Featuring a homemade buffalo cheese sauce and meaty vegan chicken, this Buffalo Mac and Cheese recipe takes regular mac and cheese to a whole new level! Easy to make on the stove or in the oven and ready in about 30 minutes.
I love a creamy, comforting batch of classic macaroni and cheese but nothing beats this epic and kid-approved Vegan Buffalo Mac and Cheese! The boldness of vegan buffalo cauliflower wings meets classic vegan mac and cheese to make this crazy delicious meal so creamy with just the right amount of heat. It’s going to blow your mind!
For another fabulous game day recipe, check out my Vegan Buffalo Chicken Dip.
Why you’ll love this vegan buffalo chicken mac & cheese
- Upgraded mac and cheese – My kids and I LOVE regular mac and cheese but this bold and delicious upgraded version is so much more exciting! The flavors are incredible.
- Chik’n in every bite – Buffalo sauce and chicken are great together, so I used chewy and meaty soy curls as a vegan chicken substitute in the mac and cheese. You can also use my seitan Vegan Chicken or store-bought vegan chicken strips. Or chickpeas!
- Stove top and baking instructions – Do you like a crunchy, golden breadcrumb topping? Turn this into a pasta bake! When you want mac and cheese in a hurry, stick to the simple stovetop instructions. Both methods are foolproof and always result in tasty buffalo mac and cheese.
How to make buffalo mac and cheese
Make the buffalo cheese sauce by blending the soaked cashews, water, buffalo sauce, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and salt together in a high-powered blender until smooth. Set aside.
Cook the pasta to al dente. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, rehydrate the soy curls by soaking them in warm vegetable broth. Set aside for 10 minutes or until they’ve doubled in size and are soft.
Multitask to save time! Soak the cashews overnight, then cook the pasta and make the cashew cheese sauce while you wait for the soy curls to rehydrate.
Squeeze the excess liquid from the soy curls, then add them to the blender with the cheese sauce. Pulse a few times until they’re broken down into small pieces (you can skip this part for bigger “chicken” pieces).
To make it on the stovetop – Mix the drained pasta, cheese sauce, soy curls, and ranch dressing together in a large pot. Heat over low heat until it’s warmed through and the sauce has thickened. Serve in bowls with a drizzle of ranch and hot sauce on top and enjoy!
To make it in the oven – Stir the breadcrumbs and melted vegan butter together in a small bowl. Pour the drained pasta into a prepared casserole dish along with the buffalo cheese sauce, shredded cheese, and optional ranch dressing. Stir well, then sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top and bake until bubbly. Enjoy!
Frequently asked questions
Use your favorite vegan brand of buffalo sauce. Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Wings Sauce is a popular choice and is vegan-friendly since it’s made with natural butter type flavor and not real butter. You can also heat Frank’s RedHot Sauce with 1 tablespoon of vegan butter to make your own vegan buffalo sauce.
The buffalo sauce does pack a punch but the creamy mac and cheese won’t overwhelm your mouth with heat. If you don’t like spicy food, reduce the amount of buffalo sauce to ¼ cup.
Soy curls are made by Butler Foods, which sells them in grocery stores and health food stores throughout North America. They’re pretty easy to find here in the Pacific Northwest but if you can’t find them, you can order them on Amazon or directly from the Butler Foods website.
Usually, my vegan cheese sauce recipes, like my Cashew Cheese Sauce and Nacho Cheese Sauce, work just as well with blanched slivered almonds instead of cashews. I haven’t tested this recipe with them, though.
Nut allergy? Use my Nut Free Vegan Cheese Sauce instead! Omit the onion and garlic powder, paprika, and cornstarch from the recipe, and add ½ cup of buffalo sauce.
Sure! Make the cheese sauce (without the soy curls) and store it in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for about 2 months. Let it thaw in the fridge before reheating and stirring it in a fresh batch of cooked pasta and rehydrated soy curls.
The leftover mac and cheese will last for 3 to 4 days in a sealed container in the fridge. I don’t recommend freezing the pasta and sauce because the texture can become thick and mushy.
Vegan Buffalo Mac and Cheese
Buffalo Cheese Sauce
- 12 ounces small shaped pasta
- 1 cup soy curls
- 2 cups warm vegetable broth
- 7 ounces vegan shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/3 cup vegan ranch plus more for serving
Optional breadcrumb topping
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon vegan butter, melted
- Preheat oven and prep – If planning on baking it with the breadcrumb topping, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and lightly grease a 9×13 inch casserole dish.
- Soak the cashews – Heat up about 3 cups of water in a tea kettle or small pot. Pour the boiling hot water over the cashews and let them soak for 5 minutes.
- Blend cheese sauce – Drain the soaked cashews and discard the soaking water. Add the cashews, fresh water, buffalo sauce, lemon juice, nutritional yeast and salt to a high powered blender and blend until very smooth. Keep sauce in the blender and set aside.
- Cook pasta – Cook the pasta according to package instructions, but do not overcook. Drain and set aside.
- Prepare soy curls – In a large bowl, add the dehydrated soy curls, then cover with warm vegetable broth. Let them rehydrate for about 10 minutes until they have grown in size and softened. Drain in a colander and squeeze any excess water from the pieces. Add the soy curls to the blender with the cheese sauce and pulse a few times to break them down into smaller pieces. Do not blend them in though! You can also leave them larger, if desired, but I prefer to break them down a bit.
- Mix pasta and cheese sauce for stovetop version – Add the drained pasta back to the pot it cooked in, along with the cheese sauce/soy curls. Mix well over low heat until warm and the sauce thickens a little bit. Stir in the vegan ranch, if using.
- For the baked version – Mix the breadcrumbs and melted vegan butter in a small bowl. Add the drained pasta to the casserole dish, along with the buffalo cheese sauce, shredded cheese and optional ranch. Stir well in the dish, then sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until bubbly and hot but not too thick and dry.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!
- For nut free, you can try using sunflower seeds instead of cashews. Or use my nut free vegan cheese sauce. And make sure you use a nut free brand of vegan cheese shreds.
- You could substitute chickpeas or vegan chicken pieces for soy curls.
- For gluten free, substitute gluten free pasta and breadcrumbs.