This rich and cheesy Vegan Mac and Cheese is so addictive to eat! Made without dairy or cashews, so it's both lactose-free and nut-free! The simple bechamel sauce is based on creamy oat milk, but it also has a great cheesy taste that the whole family will love. Choose to serve it baked with a crunchy top, or just eat it straight up out of the pan!
Mac and Cheese is such a family favourite so it's great to have an easy recipe that everyone will love to eat. It's so comforting and perfect to serve as a main dish or as a hearty side.
Once you know how to make a good Vegan Bechamel with Oat Milk you can create all kinds of baked pasta and cozy veggie dishes smothered in cheesy goodness (Hello- Vegan Cauliflower Cheese). And of course, this awesome Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipe! Alternatively, if you're after more cheesy pasta recipe ideas, check out this vegan broccoli cheddar orzo for a cozy and comforting dinner or this Vegan Hamburger Helper which is packed with nostalgia and flavor!
The secret to a great Mac & Cheese is in the cheesy sauce. In this version I make it with a classic bechamel using oat milk. Many vegan Mac and Cheeses use cashews to make them creamy, and delicious as they are, this one is made without cashews as it's a) cheaper and b) nut allergy friendly!
- Macaroni Pasta: Choose small elbow shaped pasta for the ultimate in Mac & Cheese texture. Or just choose your favourite small pasta shape.
- Plain Flour: This is used to make the roux to thicken the cheesy sauce.
- Oat Milk: I like to use oat milk because it's extra creamy which helps with the overall comfort food experience. Of course it is also lactose-free, and vegan, making it a great way to ensure more people can enjoy this comfort food dish.
- Olive Oil: I love to use olive oil instead of vegan butter, as it has a rich flavour that I think adds a deeper dimension to the cheese flavour.
- Nutritional Yeast: is deactivated yeast, sold in flakes, it has a cheesy, slightly nutty flavour and is high in B12, folic acid, selenium & zinc. It's brilliant for adding a cheesy flavour to dishes.
- Dijon Mustard: great for adding a little bit of tang and flavour.
- White Miso: White miso gives a tangy, umami flavour that mimics cheese, especially when paired with a little mustard and nutritional yeast.
- Garlic: Optional, but I love a little bit of garlic. Choose fresh just grated garlic or garlic powder.
- Vegan Cheese: Choose your favourite. In the UK I like Vegan Cathedral Chedder or Vegan Applewood Smoked Cheese as they both taste delicious and melt well.
- Optional Peas: I love the little pop of peas in Mac and Cheese, but these are totally optional.
For the optional crunchy topping
- Panko Bread Crumbs: I like how panko breadcrumbs are soft yet crispy, perfect to top a creamy Mac & Cheese.
- A little olive oil to scrunch into the panko breadcrumbs to make them gorgeously golden when baked.
- Vegan Cheese: More cheese please!!!
See recipe card for quantities.
Before you start, boil the macaroni or pasta shapes as per their packet instruction. They should cook in the time you make the cheesy sauce.
- Heat the flour with the olive oil and cook it a little. This removes the floury taste.
- Start adding the oat milk bit by bit. Keep whisking.
3. Keep adding the oat milk and whisking until you have a thick creamy consistency.
4. Add the nutritional yeast, mustard, a little grated garlic, white miso and the vegan cheese. Stir well to combine. Add salt or any other extra flavourings you want here too.
5. Just before draining the macaroni, add the frozen peas (if using). Then drain and mix the macaroni with the cheese sauce.
6. If you want to make this into a Baked Mac & Cheese, put the cheesy macaroni mixture into an oven proof dish and top with panko breadcrumbs that have had a little olive oil smudged into them, and some vegan cheese. Bake at 180C/356F until the top is crispy.
Hint: Be sure to cook the flour a little, just until it colours up. This removes any 'floury' taste and makes a better cheesy sauce!
🌶Substitutions & Variations
There are loads of ways you can mix up this Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese to customize it.
- Soy Free: Remove the miso paste and add a teaspoon of liquid aminos or just extra salt.
- Gluten-Free: Choose gluten-free macaroni noodles and swap the plain flour for Gluten-free flour or cornstarch.
- Spicy: Add a teaspoon (or more) of Gochujang paste (Or hot sauce) when mixing in the cheese.
- More Veggies: Add chunks of broccoli, roasted butternut squash or green beans to add nutrition and colour.
- No Panko: Choose crushed-up potato crisps or cornflakes to go on top of the Mac & Cheese before you bake it.
This mac and cheese recipe requires a stove and saucepan to make the basic version. If you want to make a baked version, be sure to use an oven-proof dish like the Le Creuset one I use in the photos. (I picked that one up at a garage sale, but I have my eye on some of the rest of their range too!)
If you have leftovers, store in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 5 days and gently reheat them either in a microwave or in your oven. To freeze, put into a freezer-proof dish and keep for up to three months.
For a really great crunchy panko topping, rub some olive oil and nutritional yeast with the panko before sprinkling it over the top of the Mac and Cheese and baking it.
Oat milk works great in Mac and Cheese as it is creamy, not too sweet and mixes up perfectly into a white sauce. It is a great option for if you are lactose intolerant.
Almond, Soy and Cashew nut milk are all great substitutes to use in Mac and Cheese. Be sure to choose one that is unsweetened and has no flavourings (EG vanilla!)
Why not try these other delicious pasta based dishes.
Need a Salad?
I like to serve rich foods like Mac and Cheese with a tangy salad.
Baked Vegan Mac & Cheese (without cashews)
For accuracy, I measure all ingredients in metric as standard, then convert and test the recipe for American cup measurements etc.
(Heads up Aussie and UK readers- your measurements in cups are sometimes different, so please use metric or check you have the correct cup and spoon type!!)
- 450 g (1 lb) macaroni (or other small pasta shape)
- 35 g (¼ cup) plain flour
- 60 ml (¼ cup) sunflower oil (or olive oil)
- 500 ml (2 cups) plant milk (unsweetened oat or soya is best)
- 1 tablespoon (1 tablespoon) miso
- 1 clove garlic (or garlic powder)
- 1 tablespoon (1 tablespoon) dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoon (1 tablespoon) nutritional yeast
- 50 g frozen green peas (optional! Or use other veggies.)
- 50 g grated vegan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the Macaroni and Peas
- Boil the macaroni according to packet instructions450 g macaroni
- Just before the end of the boiling time, pop the peas in.
- Drain the macaroni and peas. Set aside ready to use.50 g frozen green peas
Make the cheese sauce
- In a sauce pan, gently heat the oil and add the flour60 ml sunflower oil, 35 g plain flour
- Stir the flour until it starts to colour a soft brown. This prevents the sauce tasting 'floury'
- Add the plant milk bit by bit, whisking all the time to prevent lumps forming500 ml plant milk
- Once a smooth sauce is achieved, whisk in the miso, and mustard and garlic (if using), plus season with salt and pepper.1 tablespoon miso, 1 tablespoon dijon mustard, 2 tablespoon , Salt and pepper to taste, 1 clove garlic
- Add the vegan cheese and mix until it is completely mixed in.50 g grated vegan cheese
- Taste and add more cheese or if you want a stronger cheesy taste
To make the crunchy topping *OPTIONAL
- Mix together the panko, a little olive oil and seasonings. Mix to cover all the panko in a little oil. This ensures it browns nicely.2 tablespoon grated vegan cheese, 50 g panko breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon
To assemble the baked mac and cheese.
- Mix the macaroni in with the cheese sauce. You can eat it like this right now.
- Alternatively, if you want to make baked mac and cheese, pour the whole mix into an oven proof casserole dish.
- Sprinkle over the panko mixture and the vegan cheese if using.
- Bake in a moderate (180°C/Gas Mark 4/350°F) oven for 15-20 minutes until bubbling and golden.
- Serve immediately