Smokey Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese
This vegan baked mac and cheese is smokey, creamy, rich, crispy on the top, and super easy to make! This is the ultimate in comfort food.
Who can go past a tasty, easy, and affordable meal?
A little different from the other traditional mac and cheese recipes out there with that twist of smokiness.
This recipe is made entirely of whole foods and can be made gluten-free by simply swapping out the pasta and breadcrumbs for their gluten-free equivalent counterparts.
Free Recipe eBook
Join our newsletter and get our eBook featuring exclusive breakfast recipes to kickstart your mornings.
What is in plant-based mac and cheese?
I chose not to use vegan cheese in this recipe because they vary so greatly from country to country.
I wanted to make sure that the recipe is as accessible as possible with the ingredients that you can find at your supermarket.
So, here’s what you’ll find in a plant-based mac and cheese recipe:
- Olive oil
- Onion, fresh and granules
- Garlic, fresh and powder
- Nutritional yeast
- Smoked paprika (our smokey weapon)
- And your usual suspects, salt and pepper
That’s all you need to make this deliciousness! I’m sure you already have most, if not all of that in your kitchen right now.
Vegan mac and cheese with a difference
You’ll love the slight crunch and different texture from the breadcrumb topping.
The hint of smokiness from the smoked paprika adds a beautiful rich depth of flavour and it works so well!
I’ve done a couple of recipes in the past that are similar in terms of texture, like this Creamy Vegan Leek and Mushroom Pasta and my Easy Vegan Baked Ziti.
I also use the base of my vegan white sauce a lot. You can experiment for yourself to see what works best for you.
Can you use other types of pasta in this dish?
As I mention below, you can use whatever pasta you like. I prefer to use no larger than the classic penne as it works best to keep it smaller for the texture you’re trying to achieve with a dish like this. And of course, a gluten-free pasta would work just as well, just be careful not to overcook it as it can easily turn into mush!
The types of pasta that would also work well are:
- Small conchiglie
Can this vegan baked mac and cheese be made gluten-free?
It sure can. Just switch the pasta to a gluten-free variety and cook as listed instructions on the packet.
You’ll also need to swap out the breadcrumbs for a gluten-free variety. Just make sure that they’re vegan as they sometimes have fish oil as an ingredient. This is for both gluten-free and normal breadcrumbs.
How long does this mac and cheese last? Can it be made ahead of time?
It will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. You can also freeze this dish for later.
This dish can be made ahead of time. Just add a little extra water in the blender when mixing the sauce as the pasta will soak it up over time in the fridge.
Complete the whole recipe without baking it and put some foil or a silicone wrap over the dish. However, I find that it’s best to make the breadcrumb topping just before you pop it in the oven.
When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven and add 5 minutes to the baking time as it has come straight out of the fridge.
I hope you enjoy my take on the super popular dish that is mac and cheese — made vegan, baked, and smokey. Just the way I like it!
Other recipes you’ll love:
- 3-Ingredient Cabbage Pasta
- Vegan Pasta e Fagioli (Italian Pasta & Bean Soup)
- My Lentil Spaghetti Bolognese (Vegan)
- Creamy Vegan Leek and Mushroom Pasta
- 20-Minute Creamy Vegan Red Pepper Pasta
- Vegan Spinach Crepes with Pesto Mushrooms (Gluten-Free)
If you try this recipe, let me know! We’d love for you to leave a comment and rating below. If you want to go that extra mile, tag us on Instagram or share your photo of the recipe on Pinterest.Print
Smokey Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 4
This vegan baked mac and cheese is THE comfort dish. Creamy, cheesy, smokey, with the perfect breadcrumb topping to finish it off.
- 3 cups / 340g / 12 ounces macaroni pasta* (or pasta of choice)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 medium potato,* washed and grated
- ½ cup / 75g raw cashews
- ⅓ cup / 27g nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup / 60g breadcrumbs
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion flakes (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ cup parsley, finely chopped (a large handful)
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius (390 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and add in the pasta. Cook as per packet instructions.
- Drain the pasta once cooked and add it to the baking dish.
- In the meantime, in a small saucepan on medium heat, add the oil, onion, and garlic.
- Sweat down the indredients for a few minutes stirring occasionally until slightly golden on the edges.
- Add in the grated potato and cook until the potato has softened. Add a little water if it starts to stick – around 1-2 tablespoons.
- Place the cashews, nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, water, the cooked onion, garlic, and potato mix, plus 1½ cups / 375ml of water into a blender, and blend until smooth.
- Pour the sauce over the pasta, mixing well, and set aside.
- To a frying pan on medium-high heat, add all the crumb ingredients, and toast for 5 minutes or until golden brown. Be careful as it can burn very quickly.
- Top the pasta with it and place it in the oven for around 10 minutes or longer if you’d like a crispier top. You don’t want to leave it in there too long as it will dry it out. Remove from the oven and serve.
Pasta: You can use whatever pasta you like here. I went for the more traditional style and used macaroni. See suggestions earlier in the post. I have made it with a gluten-free penne before and it’s just as delicious!
Potato: Any potato variety that is good for mash.
- Diet: Vegan
I have made this several times. Although my mom and brother are not vegan, they like this better than regular mac ‘n cheese! It’s way my favorite vegan mac ‘n cheese recipe.
That’s wonderful! I’m so glad you all enjoy it 🙂 Thanks for the lovely review x
Hi.. my daughter and granddaughter don’t use milk products.. do you have recipe for a white clam chowder. I was excited abt your cashew white sauce and will try it..ok with clams, do you think?
Hi Catherine, being a vegan, unfortunately, I won’t be able to help you with that question as I don’t eat clams. Might be worthwhile reaching out to a blog that shares all sorts of recipes? If you do try it with the white sauce, let me know how it goes! Best of luck!
Cashews are awesome for cheesy sauces. I’ve never tried mac n cheese lol so I am looking forward to trying this one! Thankyou ??☮
They’re so versatile! Oh nice, well I hope you enjoy it 🙂
This looks delicious! My kids are massive macaroni cheese fans and I haven’t yet been able to make a decent vegan one, so I’ll be giving this a try!
Hope they like it! Maybe reduce the pepper in it if we are young. Pop back here after and let me know what they thought 🙂
That sounds and looks awesome Maša! I will definitely give it a try. It’s a different take on a classic and I like what you’ve done. Thank you for the recipe 🙂
You’re very welcome Gulden! Glad you like this take, let me know what you think when you give it a try 🙂