First, a full disclosure. I have to tell you this recipe is not meant to be a healthier vegan version of traditional mac and cheese.
Instead, it's meant to be a dairy-free version of that buttery, creamy, cheesy dish so many of us enjoyed as kids.
But if you are looking for healthier versions, be sure to check out my plant-based mac and cheese and my vegan pumpkin mac and cheese.
OK, so now let's get back to the making of the not-meant-to-be healthy, super creamy, dreamy version of mac and cheese we have here.
- Why you'll love this nut free vegan mac and cheese recipe
- Ingredient highlights
- Other ingredients needed
- What kind of cheese slices should I use?
- What's the best pasta to use?
- How to make this vegan stovetop mac and cheese
- Ideas for serving
- Storing and reheating leftovers
- Can I use other dary free milk?
- More veganized comfort food classics
- Stovetop Gluten-Free, Vegan Mac and Cheese
Why you'll love this nut free vegan mac and cheese recipe
- You don't need to soak the cashews or use a high powered blender or food processor to create the vegan cheese sauce
- Creamy and delicious cheesy flavor that is both adult and kid-approved
- It's quickly become one of my whole family's favorite comfort foods that is super easy to whip up when we want something warm, comforting and belly fillling
- Goes with practically any main dish recipe
- Since it's nut-free it's perfect for anyone with a nut allergy
- The combination of nutritional yeast and vegan cheese slices really brings those classic childhood mac n cheese real deal memories to life
To make the best vegan mac and cheese sauce, I used my vegan béchamel as a base. The three main ingredients for the béchamel are:
- Chickpea Flour: This is my go-to gluten-free all-purpose flour replacement for making a roux in my recipes such as in my chickpea flour gravy.
- Vegan Butter: My favorites are Miyoko's oat butter and Earth Balance (you can use the spread or the buttery sticks and if necessary, use the soy-free version).
- Oat Milk: Be sure to use full-fat oat milk as the lower fat versions are not thick enough. If necessary, use a certified gluten-free brand such as Oatly which is certified GF in the United States.
To turn the sauce from a béchamel into a "cheese" sauce that's needed for such a decadent vegan mac n cheese, I added nutritional yeast and American-style vegan cheese slices. See my suggestions below to help make that fantastic cheesy sauce
Other ingredients needed
- Chickpea flour (aka garbanzo bean flour)
- Prepared mustard- you can use yellow mustard, Dijon mustard, or spicy brown mustard.
- Fine sea salt
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Nutritional yeast
What kind of cheese slices should I use?
For the cheese slices, I highly recommend using Chao Creamy Original .
Chao not only reminds me so much of the American cheese I loved as a kid, but it also adds a velvety texture to this mac and cheese that dare I say it...resembles a certain "velvety" block of "cheese" often referred to as liquid gold. 😉
Anyway, if you are not able to purchase Chao or are looking for a soy-free option, my second recommendation would be Daiya's American-style slices.
I was actually pleasantly surprised with how creamy, melty and tasty these slices are.
Other soy-free options you could try are Follow Your Heart's or Good Planet's American-style, although I haven't tried these myself.
What's the best pasta to use?
In these photos of my nut-free vegan mac and cheese, I used Jovial's brown rice shells but feel free to use your favorite gluten-free pasta.
You could also try using chickpea pasta or a different brand of brown rice pasta.
Other shapes I would recommend are elbows or rotini/spirals/fusilli (names vary depending on brand).
How to make this vegan stovetop 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 saucepan over medium heat on the stove top.
Once the butter is melted, whisk in the chickpea flour to make a roux.
Whisk until it resembles a thick paste and is golden in color. Any clumps will melt during the cooking and whisking process in the next steps.
Whisk in the oat milk.
Then, whisk in mustard, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika and turmeric.
Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Once boiling, whisk for 30 seconds and then remove from heat.
Promptly whisk in the nutritional yeast.
Then, add the cheese slices in broken up pieces.
Whisk or stir continuously until the cheese has melted. You can return the sauce to the stovetop over low heat if the cheese isn't melting.
Taste test and add more salt, if desired.
After draining the pasta, add the cooked pasta to the saucepan with the nut-free vegan cheese sauce.
Stir to combine.
Ideas for serving
You can enjoy this mac n’ cheese dish as is or add some veggies if you'd like, such as spinach, kale peas or broccoli.
My personal favorite thing is to add in broccoli or peas to this vegan recipe and top with some crushed red pepper flakes.
This creamy pasta can also be served as a side with your favorite mains. We love it with our chickpea nuggets, baked BBQ tofu, tofu nuggets, and marinated tempeh.
Storing and reheating leftovers
Store leftover mac and cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Reheat in a microwave-safe dish in the microwave until warmed throughout or in a saucepan on the stovetop over medium heat, stirring frequently (note that the pasta may break apart using this method).
But using this method helps you bring that creamy goodness back to your sauce and really enhances that cheesy taste making these leftovers the ultimate comfort food all over again.
Can I use other dary free milk?
When I created this recipe, I used oat milk as it is the right amount of fat I wanted for this recipe to give me that creamy taste and great texture I was looking for.
I suggest that you stick with that the first time you make this pasta dish.
Then, the next time you make it, if you want to experiment with other dairy-free milk, you can.
Some non-dairy milk suggestions to try are almond milk (keep in mind this wouldn't be a nut-free recipe any longer), soy milk or coconut milk.
More veganized comfort food classics
Stovetop Gluten-Free, Vegan Mac and Cheese
- 8 oz. gluten-free pasta (I used brown rice pasta)
- 2 tablespoon vegan butter
- 2 ½ tablespoon chickpea flour (aka garbanzo bean flour)
- 1 ½ cups full-fat, unsweetened and unflavored oat milk, at room temperature (use a certified GF brand of oat milk if necessary)
- 1 teaspoon prepared mustard (yellow, Dijon or spicy brown - use a certified GF brand if needed)
- 1-1 ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 4 slices vegan American-style cheese, broken into small pieces (I recommend Chao Creamy Original but you can use Daiya, Follow Your Heart, Good Planet or the brand of your choosing - use a soy-free brand if necessary)
- Cook gluten-free pasta according to package directions. Be sure not to overcook.
- While pasta is cooking, begin the sauce. Start by melting vegan butter in a 2- or 3-quart saucepan over medium heat.
- Once the butter is melted, whisk in chickpea flour to make a roux. Keep whisking for 1-2 minutes (the roux should be a smooth but thick paste and golden in color). Any clumps will melt during the cooking and whisking process in the next steps.
- Whisk in oat milk followed by mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika and turmeric.
- Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Once boiling, whisk for 30 seconds and then remove from heat.
- Promptly whisk in the nutritional yeast. Add the broken up cheese slices and whisk or stir continuously until the cheese has melted. You can return the sauce to the stovetop over low heat if necessary for the cheese to melt.
- Taste test and add more salt, if desired.
- After draining the pasta, add it to the sauce pan with the cheese sauce and stir.
(Please refer to the post above for instructional photographs and other helpful information for this recipe)
This post originally appeared on Watch Learn Eat on January 4, 2019. It has been republished to reflect both recipe and photo revisions. Changes to the story were also made.
©Watch Learn Eat. All content and images are copyright protected. Recipes and images are not to be used or republished without prior permission. If you adapt this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, and link back to this post for the original recipe.
I've been looking for a nut-free version of vegan mac n cheese for ages, can't wait to give yours a try, looks delish!
Thanks Andrea! Hope you enjoy it! 🙂
My family love regular mac n cheese, but now I have seen your delicious vegan version, I am going to make this weekend, as we are trying many vegan recipes this month.
Thanks Jagruti! My family loves traditional mac and cheese too, especially my cheese-obsessed eldest daughter! I was definitely happy when she devoured a bowl of this vegan version! 🙂
Wow, this is a great idea of making everyone's favorite Mac'n'Cheese healthy! Definitely going to try your recipe!)
Thanks Veronika! Hope you enjoy! 🙂
Yum! This looks so good! I love that it is vegan AND gluten free! I have a lot of vegan friends who so need this recipe! I'm going to share it with them now!!
Thanks Amanda! I hope your friends enjoy it! 🙂
Kathryn | Urban Foodie Kitchen
I’ve never tried vegan Mac n cheese but this looks so creamy it’s definitely going on my list for next time I have some of my vegan friends over!
Thanks Kathryn! Hope you all enjoy! 🙂
Wow this looks so yummy and healthy. I love mac and cheese but it always comes with guilt. This version is perfect because it packs in all the good stuff. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks so much, Analida! 🙂
I have never made a roux with garbanzo flour but I do have a bag somewhere in my pantry! What a clever idea - and the flour surely adds a nice sweetness to this pasta dish! Delish!
Thanks so much, Kiki! I just love using it! 🙂
David @ Spiced
It's amazing how mustard is the secret ingredient in mac and cheese! I've been playing around with re-inventing my mom's classic mac and cheese recipe, and the mustard (or mustard powder) is essential. It seems odd when you look at the list of ingredients, but it's clutch! This mac and cheese sounds quite tasty. Talk about the ultimate comfort food right there! 🙂
Thanks David! It's crazy how different ingredients, like mustard, really pull out the other flavors in certain dishes. Yay for mac & cheese (with mustard)! 🙂
I think any pasta lover would devour this. I know I would Vegan or not, you can NEVER go wrong with mac'n cheese. Always a hit. The nutritional yeast is a marvelous thing.
Thanks Gloria! I am loving nutritional yeast; it's so versatile! 🙂
Carrie | Clean Eating Kitchen
Wow! Loving the look of this super easy AND dairy free mac n cheese! Adding the ingredients to my shopping list next week - will let you know how I get on! 🙂
Thanks Carrie! I can't wait to hear how you liked it! 🙂
I was vegan for many a years and this looks delicious! I love a great mac and cheese alternative. Great recipe.
Thanks Elaine! Yay for mac and cheese! 🙂
This looks so creamy and good Sherri. Being a cheese lover I've not explored a lot of Vegan cheese options. I think I'm going give this a try since it sounds fairly simple.. and mac n cheese has always been a favorite ?
Thanks Stephanie! I hope you enjoy it! As a cheese lover myself, I still can't believe how much I've been enjoying vegan cheeses lately! Have a good one! 🙂