta pot. It was a bit more al dente than I like but will adjust time next time. I made it with creamy oat milk






  12. Pinch of Yum Logo
    jenn in ga

    for those wondering if you can sub tapioca starch for the cornstarch, the answer is yes, as it cools. i had to remove it from the pan and use the blender to get the smoothness i was looking for. i used homemade unflavored flax milk and full fat coconut milk for 1/4 of the amount called for.
    the thing this recipe lacks for me is the “cheesy” taste. i haven’t had box mac in a long time, but this needed lots of extra nutritional yeast in order to come close to simulating the flavor profile i was anticipating. still, if you add more, it works.






    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      Hi Jenn! We appreciate the feedback! Thanks for leaving the review!

  13. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Robin

    I made this tonight exactly as written and I thought it was good. My 9 year old liked it too, which is always a true test. I have never made vegan Mac and cheese before so I didn’t have anything to compare it to, but it was flavorful (I mainly tasted the nutritional yeast) and creamy. I may add some broccoli next time. Thank you for providing a simple vegan recipe to try.






  14. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Stephanie

    This is a game-changer for me! I am the only dairy-free person in my house, and my kids often request mac and cheese. I make them a box for an easy dinner, but i am left without anything to eat. I refuse to buy the vegan mac n cheese boxes for $5, so having a powder mix on hand is great! This made a tasty, creamy sauce. I think it could use a little more cheesy flavor – and adding some acid (lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or vegan lactic acid powder) is also necessary to get that tangy cheese flavor. I think adding some more nutritional yeast or even some shredded vegan cheese at the end would be good too!






  15. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I found this recipe online, and it looked and sounded so lovely and tasty that I decided to try it out for myself. It was a huge hit with both my spouse and myself. What wonderful flavours from such a simple dish (I love those kinds of recipes), and the taste feels like something I toiled over for hours to achieve, haha. Thank you for sharing this information, it is really appreciated. Much Love From Amma Ruchis .

  16. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Danielle Richter

    This was amazing!! I am not vegan but really try to limit dairy so I was excited and cautiously optimistic about this. I think it’s one of the best vegan Macaroni recipes I’ve ever had, and it’s so simple! I did add some real Parmesan (I think vegan parm would also be awesome I just didn’t have any on hand) and that took it up a notch. I added some arugula too which added some nice greens and peppery flavor. Loved loved this one, even my picky husband ate two bowls!






  17. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Nicole

    This is an awesome recipe! My 3 year old approves 🙂 I’ve been trying to make a vegetarian dish a couple of days of the week and this was so delicious! Thank you!






  18. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Alex

    Hi, I made this and set the scale to 2x for a whole box of Banza – used 3 cups milk and 3 tablespoons powder. It was very watery and almost soupy – are those the right measurements? It was still tasty but I thought the liquid ratio was very off

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Alex

      I realized when I changed the scale to 1x, the powder measurement was still 3 tablespoons, so I imagine I should have put more 🙁 not sure.

    2. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      Hi Alex! Sorry to hear that. Was your box of Banza 8 ounces? If so, I’m sure that’s the reason.

  19. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Skyler

    Hi! Aprx how many grams is a half of a box of macaroni? I just want to make sure I have my proportions right cause I buy noodles in large amounts from Costco.

  20. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Emma

    This recipe is so good! I’ve started keeping a container of the powder on the counter for a quick weeknight meal. I did find I prefer more nutritional yeast so typically for a single-serving I do 1/2 cup of milk, 1 tbsp of the ‘cheese’ powder and 1 tbsp of additional nutritional yeast with 2.5 – 3 oz of pasta and 1 tbsp of butter. Even better paired with broccoli. Love love love!