This Vegan Baked Macaroni and Cheese recipe is definitely not health food. The recipe is adapted from The All New All Purpose Joy of Cooking, one of my favorite kitchen references. It's a little bit time-consuming to make, but there's nothing difficult about this recipe.
My kid and I started making vegan mac and cheese this way after watching The Snowy Day on Amazon Prime Video. It's a 30-minute adaptation of the children's book, and to bulk out the story, there's a whole storyline about Peter and Nana bringing a batch of "Nana's Mac and Cheese" home for Christmas supper
Spoiler alert: Nana's Mac and Cheese gets ruined, and she tells Peter that there isn't time to make more. This plot point baffled my kid. Why did it take so long to make?
I explained that Nana must make her mac and cheese from scratch.
Of course, then my son wanted to make Nana's Mac and Cheese at home, so I busted out The Joy of Cooking and adapted their Baked Macaroni and Cheese into a vegan recipe.
The other thing I love about making this recipe with my kid is that it's teaching him basic cooking techniques. The cheese sauce is a bechamel, which means he gets to learn two cooking fundamentals when we make this:
- how to make a roux
- how to make bechamel
It also means that now he knows about French mother sauces. YES!
To make Nana's Vegan Baked Macaroni and Cheese, you start with a roux, using vegan butter and a little bit of flour. Then, you whisk in your unsweetened vegan milk of choice to make a bechamel sauce.
Add some spices, stir in shredded vegan cheese, toss in that cooked macaroni, and you're ready to bake!
If you want this to be a one-pot meal, you can boil the macaroni in your Dutch oven, then use the same pot to make your cheese sauce and to bake the casserole. It takes a bit longer, though. To save time, you can boil that mac in a separate pot while you make the cheese sauce. You do you.
Whichever way you go, you'll feel like a kitchen wizard when you make this crowd-pleasing recipe!
The video below walks you through all of the steps, and just to prove how easy this recipe really is, I had my five-year-old do a big chunk of the work. Look for some very adorable hands making special appearances in this Vegan Baked Macaroni and Cheese video:
Vegan baked macaroni and cheese from scratch
- 2 cups uncooked macaroni - or your favorite bite-sized pasta
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour - (For a gluten-free option, see note.)
- 2 cups unsweetened vegan milk - We use soy at home.
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cups shredded vegan cheese - divided (We use Daiya Cheddar shreds, but feel free to use your fave.)
- Cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain. Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Heat the butter in a Dutch oven on medium-low heat. When it's completely melted, add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until you've got a thick paste. This takes about 3 minutes.
- Slowly add the vegan milk, whisking out any lumps as you go. Once all of the milk is in the pan, add the spices, salt, and pepper.
- Bump the heat up to medium, and simmer, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes. Keep an eye out, because like cow's milk, vegan milk will get a skin on top if you don't stir often enough. You may need to lower the heat once you get to a simmer to keep it slow and steady - you don't want a rolling boil.
- Remove the pan from the heat, and while the milk mixture is still hot, add 1 cup of the shredded vegan cheese, stirring to melt. Add the cooked macaroni, stirring to get a nice, even mix.
- Spread the remaining 1 cup of vegan cheese over the top of the macaroni mixture, and bake for 30 minutes.