This dairy free mac and cheese is a lightened up version of the classic dish, and it's just as rich and creamy. No added flour or vegan butter needed!
Y'all, I am so excited to share this fully revamped vegan baked mac and cheese recipe with you! It's a lightened-up version of my family's favorite, and this new dairy free mac and cheese has been a huge hit with the kiddo.
Oat milk magic
I lucked into this method when I was out of oat milk to make our usual Friday night pot of mac.
Instead of scrapping the whole meal, I decided to make things work. My friend Kathy Hester hipped me to this lazy oat milk method, and friends, it makes magic in mac and cheese.
Because the oats thicken on their own, there's no need to make a roux!
The homemade oat milk thickens up into the perfect base for vegan cheese sauce, no extra oil, butter, or flour needed!
Not only does it add a dash of fiber and eliminate the need for adding flour and vegan butter, but it cuts about 15 minutes off of the total time you need to make a pot of dairy free mac and cheese. No creaminess sacrificed!
For this recipe, you are making a seasoned oat milk. Grab your blender -- any blender is fine -- and add water, oats, garlic powder, and onion powder. Blend, and BOOM! Oat milk that's packed with all the spices for your cheese sauce.
Because this dairy free cheese sauce relies on the oats' thickening power, you can't substitute anything else for the homemade oat milk. It is critical to the recipe.
My old method for making vegan mac was to make a roux, then make a bechamel sauce. All of that takes about 15 minutes. Instead, the homemade oat milk cuts down that process to three to five minutes.
The oat milk thickens quickly, so don't step away from the stove once you start heating.
Once the milk has thickened up, melt bagged vegan cheese shreds into the mixture. You can use any variety that you like.
The other shortcut that this recipe uses is cooking the pasta and broccoli together in the same pot. No need to steam or roast that broccoli separately! Just add it to the pasta pot for the last two minutes of boiling time. It turns out perfectly.
Mix together the pasta, broccoli, and cheese sauce, and you are ready to bake!
We have loved topping this casserole with french fried onions lately. They add a nice, crunchy texture and incredible umami punch to this vegan mac and cheese, and I strongly recommend it.
How to serve, store, and reheat
Dairy free mac and cheese with broccoli is lovely with tofu on the side. Here are some of the tofu preparations that go well with this recipe:
You can store leftovers right in the pan you used to cook. Just plop the lid on, and stick it in the fridge. You can also transfer any leftovers to an airtight container instead, if you prefer. Leftovers will keep for three to four days.
To reheat, dish up your mac into a bowl, and pop it into the microwave. Easy peasy!
Dairy free mac and cheese
- 2 cups uncooked macaroni - or your favorite bite-sized pasta
- 3 cups broccoli florets
- 2 cups water
- ¼ cup rolled oats
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups vegan cheese shreds of your choice
- ½ cup french fried onions - optional
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- In a large stove-to-oven pot (I used my 3.5 quart Dutch oven), cook the macaroni according to package directions. When there are 2 minutes of cooking time remaining, add the broccoli to the pan. Drain, and set aside.
- While the pasta and broccoli are cooking, put the water, oats, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt into the blender. Blend until completely smooth.
- Return the same pot that you used to cook the pasta to the stovetop, and add the oat mixture that you made. Heat on medium high, stirring frequently until the mixture thickens, about 3-5 minutes (see note). Turn off the heat, and add the vegan cheese shreds to the pot. Stir until the cheese melts into the sauce.
- Transfer the pasta and broccoli to the pot, and fold it into the cheese sauce. Smooth out the top with the back of a spoon, then top with the french fried onions, if you're using them.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the fried onions are golden brown and the cheese sauce is bubbly.