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Dreamy Dairy Free Mac and Cheese (Nut free!)

Get ready for an amazing Vegan Mac and Cheese recipe that will make your taste buds sing! This is the ultimate baked dairy free mac and cheese recipe that you won’t be able to resist. It’s super simple to make with grocery store ingredients. Plus, the crispy herbed breadcrumb topping adds that perfect finishing touch that will have everyone asking for second helpings. 

This savory, rich, and creamy mac and cheese is the perfect addition to any cozy dinner or holiday gathering. And the best part? Not only is it dairy free and egg free, it doesn’t contain any soy or nuts – so everyone can enjoy it! This is the ultimate comfort food in a bowl or as a side dish that the whole family will love. 

The dairy free mac and cheese recipe in a baking dish with fresh herbs on top. A scoop has been taken out and is on a plate next to the dish. Fresh herbs, forks, and serving spoon are next to the dish.
Serving up a big scoop of dairy free mac and cheese with breadcrumbs.

Want more comfort food recipes? Check out my Plant Based Bolognese Pasta or for a fun seasonal dish, why not scoop up a serving of some Vegan Pumpkin Mac and Cheese! 

Why You’ll Love this Vegan Mac and Cheese 

  • Simple Ingredients: Noodles and a simple cheese sauce plus a crispy breadcrumb topping all come together – no weird ingredients required. 
  • 45 Minutes til Done: Cook the noodles and make the sauce and then pop into the oven for a quick bake to take it to the next level. 
  • Super Satisfying: Nothing says comfort like a big scoop of this warm, hearty, and filling mac and cheese! 

Ingredients 

Ingredients for the mac and cheese and cheese sauce in various plates and bowls on a wood table. Black and white labels have been added to name each ingredient.
All the labeled ingredients for the noodles and sauce.
A glass bowl and small plate are filled with the ingredients for the topping. Black and white labels have been added to name each ingredient.
All of the labeled ingredients for the herb breadcrumb topping.
  • Noodles: Can’t make mac and cheese without noodles! I’ve tried this with a bunch of different noodle types and honestly, the macaroni noodle and sea shell noodle I think are perfect. They hold the sauce and don’t fall apart. If you need gluten free macaroni noodles, you can use them as well with no other changes! 
  • Sauce: This is based on my vegan queso dip that uses Cannellini Beans as the base. You need the beans, veggie broth, tomato paste, nutritional yeast, tapioca flour, Dijon Mustard and lemon juice. 
  • Spices: Garlic powder, onion powder, and chili powder add a ton of flavor. While the base recipe isn’t spicy at all, you can totally add more paprika and chili powder to kick it up a notch! Salt and some black pepper to taste, naturally. 
  • Breadcrumb Topping: Using either a vegan panko or homemade bread crumbs, mix this with more garlic and onion powder, plus some fresh or dried parsley. 

Mac and Cheese Variations

  • Gochujang Mac and Cheese: I freaking LOVE this spicy mac and cheese! After the cheese sauce cooks on the stove, replace the dijon mustard with one tablespoon (or more or less depending on how spicy you like it) with Gochujang Paste. Add in 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce to the cheese as well. Mix it all together and bake! 
  • Stove top Mac and Cheese: And you don’t have to bake this if you don’t want to and need your mac and cheese cravings satisfied right away. 
  • Want an extra cheesy taste? You can add some vegan parmesan cheese or other vegan cheese shreds to this sauce after it cooks on the stove top. However, I find that the nutritional yeast gives it a super cheesy flavor and didn’t think that the extra cheese added much flavor. 

Instructions 

Making the best vegan mac and cheese is done in 3 steps: Noodles, Vegan Cheese Sauce, and Baking. 

Make sure to check out the recipe card below for the full recipe and ingredient list.

Cook the noodles according to package directions in a large pot of salted water. Small elbow noodles typically take between 5 to 8 minutes, while larger noodles can take 10 to 12 minutes to cook. 

Tip! For the best results, try to cook the noodles until they are “just” al dente in texture. They will finish baking in the sauce in the oven. If you over cook the noodles now, they will turn really mushy in the oven. 

While the noodles are cooking, quickly mix together the breadcrumb topping with the spices and set it aside. 

A glass bowl is filled with the bread crumb topping. It rests on a wood table.
Breadcrumb topping all mixed together in a glass bowl.

Into a high-speed blender (or food processor), combine the drained and rinsed cannellini beans with the nutritional yeast, vegetable broth, spices, salt, tomato paste, and tapioca starch. Blend until very smooth. 

The cheese sauce in the blender that is resting on a green towel.
Cheese sauce all blended together in the blender.

Pour this into a medium sized pot and cook on the stove for 5 minutes over a low heat. This is what activates the tapioca to make the sauce thick. Make sure to stir constantly to prevent it from burning. 

After 5 minutes, remove the sauce from the heat and add in the Dijon mustard and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Give it a taste and adjust any seasoning to taste. If you want, you can add in a few extra tablespoons of water if you want a more runny texture to the sauce. 

Pour the cheesy sauce and cooked pasta together and mix until coated. Transfer to an unlined and ungreased baking dish, smoothing it into an even layer. Cover with the prepared breadcrumb topping. 

Breadcrumbs have been added to the top of the mac and cheese before baking in the oven. The noodles are in a rectangle baking dish with handles and it's on a wood table.
Mac and cheese after sprinkling the breadcrumbs on top.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are toasty and golden brown.

That’s it! Serve and enjoy. 

What to Serve with Mac and Cheese

I like to keep things simple when serving mac and cheese. 

When mac n cheese is the main, I typically reach for steamed or roasted vegetables like broccoli, carrots, brussel sprouts, or asparagus. A fresh greens salad is also delicious. 

You can add things like hot dogs, baked beans, or hamburgers for a BBQ spin. 

When served at holiday meals, this makes for an amazing side dish! 

A dark blue plate is covered with a big scoop of dairy free mac and cheese. A gold fork and sprig of parsley is on the plate. It's resting on a placemat on a wood table. More herbs and crumbs are next to the plate.
A big plate filled with a scoop of mac and cheese with a gold fork because it’s fancy.

How to Store 

Store leftover mac and cheese in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You may need to add an extra splash of water when reheating on the stove top or in the microwave as the sauce gets absorbed by the noodles. This baked mac and cheese tastes even better the next day, just like so many other noodle dishes!

The dairy free baked mac and cheese is on a wood table surrounded by fresh herbs, forks, plates filled with mac and cheese, and a serving spoon. A large scoop has been taken out of the casserole.
Serving up the cooked mac and cheese.

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The dairy free mac and cheese recipe in a baking dish with fresh herbs on top. A scoop has been taken out and is on a plate next to the dish. Fresh herbs, forks, and serving spoon are next to the dish.

Dreamy Dairy Free Baked Mac and Cheese

The ultimate baked dairy free mac and cheese recipe that you won’t be able to resist. It’s super simple to make with grocery store ingredients.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: side dishes, vegan
Servings: 6 large servings
Calories: 246kcal

Equipment

  • Mixing bowls
  • Mixing spoons
  • measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • pot
  • blender
  • baking dish

Ingredients

Noodles

  • 2 cups macaroni noodles uncooked

Cheese Sauce

  • 15 ounces Cannellini Beans 1 can, drained and rinsed
  • cup Nutritional Yeast I recommend Bob’s Red Mill
  • 1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
  • 1 cup Vegetable Broth I recommend Better Than Bouillon Seasoned Vegetable Base
  • 1 tablespoon Tapioca Starch or cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika sweet or smoked
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Breadcrumb Topping

  • ½ cup breadcrumbs Panko or similar breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika sweet
  • ½ teaspoon dried parsley

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350F/170C.
  • Prepare the pasta. Prepare the pasta according to package directions. Cook until just al dente, you don’t want the noodles to be overdone. Drain and set aside until ready to assemble and bake.
  • Make the breadcrumb topping. In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs along with the herbs and spices for the topping. Set aside.
  • Make the Sauce. In a high-speed blender, or food processor, combine the cannellini beans, nutritional yeast, tomato paste, vegetable broth, tapioca flour, and the spices of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and chili powder. Blend this on medium to high speed until it is very smooth.
  • Cook the cheese sauce. Transfer to a medium saucepan on the stove and bring to a simmer over a medium-low heat. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, to allow the tapioca flour to cook and thicken the sauce. Remove from the heat and add the Dijon mustard and lemon juice. Stir well.
  • Combine. Add the cooked and drained noodles to the cheese sauce. Stir to coat all the noodles. Pour into an 8×10-inch (20×25-cm) pan. Cover with the bread crumb topping mixture.
  • Bake and serve. Bake in the oven uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are toasted on top. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Variations 
    • Gochujang Mac and Cheese: I freaking love this spicy mac and cheese. After the cheese sauce cooks on the stove, replace the Dijon mustard with one tablespoon  (or more or less depending on how spicy you like it) with Gochujang Paste. Add in 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce now as well. Mix it all together and bake as directed.
    • To make this just as a stovetop mac and cheese, make as directed but stop before baking in the oven. No need to top with breadcrumbs if you are going to enjoy it straight from the pot! 
  • How to Store 
    • Store leftover mac and cheese in an airtight container in the fridge for up to5 days. You may need to add an extra splash of water when reheating on the stovetop or in the microwave as the sauce gets absorbed by the noodles.
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Nutrition

Calories: 246kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Sodium: 411mg | Potassium: 223mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 560IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 3mg
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