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Ultimate Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese

Delicious vegan baked mac and cheese, made from real food ingredients with a luscious roasted red pepper cheese sauce. Vegan recipe that can easily be soy-free, gluten-free, and oil-free.
Course dinner, pasta
Cuisine gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian
Keyword vegan baked mac and cheese
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Total Yield 6 servings
Calories Per Serving 480 kcal
Author Yup, it's Vegan

Ingredients

For the vegan mac and cheese sauce:

  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 small yellow onion (115g)
  • 3 medium red potatoes (400g)
  • 3/4 cup raw cashews soaked in water overnight or in boiling hot water for 1 hour
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (regular, not smoked)
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric (optional, for color)
  • 1 and 1/2 tbsp white or yellow miso
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (plus more to taste)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (optional, but recommended, for texture)
  • 1 tsp of freshly-squeezed lemon juice (plus more to taste)
  • 3/4 tsp salt (or to taste; you may want to reduce if omitting the oil)

For the vegan baked mac and cheese:

  • 16 oz . pasta of choice (see notes if using gluten-free)
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sliced sundried tomatoes (optional, as a mix-in)

For the breadcrumb topping:

  • 1/4 cup Panko-style breadcrumbs (gluten-free if needed)
  • 1/4 cup almond flour (or use another flour)
  • 1/4 cup finely-chopped fresh parsley (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground white or black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast

Instructions

For the vegan mac and cheese sauce:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add the bell pepper whole to an oven-safe baking dish. Slice off the tops of the cloves of garlic, leaving the head intact; lightly grease the exposed parts with oil or oil spray and wrap the head of garlic in foil. Add it to the baking dish.
  2. Bake, rotating the red pepper occasionally, until the pepper is collapsed and browned on the outside, and the garlic is completely tender, about 45 minutes. You can leave the oven on at this point, since the baked mac and cheese will go back in at 350 after you assemble it. Ocne cool enough to handle, pull the skin off of the red pepper, cut it open, and remove the stem and seeds.
  3. Meanwhile, cut the onion and potatoes in half and add them to a saucepan with water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes (depending on the size and age of your potatoes). The peels should come off easily from the potatoes at this point. If you have a high-speed blender you can also leave the skins on. Strain out the potato and onion from the water.
  4. Add the cashews to a blender or food processor and process into a paste (if using a food processor you will need to scrape down the sides). Add the roasted red pepper and garlic and combine as best you can. Finally, add the potato, onion, and the rest of the sauce ingredients, and blend until very smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. If using a food processor this may take a couple of minutes. Adjust seasoning to your taste, especially the salt, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast.

For the vegan baked mac and cheese:

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the pasta just to al dente, according to package instructions. (I recommend doing this while waiting for the pepper, garlic, and/or potatoes to cook).
  2. Drain the pasta and rinse it well. (This is different from my usual pasta recipes, where I ask you not to rinse the pasta. This time, the sauce is already very starchy from the potato and the dish works better if you rinse the pasta). Toss the pasta with a small amount of olive oil, and the sundried tomatoes if using. Transfer it to a lightly-greased casserole dish.
  3. Pour the roasted red pepper cheese sauce over the pasta, and stir together with a spatula to combine. Stir together all of the breadcrumb toppings and sprinkle onto the top of the dish.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes, or until hot throughout and the topping has become firm and crisp. (The topping does not brown very much). Serve hot.

Recipe Notes

You can also use a jarred roasted red pepper if desired.

GLUTEN-FREE: Simply use gluten-free pasta and gluten-free breadcrumbs, or even omit the breadcrumbs altogether. I recommend a pasta that can hold up well to a long cooking time, like brown rice pasta, which I tested this recipe with. It was great!

SOY-FREE: There are several delicious soy-free miso options on the market these days. I keep chickpea miso stocked in my fridge, but I've seen other choices at my local Whole Foods. Is this isn't an option for you, then omit the miso and increase the nutritional yeast a little bit - it's really fantastic with miso, though, and fermented soy is easy to digest!

OIL-FREE: Skip the olive oil in the sauce, for greasing the garlic and the pan, and tossing with the pasta. I tested this recipe both ways, and the texture is better if you use olive oil, but it doesn't make a huge difference.

MAKE AHEAD: The vegan mac and cheese sauce is best when blended fresh using potatoes that are still warm, but you can make it ahead if needed. Heat it back up on the stovetop with a splash of vegetable broth to loosen it back up. Either way the red pepper and garlic can be roasted in advance.

LEFTOVERS: This is best eaten fresh - the pasta tends to start to absorb the sauce as leftovers sit. However, we still enjoyed the leftovers from the refrigerator happily. I recommend adding a little water or vegetable broth and a dash of olive oil to liven them up again. I don't recommend freezing this dish.

NUTRITION: Nutrition facts include the breadcrumb topping and exclude the optional oil.

Nutrition Facts
Ultimate Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese
Amount Per Serving (1 sixth recipe)
Calories 480 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 17%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Sodium 443mg 18%
Potassium 477mg 14%
Total Carbohydrates 85g 28%
Dietary Fiber 7g 28%
Sugars 4g
Protein 13g 26%
Vitamin A 18%
Vitamin C 58%
Calcium 5%
Iron 17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.