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Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese – the epitome of comfort food! Loaded with rich, cheesy and buttery goodness that'll have you coming back for seconds. It's perfect for weeknight meals or holiday entertaining.
Tender macaroni that's smothered in a cheesy sauce, topped with buttery breadcrumbs and baked to golden perfection - it just doesn't get any better! This Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese will win everyone over.
Even my son goes crazy for this cheesy meal and he's my toughest critic. This is his most popular request along with my Instant Pot Mushroom Risotto and Vegan Crab Cakes (he calls them Krabby Patties).
This comforting classic will bring everyone together at the table (vegans and non-vegans alike) so it's perfect for the holidays. It's cozy, satisfying and a real crowd-pleaser!
Ingredients Needed For Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese
The sauce has a base of cashews, soy milk, and vegetable broth that make it ultra-creamy, rich and savory. It's similar to my Vegan Mac n Cheese recipe, but without the potatoes and carrots. To get the cheesy color and flavor, I used pimientos, paprika, lemon juice, dijon mustard, and nutritional yeast. It's divine!
How to make it
- STEP 1 - Cook macaroni until al dente. Rinse with cool water and drizzle with olive oil (not pictured).
- STEP 2 - Combine the melted butter and breadcrumbs and set aside.
- STEP 3 - To a High-Speed Blender, add all the vegan cheese sauce ingredients and blend until creamy and smooth.
NOTE: This is going to seem like A LOT of sauce, but trust me, it will create the creamiest Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese, EVER!
- STEP 4 - Sauté the minced garlic in vegan butter until lightly brown.
- STEP 5 - Now pour in that magical vegan cheese sauce!
- STEP 6 - Cook the cheese sauce until it thickens up and becomes slightly stretchy.
- STEP 7 - Add the cooked macaroni into the cheese sauce and combine well.
- STEP 8 - Pour the cheesy macaroni into your casserole dish and sprinkle with the buttered breadcrumbs. Bake until heated throughout and the breadcrumbs are golden.
- Optional: You can broil the top for 2-3 minutes to make it super crispy, just watch very carefully so it doesn't burn.
Can I make it gluten-free?
Absolutely! You can use gluten-free Elbow Macaroni and Panko Breadcrumbs instead. It will bake up just the same! If you're looking for more gluten-free recipes, I have a bunch to choose from Here.
Just make the recipe as directed, but skip the breadcrumbs and baking part and store it covered in the fridge for a few days. When ready to bake, add the buttered breadcrumbs and bake as directed, but cover it with foil for the first 10-15 minutes and increase the baking time if needed. If the macaroni seems dry before the breadcrumbs are added, you can add a few pats of vegan butter and a splash of veggie broth and non-dairy milk to moisten it up.
Can I freeze it?
YES! It freezes well for 3-5 months! Just make sure your macaroni is cooked al dente or it will get mushy when baking. Prepare as directed, but don't bake it. Just let it cool and then add the buttered breadcrumbs right before freezing. Cover tightly to prevent freezer burn.
To cook the frozen mac, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover baking dish with foil and cook until hot and bubbly (about 60 minutes). Remove foil the last 10-15 minutes to crisp up the top.
How long will leftovers last?
You can keep leftovers covered in the fridge for 4-5 days. You may want to add a few past of vegan butter on the reheat.
It's a meal on its own, but you can serve it with Salad, Crusty Bread, BBQ Cauliflower Wings, Roasted Veggies, Grilled Portobello Mushroom Steaks, or Vegan Cole Slaw.
More comfort classics to try
And here are 26 more Vegan Comfort Recipes choose from. I want to make them all!
I love to hear from you
If you make this Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese, let me know what you think by ★ star rating it and leaving a comment below. It would really make my day. You can also follow me on Instagram and share your creation with me. Just tag me @veganhuggs and hashtag #veganhuggs so I don’t miss it.
Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese
- 16 ounces dried elbow macaroni , gluten-free if preferred
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs , gluten-free if preferred
- ¼ cup vegan butter , melted and divided
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1 cup raw cashews , soaked in very hot water
- 2 ½ cups soy milk , unsweetened
- 1 ½ cups vegetable broth , low sodium
- ¼ cup lemon juice , fresh squeezed
- 3 tablespoons tapioca flour/starch
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- ¼ cup Jarred pimientos , drained
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
- ¾ teaspoon granulated onion
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt , more to taste
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- Preheat oven to 400° F (200° C). Lightly grease a 3-quart casserole dish and set aside.
- To soak cashews, boil water in a small pot and remove from heat. Add cashews and cover for 15-20 minutes, until softened. (*See note)
- Place macaroni in a large pot of salted boiling water. Cook until al dente & according to package directions (about 9-10 minutes). Drain and cool with water. Drizzle and gently toss with olive oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.
- Combine the melted butter and breadcrumbs in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Drain and rinse cashews (discard soaking water). Now place all the cheese sauce ingredients in a high-speed blender. Blend until cashews have completely broken down and the sauce is smooth, about 1-2 minutes.
- Melt butter in large pot over medium heat (I used the same pot I cooked the macaroni in). Now add minced garlic & sauté for 1-2 minutes, until lightly brown (be careful not to burn).
- Pour in cheese sauce and cook for 4-5 minutes, until sauce thickens up. Stir often to prevent burning. Taste for seasoning, and add more if needed. Remove from heat. Pour the cooked macaroni into the cheese sauce and gently stir to combine.
- Now evenly pour into the greased casserole dish. Sprinkle with prepared breadcrumbs and place in the oven uncovered for 25-30 minutes, until heated throughout and the breadcrumbs are golden (*Rotate casserole dish a few times for even browning). *Optional: You can broil the top for 2-3 minutes to make it super crispy, just watch very carefully so it doesn't burn. Remove from oven and serve. Enjoy!
- Optional toppings: fresh-cut parsley, vegan parmesan, crushed red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, fresh-cracked pepper.
- Cashews: To make things easier, you can prep ahead and pre-soften your cashews by placing them in cool water for 4 hours or overnight in the fridge Then they'll be ready to pop in the blender right away. * If you don't have a high-speed blender, the cashews might not completely break down and this could result in a gritty texture. You can try soaking the cashews longer for 12 hours or more.
Can you specify how to divide the butter? How much should be used for the breadcrumbs and how much to sauté the garlic in?
Wow Mac and cheese
5 Star!! I might add awesome T horseradish
For xtra zing but very yummy as a s!!
Support @ Vegan Huggs
Hi Cindy! We are so happy that you loved the recipe!
I make this all of the time! Out of the tons of non dairy mac and cheese recipes I’ve tried (honestly I’ve probably tried 20 different recipes) this one is by FAR my absolute favorite! This will be my go to for holiday dinners. I made this a couple days ago and it complimented my creamy mashed potatoes and fried tofu perfectly! This recipe tastes very unique compared to all of the other cashew based mac and cheese sauces. Thank you so much for creating an amazing recipe like this! I need to check out your other recipes for sure!!
Support @ Vegan Huggs
Hi Shay! What a wonderful compliment, thank you so much! We are so happy to hear you love the recipe, and are excited for you to try more recipes 🙂
Hi! I was wondering if arrowroot or potato starch could be substituted for tapioca starch, as that is what I have on hand. Looks amazing, can't wait to make it!
Hi Shelbi, you can use them, but they will only thicken the sauce and not yield the cheesy stretch like the tapioca does. It will still be delicious though! 🙂
This is my 3rd recipe I've made from your website and it is incredibly delicious just like the others. You seriously need to have a cook book! I look forward to trying more. Thanks again for sharing this amazing recipe.
Hi Linda, thank you for the lovely compliment! I'm so glad you're liking my recipes. I hope to have a cookbook someday soon. Thank you for the encouragement 🙂
Made this for my family and guest and they loved it! They was surprised it was vegan. Best Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese so far.
Hi Nilda, what a lovely compliment! Thank you for giving it a try. 🙂
One of the best vegan recipes I’ve tried! Even non-vegan approved! Brought to a Christmas party and maybe 1/2 a serving was left. Best party food to bring. So easy and quick. I’ve made at least 5 times now and comes out awesome every time!
Yay! This is such a nice compliment! Thank you for making it! Have a Happy New Year! 🙂
Just made this and love it! Question, it's for a work potluck - so no ovens. How much time in the microwave would you say to warm it up?
I've never reheated this in a microwave before. I'm sorry 🙁 Can you bake it before you leave and store it in an insulated carrier? Or maybe they allow a chafing dish?
This recipe is fantastic! I was craving the kind of baked Mac n Cheese my mom used to make with velveeta back in the day, and this definitely satisfies the cravings! Even my super picky toddler gobbled it up. Thanks! You’ve made a vegan family very happy.
Hi Hannah, this is the nicest compliment! I used to love Velveeta cheese too, so I know what you mean. Thank you for giving it a try 🙂
Hi Melissa, I just made your baked Mac‘nCheese and my family and I totally loved it! This really is comfort food! I personally even like it better than the dairy version.
Actually I added a bit more nutritional yeast. Also I love powdered koriander and nutmeg with it.
Perfect recipe! Thank you for sharing!
Warm regards! Isabel
Thank you, Isabel... I'm so happy you liked it! Sounds perfect with the additions too 🙂
Is there a video of how to make this?
Hi Jessica, not yet, but I will shoot one in the future. Let me know if you have any questions about the recipe. I'd be happy to help. Thanks for stopping by 🙂
When do I add the cheese? Can I add the cheese when I add the breadcrumbs and put it in the over for 25 min?
Hi Jessica, you add the cooked macaroni to the pot of cheese sauce. Then you combine and pour into a greased casserole dish. Bake at 400 F for 25-35 minutes until heated throughout and breadcrumbs are golden. I have full process photos in the post above and the full instructions are in the recipe card below that. Let me know if you have any questions.
Can you freeze the sauce? 😀
Hi Angela, I haven't tried freezing this one yet, but I'd imagine it would work. I have frozen other cashew-based sauces before without issue. I'll get back to you when I try it. Thanks for stopping by.
This looks really good! I was wondering if I could prep it for Thanksgiving the day before, up until the time it goes into the oven. What do you think?
Hi Susan, yes, you can prep this the day before. Make sure the noodles are cooked al dente. Rinse and cool down well after cooking. Let the cheese sauce cool a few minutes before adding the macaroni (to prevent cooking them). Assemble in your casserole dish and cover and refrigerate. I wouldn't add the breadcrumbs until it's ready to go in the oven the next day.
The day of, it will take longer to heat through completely. Add you breadcrumbs. Keep the oven temp the same, but cover the casserole dish with foil. Keep casserole dish on the counter while the oven is heating. Bake until heated throughout (about 40 minutes). Then Uncover and bake until the breadcrumbs are browned (about 10-15 minutes).
*If things seem dry after chilling in the fridge, you can drizzle on some melted butter or oil (before the breadcrumbs).
I hope this helps. Thanks for stopping by 🙂
Melissa, super excited to try this out! Hopefully my kids will also love it as much as your son does. Can I su another plant-based milk for the soy milk?
Yes, absolutely! Just make sure it's unsweetened. Have a lovely weekend! 🙂