The Ultimate Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese, a family favorite and easy to make! Creamy, cheesy and topped with a buttery panko breadcrumb topping.

bowl of vegan baked mac and cheese

This is the most delicious kind of comfort food, and it’s completely vegan. Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese makes a great family friendly dinner, or a perfect holiday side dish!

It’s seriously easy to make without any store-bought vegan cheeses. The panko breadcrumb topping really takes it to the next level of “WOW”. No one will guess it’s dairy free!

I hope you love it as much as my family does!

spoon taking a serving out of vegan baked mac and cheese

How to make vegan baked mac and cheese

It’s really not hard! Here is how it goes (see recipe card below for full instructions):

  • Soak your cashews and boil the pasta.
  • Blend the soaked cashews in a blender along with fresh water, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic, onion powder and salt.
  • Make the breadcrumb topping by mixing breadcrumbs, vegan butter and paprika in a bowl.
  • Add noodles to casserole dish, and pour in cheese sauce. Stir. The cheese sauce will be a little watery, and that’s good because it thickens while it bakes.

casserole dish with noodles and sauce

  • Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture on top.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes until hot and golden brown.
  • Devour!!

mac and cheese with breadcrumb topping before cooking

Special tips & Instructions

  • For gluten free, use gluten free noodles and gluten free breadcrumbs, OR top instead with Vegan Parmesan
  • You could sub raw slivered almonds for the cashews if needed. Sunflower seeds might work for a nut free option, but I haven’t tested it.
  • Don’t overcook the pasta, it will continue to cook in the oven and you don’t want it to get mushy.
  • This can be made ahead of time, but is best fresh! To make ahead, follow the instructions but instead of baking, cover and refrigerate. When ready to bake, uncover and bake until hot.

casserole dish with baked mac and cheese, cooked

Want more comforting pasta recipes?

close up of vegan baked mac and cheese

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bowl of vegan baked mac and cheese

Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese

The Ultimate Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese, a family favorite and easy to make! Creamy, cheesy and topped with a buttery panko breadcrumb topping.
5 from 6 votes

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces elbow noodles

Cheese Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Breadcrumb Topping

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a large casserole dish (I used a 9 x 13 inch dish).
  • Soak cashews: Soften your cashews by covering them in boiling water for 5 minutes. I do this by heating up water in my tea kettle, and then pouring the boiling water over the cashews in a large glass measuring cup.
  • Make the cheese sauce: Drain the cashews and add them to a high powered blender along with 2 cups of fresh water, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic clove, onion powder and salt. Blend until very smooth, and set aside. It will appear a bit watery, but that is right as it thickens while it bakes.
  • Cook the pasta according to package instructions, but one minute less. The noodles will continue to cook in the oven, so do not overcook. Drain and set aside.
  • Make the breadcrumb topping: In a small bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, melted vegan butter and paprika.
  • Add the drained pasta to the casserole dish. Pour the cheese sauce on top of the noodles and stir to combine. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top and bake, uncovered, for about 15-20 minutes until warm and golden brown.
  • Serve hot and enjoy!

Notes

  1. Gluten free: Use gluten free elbow noodles, and gluten free breadcrumbs OR instead top with Vegan Parmesan.
  2. Nut free: I don't know how to make this recipe totally nut free, but you might be able to substitute raw slivered almonds for the cashews. Sunflower seeds may work.
  3. Make ahead: To make this a day or two ahead of time, make as directed but do not bake. Cover with foil and refrigerate. When ready to bake, uncover and bake for 30 minutes or until hot. It's better when made right away though!
  4. Add some veggies: frozen thawed peas, steamed broccoli, kale or spinach would all be great added in to this mac and cheese.

Nutrition

Calories: 515kcal, Carbohydrates: 65g, Protein: 17g, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Sodium: 763mg, Potassium: 425mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 397IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 54mg, Iron: 4mg

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