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Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese

  • Author: Liz Madsen
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 8 cups 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


Cheesy, creamy, and rich, this Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese will quickly become a family favorite. You’ll keep coming back to this easy recipe.


Units Scale


  • 16 ounces (1 pound or about 454g) dry pasta of choice (use gluten-free if needed)

Cheese sauce

  • 1 3/4 cups raw sunflower seeds (see note 2)
  • 2 1/4 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk (see note 3)
  • Juice of 1 large or 2 small lemons (or 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice)
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled (or about 2 teaspoons garlic powder)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons miso paste (use chickpea miso for soy-free or omit)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar (or use any sugar or omit, just rounds out flavors)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric, optional (for color)
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca starch/flour (see note 5)



  1. Cook pasta and prep oven: Boil a large pot of water and cook pasta until al dente or lightly chewy (it will finish cooking in the oven). Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (218 degrees Celsius).
  2. Make the cheese sauce: While the pasta is cooking, blend up the cheese sauce ingredients (everything except the panko) in the blender until smooth and creamy. Taste it and make sure you like it.
  3. Mix the sauce with the cooked pasta: Drain the cooked pasta and add it back to the pot. Add the sauce, mix well, and add to a deep baking dish. I used a square 9x9 baking dish for this.
  4. Add pasta mixture to your baking dish: Use the back of your cooking implement to press the pasta in evenly, then sprinkle the panko (or whatever you’re using) on top.
  5. Bake: Bake uncovered for 25-35 minutes or until the top has lightly browned.
  6. Enjoy: Serve hot, and enjoy!
  7. Store: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.


  • Note 1: Short pasta is best for serving, but use whatcha like/whatcha got. Use gluten-free pasta to make this dish gluten-free. Feel free to use a bean or legume pasta for more protein.
  • Note 2: Raw sunflower seeds are the perfect base for a creamy vegan cheese sauce. You’re perfectly welcome to use cashews, they’re great (use the same amount). But sunflower seeds are significantly cheaper and just as creamy and delicious. For a lower fat cheese sauce, consider using tofu (any except super firm; I’d use 1 ½ to 2 blocks), white beans (I’d use 2 or 2 ½ cups), or some cornstarch (maybe a quarter cup mixed with some non-dairy milk) to thicken it (I would cook it on the stove to thicken it in this case before pouring it into the pasta).
  • Note 3: For a super luxurious vegan mac, I’d recommend canned coconut milk or full fat oat milk. But I just use soy or whatever from the carton for this and it’s fine. Feel free to use whatever non-dairy milk you like, just make sure it’s not vanilla or sweetened or anything like that.
  • Note 4: Omit if preferred but it does really add to the cheesy flavor and is not at all the dominant flavor here.
  • Note 5: This helps bind the cheese sauce and thickens the vegan baked mac and cheese, but it’s optional. For a similar effect (but a little less so), try substituting cornstarch or arrowroot powder. Or you can omit for a somewhat thinner sauce.
  • Note 6: I’ve used Panko bread crumbs for a topping because it gets nice and crispy. Use gluten-free panko or rice crumbs for a gluten-free option, or you’re welcome to just top it with a little nutritional yeast. Alternatively, don’t top it with anything.
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Vegan, Oil-Free, Nut-Free, Refined Sugar-Free, Can Be Soy-Free, Can Be Gluten-Free, Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese, pasta