Visual learner? Watch me make this vegan mac and cheese from start to finish!
How to make Vegan Mac and Cheese!
I’ve been playing around with vegan mac and cheese recipes since January, and I’ve finally found my new favorite….for now! Because Lord knows that one mac and cheese recipe is NEVER enough!
I’m satisfied with this recipe, though, and think I’ll keep it in rotation whenever I have my vegan peeps over. Shoot, I might even make it for myself now and then because this vegan mac n cheese is so delicious! It definitely goes into the I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Vegan category!
Oh, and if you haven’t checked out my other vegan recipes, head on over to scoop them up!
Today is all about creamy, plant-based macaroni and cheese!!! I never thought I’d get excited about this but, I am! After several failed vegan mac and cheese recipes, I was thrilled to come out with this winner. Let’s talk about my favorite vegan brands that won my long recipe testing trials before we get into the recipe!
Homemade Vegan Cheese Sauce or Nah?
Now, of course, mac n cheese is ALL about the cheese! As I was writing out different recipes and combinations to try, I faced a dilemma: Create my own vegan cheese sauce or try various vegan cheese brands.
Homemade vegan cheese sauce recipes often had ingredients like chickpeas, steamed potatoes, cashews, and nutritional yeast. Yikes! I got overwhelmed just thinking about how many batches of cheese sauce I’d had to make and trash! Not today, Satan!
I loaded my Shipt cart with Daiya, Violife, Miyokos, Field Roast, Follow Your Heart, and Go Veggie and called it a day! Let the testing begin!
- TASTE! Yep, all of these vegan brands taste like the real deal!
- Appearance! Sure! They look pretty “normal.”
- Easy to find. Absolutely! I found all of these items at Target, Whole Foods, and/or Publics.
The BEST vegan cheese for mac and cheese: Miyoko’s Farmhouse Cheddar
I tried MANY different kinds of vegan cheese, and the winner was Miyoko’s. It didn’t have that overly buttery taste and weird smell that the other cheeses had. It wasn’t as pretty and realistic looking as the other cheeses, though. I found it in Target, so that was another plus. I love the way this cheese melted down and didn’t have an aftertaste. It did require some stirring, though! I’ll continue to try a different cheese, but for right now, Miyoko’s is giving me the BEST authentic cheese flavor!! Second Runner Up: Violife. My kids preferred Violife. I love this cheese’s look, but it had a slight smell and an artificial butter taste. My son came into the kitchen and asked was I making biscuits, lol. I’ve also made it with Miyoko’s Farmhouse Cheddar and just a handful of Violife mozzarella cheese and that was also good. Miyoko’s also has a smoked cheddar and mozzarella that was out of stock during my testing, but I LOVE smoked cheese in mac and cheese and can’t wait to try it!
The BEST vegan milk for mac and cheese: Ripple (Unsweetened)
After trying plain rice milk, I went to Unsweetened Ripple. Please don’t make the same mistake I did and get the Original version of Ripple. It has a bit of sweetness to it, and the last thing we want is a sweet mac n cheese. Ripple unsweetened version is the perfect vegan mild milk and the closest tasting to regular cow’s milk, making it great for vegan mac n cheese.
The BEST vegan butter for mac n cheese: Earth Balance
To be fair, I haven’t tried many butter alternatives. The dairy-free, vegan world has changed leaps and bounds since then, so there may be better versions out there. This brand does the job since we only need such a small amount. Plus it’s in pretty much all the major grocery stores.
The BEST Vegan Cream Cheese for mac and cheese: Violife
I use to be a huge fan of the Better-Than-Cream-Cheese brand until I tried Violife cream cheese. It has the spot-on texture and creaminess of regular cream cheese, giving this vegan mac and cheese some tanginess (like real cheese) and creaminess.
The BEST egg alternative for vegan mac n cheese: Just Egg
This plant-based egg alternative is the only one I’ve tried, and I LOVE it! It adds that perfect creaminess, flavor and richness to this mac n cheese!
Now that you have all the best vegan brands, we’re ready to get into this vegan mac n cheese!!!
How to Make the BEST Vegan Mac and Cheese
- Cook the pasta a little below al dente. You want it to have a bit of firmness to withstand the low heat of melting all the cheese. I cooked mine for about 5 minutes. Overcooking will result in mushy pasta.
- Don’t skip the cream cheese! The cream cheese melts right into the pasta and helps all the other ingredients come together. It also gives a bit of tanginess that is often missing in vegan cheeses.
- Season it up. You won’t need much salt, but adding a bit of salt (or seasoned salt) and pepper brings out the flavors, just like regular mac and cheese. You can’t skip this step! Feel free to add in whatever spices you normally add to your make in cheese!
- Add more Ripple Milk. If you find the macaroni is too thick, simply add more Ripple milk to thin it out. If you think it’s too thin, let it sit for a bit since it will thicken as it cools.
Can I use other vegan brands and cheeses?
Absolutely! But be careful out there. These vegan streets aren’t made the same! Some vegan cheeses literally made me feel queasy! LOL, I can’t put my finger on that ingredient that gives off that weird smell found in some vegan cheeses. If you figure it out, let me know.
Can I bake this?
Yes! But FYI, if you plan on sprinkling cheese on top, vegan cheeses don’t melt the same in the oven as regular cheese. All the ones I’ve tried pretty much kept their shredded shape. Breadcrumbs would be a nice topping, though, and would look much prettier.
Now you are armed with a really quick and easy, creamy plant-based macaroni and cheese that tastes better than the blue box! Or maybe I should say yellow and green box!
And while you’re at it, why not make these soft Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies!
Vegan Mac and Cheese
- 2 cups dry elbow macaroni
- 1 tablespoon Earth Balance butter
- 2 tablespoons Violife cream cheese
- 3 tablespoons Just Egg (plant-based egg substitute)
- 1¼ cups Unsweetened Ripple milk (may need more)
- 1¼ cups Miyoko's shredded Farmhouse Cheddar (see note)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Cook pasta until al dente. (it should be a little firm)
- Drain and return to low heat.
- Stir in butter and cream cheese until completely melted.
- Stir in egg and milk.
- Stir in cheese until melted. (Increase if needed just to melt all of the cheese)
- Season with sea salt or seasoned salt & black pepper to bring out the flavors. (see note)
- Serve immediately. (If cheese sauce gets to thick add a little milk to thin it out)