Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese

This vegan baked mac and cheese is so creamy and delicious! It tastes remarkably like regular mac and cheese but is made healthier with a base of cashews, veggies and key spices. It's also kid-approved and perfect for gatherings!
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Baked vegan mac and cheese in a white casserole dish.
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I’ve been making this vegan baked mac and cheese for years, and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to share it with you. It has been my go-to recipe for when I feel like eating a cozy dinner on the couch watching a movie. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

I really love this vegan mac because the flavors of the onion and garlic really come through, and I love the flavor! The cheese sauce is made from a base of cashews, veggies, spices, and nutritional yeast and it’s so, so good. So creamy and soothing!

You’ll just need a pot, a blender or food processor (or handheld mixer!) and easy to find ingredients. I mean, could this dish be any more pleasing? Take notes, print or bookmark and share it with your friends and family. The only things you’ll need to make this recipe are to cook, blend and serve. Nothing more! 

Vegan baked mac and cheese on a white serving plate with a fork.

Why We Love This Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese

I have the feeling this recipe could become a staple in your household. It’s been known to delight everyone from kids to grown-ups, from vegans to omnivores, from picky eaters to food lovers. This is a universal, easy recipe that I’m sure will save you tons of time thinking about what to make and actually preparing it. 

This baked vegan mac recipe is:

  • Vegetarian, vegan, and plant-based
  • Dairy-free
  • Cholesterol-free
  • Soy-free
  • Sugar-free
  • Easy to make gluten-free (by using gluten-free pasta)
  • Kid-approved and omnivore-approved
  • Healthy
  • Totally delicious!

Key Ingredients

There’s something about mac and cheese that just hits the right spot. It has been a favorite childhood dish for many, and it is true comfort food. 

Do you remember those packaged mac and cheese boxes we used to eat as kids? They were so full of nasties, even though they tasted like heaven to us. Well, with this recipe you will have the same fantastic flavor but using the healthiest of ingredients. Here’s what you need:

Pasta: Choose your preferred pasta shape, whether it’s classic macaroni or another variety. Opt for a good-quality vegan pasta brand for the best results.

Raw Cashews: Raw cashews serve as the creamy base for the vegan cheese sauce. They blend into a velvety consistency and add richness to the dish.

Yellow Onion: A yellow onion adds depth of flavor to the sauce. When sautéed, it provides a savory and aromatic component that complements the creamy texture.

Garlic: Fresh garlic cloves bring a delicious, aromatic punch to the cheese sauce. They enhance the overall savory profile of the dish.

Lemon: Freshly squeezed lemon juice brightens up the sauce with a touch of acidity. It helps balance the flavors and adds a hint of freshness.

Nutritional Yeast: Nutritional yeast is a key ingredient for creating a cheesy flavor in vegan dishes. It contributes a savory, umami taste that mimics traditional cheese.

Cornstarch: Cornstarch acts as a thickening agent, helping to achieve the desired creamy consistency for the sauce.

Tomato Paste: Tomato paste not only adds a natural reddish-orange hue to the sauce but also contributes a subtle depth of flavor.

Turmeric: A pinch of turmeric powder is used primarily for color, giving the sauce a vibrant yellow appearance. It’s a natural way to achieve the classic mac and cheese color.

Ingredients laid out for a vegan mac and cheese recipe against a white background.

Mac and Cheese Variations

I am sure you will adore this recipe. Apart from its amazing flavor, one of the best parts about it is its simplicity. This simplicity allows it to be easily modified and, sometimes, improved.

Here are some add-in suggestions:

  • Broccoli
  • Peas
  • Spinach
  • Jalapeno
  • Roasted corn
  • Vegan bacon
  • Vegan ground beef (for a hamburger-helper-style experience)
  • Sliced vegan chicken nuggets or veggie hotdogs
  • Vegan sausage
  • Soyrizzo
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Crushed potato chips
  • Buffalo sauce or Sriracha

Here are a few foolproof variations:

For a super simple variation, add some frozen peas and some shredded kale to the pasta pot before it’s fully cooked. It adds some more healthy veggies and some sweetness. Eating mac and cheese and eating your greens at the same time? Absolutely! 

You can also add some butternut squash to the sauce before blending. It’s a perfect add-on for fall (or any time of the year!). Just bake the pumpkin and add one cup of it to the blender before pulsing. It will be creamier and way sweeter!

For something classic, you could add some vegan parm on top after serving to make it extra cheesy. 

Should You Bake Mac And Cheese?

I can tell you right now, you’ll absolutely want to devour this mac and cheese and soon as you stir that cheese sauce in! And you’re welcome to do so.

It’s delicious un-baked, but baking this mac gives it that extra vegan casserole style wow-factor. You can turn this simple vegan mac and cheese into a full-blown Sunday family affair when you bake it. 

Breadcrumbs being sprinkled onto a vegan mac and cheese in a white casserole dish.

Just pop it in a baking dish, add a mix of 1 cup of bread crumbs, your spices of choice and if you want, ½ cup of nutritional yeast or our chipotle vegan parmesan on top. Bake in a 350 degrees oven and cook for about 20 minutes (take a peek every now and then in case the top gets too brown!) And…ready!

Baked vegan mac and cheese in a white casserole dish.

Serving Suggestions

If you’re hosting a vegan dinner party, a cute idea would be to place the mac and cheese in individual ramekins and bake them as single portions. Place them in a lovely rustic ceramic dish with a pretty neutral napkin for an informal dinner party. So cute! Or use the ramekins for a kids lunch and place some sneaky broccoli on the side. Surely, it will make the veggies look more attractive!

This baked vegan mac and cheese would be perfect for meal prep! Bake it on a Sunday and divide it into portions for the week ahead. Or you could even freeze it to eat in a hurry on a busy day.

Vegan Baked Mac And Cheese Tips

Don’t skip the turmeric: This recipe has that perfect color all thanks to the turmeric! This little Indian ochre spice is so healthy and wonderful. Apart from many incredible health benefits, turmeric has a strong tint that gives food (and clothing!) a beautiful golden color. Beware, it stains a lot, but it’s so worth it!

Use a high-speed blender: This is the best way to get a super silky smooth sauce. If you don’t have a high speed blender, soak the cashews in hot water for 30 minutes, then drain and add to your blender. Note that even with soaking, it may not be a perfectly smooth consistency. That’s ok! It will still taste amazing!

A top-down shot of vegan mac and cheese in a white bowl.

More Vegan Pasta Recipes

Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese

Author: Michelle Cehn | World of Vegan
5 from 11 votes
You won't believe your taste buds when you try this baked vegan mac and cheese. The cheese sauce thickens up like magic on the stove to create this flavorful, goey cheese that I dare say is better than dairy-based mac. You simply MUST give it a try!
Baked vegan mac and cheese in a white casserole dish.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 8 servings


  • 1 pound pasta, macaroni or your favorite shape
  • cup raw cashews
  • ½ yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • ¼ cups nutritional yeast
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste, for color
  • 4 dashes turmeric, for color
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • chives, optional, for garnish


  • Cook pasta according to package instructions, drain, and set aside.
  • In a high-powered blender add all ingredients (except pasta) and blend on high until you have a liquid with no remaining chunks.
  • Pour into a pot over medium-low heat and allow to simmer, stirring consistently with a whisk until it thickens and peaks begin to form when you pull the whisk out of the sauce. Note that the cheese sauce will continue to thicken further as it cools.
  • Pour vegan cheese sauce over cooked pasta and mix well. For a more flavorful mac, serve immediately sprinkled with chopped chives.
  • To bake the mac and cheese, preheat the oven to 350°F. Sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs and bake for about 20 minutes before serving. Check a few times towards the end to make sure it's not getting too brown.



  • Will you be baking your mac and cheese? Consider mixing in chopped broccoli, diced jalapeño, spinach, or any other favorite add-ins, and sprinkling the top with breadcrumbs before baking.


Calories: 301kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 607mg | Potassium: 285mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 54IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 2mg
Course dinner
Cuisine American
Keyword dairy-free mac and cheese, mac and cheese, vegan baked mac and cheese, vegan baked mac and cheese casserole

Vegan Baked Mac & Cheese Recipe and photos by Michelle Cehn, copyright of World of Vegan™, all rights reserved.

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Recipe Rating

  1. What size casserole dish should be used for the 8 servings? 9×13-inch, 9×9, or 8×8?

    Also, based on your variation suggestion of incorporating broccoli, how much do you recommend for the 8 servings?

    • Hi Nicole, we used a 9×13-inch pan. For the broccoli, you can use 2-3 cups of broccoli florets, depending on your preference. Steam the broccoli beforehand and stir into the mac and cheese at the end before baking. Hope you enjoy it! 🙂

  2. Any suggestions for a substitute for the cashews? My son is allergic to cashews and pistachios but other nuts are ok. I love mac and cheese and finding a healthy vegan option (that doesn’t use cashews) would be amazing!

    • Hi Amanda! Raw sunflower seeds are your best bet when it comes to replacing cashews in a recipe. If you don’t have a high-powered blender you can soak them in hot water for 15-30 minutes to help soften, then drain them and they should blend smoothly just like cashews. Hope this helps!

  3. Alma Branton says:

    5 stars
    Thanks for the wonderful vegan recipes

  4. Rena Agno says:

    5 stars
    Mac and cheese is a staple for me and my kids so we had to let this go when I decided to start going vegan. My family can now eat vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free mac and cheese that’s healthy, delicious, and kids-approved!

  5. 5 stars
    I love Mac n Cheese, Im so glad theres a recipe created plant-based for it

  6. 5 stars
    I loveeee a good mac and cheese recipe!! Can’t wait to try out this goodness!

  7. Beatriz Buono-Core says:

    5 stars
    Healthy Mac and Cheese is the best! My kids are crazy for this recipe and its a regular weekly dinner 🙂

  8. 5 stars
    OMG – the best!! I can’t believe that this recipe is actually healthy for you. It’s super creamy and the texture is perfect. The cashews really give the sauce the richness you look for with mac & cheese. My family loves it!

  9. 5 stars
    True comfort food and this mac and cheese is so easy and delicious. I love the addition of the crazy healthy turmeric and the fact that there is no oil or fat and yet it tastes so rich and creamy. Yum…any time!

  10. 5 stars
    I’ve been making this vegan mac and cheese for YEARS and I’m obsessed!! I love that you don’t need any butter. Magic.

  11. 5 stars
    Love this easy mac! 4-steps? Yes, please! This is great to make when you’re too tired to run out to get special ingredients for a recipe. This is all stuff you’ll have lying around, and it’s super tasty!

  12. 5 stars
    Mac ‘n’ cheese is one of my main go-tos and this is such a lovely recipe to enjoy any time. I’m too impatient to bake my mac, though!

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