This is the best, creamiest vegan baked mac and cheese with a crispy topping. It’s made with almond milk, vegan cheddar cheese, and sweet potato for an insanely creamy, thick, dairy-free cheese sauce.
why we love this vegan mac and cheese
Hands down, this is the best vegan baked mac and cheese. Annnd, it’s healthier than traditional mac! This creamy, crispy, cheesy vegan baked mac is made with almond milk, vegan cheddar cheese, and a special secret ingredient you won’t know is there- sweet potato!
This recipe is great if you have picky eaters and you want to sneak some veggies in! It’s also more affordable since it doesn’t use any pricey cashews.
the baked vegan mac & cheese ingredients
Like I mentioned above, this homemade mac and cheese recipe is a little different because it has a super-secret ingredient which makes it a bit healthier than traditional mac. We’re using baked sweet potato! The baked sweet potato adds so much creaminess and the slightest touch of sweetness to the sauce. Plus a bunch of vitamins and fiber.
The Vegan Cheese Sauce
- Unsweetened Almond Milk: make sure to use unsweetened, unflavored almond milk!
- Vegan Butter: I’m using Country Crock Plant Butter in this recipe. The vegan butter is to make a roux.
- Flour: to help thicken the cheese sauce.
- Vegan Cheddar Cheese: I prefer the Daiya and Violife cheddar shreds. They both melt wonderfully. Violife is a bit saltier than Daiya.
- Baked Sweet Potato: to add creaminess and flavor to the sauce.
- Garlic Powder: to add flavor to our sauce.
- Dried Onion: to add even more flavor to our sauce!
- Salt & Pepper
- Pasta of Choice: I’m using shells, but you could also use macaroni.
For the Crispy topping
- Crushed Crackers: I’m using Ritz crackers that I pulsed in my food processor.
- Nutritional Yeast: for some additional salty, ‘cheesy’ flavor.
- Melted Vegan Butter: this is to help crisp up the cracker topping.
making the vegan cheese sauce
the sweet potato mixture
To make the vegan cheese sauce, first, you’ll need to blend up the baked sweet potato, salt & pepper, garlic powder, dried onion, and half the almond milk in a high-speed blender. Once it’s blended up and super smooth, set the mixture aside.
The next step is making the roux. In a small saucepan, you’ll want to melt the vegan butter. Once it starts bubbling, whisk in the flour. It should form a paste-like consistency. Make sure to cook this mixture for about 2 minutes. This is to get the raw flour taste out and make the flour safe to eat.
Next, slowly pour in the remaining almond milk, while continuing to whisk the mixture. Keep on whisking consistently for 3-5 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken. Be sure not to let the almond milk boil!
Once thickened, add in the vegan cheddar cheese. Stir the mixture until the cheese is mostly melted. Then, add the melty cheese mixture to the sweet potato mixture in the blender, and blend it up on high until combined and super smooth. This should make about 4 cups of cheese sauce.
vegan cheese sauce tips & tricks
This recipe makes about 4 cups of cheese sauce. You’ll use about 3 cups in the recipe and you should have about 1 cup remaining.
This extra 1 cup is great to pour on top of the mac and cheese after it finishes baking. Baking can sometimes dry out the pasta, so if you like extra saucy mac and cheese it’s always nice to have more sauce.
If you refrigerate your leftovers, the sauce will also absorb into the pasta a bit. I like to add this extra 1 cup of sauce to my pasta the next day.
While I think this recipe is the best with sweet potatoes, you can substitute roasted butternut squash instead. The sauce will be less orange and the flavor will be a bit different.
You could also try substituting the same amount of roasted carrots, however, I have not tried this and cannot guarantee results.
I do not recommend leaving the flour out. The flour is necessary for thickening the sauce. Without it, the cheese sauce will be too liquidy.
Yes, you can substitute another plant-based milk in this recipe. I’m using almond milk because of its neutral flavor. You could try oat milk, rice milk, or soy milk instead.
I do not recommend using coconut milk, since the flavor will be overpowering in the sauce.
storing the vegan baked mac and cheese
This mac and cheese recipe makes about 5-6 servings, which is great if you’re looking to meal prep or have a bunch of leftovers. I store my mac and cheese casserole pan covered in the fridge for up to 5 days. You could also freeze the mac and cheese in an air-tight container.
Looking for more delicious vegan main dishes? Check out these recipes!Creamy Vegan Alfredo
The Best Vegan Basil Bechamel Lasagna
Homemade Butternut Squash Ravioli
Did you make this baked vegan mac and cheese? I’d love to know! Leave a rating and comments below!
- 2 cups baked sweet potato,* about 2 medium sweet potatoes
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp chopped dried onions, or onion powder
- 1/4 tbsp garlic powder
- 2 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk, divided
- 3 tbsp vegan butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 heaping cups vegan cheddar cheese, Daiya or Violife
- 1 lb dried shells, or macaroni
- 1 tbsp vegan butter
- 1 ½ cups crushed ritz crackers
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp melted vegan butter
- ¼ tsp salt
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Parsley for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Cook your pasta according to your box’s instructions. Once cooked, stir in 1 tbsp vegan butter to coat all the pasta, this helps the pasta from absorbing too much sauce while baking. Set aside until your sauce is ready.
To Make the Sauce:
- Add the baked sweet potato, pepper, salt, dried onion, garlic powder, and half the almond milk into a blender. Blend on high until smooth. Leave the mixture in the blender and set aside.
- In a small saucepan, melt the vegan butter. Once bubbling, whisk in the flour. It should form a paste. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Slowly pour in the almond milk, while continuing to whisk. Whisk the mixture consistently for 3-5 minutes until it begins to thicken. Do not let the almond milk boil.
- Once thickened, add the vegan cheddar cheese. Whisk the mixture until the cheese is mostly melted.
- Add the cheese mixture to the sweet potato mixture in the blender. Blend on high until combined and super smooth. This should make about 4 cups of cheese sauce (see notes).
- Add ¾ of the cheese sauce to the pasta. Stir to coat all of the shells.
- Grease a 9”x13” pan. Pour the mac and cheese into the pan.
- In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the topping. Sprinkle the topping onto the mac and cheese in the pan.
- Bake at 350F for 20 minutes until golden on top.
To Bake the Sweet Potato:
- Preheat the oven to 425F.
- Wash and poke holes in your sweet potatoes. Lay them on a parchment-lined baking tray.
- Bake at 425F for 1 hour.
- Let cool before removing the insides.
- This recipe makes about 4 cups of cheese sauce. I recommend pouring 3 cups (or ¾ of the sauce) onto the pasta and reserving the remaining 1 cup to add to your pasta once baked.
- This remaining 1 cup of sauce is also great to add to leftovers the next day. The pasta will absorb some of the sauce overnight in the fridge, so it’s nice to have extra.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 488Total Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 0gSodium: 599mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 9gSugar: 6gProtein: 24g
Nutritional info is an estimate.
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