Your kids are going to love this vegan Baked Macaroni and Cheese. It is a healthy twist on a classic comfort food. Made with a vegetable-stuffed cheesy sauce and topped with herbed bread crumbs, this meal is a keeper!
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As I've mentioned before, I have a difficult time getting my 4-year-old to eat vegetables. If he could have it his way he would live on tofu and peanut butter sandwiches alone. For years I have tried different ways to get him to eat more veggies, but he is a stubborn kid with jaws clenched tight.
So I started sneaking vegetables into his food.
By puréeing different veggies and sneaking them into his favorite sauces, he is finally eating some of the earth's good food and he is none the wiser (until he learns how to read and starts following my blog, that is).
And this vegan Baked Macaroni and Cheese is where it all began.
Recommended Ingredients and Equipment
You're going to love this vegan mac and cheese. And more importantly, the kids will love it. It's a veggie-packed, kid-friendly meal that everyone can feel good about eating.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Elbow Noodles - While I recommend elbow noodles for this recipe, you can really use a variety of small noodles such as shell pasta, fusilli, or Orecchiette pasta.
- Sweet Potato
- Yellow Onion
- Non-Dairy Milk - I recommend milk that is thick and neutral-flavored such as soy or cashew milk but any unsweetened milk will do.
- Oil - Olive, avocado, and canola oil are all great options.
- Raw Cashews - Blanched almonds or raw macadamia nuts would also work.
- Nutritional Yeast
- Sun-Dried Tomatoes - Use the dry variety rather than the oil-packed.
- Spicy Mustard
- Lemon Juice
- Panko Bread Crumbs
- Vegan Butter - Look for a high-quality non-hydrogenated vegan butter. I recommend either Earth Balance or Miyoko’s.
- Spices - You will need dried parsley, dried, oregano, and salt.
Additionally, when it comes to making a vegan cheese sauce, you really should have a high powered blender. These blenders can be pricy, but my Vitamix is one of the most used gadgets in my kitchen. Most other blenders simply do not have the power to create a cream out of cashews and you’ll end up with gritty cheese sauce. (<<affiliate links)
Check out the full list of my recommended kitchen tools and gadgets.
How to Make Baked Mac and Cheese
Step One - Make the Noodles
Cook the macaroni noodles in boiling water until the pasta until it is al dente. Strain through a colander and set aside.
Step Two - Make the Sauce
Boil the sweet potatoes and carrots until they are tender. They are done when they are easily pierced with a fork. Once they are ready, strain them through a colander and set aside. While the veggies are boiling, sauté the onions and garlic over medium heat for 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent and fragrant. Set aside.
Add the milk, cashews, nutritional yeast, sun-dried tomatoes, mustard, lemon juice, and salt to the blender and blend until smooth. Add sweet potato, carrots, onions, and garlic and blend again. The sauce should be completely smooth and easily pourable. If it needs thinning, add a little more milk 1 tablespoon at a time.
Pro Tip: If you don’t have a high-powered blender, you can soak the cashews for about 6 hours ahead of time and they will blend up fairly well.
Step Three - Mix and Bake
Once the pasta and sauce are ready, combine them together in a large cast-iron skillet, stirring together to ensure that the pasta is fully and evenly sauced.
Mix together the ingredients for the crumb topping and evenly spread over mac and cheese, patting down as necessary. Bake the vegan mac and cheese until the topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Serving and Storing
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, gently reheat in the oven.
Make in advance - This vegan mac and cheese can be made up to a day in advance. To do so, prepare the casserole following the instructions below. However, do not bake. Tightly wrap the mac and cheese and place it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. When ready to serve, remove it from the refrigerator and bake. It may take slightly longer in the oven as the casserole will be chilled.
Frequently Asked Questions
More Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipes
- Veggie Packed Smokey Mac and Cheese
- Gluten Free Vegan Mac and Cheese
- Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
- Nut-Free Spicy Mac and Cheese
Vegan Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Macaroni and Cheese
- 12 ounces macaroni noodles
- ½ medium sweet potato (about 1 cup), peeled and cubed
- ½ medium carrot, (about ½ cup), peeled and chopped
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- ¼ yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup unsweetened cashew or macadamia nut milk
- ¼ cup raw cashews
- 2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon spicy mustard
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
Bread Crumb Topping
- ⅓ cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon vegan butter, melted
- 2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- ¼ teaspoon parsley
- ¼ teaspoon oregano
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly spray a 10 ¼" cast iron skillet (or similar sized baking dish) and set aside.
- Fill a large pot with 4 quarts of water. Place over medium-high heat and bring to boil. Stir in macaroni and boil until al dente, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and strain pasta through a colander. Set aside.
- In a smaller pot, bring 2 quarts of water to boil. Add sweet potatoes and carrots. Boil for 10 minutes, until vegetables are easily pierced with a fork. Remove from heat and strain out the water. Set aside to let cool.
- Using a high-powered blender make your cheese sauce. Add milk, cashews, nutritional yeast, sun-dried tomatoes, mustard, lemon juice, and salt to the blender and blend until smooth. Add sweet potato, carrots, onions, and garlic and blend again. The sauce should be completely smooth and easily pourable. If it needs thinning, add a little more milk 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Combine the sauce with noodles then spread evenly in the prepared cast iron skillet.
- Mix together the ingredients for the crumb topping and evenly spread over mac and cheese, patting down as necessary.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes until bread topping is golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes before serving.