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
4.92 stars (25 ratings)

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.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 6 servings


  • 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

  • 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 tablespoons melted vegan butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a large casserole dish (I used a 9 x 13 inch dish).
  • Soak cashews: Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Pour the hot water over the cashews and let soak for 5 minutes.
  • Make the cheese sauce: Drain the cashews and discard the soaking water. Add them to a 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!


  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.


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
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

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  1. I was excited to try this recipe because I loved the baked ziti recipe so much, but it didn’t turn out very well. It could be entirely my fault though, because I used avocado oil for the panko topping (I don’t usually have vegan butter and if I buy it, I use it for one recipe and the rest goes to waste–so I use oils instead of butter for most recipes). I cut the recipe in half. Strangely, it wasn’t getting hot enough after 20 minutes. The topping was getting brown. And it was kind of bland, but maybe some of the flavor comes from the vegan butter…?

    1. Hi there. Yes, using avocado oil in the topping without adding any salt will certainly affect the recipe. The entire mac and cheese wasn’t getting hot in the oven after 20 minutes? Was your oven set to 350 degrees F? Does it run low? I find after 15 minutes it gets way too thick and is certainly hot throughout. Not sure what happened here, but I feel like maybe something was missing?

  2. Amazing recipe!!! Sometimes I shy away from trying new recipes because I’m afraid I might lose my ingredients for a recipe that’s not good. NOT with Nora’s recipes!!! Every recipe I have tried from this site has always turned amazing! Thanks so much for what you do.

    1. Thank you for your words of of kindness. I’m thrilled you are loving my recipes! I appreciate your wonderful feedback!

  3. This was so delicious that I didn’t want to stop eating it! My grandson was leery of it because its a new recipe. He just thought there was too much crumb topping. Not me. I loved it all! It makes a lot so we’ll need to freeze part of it. What a happy thought that it will be waiting for us when we’re hungry another day!!!

    1. The beauty of leftovers – it is a happy thought! I’m so glad you guys loved the Mac and cheese! Thank you for your wonderful feedback!

  4. We loved this! We added 2T of miso paste for a more “cheesy” flavor to the sauce before blending. Though it makes a ton, there were no leftovers for our family of four!

  5. I am making this for the third time. It took me forever to find this recipe after the first time. I have it saved now and love it!! Thank you! 

  6. I’ve made this recipe before, but every time i make it again I’m nervous because I’m not sure if it’s 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) or 12 oz by weight.

    Please don’t laugh at me. I love your recipes !

    1. 12 ounces by weight, before the noodles are cooked. I usually just approximate rather than weigh and use most of a 16 ounce bag of noodles, because I can be lazy lol. Glad you love the recipes, hope that helps!

  7. Delicious! We are not vegan so we used regular butter in the topping. My husband likes a lot of topping/crunch so this was the perfect amount. Thanks!

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