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Perhaps the best baked vegan Mac and Cheese you will ever eat! Macaroni tossed with a creamy vegan cheese sauce and baked with a topping of crispy Panko breadcrumbs – plant-based comfort food at its highest level!
Have you ever heard people saying that vegan food is boring? Well, I guess they haven’t been introduced to these vegan baked Mac and Cheese! Believe me, they taste anything but boring!
Why don’t you give it a try and see for yourself? Because they are:
- Full of flavor
- Simple, Easy, and Quick to Prepare
- Absolutely Delicious
What Is Vegan Mac and Cheese Anyways?
Macaroni and Cheese, one of the most loved dishes of the Americans! And I do understand why!
The traditional recipe calls for an exaggerated amount of cheese and butter, which can easily be substituted with raw cashew nuts, nutritional yeast, and some spices!
My version isn’t only 100% plant-based, it’s also a little healthier and not as fatty as the original.
Mac and Cheese can be made on the stovetop or baked in the oven! Both ways are delicious, but if you top them with some Panko Breadcrumbs and bake them for only 10 minutes in the oven, they come out with a crispy, crunchy top layer which tastes marvelous!
Vegan Mac and Cheese Sauce
It’s seriously fairly simple to make a vegan cheese sauce! Add a few ingredients into a high-speed blender and blend until you have a creamy sauce with a cheesy taste! No cooking needed!
The main ingredients of this plant-based cheese sauce are raw cashew nuts and nutritional yeast. Both are very well represented in the vegan kitchen.
Nutritional yeast flakes are dried and pressed flakes made from yeast, which are very popular as a vegan cheese substitute because of their intense taste. They also contain many B vitamins and protein.
Furthermore, you need to season the vegan cheese sauce with some spices such as mustard, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika.
Best Pasta for This Easy Vegan Mac and Cheese
Traditionally, as the name already reveals, mac n cheese is made with macaroni. Regular macaroni or elbow macaroni!
But I do love to make this easy vegan pasta recipe using medium shell pasta! Also known as Conchiglie Rigate (see picture below).
They are randomly filled with awesome tasty cheese sauce. Every shell is a surprise and comes with a mouthful of pasta, cheese sauce, and crispy Panko!
But all short pasta shapes can be used for this vegan pasta recipe.
Especially recommended are:
- Elbow Macaroni
- Pipe Rigate
Pro Tip: Slightly undercook the pasta! Don’t forget that the pasta, together with the cheese sauce, is going to cook for another 10 minutes in the oven and then softens quite a bit. The easiest way to undercook them is to cook the pasta according to the package label MINUS 1 minute! They always turn out perfect if I cook them according to this rule!
How To Make This Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipe
The recipe is easy, quick, and simple to follow! You can find the entire recipe with the full ingredient list further below in the recipe card, but I found that this visual guide helps you to make it right away the very first time!
Please let me know in the comments if you like his step-by-step visual guide and if it does help you to cook! I do appreciate every feedback from you!
Now, let’s get to the recipe!
Cook the pasta in boiling salt water according to the packet instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
IMPORTANT: Don’t overcook. The pasta will bake for an additional 10 minutes!
Crispy Panko Breadcrumbs
Heat the butter in a small saucepan. Add thyme and panko and roast until golden brown and fragrant (takes about 5 minutes). Set aside.
Vegan Mac and Cheese Sauce
Meanwhile, add all ingredients for the cheese sauce to a blender.
Blend into a creamy vegan cheese sauce.
Toss pasta with cheese sauce.
Pour it into a baking dish (6 x 9 inches | 15 x 23cm).
Sprinkle with the toasted Panko breadcrumbs.
Bake it for 10 minutes in the preheated oven. The vegan cheese sauce thickens quite a bit during baking.
I love to eat this Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese straight out of the baking dish. Enjoy!
What are Panko Breadcrumbs and where can I buy them? Panko are Japanese breadcrumbs, which are much coarser and, therefore, crispier than regular breadcrumbs. They make the perfect crumb topping! You can find it in any Asian shop or the Asian aisle in any major supermarket.
Can I replace Panko? I highly recommend using panko for this recipe. However, if you don’t have panko at hand, replace it with regular breadcrumbs.
Do I have to soak the cashew nuts? It’s not necessary to soak the cashew nuts if you have a high-speed blender. However, if you have a lower quality blender, soak them for about 10 minutes in boiling water (cook some more pasta water and carefully pour it over the cashews once boiling).
How long does this vegan pasta dish keep fresh? If stored it in an airtight container or the with plastic wrap covered baking dish (easiest to reheat), it stays fresh for 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
How do I reheat Baked Mac and Cheese? 10 min in the preheated oven at 395°F (200°C).
More Vegan Pasta Recipes You’ll Love:
- Vegan Carbonara
- Vegan Creamy Asparagus Pasta Alfredo Style
- Vegan Lentil Bolognese
- Roasted Cherry Tomato Pasta
- Quick One Pot Pasta
Did You Try This Recipe?
I would love it if you leave me a 5-star rating or comment. This way, I better get to know which recipes you like and can make more of them.
Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese
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Mac and Cheese
- Preheat the oven to 395°F/200°C.
- Cook the pasta in boiling salt water according to the packet instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside. Don’t overcook, the pasta will bake for an additional 10 minutes!
- Heat the butter in a small saucepan. Add thyme and panko and roast until golden brown and fragrant. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, add all ingredients for the cheese sauce to a blender and blend until creamy.
- Toss pasta with cheese sauce and pour into a baking dish (6 x 9 inches | 15 x 23cm). Sprinkle with the toasted panko breadcrumbs.
- Bake it for 10 minutes in the preheated oven. The vegan cheese sauce thickens quite a bit during baking.
- I love to eat this Mac and Cheese straight out of the baking dish. Enjoy!
- Cashew Nuts: It’s not necessary to soak the cashew nuts if you have a high-speed blender. However, if you have a lower quality blender, soak them for about 10 minutes in boiling water (cook some more pasta water and carefully pour it over the cashews once boiling).
- Pasta: I love using shells to make this recipe. They are randomly filled with awesome tasty cheese sauce. Other pasta to use: Elbow Macaroni, Pipe Rigate, Cellentani.
- Panko: I highly recommend using panko for this recipe. Those Japanese breadcrumbs are coarser and crispier than regular breadcrumbs. However, if you don’t have panko at hand, replace it with regular breadcrumbs.
- Keeps fresh for 2 days. Store it in an airtight container or in the with plastic wrap covered baking dish (easiest to reheat) in the refrigerator.
- Reheat: 10 min in the preheated oven (395°F/200°C).