Vegan Caramelized Onion Mac ‘n’ Cheese

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Caramelized onion and pasta in a pan for making vegan Caramelized Onion Mac n Cheese

The minute I discovered you can make queso without cashews, I was convinced cashew-less mac ‘n’ cheese had to happen. Eggplant cheese sauce seriously knows no bounds.

Before and after shot showing how to caramelize onions
Eggplant for making vegan Mac n Cheese sauce

Origins of Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Mac ‘n’ cheese is the ultimate comfort food! But where did this glorious dish come from?

It’s believed that the earliest written recipe for a dish resembling mac ‘n’ cheese comes from a 13th century cookbook from southern Italy. The dish (named de lasanis) was made with squares of fermented lasagne dough layered with spices and cheese.

But maybe that’s not what you picture when you hear mac ‘n’ cheese? The dish has been modified in many ways over time!

It’s thought that mac ‘n’ cheese was first introduced in the US when Thomas Jefferson brought back a pasta machine from his travels in Italy. Or perhaps that it originated from a popular New England church dish called macaroni pudding. Then in 1937, Kraft released their boxed mac ‘n’ cheese and it quickly gained popularity because of its affordability.

Our plant-based version has all the comfort but without the dairy!

Vegan Mac ‘n’ Cheese

I’ve made vegan mac ‘n’ cheese before using a cashew-based sauce and it really was amazing! But the issue with cashews is that they make recipes so heavy with their high fat and calorie content. Not that I’m a calorie counter, but I’m all for lightening up recipes when I can.

Eggplant sauce to the rescue.

Using a wooden spoon to stir a batch of Vegan Eggplant Cheese Sauce

This eggplant sauce is so simple to make – just a 10-minute roast before peeling the skin and adding it to the blender. It’s infused with nutritional yeast, garlic powder and sea salt for that ultimate cheesy, savory flavor.  I could’ve eaten that sauce all by itself, but the noodles were calling…

Macaroni shells for making creamy healthy vegan Caramelized Onion Mac n Cheese
Pan of Vegan Caramelized Onion Mac N Cheese

The thing that sends this mac ‘n’ cheese over the top is the caramelized onions and the crispy breadcrumbs!

While the sauce and noodles meld perfectly together, the addition of caramel-y, browned onions and crispy bread crumbs on top sends the flavor profile through the roof! I could’ve eaten this whole pan by myself – no lie.

Pan of our vegan Caramelized Onion Mac n Cheese

You’re going to love this dish. It’s

Creamy
Comforting
Warm
Cheesy
Super saucy
Savory
Satisfying
Slightly crisp on top
& Totally share-worthy

Make this for vegan and non-vegan friends alike and watch their jaws drop after the first bite. It’s just that good!

Pan and bowls filled with creamy, cheesy vegan Caramelized Onion Mac n Cheese
Bowls of Vegan Caramelized Onion Mac n Cheese with breadcrumbs

If you make this recipe, take a picture and tag it #minimalistbaker on Instagram! I love seeing what you lovelies cook up. Cheers!

Bowls of Caramelized Onion Mac n Cheese with sides of breadcrumbs and extra caramelized onions
Grabbing a fork full of Caramelized Onion Mac n Cheese for a delicious vegan dinner
Pan of Vegan Caramelized Onion Mac n Cheese made with panko breadcrumbs

Vegan Caramelized Onion Mac n Cheese

10-ingredient creamy mac ‘n’ cheese made with a simple eggplant-based cheese sauce! Caramelized onions and toasted breadcrumbs send this dish over the top.
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Using a wooden spoon to stir a pot of Vegan Caramelized Onion Mac 'n' Cheese
4.59 from 56 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 27 minutes
Total Time 42 minutes
Servings 4
Course Entree
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Italian-Inspired, Vegan
Freezer Friendly Sauce only
Does it keep? Best when fresh

Ingredients

FOR THE PASTA

  • 1 small-medium eggplant
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 yellow onions (sliced in 1/4 inch rings or wedges)
  • 10 ounces macaroni noodles (GF for gluten-free eaters)
  • 3-4 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 3/4 cups unsweetened plain almond milk
  • 1-2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • Sea Salt

FOR THE TOPPING

  • 1/4 cup panko or regular bread crumbs (GF for gluten-free eaters make sure your brand is vegan)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil (or sub vegan butter)

Instructions

  • Slice eggplant in slightly less than 1/2-inch rounds (but not quite 1/4 inch – ruler for reference) and sprinkle both sides with sea salt. Place in a colander in the sink for 20 minutes to drain moisture and draw out any bitter taste.
  • In the meantime, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil and the onions. Cook 10-12 minutes – stirring every few minutes. Turn down the heat if browning too quickly. Once caramelized, place in a bowl for later.
  • Preheat oven to high broil and place an oven rack on the very top rack.
  • Start pasta water by bringing a large saucepan 3/4 full of water with 1 Tbsp salt to a boil.
  • Rinse eggplant and dry thoroughly. Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer and drizzle both sides with olive oil. Broil on high for 3-4 minutes on EACH side until the eggplant is browned (be careful not to burn, just seriously roasted).
  • Remove eggplant from oven and wrap in foil to steam for 5 minutes. Then peel off skin and add to a blender with almond milk, nutritional yeast, cornstarch and garlic powder. Start with a pinch of salt and add more as you need.
  • Blend until creamy and smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt, nutritional yeast or garlic powder if desired.
  • Once pasta water is boiling, add noodles. Cook according to package instructions, then drain and cover with a towel to keep warm.
  • Pour the eggplant sauce into the same saucepan you used to brown the onions and bring to medium heat. Cook to thicken for about 5 minutes. Once bubbling, lower heat to low/simmer and stir occasionally until noodles are ready.
  • If topping dish with breadcrumbs, heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat and add olive oil or vegan butter. Than add breadcrumbs and stir. Cook for about 5 minutes until light brown and toasted. Set aside.
  • Add drained noodles to the eggplant sauce in the large saucepan, along with half of the caramelized onions and stir to coat. NOTE: If your saucepan is NOT oven safe, transfer the mixture to an oven-safe dish at this time.) Smooth the top with your spatula or spoon and top with remaining caramelized onions and the toasted panko bread crumbs.
  • OPTIONAL: Preheat oven to high broil once more and move an oven rack to the 2nd level from the top. Once hot, place macaroni under the broiler to toast for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown on top. BE CAREFUL not to burn as it can go fast. Don’t walk away.
  • Remove from oven using an oven mitt and serve immediately. Leftovers don’t tend to reheat well with this dish as the noodles absorb the sauce. Best when fresh.

Notes

*Sauce adapted from my cashew-less vegan queso
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate.

Nutrition (1 of 4 servings)

Serving: 1 g Calories: 446 Carbohydrates: 70 g Protein: 11.8 g Fat: 13 g Saturated Fat: 1.8 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 220 mg Fiber: 8 g Sugar: 6 g

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My Rating:




  1. Jaime Lynne says

    I have been eyeing this recipe for weeks now and finally just sucked it up and bought myself an eggplant today (I had all of the other ingredients on hand).

    Words cannot express how excited I am to make this. Anything with caramelized onions = my best friend.

    Thanks so much, Dana!

    • Jaime Lynne says

      Update: I made this and it is as every bit as amazing as I thought it would be! I’m so happy I tried this out. Perfect as is! Thanks so much for the recipe, Dana. This is a keeper!

  2. Christin says

    I have to say, I was intrigued by this recipe and wasn’t really sure what to expect. Now I am literally freaking out over here because this dish is so amazing, I may never go back to cashew-based sauces!! I am normally not an eggplant fan, but you are right, you can’t even taste it. The sauce itself is creamy and so reminiscent to a creamy cashew cheese sauce but SO much healthier. And the caramelized onions and crunchy breadcrumbs- I’m in love. Thanks for this brilliant recipe!! =)

  3. Angela C says

    We loved this recipe! Even my pickier 8 year old gobbled it up. Best “cheese” sauce I’ve tried so far. I think I will double the onions next time and maybe even add mushrooms per my husband’s request. Thank you for this recipe!

  4. Anna says

    I was just wondering if it is possible to do this without broiling? How else could I cook the eggplant?

  5. Lise says

    This was the ONLY vegan mac and cheese recipe I’ve made that was truly delicious, comforting and that held up well the next day and the day after. Thanks so much for sharing! I will add that instead of adding the carmelized onions to the recipe whole I blended them along with the eggplant mixture in the blender. I also went heavier on the nutritional yeast and other seasonings. Overall, a WONDERFUL dairy-free option and I’m so excited to make it again!

  6. Stef says

    You say it’s best when fresh because the pasta absorbs the sauce. I wonder if the cheese sauce by itself can be frozen. I like to make double batches and freeze the leftovers for “gifts” I can enjoy later. If the pasta soaks up the sauce, maybe I’ll only double and freeze the sauce part.
    Anyway, I made this and I thought it was just ok. A lot of work to justify that taste… so I won’t make this again.

  7. Diana says

    I’ve made this three times already in the last month and it’s spectacular. I really have no clue how eggplant can taste so rich and cheesy but I’ll take it! Even my toddler ate it happily with no complaints!

  8. Olivia says

    This recipe is simple and DELICIOUS. My boyfriend and I don’t like the taste of eggplant sometimes (probably the bitterness) — and we couldn’t believe it was in there! What an awesome way to pack in nutrients, while getting a creamy cheese-like sauce. I made it with black bean elbow pasta, so the dish wasn’t picture worthy– HOWEVER it was delicious and protein-packed! I recommend the broil method with the panko crumbs ( I used sprouted Ezekiel with Earth Balance). Loved it Dana, you’re a rockstar!

  9. Brittney says

    This is absolutely amazing!!!! I was hesitant about the sauce because none of the sauces I have made with nooch have come out right, but this one was fabulous! I’ve decided to cook my way through your vegan and gluten-free recipes, and I am SO happy I started here! I tossed in some roasted mushrooms, and this is just dynamite!

  10. Samantha Porter says

    Non-vegan here to say this recipe is great! I love cheese beyond measure so I’m hard to please – I don’t even eat regular mac & cheese that’s not mine because everyone else is too cheese-stingy! Tried the sauce as per the recipe, but as I’m new to nutritional yeast I didn’t get the cheesiness I was hoping for. I also used 2 tsp of garlic powder which just overpowered the dish – definitely just use one unless you’re using roasted garlic powder. I added a couple tablespoons more of NY but still wasn’t happy with the cheesiness factor. One trick that I use to help boost the tangy-cheesiness of my mac & real cheese it to add some dijon mustard to the bechemel. I added a couple heaping teaspoons of dijon to this sauce in the food processor and it was great! Totally gave it the “zing” I was looking for.

    Another tip: mix your panko with a couple grinds of sea salt and some more NY. Makes the topping all the more cheesy and delicious!

  11. Jessica says

    Hi Dana. I’m so in love with you blog and have been trying out some of your recipes. Will be trying this one out tonight. But do you have a particular brand of breadcrumbs that you use? All the ones I see at the store are not vegan. Or do you make your own?

  12. Juliana Biscardi says

    Great recipe! I subbed almond milk with rice milk and it turned out great. The onions gave the dish a special touch. I am definitely making this again.

  13. Jessica Zanchi says

    The best and closest thing to cheesiness I’ve done so far. Added vegan parmesan (grilled sesame blended with yeast) on the top, no almond milk so I mixed a bit of cashew and water instead… Fabulous!!!

  14. Chris says

    This is a STELLAR recipe! I didn’t make the onions or add the bread crumbs but I did add some steamed brussel sprouts and it was a fantastic meal. Thinking about cooking up some chickpea meatball type things for the leftovers! For sure making this again!

  15. Danna says

    Hi Dana,
    This sounds super interesting, your recipes have never failed me so I plan on giving it a try. Just wondering though, I have a suddenly picky 3 year old who doesn’t like onions he can see. What do you think of blending the onions in with the eggplant? Would it ruin the texture? Better to leave out the onion altogether?

  16. Amanda says

    Since making the transition towards a plant-based diet a few months ago I’ve been fascinated by the whole process of using plants to replace animal product, especially where cheese-like sauces are concerned. I saw this recipe today where you use eggplant and I just had to try it out for myself straight away. I have to say this is my favourite faux-cheese sauce thus far.The roasted eggplant creates a true creaminess to the sauce like to other vegetable so far! No sad, glue-like sauce here!
    Tomorrow my plan is to smother steamed broccoli with leftovers of this sauce. Heaven.

  17. Kristan says

    This recipe looks divine! Question: Would it work if I made the sauce ahead and froze it for later use. If so, what would be the best way to defrost the sauce. Thanks so much! I am a big fan of your food!!

  18. Elizah says

    My taste is somewhere between normal carnivores/processed-food-eaters and vegans/tofu-eaters and I thought this was tasty in small portions. I tried to make it a meal and it was a little too much for my stomach, but this is also the first time I’ve ever eaten eggplant so maybe my body is just not used to it. But I would recommend it as a nice side!
    P.s. Breadcrumbs on top are a must. Seriously. Do it.

  19. Sharon says

    I made this recipe and the flavor was good. There really should be a more specific measurement for the eggplant, use the wrong size and the seasoning could be off. I thought it needed acid so I added a little lemon juice. We ended up adding some hot sauce too, and it needed plenty of salt added (which is to be expected). The main reason I am downgrading my rating is that this recipe was far from being minimalist. The directions jumped all over the place and were confusing. It took me well over an hour to make and that’s not including washing all of the many dishes dirtied making it. I would probably only make this again on a special occasion. Sure it’s only 10 ingredients but it’s a pretty complicated way to use the 10 of them.

    • Chantal says

      Same, I think it took me closer to 2 hours to make than 45 minutes. Every recipe has taken me about double the time it says :/

    • Aimee B. says

      Same for me. It seemed to take forever to broil. I love the idea of this, but personally, I didn’t think the flavor was cheesy at all. I didn’t add any more nutritional yeast because it’s such a pricey ingredient. I kept adding spices though, more garlic, cajun spice… I think what I ended up with isn’t bad, but I wouldn’t serve it to company and won’t be making it again. I think I will use the sauce in a soup instead of with pasta.

      • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

        Hi Aimee,

        Sorry to hear it didn’t work out as you were hoping. We find that nutritional yeast is a key flavor in this recipe so that is probably why it was not cheesy. You may find that the price for nutritional yeast is more affordable when purchasing in the bulk bins (perhaps at a natural food store).

  20. Sam says

    I am so glad I found this recipe because Mac n cheese has always been my comfort food and I’ve missed it since giving up dairy. My cheese loving boyfriend couldn’t keep his hands off it and asked for the leftovers! I can’t wait to get more eggplant :)

  21. Samantha Ogle says

    I make this for my non-vegan fam and it’s such a hit. We have Japenese eggplant in the garden, which is a very mellow flavor, so no need to remove skin! :) I used 3 (they’re very long & thin). Next time I wanna add diced sundried tomatoes for a kick.

  22. Nikki Palamountain says

    Hi there,

    I’m very interested in trying your vegan caramelised onion Mac n cheese, but I’m not a big fan of eggplant. I tried another vegan recipe using cauliflower (unfortunately boiled) and it was ok. Do you think I could use roasted cauliflower as a substitute for eggplant?

    Kind regards
    Nikki

  23. Danielle says

    I made this tonight and it came out really yummy. I found it took 15 minutes to get the eggplant broiled to the point of roasting. I wonder if maybe I shoulda dipped the eggplant in the oil vs. drizzled it on and if that woulda made the difference in time. My fience is non vegan and enjoyed it.

    I used avocado oil vs. olive oil b/c it’s got a higher heat point but everything else was the same. YUM! Will make again! Thank you.

    I give it 5 out 5 stars although the comments won’t let me give it more than 2– something is up with the stars!

  24. Nicole says

    I had some trouble in that my sauce is OD green. It’s tastes good, but will scare anyone away from trying it. I also can taste the eggplant more than I thought. Did I cook the eggplant too long, not enough, is it the seeds? Help!

  25. Meredith says

    Hello! Looking forward to making this tonight but we just moved and I cannot seem to find my blender! Would a food processor do the trick? Thanks!

  26. Deanne says

    I made this for my 11 mo old as she has a mild protein allergy. This both focus are dairy free. She LOVED it! Mac n cheese is such a staple of a child’s diet it seems lol so I was thrilled to find this alternative. I just made the sauce and noodles and kept them separate (no onion or oven). I did not use salt in the sauce but added paprika and black pepper. So much healthier than Mac n cheese I will be sticking to this. Oh and where has nutritional yeast been all my life! ? thank you for your site it has been a great resource.

  27. Carol Ann says

    I don’t even know why people would want to continue eating weird mega processed cheese products when it’s possible to use so many differents veggies to mimick the taste and creamy texture we all want! And bless nutritional yeast ♡

  28. Jennifer says

    Could I peel the eggplant before roasting it? The last time I left it on I had a hard time getting it peeled. I feel like I lost some of the eggplant to the peel, too. Thoughts?

  29. Alex says

    This was amazing! My mom made it for lunch for my family (of which only I am vegan) and everyone loved it! So glad you created a recipe without vegan cheese or nuts as a base xxx

  30. Stephanie says

    Ohhhh! This looks amazing. How do you think it would fare over spaghetti squash noodles or zucchini noodles? We can’t have any pasta here. Thank you in advance.

  31. Marrigje Barnard says

    I loved the eggplant sauce, was almost sorry to put it in with the Pasta, but the complete meal was a succes. This recipe will go in with my favorites, thank you so much for it.

  32. Melissa says

    Hey Dana!
    This recipe sounds amazing, I’m a big fan of caramelized onions, I could put them anywhere!

    I was just wondering if I can skip or replace the cornstach on this recipe, I live in France and I don’t think I can find this here!

    Thank you!

  33. Annie T. says

    OMG sooooo good THANKYOUTHANKYOU Dana for the recipe !!!! Seriously, in my opinion THIS is better than the regular mac n cheese with ridiculous amount of dairy….! Thanks so much ! WILL do again (and again..and again.. and again…):D <3 you guys are awesome.

  34. Cara Applestein says

    This was delicious but it needed like three times the amount of nooch you called for to taste cheesy.

    • Abby says

      I am newly vegan and this is my first full-blown cooking-in-the-kitchen recipe i’ve tried since becoming that way (up until now it’s just been mostly fruit, hummus, pb&j, plain roasted veggies,etc). I was craving mac and cheese so hard so I decided to make this. It is so excellent!!! i honestly think I prefer this to the other, dairy-heavy mac and cheese I’ve (attempted) made. The sauce was so thick and creamy it blows my mind. It wasn’t all that cheesy, but still amazing and perfect texture and flavor. It was pretty time consuming and I made a huge mess, but that was all worth it. next time i will half the recipe as this is a big batch. it’s so filling! with regular, typical mac and cheese/pastas in general i can never seem to get full. but this really did the trick. Thank you, thank you thank you!

  35. Roger says

    Been cooking vegan for about 3 years.
    My first time, knowingly and for sure cooking with, nutritional yeast.
    That stuff does not taste nice to me at all. Alternative to cheese I have heard… hmmm..

    I made this sauce but left the skins on and added paprika.
    Next time I will reduce the amount of yeast (i used 3 tbsp) and increase paprika.
    I didn’t enjoy this but the base as a sauce has potential for my palette so that made me happy.

  36. Michael says

    This recipe is great! I substituted okara that I had left over from making soy milk and tofu for bread crumbs. I just baked some okara mixed with olive oil, salt, and pepper at 375. I’m sure you could add other spices to add flavor as well. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  37. Steph says

    Holy sh*t, this is brilliant. The bitterness of the eggplant fixes the nooch issue for me, which is that it was missing something cheeselike that I could never put my finger on. EGGPLANT saves the day. Sweet and bitter and this is very cheeselike. Masterful. Thank you.

  38. Ichelle says

    My 3.5yo son was recently diagnosed with milk and egg allergies. Not too bad but still, the plan is to just eliminate dairy, at least for now. Although I can, I really don’t enjoy cooking so it’s a blessing to have found you because what I’ve seen so far, your recipes are exactly my type of cooking. Simple.

    And while, not really a picky eater, lately, my son has been refusing onions. As I am also new to Vegan stuff… Is there anything you can suggest to mix besides caramelized onions? Will mushrooms work? Oh and is there a way to mask the nutritional yeast smell?

    Oh! Oh! Lastly, from your Garlic Mac & Cheese, where do you get veggie parm?

    Anyway, thanks for making our transition easier with your simplified recipes!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yes! Mushrooms would work. Or what about fennel or leeks – similar to onions but different..Or roasted garlic!

      I make my own vegan parm – here’s the recipe!

      Best of luck, Ichelle.

  39. Beth says

    I’ve made this recipe 5 or 6 times and it is amazing every time! Definitely impreses my non-vegan/vegetarian friends. My only suggestion would be … more onions! They are so good and I always wish there were more :)

  40. Susie says

    Absolutely fab!! Made this for my dad on father’s day and it was a big hit! My only slight qualm is that the sauce was a tad sparse, if I made it again (which I will!) I’ll make more sauce (and more caramelized onions!! You can never have enough!) Also, instead of corn starch I used brown rice flour in the same proportions and it turned out fine! Another great recipe… Keep it up!

  41. Rachel says

    Made this and loved it! definitely has a creamy flavor but not very cheesy. I needed to add a lot of salt and I think if I made it again I would double the nutritional yeast. So good though still

  42. Jovana says

    I’ve made this probably ten or fifteen times. I had a hanckering for some comfort food and decided to make this.

    I made it with coconut milk (which is the only non-vegan milk I had in the house). Urgh! Learn from my mistake – do NOT use coconut milk.

    Big mistake lol :D

    Otherwise, when you actually follow the directions and use Almond milk/rice milk/oat milk (had success with all of them) – it is deliiiish. <3

  43. Kat says

    A little late to the game here, but this is nothing short of AMAZING. Thank you for both a lighter and less expensive way to recreate one of my favorites! Going back now for shameless bowl #2.

  44. Julia says

    I really liked the taste of this recipe (I wound up increasing the amount of nutritional yeast to give it a real cheesy flavor for my new-to-veganism fiance) but the sauce turned out a bit foamy when it thickened up? It tasted amazing, but the texture was a little off… Is there a chance I may have blended it too much, or should I have added more corn starch?

  45. Gwen says

    Hey just wanted to thank you so much for the idea of using eggplant as a creamy sauce! We had a person with a cashew allergy come over for Christmas dinner so I just doubled the sauce from this recipe and used it as my base for green bean casserole… worked out fantastic! Definitely will be using this again… and need to try your queso too.

  46. Dianne says

    my son is on a dairy-free diet, but he is also allergic to almonds. Could rice milk be substituted for the almond milk?

    • Ann says

      Actually, we are not huge fans of almond milk and prefer light coconut milk (plain, unsweetened) for our dairy alternative. I made this recipe the other night with coconut milk and the kids even really liked it. I did add a tsp. of red pepper flakes, some sautéed mushrooms,green peas and diced fresh tomato. A complete meal in a single bowl! Awesome! Thanks for inspiring us to continue or vegan journey

  47. Sonia says

    Hello!

    long time fan of your site. I’m recently thinking about becoming vegan and decided to try this recipe. Although I didn’t find it to truly taste like mac and cheese (it’s one of my favorite foods, so I’m a bit picky), my roommate and I thought this was super delicious! I added some broccoli as well as a bit of siracha for spice. It truly is creamy and tastes very rich!!

    Your site is one of my favorites! thank you!!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Love to hear it! Yeah, nothing quite compare to real mac n cheese, but this is a pretty delicious variation! Glad you both enjoyed it! Thanks for sharing!! xoxo

  48. Elizabeth says

    I just made this today and I’m a bit torn… I accidentally used only 1/2 an onion instead of 1 1/5 (oops) so that might be why I’m not in love. Mine also took closer to 30 minutes to caramelize. The dish seemed really salty (maybe the addition of salt to the pasta isn’t needed??) and the color of mine is not like yours. Mine more resembles a green/grey baby food! I’m not sure for the work if I would make this again but I do like that it is vegan and it was worth a shot. Unfortunately, this is NOT a vegetarian I can get my husband on board with. It just really doesn’t taste like mac & cheese. Because of the “not cheesy” taste, I had to sprinkle some grated parmesan over the top after broiling. Thanks for the recipe! All of your recipes has been winners in my book but this one isn’t a favorite. :(

  49. Stacy says

    I really liked this. What a great idea to add the onions and the eggplant addition was great! I blogged about my experience

  50. Camilla says

    Another win!! I’m officially addicted to your recipes. I have made “the best damn vegan biscuits” 4 times this week. And tonight I used one to mob up the extra sauce from the pan. Oh I’m so happy I found you!

  51. Amy says

    Yum this sauce is so yummy! I made it tonight to put on a gluten free, dairy free pizza I was concocting. It was amazing! It tasted like a real pizza. For the crust I used a chickpea flatbread, followed with home made tomato sauce. I made Hawaiian pizza with caramelised pineapple and bacon with this cheese sauce on top, but you could easily omit the bacon and add something else like zucchini and mushrooms to make it vegan. So happy right now. :) I love eggplants and love this cheese sauce better than the cashew one I made another time. Thanks for this recipe!

  52. Robin says

    This ish was delish! I caramelized the onions for 30 minutes because I really love extra caramelized onions and also stirred in some torn kale. I didn’t toast the breadcrumbs first, just sprinkled them on top and lightly drizzled with olive oil. A quick 4-5 minute broil did the trick! The sauce was a bit bland at first so I threw in some extra spices to taste. My parents absolutely LOVED it and raved about it for days. The leftovers reheated very well but the noodles did absorb the sauce, like you mentioned they might. Still super tasty and certainly something we’ll be making again.

  53. Quinn says

    Wow this recipe is so great! The bread crumbs made it so fab. Thanks so much for sharing this…you are a genius for using eggplant!

  54. Christina Bolton says

    WOW… just WOW!! I’m completely blessed bc my hubs cooks 99% of the time and today I took a stab at this delicious recipe and it was a BIG HIT! Thank you for the eggplant cheese idea, I never ever would have thought of this. Hubs was amazed and our 8 month old son gobbled it up! Today I am #winning :)

  55. Emma says

    Do you think I could store the sauce in the fridge for awhile and add to new pasta if the issue is the pasta absorbing it?

  56. Elaine says

    I have a bounty of zucchini and thought I may try replacing the eggplant with it. What do you think ? Will it work ?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      I think it would! In fact, a couple of other readers have done something similar and I think it worked! Good luck!

  57. Ines says

    I made this last night and it was really good! Thank you for this recipe =)

    I left the skins on the eggplant slices and it didn’t do the taste any harm – the sauce turned out brown (my stepdad said it looked like chocolate pudding), instead of yellow, though. So I would take the skins off if I had guests over or if there were children there, but it also works with the skins on.
    As my family loves caramelized onions I used a lot more onions ;) (7 onions for 3 people).
    So it was very, very good and will definitely be repeated!
    Thanks also to Listi for the tip of adding vinegar =)

  58. Rachel says

    Made this tonight. Delicious! It took me forever, though. Maybe my broiler sucks? I didn’t bother with the baking and breadcrumbs. Thank you!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      The broiler might be the issue! They should only take 3-4 minutes per side. Glad you liked it anyway!

    • chelsea says

      My eggplant also took a lot longer to cook…a LOT longer. Maybe my broil setting is different. Maybe put a picture showing what it should look like? I’ve never done it before. Anyway….WOW! This is fantastic! The only thing I added was a bit of parsley and garlic salt. The onions are the best part! I could triple the amount… But that may be because I was eating them out of the pan… I am so tired of all these cashew cheese recipes. So much fat and calories. This is way better! Speechless… Maybe because my mouth is full :)10 stars!

  59. Maggie says

    I just made this tonight. AMAZING. Thank you so much for this.

    I didn’t use the breadcrumbs (I forgot to get them at the store), but I followed everything else precisely. It was so delicious I could literally make and eat this every night!

    I might try it without the onions next time…the sauce was amazing by itself. I wonder what putting some Sriracha or red pepper would do to it!?

    Thanks again!

  60. Jennifer C. says

    So I made this last night with some leftover sauce from the cashewless vegan queso recipe that I’d had in my freezer (incidentally, it froze beautifully). I am not vegan, just trying to eat healthier, so I confess that I did top it with a sprinkle of Colby jack cheese in an effort to make it appealing to the under-12 crowd in my house :) Can I just tell you, my 6 y/o, who only has about 4 foods on her approved list (including the boxed mac-n-cheese) declared it delicious and cleaned her plate!!! Now my 11 y/o, who had a recent unfortunate collision of Black Bean Chili and Stomach Virus, he spotted the chili seasoning (since it was from the queso) and wouldn’t eat it :) I think next time I’ll season it differently, as above, but it was a hit! Thanks for another great recipe.

  61. Planete says

    Just to let you know that i’ve made this recipe as soon as I’ve seen it and it was the best vegan mac and cheese I’ve ever eaten. Thank you so much for your talent!

  62. Listi says

    Hi Dana,
    so – I tried this for the first time yesterday. Since I’ve never actually had Mac n Cheese before I had no idea what it’s supposed to taste like (not really a famous dish in Germany)…but this was totally awesome – soft, cheesy, a litte melty – just great! And the onions, always a great addition! I had a friend over for dinner and she loves it as well. Really don’t have to worry about the leftovers :)
    I love your blog, the recipes are great!

    ps: I added a dash of apple cidre vinegar to the sauce. I think it makes for a richer flavour, espeacially when using nutritional yeast.

  63. Bill @thewoksoflife says

    Hi Dana,
    Is the nutritional yeast in the recipe for taste or for nutrition as the name suggests? Can you enlighten a non-vegan here? That said, this looks incredible!

  64. Kristine says

    Hi I just came through your recipe on Tumblr and I’m new to vegan recipes :) I want to try this out but I would like to ask why nutritional yeast is added to make the eggplant sauce :o forgive me if it was in the passage but perhaps I didn’t see it :( thanks :D

  65. Alex says

    Vegan mac n’ cheese is amazing! We actually made some yesterday and added a secret ingredient: coconut bacon. It would go perfectly with the caramelized onions in this mac n’ cheese. All you have to do is toss some coconut shavings with liquid smoke and pop them in the oven. They’re so delicious! We also use them on top of our vegan “cob” salads, pancakes, or pretty much sprinkled on top of anything else!

  66. SarahL says

    I made this the other night and it was so yummy! Great recipe to find as my son is allergic to cashews. I was a bit worried about having it go to waste (after reading your comment that it’s not the best the next day) so ate about three times more than I needed while it was still warm, but there was still some left over and it was actually great the next day. Thanks for the recipe, will definitely be making it again :-)

  67. Gigi says

    I am such a fan of you! I have a question, I was thinking of using this as the cheese on a pizza tonight. What are your thoughts about that? I haven’t yet tried the sauce but read through the comments and it seems like it’s a winner (like everything else you post!).

  68. Natalie says

    Dana—you’ve done it again. I couldn’t contain my excitement over your cashew-less vegan queso, but when I saw you post this recipe, I counted down the minutes till I could take stab at this one! It is so wonderfully delectable. I am a cheese addict and am doing my best to replace dairy when possible and I never thought the day would come when I would find a mac & “cheese” recipe that swept me off my feet. It was love at first bite.

    Thank you for being so innovative with your vegan cheeses and bringing us these eggplant triumphs!

  69. Lindsey says

    Thanks so much for this recipe! I made this (GF version) tonight and it was delicious! It was my first time using nutritional yeast and making a sauce using eggplant like this, but your directions were perfect :) Can’t wait to try the queso!

  70. Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe says

    I never would have thought that eggplant could make a luscious, cheesy sauce. Your brain is just amazing. Must give this a try!

  71. Meghan says

    OMG Yum! I fell in love with your website and the Baba Ganoush recipe last week. And this week your mac n’ cheese! I didn’t add breadcrumbs but did slather it with hot sauce and it’s beyond yummy. I love your website! Thank you so much for providing free, simple but elegant vegan recipes on your website! Tonight for dinner is the Crispy Peanut Tofu with Cauliflower Rice. I can’t wait! Oh, and thanks for making a lot of the recipes 1-2 servings! It helps in a single household :)

  72. Courtney @ The Fig Tree says

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I cannot even begin to thank you enough for your amazing recipes. When I found out that I had a dairy allergy in early 2014, I was pretty sad. I love cheese! But since I discovered your blog and made a bunch of your recipes, I am convinced that dairy-free living is not only doable, but extremely enjoyable. Cannot wait to make this mac n cheese recipe this week :)

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Ah, thanks Courtney! Glad I could be of help. Giving up dairy was a struggle for me too at first, but eggplant, coconut and cashews are lifesavers!! Let me know how you like this dish if you give it a try! hugs.

  73. Jen says

    This looks amazing! And I want to try it so bad, but I’m on a yeast-free diet right now due to my health – I pretty much can’t eat anything. Pasta alone is already kind of cheating, and I definitely don’t want to add yeast on top of that. Is there anyway to sub the nutritional yeast for something else?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Jen, so sorry but I can’t think of anything! You could maybe do a GF pasta and try to up the spices and leave out the yeast. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help!

  74. Lauren says

    This is genius Dana! I’m not a huge mac and cheese fan, but I had to comment to tell you how innovative this is! :-)

  75. Cela says

    I wonder how it would turn out using zucchini instead of the pasta? Not sliced, but maybe julienne. I will give it a try and post how it turns out. BTW, I make your 5 ingredient granola bars every week. My family can’t live without them.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Worth a shot! Let me know if you give it a go. Glad your fam enjoys the bars! xo

  76. Samina | The Cupcake Confession says

    My final exam results are going to be out next week which will decide whether or not I have graduated college! As the days inch closer, I’m getting super tensed and this is JUST the comfort food I need to put my face into! Gosh it looks SOOOO DELICIOUS! And so healthy! Comfort food hogging without worrying about the calories? Yep, that’s totally my thing!

  77. laurasmess says

    I hadn’t heard of eggplant cheese sauce before. Sounds amazing! I have the same problem with cashew cheese and cashew aioli…. they’re so ridiculously heavy and rich. This sounds way better, plus I love eggplant. Extra win all round! Thanks for this delish recipe Dana xx

  78. Rebecca Kassahun says

    I MADE THIS AND OMG IT’S SO GOOD! I subbed the cornstarch with flour, the nutritional yeast with parmesan and it was magnificent thank you!!!

  79. Brittany @ i love vegan says

    Oh geeze, I was just pondering buying an eggplant last night and decided against it because I didn’t know what to do with!! Now I know what to do with an eggplant, make Mac n Cheese obviously!

    I’ll definitely have to try this recipe, I agree, cashew sauces can be pretty heavy so this is a nice change. Thanks!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Agreed! There’s still a place for cashew sauces, but eggplant is a nice way to switch it up!

  80. Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl says

    This looks amazing! I am always on the lookout for a good vegan mac and cheese recipe, and I cannot wait to give this a try :)

  81. Millie l Add A Little says

    Literally all my favourite. I can’t handle how good this look! Got to make this ASAP!!!

    ps. I would give it 10 stars instead of 5 if i could…

  82. Ashley Parrish says

    Mac & Cheese anything is fine by me. This dish looks exceptionally good, though! I have never really used nutritional yeast before, so I am excited to try it out!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Oh, you must! Nutritional yeast will change your life. It’s helped me give up dairy with ease!

      • Cynthia Cook says

        Dana…I bought Nutritional Yeast today at the health food store today..I am almost vegan..my problem dairy (dairy is my last thing to have to get out of my diet)…how did it help You? Yeast is cheesy tasting? I am going in the kitchen to make this ‘now’ since I have all ingredients.

  83. Matt Robinson says

    The caramelized onions and breadcrumbs are exactly what makes this dish so amazing, what an awesome idea!

  84. Averie @ Averie Cooks says

    Dana this looks incredible and the fact that you kept it vegan, even more fab! Love my nooch! pinned

  85. Meredith @ Unexpectedly Magnificent says

    I can’t even. This. looks. AMAZING. I don’t usually like eggplant, but I love mac & cheese, and I trust your recipes. ;) I’m going to make it ASAP!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      You trust me! I don’t take that lightly. Thanks Meredith! Let me know if you give this a try ;D

  86. Joumana says

    Hi! I was wondering what pasta brand you use that is vegan (no eggs). Can you order it online? I live in Dubai, and it’s so hard (if not impossible) to find dairy/egg/gluten free foods, depending on what I’m shopping for or feel like avoiding.

    Thanks! x

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hmm, the basic dry pastas are vegan in the US. The brand I buy is Trader Joe’s. Sorry I can’t be of more help!

    • jj says

      I make a big pan of caramelized onions every week or so, and keep it in the fridge. A wonderful topping that gets used on many things. And I don’t have to worry if anyone else will like it!

  87. Miss Polkadot says

    As if you’d read my mind… Because I tried your eggplant queso last week and actually used it as a sauce plus I’ve been meaning to try a non-cashew-heavy vegan mac ‘n’ cheese for a while. Anything with caramelized onions is a win in my books so this is right up my alley.