Get ready for a creamy vegan macaroni and cheese that is low in fat and quick and easy to make!
It’s a funny thing, but the recipe I’m asked for most often is the one I’m most reluctant to give out. Every time I mention that macaroni and “cheese” is one of E’s favorite dishes, parents wanting to wean their kids off the dairy stuff and onto something more healthy ask me for the recipe. For a long time, I had to tell them the hard, cold truth: The “cheese” that E loved above all others came from a package, and though I tried recipe after recipe, she wouldn’t eat any other mac and cheeze.
And then one day I decided I’d had enough. I was having to mail-order Road’s End Cheddar Style Chreese in bulk once every couple of months to keep E supplied with her quickest comfort food. (Her other favorite comfort food, lasagna, doesn’t fit into the make-it-on-the-fly category.) Each time I made it, I would look at the short list of ingredients and think that there had to be a way to recreate it at home and I just hadn’t hit the right formula yet.
So in the interest of eating more local and fewer packaged foods, I started experimenting. I took the sauce from the one cheezy recipe that she had liked, Scalloped Potatoes, and tried that on macaroni. No dice. What worked on potatoes didn’t work for her on pasta. So I tinkered with it and then tinkered some more. Finally, sometime last spring I hit on a formula that worked, and we’ve been Chreese-free ever since.
But I was still reluctant to share the recipe because vegans are notoriously picky about their mac and cheese. Look at any vegan bulletin board and you’ll see someone praising a m&c recipe and someone else declaring that the same recipe tastes like $#!+. What works for my family won’t necessarily work for everyone else, and I would hate for anyone to spend the time to make this recipe and then be disappointed. Plus I’m just sensitive enough not to want to read online that my recipe tastes like someone’s backside.
But enough people want this recipe that I’m issuing it with a disclaimer: If you are used to nutritional yeast sauces AND you like Road’s End Chreese, then this might be the recipe for you.
Notice that it’s not baked in a casserole dish with bread crumbs or anything fancy (if you want that, check out this recipe). It’s macaroni and sauce, period, though sometimes we do add frozen green peas to make it Macaroni and Peas. But it’s quick to throw together on a week night, and I have to admit that our whole family finds it addictive.
Easy Vegan Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 pound pasta regular or gluten-free, cooked according to package directions
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 1 cup plain fat-free soymilk may use other non-dairy milk
- 3/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch or potato starch
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons tahini or raw cashews optional, but lends creaminess and flavor
- 1 teaspoon mellow white miso or additional salt
- black pepper to taste
- Put the pasta on to boil, according to package directions. While it’s cooking, blend water and all remaining ingredients together in a blender. When the pasta is al dente, drain it, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water, and return the pasta to pan. Add the sauce mixture and cook, stirring, until mixture boils and thickens. Add a little of the pasta water if more moistness is needed.
- If the sauce is not as flavorful as you’d like, add a little more mustard and onion powder.
Nutritional info is approximate.
Serving Suggestions: We like to have this with a bean dish, such as barbecued beans, and with steamed vegetables, most often a blend of broccoli and cauliflower.
Additional Uses: Heat the sauce alone until it thickens and use it to pour over baked potatoes or top pizzas. Or stir in some salsa and it makes a yummy dip for tortilla chips.
If you don’t love this recipe, maybe one of these will tingle your tastebuds:New Farm Mac and Cheese adapted by Jess of Get Sconed!
Tofu Mom gives us Vegan Cheese Sauce
Re-Vamped Mac N Cheese by Sarchan
Lauren’s Vegan Mac and Cheese by Lindyloo
Please pin and share!
JenniferJanuary 10, 2016 at 9:11 pm
I’m not vegan at all, but wanted more recipes that use nutritional yeast. Usually vegan/vegetarian recipes that pretend to be things they are not never work for me. Even though this clearly doesn’t taste like it has actual cheese in it, I think it’s delicious. My vegan coworkers loved it and appreciated the dish’s thoughtfulness. Also, I have re-named it Macaroni and the Yeast (it was for a Disney-themed holiday party). So thank you for a great recipe!
NatalieFebruary 9, 2016 at 10:26 pm
Not sure why there is an overwhelmingly positive response to this recipe. This is my first try of vegan cheese, and I followed the recipe but all I got was cooked pasta and a bland sauce. My entire kitchen smells like nutritional yeast and I’m usually a fan of cooking with it, but this recipe didn’t work for me.
SharJanuary 25, 2023 at 6:09 pm
I’ve made this recipe many times. It’s rich and satisfying. My family has enjoyed it quite a bit. I wouldn’t call it bland at all. Maybe it takes some time to get the recipe just right. Follow it to the T. – shar
SwannJuly 6, 2016 at 6:49 pm
Oh my goodness, I have finally found my Southern, comfort-food heaven with this recipe!! I have tried many in my whole foods, plant-based lifestyle journey, but this one is the BOMB!!!! You are truly genious Susan! Thank you!!!!!
Janet JonesAugust 10, 2016 at 12:09 am
I tried a Mac and cheese when I first became vegan made from butternut squash, it was a huge disappointment! I vowed I’d never try to recreate an old favorite again. But when I saw this one, with all the great feedback, I decided to give it a try. It’s such an easy recipe! I served the sauce over quinoa noodles, and me and my hubby were so happy! It’s really yummy, thank you so much! You’re a genius!
TinaAugust 10, 2016 at 11:10 am
Hey Susan. I’ve been substituting sesame seeds for tahini in hummus (which is delicious), per the advice / recipe of Dr. Furhman. I would rather not have the oil in the tahini, but don’t mind what he says is the healthier fat in the seeds. But here is my question. For the hummus recipe, I just include 2 Tbsp. of hummus right in the food processor with the chickpeas (and a few other ingredients). But the sesame seeds don’t actually get ground up. They basically just get mixed through as seeds, and still add that yummy flavor. So I’m wondering whether you think the creaminess aspect of the tahini (from the oil) is important, or just the flavor? And also whether I could just throw in some sesame seeds, or should try grinding them first? I’d rather not grind bc I have yet to find a good seed grinder!! Thanks very much! Looking forward to trying this.
Susan VoisinAugust 10, 2016 at 11:23 am
Hi Tina, there’s actually no added oil in tahini. It’s simply ground up sesame seeds, and the oil that comes out is just the oil in the seeds. If you have a Vitamix or Blendtec blender, you can make it yourself (or make hummus using seeds and have them completely blended into the hummus). I’m guessing that you’re using a regular blender based on the fact that the seeds don’t get broken down. I would say that Yes, the tahini (or completely ground sesame seeds) does make a big difference in the creaminess of hummus. I think trying to grind them first is an excellent idea, and you might try throwing them into your blender first before you spend money on a seed grinder. You might be surprised that they break down if you leave them long enough.
That’s for hummus. For this recipe, if you really don’t want to use tahini, I wouldn’t bother with sesame seeds. Just leave it out. The tahini does add a little flavor and creaminess, but if you are used to fat-free cooking, you probably won’t miss it.
MarkWBAugust 14, 2016 at 10:59 pm
This is my favorite! Thank you! We are presently transitioning my 87 year old mother w/ cancer to McDougall diet and she doesn’t like everything we serve her, but this one perked her up immediately! Such good all around flavor, which I find lacking in many of the other recipes we have tried – other McDougall recipes (other than yours). Looking forward to experimenting with more of your recipes.
JOctober 27, 2016 at 3:43 pm
I made it today, and I was just in awe how easy and incredibly yummy it was. I used plain flour since I didn’t have any cornstarch. It took me a long time to dwell into any “cheese” adventure, but I don’t know why I waited so long. Thank you!
SarahJanuary 12, 2017 at 5:30 pm
Hello, I’m trying to watch my portion sizes/calorie intake. How much volume is 1/8th of the recipe? Would this be 303 calories per half cup of the finished product? Or 303 per one cup? Thanks.
Susan VoisinJanuary 12, 2017 at 5:58 pm
I haven’t measured it. To be certain, you would have to make it and divide it into 8 parts. But I think it would be closer to a cup than 1/2 a cup.
BethFebruary 26, 2017 at 12:34 am
Macaroni and Cheez was a real hit. Thanks for taking the trouble to do the homework on producing such a great recipe!
CarrieAugust 30, 2017 at 8:56 pm
This came out amazing!! It was so simple and satisfying. Thanks for sharing!
MeganSeptember 16, 2017 at 7:32 pm
I’m mixing a double recipe of the dry ingredients in my nutribullet to make a mix. I’ll store it in a mason jar and use it to cook 8 oz pasta meals.
Jess DSeptember 23, 2017 at 1:46 pm
Tried it last night – it’s a wonderful and healthier substitute for mac n cheese! It’s a bit of an acquired taste and I was liking it more and more with each bite. It really is addicting! I was surprised to see my picky husband gobble it up and go for seconds. He doesn’t really care for anything healthy, but he loved it! I felt like the smoked paprika taste was overpowering the recipe, but next time I will try regular paprika with a dash of smoked. Thank you for a great recipe!
mary TomlinsonNovember 8, 2017 at 8:59 am
This is amazing! As a Grandmother who is also vegan, trying to find a healthy mac and cheese for my two little granddaughters, I must say this is by far the best cheese sauce ever. Thank you Susan.
PlumaDecember 14, 2017 at 6:01 pm
Delicious! Thank you 😊
MaggieDecember 25, 2017 at 3:59 pm
I just made this as written (with cashews), and we loved it! I think the miso is important to getting the cheesy umami flavor — it must not be skipped! I used whole wheat rotini, and I liked how the spirals soaked up the sauce.
I topped it with diced homemade seitan left over from last week (Vegan Dad’s “lunch meat” style recipe) — the combo was a bowl of pure vegan comfort food. If I’d had vegan hot dogs, I’d have sliced one up in it instead of the seitan, but the seitan was very good.
I think part of what I loved is that it reminded me just *a little* of the childhood “blue box” that I grew up eating — blue box with a chopped up hot dog. People who grew up with casserole-style homemade may be looking for a different flavor, but this hit a happy childhood processed food memory for me — and after years of WFPB eating, that’s quite a treat.
I think I’m going to mix some Hatch green chile in with tomorrow’s left overs to try it nacho-style. It would definitely be good with steamed broccoli added. I would also totally eat this sauce with low-fat tortilla chips.
CarolJune 18, 2018 at 3:26 pm
I made this sauce last week because I needed an easy one to go with something else. But today I cooked some macaroni to finish up the cheese sauce. I’ve made other cheese sauces (including another one of yours) and I’d love to have them all here at the same time so I could pick the one which seems the very best to me. That’s probably not going to happen. But I think this one would be hard to beat for macaroni.
Because I was making just enough to send to work for an adult tomorrow, I decided to bulk up this macaroni lunch by sauteeing just a little onion, mushroom and orange bell pepper and some chives from the garden. Now I don’t know why I never thought to do that before. It was so good that what wouldn’t fit in the lunch mug I finished–even though I shouldn’t have because I’d used regular elbows with gluten for the other person.
CarolJune 18, 2018 at 3:28 pm
Sorry,I couldn’t get the stars to register the first time. I’ll try again.
Elena VoisinOctober 1, 2018 at 9:19 pm
I didn’t have miso, but the recipe still turned out amazing.
Thanks for the great recipe Mom!
Susan VoisinOctober 2, 2018 at 8:13 am
LynSeptember 18, 2020 at 11:10 am
If the miso is omitted how much additional salt should be added. The one teaspoon?
CrissieNovember 7, 2018 at 5:29 pm
Thanks to Pinterest, this popped up and the timing was perfect! Family loved it – served with steamed broccoli and stir-fried tempeh stirred in!
kitchens cityJuly 2, 2019 at 3:32 am
Easy Vegan Macaroni and Cheese is one of my favorites and this recipe definitely did not disappoint.
CJAugust 22, 2019 at 10:45 am
Does it work to sub potato flakes for potato starch? Would I need to increase the amount? It looks like a great recipe!
Susan VoisinAugust 22, 2019 at 11:49 am
I’m afraid that wouldn’t give good results. Do you have corn starch? Even tapioca or arrowroot would be a better choice than potato flakes.
EvieOctober 17, 2019 at 9:14 am
OMG!!!! The best EVER cheese sauce!!! I have been searching for a good vegan cheese sauce and never found anything I liked, but THIS??? This is DELICIOUS!!!! Thank you Susan!!!!
HeatherJanuary 6, 2020 at 9:37 pm
I am embarrassed that I have never rated this recipe until now.
This is such an absolutely delicious winner, and the leftover sauce is great over baked tortilla chips.
It has that stadium nacho taste and consistency, saucy and tangy. I do a variation where I use steamed and blended cauliflower as the base (eliminating the cornstarch and all but a cup of the water/plant milk (either works). It tastes decadent. You can also use Yukon potatoes.
This has been a go to for YEARS! I have shared the recipe so many times. Thanks Susan!
Susan VoisinJanuary 6, 2020 at 10:51 pm
It’s good to see this old recipe getting some love. It’s a staple in my house, so I’m happy you use it, too. I also gave a cauliflower version somewhere on the blog. Thanks for coming by to rate it!
CindyFebruary 27, 2020 at 9:19 am
I love this recipe! I made a few revisions::
I use Kal Nutritional Yeast Flakes (tastes lighter)
I added 4 0z Pimento’s with juice so I reduced the water for 4 oz
I added 1/3 tsp dill weed.
This is my favorite!!!
Adrienne NortonJuly 11, 2020 at 11:11 am
The cheese sauce in this recipe is my most precious recipe. Seriously. I first tried this recipe 10 years ago. I thought it was ok on the pasta, but I used it as a soup instead. I ate so much that I became concerned about how much nutritional yeast was safe to eat, so I put the recipe away a few years ago and have thought about it fondly. I just found it again and look forward to having it!
KimJanuary 15, 2022 at 10:58 am
My post Covid bod was looking for something ‘ clean’ and satisfying to make for an easy meal tonight. Thx, Susan, again, for what you do. I hope the ‘clean up’ and moving forward after loosing your homeplace is coming along good. I think of you often.
Susan VoisinJanuary 15, 2022 at 12:36 pm
Thanks, Kim. It’s sort of stalled right now as my mother rests and tries to decide what to do in the long term. I hope you’re feeling better! Glad the Mac and cheese could participate in your recovery.
ChrisMay 31, 2022 at 3:10 pm
We have been making this for years and love it. It’s our go-to. I’m wondering what I would need to do differently to adapt this for the crock pot. Our stove is acting up and it takes forever to boil water these days. 🙂
MelaniAugust 21, 2022 at 9:41 am
I tried the recipe and it’s really amazing. Thanks for the recipe
ArelSeptember 25, 2022 at 12:17 pm
I tried this recipe and it turned out really good. Thanks for the recipe.
AlexandraDecember 9, 2022 at 7:33 pm
I’ve had this recipe printed and waiting to be made for years. Tonight was the night, and I am sorry I missed having this for all those years, and so is my husband.