Everyone needs a good Southern-style vegan baked mac and cheese recipe in their arsenal. After all, there’s nothing more comforting than a creamy and cheesy bowl of this classic and easy dish!
This baked vegan mac and cheese is perfect for special occasions and everyday meals. It’s Southern vegan soul food at its finest and will be irresistible to anyone who tastes it.
This recipe is extremely simple and doesn’t require much prep time. It’s adapted from my stovetop vegan mac and cheese recipe.
It is also made with no cashews and is completely nut-free, and makes the perfect side dish or even leftovers.
- Elbow macaroni – you can also use other small pasta shapes or gluten-free pasta; make sure they are vegan-friendly.
- Vegan butter or margarine
- All-purpose flour – makes the roux that thickens the sauce and makes it creamy. Substitute with a gluten-free flour blend if desired.
- Unsweetened oat milk – Other plant-based milk may be used. Cashew, soy and coconut will add extra creaminess. Almond milk will result in a much thinner sauce and will need more flour to thicken.
- Vegan cheddar cheese – I used Violife, which is also nut and gluten-free, but if you have a favorite brand, go for it!
- Vegan Colby Jack cheese – I used Violife, but you may also substitute with more cheddar.
- Vegan lactic acid – to mimic the sharp, cheesy flavor. Substitute with lemon juice if not available.
- Garlic, onion, and mustard powder – enhance the cheddar flavor in the dish.
- Smoked paprika – Try red pepper flakes or chipotle for an extra spicy flavor.
- Salt and black pepper
Prepare the Pasta:
1. Take a large pot and fill it with water. Add salt to the water and bring it to a boil. Add pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package instructions for al dente.
2. Once cooked, drain the pasta and place it in a large bowl. Mix in 1 tablespoon of vegan butter and set aside while you prepare the cheese sauce.
Cook the Vegan Cheese Sauce:
1. Before making the cheese sauce, preheat your oven to 400°F or 200°C. Lightly oil the sides and bottom of the casserole dish with olive oil or vegan butter.
2. Heat the vegan butter in a pan and add in flour, stirring constantly. Cook the roux until it turns a blonde color.
3. Slowly pour the oat milk into the flour and butter mixture. Stir constantly to avoid lumps.
4. Increase the heat to medium and cook the sauce for 10 to 15 minutes or until it thickens. Stir it occasionally so that nothing sticks to the pan.
5. Mix in the vegan cheeses until melted and creamy. Stir in the lactic acid, garlic and onion powder, mustard, and salt and pepper.
6. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings, if needed.
7. Turn off the stove and combine the pasta and sauce.
Assemble and Bake:
1. Add half the pasta to the casserole dish, then top with half the remaining vegan cheese.
2. Add the remaining pasta, then top with the remaining vegan cheese.
2. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil to trap steam that would help melt the cheese on top. Place the casserole dish on a baking tray for easy removal and to catch any spills.
3. Bake the vegan mac and cheese for 30 minutes. Remove the sheet of foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes. To get some extra browning on top, place the dish under a broiler for an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Watch it carefully so that it doesn’t burn!
4. Serve warm or cool completely for easier slicing.
Allow the pasta to cool entirely, then store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to 4 days.
The pasta can also be divided into individual portions and frozen in airtight containers or zipper-top freezer bags.
The sauce can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
The dish can also be prepared 1 to 2 days prior. Toss the pasta and sauce together in a baking dish, cover, and refrigerate.
On the day of serving, let it rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes and then bake as directed.
How to Reheat
To reheat the pasta, add it to an oven-safe dish.
If the consistency is too thick, stir in a spoonful or two of oat milk. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake at 400°F or 200°C for 15 minutes or until it’s warmed through.
You can also reheat it in the microwave. Stir and check the temperature every minute or two in between the process. Add water as needed.
To reheat on the stove, add a splash of oat milk or water and heat in a saucepan until warm.
More Vegan Pasta Ideas
Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese (Nut-free)
- 9” x 11" x 3" casserole dish
Baking Recipes: For more accuracy, use Metric measurements and measuring spoons.
- 16 oz (454 g) elbow macaroni
- 6 tbsp (84 g) vegan butter or margarine
- ½ cup (63 g) all-purpose flour
- 5 cups (1 l) unsweetened oat milk
- 8 oz (227 g) vegan cheddar cheese
- 8 oz (227 g) vegan Colby Jack cheese
- 8 oz (227 g) extra vegan Colby Jack or cheddar for topping
- ½ teaspoon (½ teaspoon) vegan lactic acid, or 3 tsp lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon mustard powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
Prepare the pasta:
- Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for one minute less than the package directions for al dente (about 9 minutes)16 oz (454 g) elbow macaroni
- Drain the pasta and place it in a large bowl or return it to the pot. Mix in 1 tablespoon of the vegan butter and set aside.6 tbsp (84 g) vegan butter or margarine
Make the Vegan Cheese Sauce:
- Set a rack in the middle of the oven, then preheat it to 400°F or 200°C. Lightly oil the sides and bottom of the casserole dish with olive oil or vegan butter.
- Heat the vegan butter in a dutch oven on low heat. Stir in the flour quickly and constantly with a whisk, fork or wooden spoon. Cook until blonde in color.½ cup (63 g) all-purpose flour
- Gradually stir in the oat milk. Add a little at a time and stir constantly to reduce lumps in the sauce.5 cups (1 l) unsweetened oat milk
- Increase the heat to medium and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
- Add the 16 oz of the vegan cheeses, lactic acid or lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir until melted and creamy.8 oz (227 g) vegan cheddar cheese ,8 oz (227 g) vegan Colby Jack cheese ,½ teaspoon vegan lactic acid ,½ teaspoon garlic powder ,1 teaspoon onion powder ,¼ teaspoon mustard powder ,½ teaspoon salt ,¼ teaspoon black pepper ,½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- Taste and add more seasonings, lactic acid or lemon juice if needed.
- Remove the sauce from the heat and pour it over the pasta. Stir to combine.
- Add half the pasta to the casserole dish then top with half the remaining vegan cheese.8 oz (227 g) extra vegan Colby Jack or cheddar for topping
- Add the remaining pasta then top with the remaining vegan cheese.
- Cover the dish with a sheet of foil as the steam helps melt the cheese on top. Place the dish on a baking tray for easier removal and to catch any spills.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes. For extra browning on top, place the dish under the broiler instead for 3 to 4 minutes. Watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn!
- Vegan lactic acid mimics the sharp, cheesy flavor in the sauce. A little goes a long way. I recommend keeping some around if you make cheese sauces often.
- You may also use gluten-free pasta and an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend.
- Other plant-based milk may be used. Cashew, soy and coconut will add extra creaminess. Almond milk will result in a much thinner sauce and will need more flour to thicken.
- Allow the pasta to cool entirely, then store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to 4 days.
- The pasta can also be divided into individual portions and frozen in airtight containers or zipper-top freezer bags.
- The sauce can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
- The dish can also be prepared 1 to 2 days prior. Toss the pasta and sauce together in a baking dish, cover, and refrigerate.