Easy Vegan Mac & Cheese
This is the only Vegan Mac & Cheese recipe you need. It’s as close to the real deal as you can get.
The secret to silky smooth vegan mac & cheese
When you first swap to a plant based diet it seems all you can think about is cheese. Some people will advise that you don’t even try plant based cheese until you’re 6 months in to your vegan journey but I’m here to tell you that’s nonsense! And you definitely don’t need to stay away from making your favourite cheesey dishes like the classic mac & cheese.
There are 4 key ingredients to making the perfect vegan cheese sauce. If you use these and follow my instructions to the letter you will have a delicious, rich and creamy mac & cheese in no time. Why not challenge a meat eater in your family to tell the difference?
You might have heard this tip before when making “regular” cheese sauce. Cornflour is far superior to plain flour for this type of sauce because you only need half of the amount to get the same effect. This means the flour is less likely to have any impact on taste.
Of course if you don’t have cornflour you can still use plain flour but make sure you cook it out long enough so that you don’t have raw flour in your final sauce – it’s really not a nice flavour!
I’ve tried making vegan mac and cheese with a whole range of plant and nut milks. Nut milks are usually too sweet (even without any added sugar) and coconut has a distinctive coconut taste! (No surprises there…) That means the two best options are oat milk or soy milk. Soy milk has a thicker consistency and has a higher fat content. The result is a richer, more creamy sauce. You can use oat milk if that is your preference but you might need a tad more cornflour to get it really thick and unctuous.
It used to be that there were very few “good” vegan cheeses on the market. They either didn’t melt or they just didn’t taste like cheese. These days there are a wide range of plant based cheeses to choose from which are very similar to dairy cheese.
When making mac and cheese there are 3 brands in particular that I love to use:
The Extra Mature Cheddar from Violife has a really good flavour. It’s the cheese that looks and behaves the most like a classic British cheddar. This is why it’s my go to vegan cheese and I always have a block in the fridge.
The smoked cheese from Applewood has the best melting ability. When it melts it gets really gooey and stretchy (a bit like mozzarella). It makes a really thick, gooey mac and cheese sauce. It’s also got a really smokey, strong flavour so won’t leave you disappointed.
Last but not least is the Farmhouse cheese from KindaCo. It’s got a sharp flavour, just like cheddar and a really soft texture. Despite being a nut based cheese it still melts well into a cheese sauce.
I bet you weren’t expecting to see pasta water on the list were you? Whenever you are cooking a sauce that you plan to add pasta to, you should always thin it with a little bit of the starchy cooking water from the pan of pasta.
Why? The salty, starchy water has two purposes. The first is that it helps to thicken the sauce, the second is that it helps to glue the pasta and sauce together.
Vegan Mac & Cheese
For the macaroni
- 220 g dried pasta macaroni
- 1 pinch salt
For the cheese sauce
For the granish
- 1 bunch parsley
- 100 g breadcrumbs
To make the pasta
- Fill a large saucepan with water and add a large pinch of salt. Bring it to the boil before adding the macaroni pasta.
- Cook for 8 – 10 minutes (or according to the packet's instructions).
To make the cheese sauce
- Place the non-dairy butter in a saucepan and warm gently until melted.
- Add in the cornflour to create a roux and cook on a medium heat for 1 minute, stirring well to make sure it forms a smooth paste.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add just a few drops of the soy milk at a time, beating to incorporate it well each time.Make sure you only add the smallest amount of milk at a time otherwise lumps will form.
- As the roux goes from a thick paste to a thick sauce you can add the milk in larger quantities. Once half of the milk has been added you should be able to pour in the rest without lumps forming.
- Place the pan back on a medium to high heat and stir the sauce as it comes to a boil. Once it has reached boiling point reduce the heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes to allow it to thicken.
- When the sauce has thickened take the pan off the heat again and add in the grated vegan cheese. Keep stirring until the cheese has melted completely (return it to the heat as needed to make sure the cheese melts completely).
- Finally, add in the remaining ingredients and stir until they are distributed throughout the sauce.
To bake the mac & cheese
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C / 392F / gas mark 6.
- Drain the macaroni reserving just a little of the pasta water. Stir well so that the pasta water and macaroni is mixed well with the rest of the sauce.
- Pour the macaroni & cheese into an oven proof dish and sprinkled over the breadcrumbs.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until piping hot.
- Sprinkle over the chopped parsley and serve.
More delicious dinner recipes
Head to my dinner recipe archive for more main courses that will satisfy even the fussiest of eaters!