Easy Vegan Mac and Cheese

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Using a spoon to stir a pot of vegan mac and cheese

Who misses Kraft-style shells and cheese? I do, I do. After a long shift at my high school job, I would come home famished and down a whole box of Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese. Since ditching dairy, I’ve missed that classic shell pasta enveloped in creamy, cheddar cheese sauce. But after cracking the code on our vegan cheddar cheese, we immediately thought to try it with pasta and it worked perfectly! The resemblance to boxed shells and cheese was uncanny! And it tastes like the real deal, too! 

We know you’re going to LOVE this 1-pot, 5-ingredient dish that comes together in just 15 minutes! Let us show you how it’s done!

Chickpea pasta shells, salt, nutritional yeast, vegan cheddar cheese, and almond milk

The star of this recipe is our easy vegan cheddar cheese. Made with a base of cashews and carrots, it’s wholesome but tastes indulgent and comforting. We recommend making a batch ahead of time and storing it in the fridge or freezer. It’ll be perfect for making mac and cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches in no time!

If you’re more of a store-bought vegan cheddar fan, that can work too. Our top “cheddar” recommendation is Field Roast Chao Vegan Slices — Creamy Original (see our full guide to vegan cheeses here).

Pouring almond milk into a pot of gluten-free pasta, nutritional yeast, and vegan cheddar cheese

For the noodles, we used a shell shape for Kraft reminiscing but also to maximize the amount of sauce in every bite. But you can use any noodle variety you prefer. A legume-based pasta such as Banza will give this meal more protein, fiber, and staying power.

Once the noodles are cooked, this recipe is as simple as adding the vegan cheddar along with almond milk for creaminess, nutritional yeast for more cheesiness, and salt for flavor. This combo becomes melty and lathers the shells in cheesy goodness.

Holding a bowl of vegan mac and cheese

We hope you LOVE this vegan mac and cheese! It’s:

Cheesy
Creamy
Salty
Carby
Quick & easy
& SO delicious!

Enjoy any time you need a classic comfort meal without much effort. It’s filling enough as a standalone meal, but if you’re feeling more veggies, we suggest serving with our Apple Pecan Arugula Salad, Honey Mustard Roasted Brussels Sprouts, 1-Pan Garlicky Green Beans with Slivered Almonds, Creamy Vegan Broccoli Salad, or Easy Massaged Kale Salad.

Bowl of vegan mac and cheese topped with red pepper flakes and vegan parmesan

More Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipes

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Fork with a bite of Vegan Mac and Cheese

Easy Vegan Mac and Cheese

Easy, creamy, vegan mac and cheese! This 1-pot dish is made with tender shells and creamy vegan cheddar cheese sauce. It’s the ultimate cozy comfort food with just 5 ingredients and 15 minutes required!
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Pot of vegan mac and cheese that tastes like Kraft shells and cheddar
4.75 from 8 votes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2 (Entrée servings)
Course Entree
Cuisine American, Gluten-Free, Vegan
Freezer Friendly No
Does it keep? 1-2 Days

Ingredients

MAC N CHEESE

FOR SERVING optional

Instructions

  • Fill a medium saucepan a little more than halfway full with water, add a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add pasta and cook according to package instructions until just al dente (ours took 9 minutes). Be careful not to overcook because the shells will cook a bit longer with the cheese sauce after draining.
  • Drain pasta (we avoided using a colander by using our saucepan lid, which has a draining feature — if yours doesn’t, drain in a colander as needed, then add back to saucepan).
  • Immediately add the vegan cheddar cheese, almond milk (starting with lesser amount), salt, and nutritional yeast. Stir and cook over low heat, stirring frequently until the sauce melts, becomes gooey, and coats the shells. If the cheddar isn’t melting, cover to encourage it along.
  • Remove from heat and serve immediately. Option to garnish with vegan parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.
  • Store cooled leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 1-2 days (not freezer friendly). Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop over medium-low heat until hot, adding more dairy-free milk as needed to thin.

Video

Notes

*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with Banza chickpea shells and without optional ingredients.

Nutrition (1 of 2 servings)

Serving: 1 serving Calories: 490 Carbohydrates: 66.6 g Protein: 27.7 g Fat: 17.1 g Saturated Fat: 2.1 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.2 g Monounsaturated Fat: 8.5 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 499 mg Potassium: 1157 mg Fiber: 10.7 g Sugar: 5.7 g Vitamin A: 3882 IU Vitamin C: 1.5 mg Calcium: 151.5 mg Iron: 7.9 mg

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  1. Leah says

    Made this last week, and I loved it! The garlic powder adds such a great flavour. My blender isn’t quite as powerful, so it didn’t have the creamiest consistency, but it was still delicious. Warming the sauce was key to getting it to a nice thickness. The sauce kept well for several days in the fridge.

    Added some hot sauce, some (not vegan) parmesan cheese and panko for serving. I’ll definitely make it again.

  2. Cat says

    I may not be the best judge because I like sharp cheese (goat, cow, sheep), and haven’t tried a lot of vegan cheese. The consistency of this is nice and creamy, but the flavour was a bit off. I tried adjusting to add more vinegar, or yeast, or garlic, and I added a bit of miso. Somehow it still had a weird taste. I ended up grating a little parmesan and gruyere on it and it was pretty good. For me this would be a way to make mac and cheese healthier and reduce the amount of cheese, but I wouldn’t use it as a total substitute.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Cat! We have another easy vegan mac n cheese coming soon, so be sure to try that as well!

  3. MissBlow says

    Come ON! This was amazing! Thank you so much for the recipe.
    I followed other’s suggestions and added about 1 TBSP miso for extra umami (didn’t add the salt, since miso is salty enough as is). I sliced up some cherry tomatoes and added them, because I’m a sucker for cherry tomatoes.
    I also toasted some bread crumbs on the side, then added them to the top when I plated.
    I’m already excited for the next time I get to eat this treat!

  4. Diane says

    Finally a vegan Mac & Cheese recipe my whole family loves! So happy I tried this because it’s not only delicious but easy too.

  5. Jess says

    What a yummy recipe! I’m glad I jumped on making the vegan cheddar this weekend for some (also great!) grilled cheese, so now I had an easy weeknight dinner of the leftovers. I followed it as written and turned out perfect.

  6. Virginia says

    This was a hit. Four stars because the basic recipe does need a LOT of tweaking for flavor correction (to my taste buds). I used a lot less salt (none added except for that in the cheese sauce) and made a few additions – sweet paprika and a Tbsp or so of miso for additional depth of flavor, more garlic, caramelized onions, chopped steamed broccoli and mince fresh parsley. Vegan parmesan definitely adds a punch, but can be used as a topping individually. Next time, I’m thinking about making it a bit more “liquidy” and baking it with a crunchy topping I’ve used on other casseroles – ground sunflower seeds and “cheese”.

  7. liz says

    love your recipes but just want to point out it is not really easy and just 5 ingredients when the vegan cheddar cheese recipe is part of the process.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      I hear that, although, the sauce itself does come together rather quickly (while you’re boiling pasta). BUT, we also have a 20-minute (from scratch) from start to finish mac n cheese recipe coming soon! Thanks for the feedback, Liz!

  8. Cyndra Baker says

    This looks delicious, but I definitely wouldn’t say it’s 5 ingredients when you need 8 more ingredients to make the cheese. I was excited that this might be something I could make in my dorm, but was incredibly disappointed to see that it requires soaking/blending cashews. I love your blog though! I’m making your 1 pot black bean soup tonight! Keep up the good work! 🙂

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      I hear that! Thanks for the feedback. We wanted to give people a way to put the recent vegan cheddar cheese to use, and this was an obvious choice. However, we do have a 20-minute (from scratch) from start to finish mac n cheese recipe coming soon!