Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipe

Oh, mac and cheese. If there was an award for "Most Comforting Food", this classic dish would totally win! But that doesn't mean you need to load up on dairy to enjoy it. With the right combination of ingredients, it's possible to make a vegetable-packed "cheese" sauce for vegan mac and cheese. It's an awesome way to fuel up on veggies, even if you don't eat a vegan diet. You can even make it gluten-free by using your favorite gluten-free flour and pasta.

Vegan mac and cheese
(Image: Kirsten Nunez)

Vegan Cheese Sauce

Things You'll Need

  • 1/2 medium cauliflower head

  • 1 1/4 cups sliced carrots (about 4 medium carrots)

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon flour

  • 6 tablespoons nutritional yeast

  • 2 cups non-dairy milk

  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Vegan cheese sauce ingredients
(Image: Kirsten Nunez)

Step 1

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Chop the cauliflower into small florets. In a large bowl, combine the cauliflower, carrots, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss until the veggies are completely coated.

Want to boil your veggies instead? Skip to the "Tip" after Step 2.

Toss vegetables in olive oil
(Image: Kirsten Nunez)

Step 2

Transfer the vegetables onto a greased metal baking sheet. Cook for 35 to 40 minutes or until soft, tossing halfway.

Cook cauliflower and carrots
(Image: Kirsten Nunez)

Tip

You can also boil the vegetables. Chopped cauliflower usually cooks within 5 to 10 minutes, while carrots need about 15 to 20 minutes. Total cooking time will depend on the size of the chopped veggies.

Over high heat, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Reduce slightly and add the carrots. After about 10 minutes, add the cauliflower. Boil for another 10 minutes or until both vegetables are soft.

Step 3

While the vegetables are cooking, combine the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and minced garlic in a small pot. Cook over low-medium heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes.

Add the nutritional yeast, flour, onion powder, and garlic powder. Mix well and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes.

Roux for vegan cheese sauce
(Image: Kirsten Nunez)

Step 4

Add the non-dairy milk in 1/2 cup increments, whisking constantly. Bring to a steady simmer and heat for 5 minutes. Keep mixing to prevent clumping.

Add non-dairy milk
(Image: Kirsten Nunez)

Tip

Make sure the milk doesn't boil. If heated too quickly, it may curdle.

Step 5

Let the vegetables and sauce cool slightly.

In a food processor, blend until creamy and smooth.

Vegan mac and cheese sauce
(Image: Kirsten Nunez)

Step 6

Now, this is where it gets fun. Feel free to customize the sauce to your liking. Is it too thick? Add milk in 1/4 cup increments. Is it too thin? Add 1 tablespoon of flour.

Give the sauce a taste. If it isn't cheesy enough, add more nutritional yeast. You can also toss in more garlic powder, onion powder, salt, or pepper. A sprinkle of turmeric can be added for a bright orange shade. It's totally up to you.

Once you've added the necessary ingredients, blend until the consistency is just right.

Vegan cheese sauce
(Image: Kirsten Nunez)

Tip

There's a good chance your sauce will need to be adjusted. Don't be discouraged! It's easy to adjust the sauce with extra ingredients like milk and flour. After making vegan mac and cheese a few times, you'll get the hang of how to make your ideal sauce.

Vegan Grated Parmesan Cheese

Things You'll Need

  • 1 cup sunflower seeds

  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast

  • 1/4 cup flax seeds (or more sunflower seeds)

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Ingredients for vegan grated Parmesan
(Image: Kirsten Nunez)

Step 1

Combine everything in a food processor or blender.

Vegan grated Parmesan cheese
(Image: Kirsten Nunez)

Tip

If possible, use a blender. The more compact size will make it easy for the blades to chop up the ingredients.

Vegan Mac and Cheese

To prepare the finished dish, cook 8 ounces of pasta according to the package's directions. Toss with "cheese" sauce and top with vegan grated Parmesan. If you'd like, add coconut bacon and breadcrumbs for extra crunch and flavor.

Vegan mac and cheese
(Image: Kirsten Nunez)

Don't be afraid to experiment with this recipe. For example, you can make a sweeter sauce by ditching the cauliflower and using only carrots. You can also substitute either vegetable with soaked cashews or boiled potato.

Enjoy!

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