Simple Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese

A delicious and simple baked vegan mac and cheese, made with pantry ingredients. This recipe requires less than 30 minutes of preparation and is perfect for serving a small crowd!

vegan mac and cheese in a cast-iron skillet

Looking for some vegan comfort food? This recipe is as comforting as it gets. It’s full of pasta, a creamy vegan “cheese” sauce and baked with a breadcrumb topping. Does it get any better than that?

Yes it does.

This vegan mac and cheese is made with basic vegan pantry staples, including pasta, cashews, potatoes, lentils and nutritional yeast. Or at least nutritional yeast is a staple in our house, I don’t know about yours.

Best of all? It’s ready in less than an hour and close to 30 minutes if you’re fast in the kitchen.

pasta, lentils, cashews, nutritional yeast, onion and garlic from the top
How to Make Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese

It’s easier than it looks, I promise!

First, we start with the vegan “cheese” sauce. All you need to do is sauté your onion and garlic in a small saucepan, then add your potato, lentils, cashews, spices and water. Once the potatoes are cooked, the entire content of the saucepan is transferred to a blender, along with nutritional yeast and white wine vinegar. Blend and you have your “cheese” sauce!

Meanwhile, cook the pasta and toast the panko bread crumbs in a skillet with vegan butter and thyme.

Once that’s done, mix the pasta with the cheese sauce, transfer it to a casserole dish (or cast-iron skillet) and sprinkle with the breadcrumb topping. Bake for 10 minutes and it’s all done!

diced potatoes, lentils, cashews, nutritional yeast from the top
cheese sauce in a blender
cheese sauce poured over pasta from the top
mac and cheese in a cast-iron skillet
toasted breadcrumbs in a skillet
toasted breadcrumbs sprinkled on mac and cheese
Notes on the Recipe
  • You can easily add extra vegetables to this recipe! I like to add broccoli or peas with the pasta in the last 2-3 minutes of cooking. Cauliflower and/or spinach would be another delicious option. Roasted vegetables would also be delicious if added just before baking.
  • If you have a weaker blender, soak the cashews overnight or for at least 3-4 hours. This is not necessary with a strong blender. The cashews will soften as they boil, which will make them blend nicely into the sauce.
  • The red lentils are not necessary in this recipe, but they do add a little color and fiber.

This recipe is adapted from my easy vegan mac and cheese. I simply added a breadcrumb topping and baked in in the oven for a delicious mac and cheese casserole.

vegan mac and cheese closeup from the top
vegan mac and cheese closeup

Simple Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese

A delicious and simple baked vegan mac and cheese, made with simple pantry ingredients. This recipe requires less than 30 minutes of preparation!
Course Main Course
Cuisine vegan
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cup)
  • 3/4 cup raw or dry-roasted cashews, unsalted
  • 1 cup potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1 small)
  • 1/4 cup split red lentils
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder (optional)
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 package (375g) macaroni (elbow pasta)
  • Broccoli or peas (optional)

Topping

  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme, dried

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Heat the vegan butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder and salt. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Stir in the diced potatoes, lentils, cashews and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and let simmer, covered for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender.
  • Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cook the pasta according to package's instructions. If using broccoli or peas, add them in the last few minutes of cooking to cook until just tender, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Once the potatoes, cashews and lentils are done cooking, add to a blender (with its cooking water), along with the nutritional yeast and white wine vinegar. Blend until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Taste and add more salt, nutritional yeast or spices as needed.
  • Pour the "cheese" over the drained pasta in its saucepan. Stir together until combined. Transfer the mac and cheese to a 12" cast-iron skillet or casserole dish.
  • Prepare the topping: In a small skillet, heat the vegan butter. Add the panko breadcrumbs and thyme. Toast for 3-5 minutes, stirring several times to avoid burning. You want the breadcrumbs to be lightly golden and toasted. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top of the mac and cheese.
  • Bake for 10 minutes at 350F.
  • This dish is best served immediately as the sauce thickens and it gets a little dry as it sits. But if you have leftovers, it's still good! Store it in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Notes

You can find my stovetop vegan mac and cheese recipe here.
If you have a good blender, you don’t need to soak the cashews. I didn’t have trouble getting the sauce very smooth with my Vitamix blender. If your blender is on the weaker side, soak your cashews overnight or for at least 3-4 hours.
Feel free to add more garlic, salt or nutritional yeast to taste. Taste the sauce and adjust as needed, keeping in mind that once it’s mixed with the pasta, the flavors aren’t as pronounced.
The lentils are technically optional in this recipe. They add a little color and fiber. If you want to skip it, reduce the water. Try 1 1/4 cup of water and add more to the sauce if it’s too thick once blended.

If you make this baked vegan mac and cheese, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! I love to hear from you guys. And of course, if you try this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram!

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WELCOME!

Nourished by Caroline

I’m Caroline, a registered dietitian located in Kelowna, British Columbia. I focus on plant-based nutrition and intuitive eating. I believe in living a balanced life, while eating the food you love. Learn more about my practice here or book an appointment today!