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After making my Cheesy Vegan Mashed Potatoes, I decided to try my hand at creating a dairy-free version of another classic cheesy dish…macaroni and cheese.
I wanted this dish to be as easy and quick as possible…no blender and no food processor necessary. 😉
To keep the sauce gluten-free, I decided to use…wait for it…wait for it…
Surprise! Chickpea flour!
OK, fine…you’re not surprised. But it worked so well in my Chickpea Flour Gravy, I knew it would be perfect for making roux for a gluten-free mac and cheese sauce too.
What other ingredients are in the chickpea flour cheese sauce?
To complete the sauce, I used vegan butter, unsweetened soy milk and nutritional yeast. I also later tested it with unsweetened oat milk which I preferred to the soy, but both work well.
Now I just needed to figure out the right blend of seasonings…
I opted for onion powder, garlic powder, paprika and salt. But something was still missing.
Hmmm…What could it be?
So, I looked back at my old dairy version of stovetop macaroni and cheese for inspiration.
Two ingredients caught my eye.
The first one was…
But not just any mustard…it was spicy brown mustard.
The second ingredient was…
Yes, American cheese.
So, I decided to give it a go, but using my favorite vegan sliced cheese, Chao.
And, voila! That was the missing piece! We had some flavorful, creamy, velvety cheese sauce…all within the time it took to cook the pasta!
The Chao Creamy Original reminds me so much of the American cheese I used to love before giving up dairy.
Of course, if you can’t find Chao, you can use another brand such as Follow Your Heart’s American style.
Or, you can leave out the vegan cheese slices and add more nutritional yeast, which I’ve included in the recipe card instructions below.
What is the best pasta for this vegan, gluten-free mac and cheese?
Personally, I think shells are the best shape followed by a rotini/fusilli shape because these shapes allow for the sauce to stick nicely in their grooves.
My favorite types of gluten-free pasta to use for this mac and cheese recipe are chickpea pasta and brown rice pasta.
Of course, you can use your favorite brand of gluten-free pasta. 🙂
How to Make This Stovetop Gluten-Free Vegan Mac and Cheese
Cook gluten-free pasta according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, start the sauce by first melting vegan butter in a 2- or 3-quart sauce pan over medium heat.
Next, make a roux by whisking the melted butter with chickpea flour until it resembles a smooth paste and has a nutty aroma (about 1-2 minutes).
Then, whisk in oat or soy milk…
…followed by mustard, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika and turmeric (if using).
Cook on medium-high until the sauce just starts to boil, whisking intermittently.
Turn off the heat, and whisk in nutritional yeast. Then, stir in the broken up pieces of vegan sliced cheese, if using.
Allow to stand for 1-2 minutes to thicken up. Taste test and add more salt, if desired.
After draining the pasta, add it to the sauce pan with the cheese sauce and stir. Allow to sit and thicken for about 2-3 more minutes before serving.
What to Serve with This Dairy-Free Mac and Cheese
You can enjoy this dish as is for a hearty lunch or add some veggies if you’d like, such as peas or broccoli. My personal favorite is to add in broccoli or peas and top with some red pepper flakes.
For a vegan macaroni and cheese with a twist, try this vegan pumpkin mac and cheese next.
For another nut-free cheese sauce (this one requires a blender), try our vegan cheese sauce next.
Stovetop Gluten-Free, Vegan Mac and Cheese
- 8 oz. gluten-free pasta
- 2 tbsp vegan butter (I used Earth Balance buttery sticks)
- 2 tbsp chickpea flour (aka garbanzo bean flour)
- 2 cups plus 2 tbsp unsweetened, plain oat or soy milk, at room temperature (use a certified GF brand if necessary)
- 2 tsp spicy brown mustard
- 1 1/2-2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- Pinch turmeric (optional, for color)
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast *use 1/2 cup if not using the vegan American cheese
- 2 slices vegan American-style cheese, broken into small pieces (optional) *I recommend Chao Creamy Original, but you can use your favorite brand or omit this ingredient. If omitting, increase nutritional yeast to 1/2 cup as noted above. You may also need to add more milk as well.
- Optional add-ins: broccoli, peas or other veggies of choice
- Optional garnish: freshly ground black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes
- Cook gluten-free pasta according to package directions.
- While pasta is cooking, begin the sauce. Start by melting vegan butter in a 2- or 3-quart sauce pan over medium heat.
- Make a roux by whisking the melted butter with chickpea flour until it resembles a smooth paste and has a nutty aroma (about 1-2 minutes). It should be golden to tan in color. If it starts to turn brown, it is burning.
- Whisk in oat or soy milk, followed by mustard, 1 1/2 tsp salt, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika and turmeric (if using).
- Cook on medium-high until the sauce just starts to boil, whisking intermittently.
- When the sauce starts to boil, turn off the heat, keeping the sauce pan on the burner, and whisk in nutritional yeast. Then immediately, stir in broken up vegan cheese slices, if using. Keep stirring until cheese has melted.
- Remove from the burner and allow to stand for 1-2 minutes to thicken up. Taste test and add more salt, if desired
- After draining the pasta, add it to the sauce pan with the cheese sauce and stir. Mix in optional veggies if using. Allow to sit and thicken for about 2-3 more minutes before serving.
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