Creamy, rich, and deliciously vegan, this is the BEST dairy free mac and cheese that even gets melty and stringy like traditional mac and cheese. It’s made entirely from scratch and requires only a few simple ingredients and is totally kid friendly.
Mac and cheese was pretty much the only thing I ate as a child. I always preferred Annie’s to Kraft, and always the white cheese to the orange. Anyone else?!
I was super picky about how the sauce was prepared (sorry mom). Never too much milk and always make sure the clumps are removed before stirring in the pasta. I guess I became a food blogger so I could stop annoying people with my ridiculous food demands lol.
Anyway, mac and cheese never failed to put me in a good mood (tbh ANY creamy pasta put me in a good mood) and I SO missed the lush and creaminess of mac and cheese when I cut dairy from my diet.
While you can buy vegan mac and cheese at virtually any grocery store, it’s much more fun to make it homemade from scratch!
This recipe is rich, creamy, decadent, and you definitely won’t miss the dairy. Trust me! PLUS, if you didn’t think it could get any better, it only requires about 15 minutes of you actually cooking! Ready to try it?!
Believe it or not, you can make vegan mac and cheese out of a LOT of things! Some will have non-dairy cheese alternatives, some will have cashews, or even cauliflower, but I opted to make a much simpler version with ingredients you probably already have on hand. For this recipe you will need:
Almond Milk: You can use any dairy free milk for this recipe, like soy for a nut free version, just make sure it is both unsweetened and unflavored (not vanilla).
Dairy Free Butter: The butter adds a really nice richness to the sauce, but it can be subbed for olive oil if desired.
Roasted Garlic: You’ll need two whole heads of garlic, which I know sounds like a lot, but the flavor softens quite a bit when it’s roasted.
Cornstarch: This will be used to thicken the sauce. Tapioca or arrowroot starch can also be used.
Nutritional Yeast: The key ingredients for a cheesy flavor! You can also use your favorite dairy free/vegan cheese shreds instead. Cheddar or mozzarella would be great here!
Homemade Cashew Parmesan: Essentially a mix of cashews, nutritional yeast, salt and garlic. Feel free to use a store bought vegan parmesan instead.
Paprika and Mustard Powder: Seems odd, but you just need a small amount of each to add lots of flavor.
Salt & Pepper: A generous serving of salt surprisingly makes the cheesy flavor shine through, so don’t hold back!
How to make this recipe
This dairy free mac and cheese does have a lot of steps, but don’t be intimidated!! It’s only because it includes roasting the garlic and making the dairy free cashew parmesan.
Not including these two steps, this recipe will only take about 15 minutes to make. You can do both of these first two steps ahead of time to make your life easier, too.
All it involves is roasting the garlic-easy. Cooking the pasta-easy. Making the vegan parmesan-easy. And then adding all of the sauce ingredients to a blender until nice and smooth-easiest.
First up, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Take the both whole heads of garlic and cut off the top part so you can see the inside of each clove.
Drizzle with 1 tbsp of olive oil, wrap tightly in foil, and place in the oven. Roast for 45 minutes. During the final 10 minutes, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
When the garlic is done, let cool until it is easy to handle. Squeeze the bottom so the cloves come out into a blender. Careful not to get any of the skin in there.
Add all remaining ingredients aside from the nutritional yeast. Process the mixture until completely smooth.
Transfer the sauce to a large pan and heat over low heat. Whisk in the nutritional yeast. When it starts to thicken, stir in the pasta and allow the sauce to continue to thicken.
Taste and add more salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, butter, or cashew parmesan as desired. Serve hot and enjoy!
If you’re trying to add more veggies into your diet, peas, broccoli, and green beans are all delicious with this recipe! You can stir them right into the sauce, or have them on the side.
The great thing about this dairy free mac and cheese is that it can be the star of the meal all on it’s own. I like to use a chickpea or legume based pasta or noodles to up the protein content (if I’m not serving it with animal protein), then just stir in some peas and you have yourself a delicious plant-based meal that is perfect for kids and adults!
If you want this recipe to just be dairy free and not vegan, you can add some sliced bacon or grilled chicken which gives it a bit of an alfredo feel!
Can I bake it?
Yes! If you want to turn this into a baked vegan mac and cheese, you can follow all of the steps as usual then transfer to an oven-safe baking dish. Top with breadcrumbs and bake at 350 for 20 minutes or just broil for 1-2 minutes to get the top nice and toasty.
Try these recipes next!
- Nut free Pesto Pasta
- Vegan Tomato Basil Cream Sauce
- Vegan Pasta Salad
- White Bean Sauce
- Buffalo Mac and Cheese
Lastly, if you want more recipes straight to your inbox, be sure to subscribe to my email list. As always, if you make this recipe, be sure to tag me on instagram and leave a comment below so I can see your creation!
Dairy Free Mac & Cheese w/ Roasted Garlic
by: claire cary
- 16 ounces/1 pound pasta of choice
- 2 large heads garlic
- 2.5 cups unsweetened and unflavored almond milk not vanilla!
- 4 tbsp dairy free butter or olive oil I suggest butter for the best flavor
- 2 tbsp cornstarch can sub arrowroot or tapioca starch
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- ¼ tsp mustard powder
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- ¾ cup homemade cashew parmesan click for recipe
- ½ tsp black or white pepper
- 1/4-1/2 tsp salt see notes
- Pinch of paprika about 1/8 tsp
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Take the both whole heads of garlic and cut off the top part so you can see the inside of each clove.
- Drizzle with 1 tbsp of olive oil, wrap tightly in foil, and place in the oven.
- Roast for 45 minutes.
- During the final 10 minutes, bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Cook pasta according to package instructions.
- When the garlic is done, let cool until it is easy to handle. Squeeze the bottom so the cloves come out into a blender. This is something that you'll find either oddly satisfying or totally not appealing, depending on who you are 🙂 Careful not to get any of the skin in there.
- Add all remaining ingredients except for the nutritional yeast.
- Process the mixture until completely smooth.
- Transfer the sauce to a large pan and heat over low heat. Whisk in the nutritional yeast. Let simmer for about 5 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken. When it starts to thicken, stir in the pasta and allow the sauce to continue to thicken.
- Taste and add more salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, butter, or cashew parmesan as desired.
Delicious! Just made this for dinner tonight & loved how easy it was to make. Thank you for another fabulous vegan dinner Claire. Xoxo.
I love this recipe! I’ve been making it for 2 years now. I have some cheat codes. Instead of adding the cashew Parmesan which consists of me actually taking out and then cleaning my food processor, I add ~3/4 cup of quick soaked cashews, and then add an extra dash of garlic powder to the sauce mix. I also use my hand blender because…. Well obviously I don’t like cleaning my small kitchen appliances. I also double the roasted garlic because why the heck not. This is a tried and true recipe for my small gang here and I just love it! Thank you!!!
Claire Cary says
Thanks Jess, love these shortcuts!
We tried this last night and it was really good! The roasted garlic adds a subtle flavor which is really nice. I will definitely make this again.
Claire Cary says
Thanks Lisa! So glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the feedback!
Claire Cary says
Thank you Doris!