Easy Vegan Mac and Cheese

Using a spoon to stir a pot of vegan mac and cheese

Who misses Kraft-style shells and cheese? I do, I do. After a long shift at my high school job, I would come home famished and down a whole box of Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese. Since ditching dairy, I’ve missed that classic shell pasta enveloped in creamy, cheddar cheese sauce. But after cracking the code on our vegan cheddar cheese, we immediately thought to try it with pasta and it worked perfectly! The resemblance to boxed shells and cheese was uncanny! And it tastes like the real deal, too! 

We know you’re going to LOVE this 1-pot, 5-ingredient dish that comes together in just 15 minutes! Let us show you how it’s done!

Chickpea pasta shells, salt, nutritional yeast, vegan cheddar cheese, and almond milk

The star of this recipe is our easy vegan cheddar cheese. Made with a base of cashews and carrots, it’s wholesome but tastes indulgent and comforting. We recommend making a batch ahead of time and storing it in the fridge or freezer. It’ll be perfect for making mac and cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches in no time!

If you’re more of a store-bought vegan cheddar fan, that can work too. Our top “cheddar” recommendation is Field Roast Chao Vegan Slices — Creamy Original (see our full guide to vegan cheeses here).

Pouring almond milk into a pot of gluten-free pasta, nutritional yeast, and vegan cheddar cheese

For the noodles, we used a shell shape for Kraft reminiscing but also to maximize the amount of sauce in every bite. But you can use any noodle variety you prefer. A legume-based pasta such as Banza will give this meal more protein, fiber, and staying power.

Once the noodles are cooked, this recipe is as simple as adding the vegan cheddar along with almond milk for creaminess, nutritional yeast for more cheesiness, and salt for flavor. This combo becomes melty and lathers the shells in cheesy goodness.

Holding a bowl of vegan mac and cheese

We hope you LOVE this vegan mac and cheese! It’s:

Quick & easy
& SO delicious!

Enjoy any time you need a classic comfort meal without much effort. It’s filling enough as a standalone meal, but if you’re feeling more veggies, we suggest serving with our Apple Pecan Arugula Salad, Honey Mustard Roasted Brussels Sprouts, 1-Pan Garlicky Green Beans with Slivered Almonds, Creamy Vegan Broccoli Salad, or Easy Massaged Kale Salad.

Bowl of vegan mac and cheese topped with red pepper flakes and vegan parmesan

More Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipes

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Fork with a bite of Vegan Mac and Cheese

Cook Time 15 minutes

Total Time 15 minutes

Servings 2 (Entrée servings)

Course Entree

Cuisine American, Gluten-Free, Vegan

Freezer Friendly No

Does it keep? 1-2 Days

  • Fill a medium saucepan a little more than halfway full with water, add a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add pasta and cook according to package instructions until just al dente (ours took 9 minutes). Be careful not to overcook because the shells will cook a bit longer with the cheese sauce after draining.

  • Drain pasta (we avoided using a colander by using our saucepan lid, which has a draining feature — if yours doesn’t, drain in a colander as needed, then add back to saucepan).
  • Immediately add the vegan cheddar cheese, almond milk (starting with lesser amount), salt, and nutritional yeast. Stir and cook over low heat, stirring frequently until the sauce melts, becomes gooey, and coats the shells. If the cheddar isn’t melting, cover to encourage it along.

  • Remove from heat and serve immediately. Option to garnish with vegan parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.

  • Store cooled leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 1-2 days (not freezer friendly). Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop over medium-low heat until hot, adding more dairy-free milk as needed to thin.

*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with Banza chickpea shells and without optional ingredients.

Serving: 1 serving Calories: 490 Carbohydrates: 66.6 g Protein: 27.7 g Fat: 17.1 g Saturated Fat: 2.1 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.2 g Monounsaturated Fat: 8.5 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 499 mg Potassium: 1157 mg Fiber: 10.7 g Sugar: 5.7 g Vitamin A: 3882 IU Vitamin C: 1.5 mg Calcium: 151.5 mg Iron: 7.9 mg

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