A delicious baked macaroni and cheese recipe that’s plant-based, soy, dairy, and gluten-free. This recipe takes about 20 minutes to prepare and 40 minutes to cook. The creamy cheesiness will have everyone reaching for seconds, guaranteed (and they won't even know it's plant-based).
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I must admit, before my plant-based journey, I barely knew my way around the kitchen. If anyone could burn a bowl of cold cereal, it would have been me. Despite my inability to cook huge, elaborate meals, there was one thing I was trusted to cook -- baked macaroni and cheese. Everyone would fight for the last piece of my macaroni and cheese, which was more like a cheese lasagna until I really learned how to cook. Throwing together the cheeses and flavors came easily ( I even had a secret ingredient), but boiling the pasta was a different story (sigh).
Thankfully, these days, I am so greatly trusted with food that I'm the primary cook for Thanksgiving dinner (what an improvement from my inability to boil pasta). Thanksgiving 2023, I decided to change my recipe. Everyone present for Thanksgiving dinner was nervous because my macaroni and cheese recipe has remained the same since I was a young adult (minus eventually being made plant-based and gluten-free). Still, I knew my cooking knowledge had expanded and that the dish could be even better -- I was right. With a few minor tweaks, my once delicious macaroni and cheese transformed into a phenomenal dish everyone fell in love with -- again.
Without further ado, I present my new and improved plant-based baked macaroni and cheese. This recipe is soy-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free. It only takes about 20 minutes to prepare and 40 minutes to cook. The creamy cheesiness will have everyone reaching for seconds, guaranteed.
Plant-Based Macaroni & Cheese
12 oz. gluten-free elbow pasta (I used Jovial elbow pasta)
8 oz. plant-based cheddar cheese (shredded)
8 oz. plant-based Colby Jack cheese (shredded)
8 oz. plant-based mozzarella cheese (shredded)
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 tbsp. plant-based butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup plant-based milk
3/4 cup heavy coconut cream ( I used Let's Do...Organic)
8 oz. plant-based cream cheese
1/4 cup plant-based grated parmesan cheese (optional)
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Cook the pasta one minute shy of the package instructions.
While the pasta is cooking, combine all shredded cheeses in a large bowl and set aside for step 7.
When the pasta is done cooking, strain, place in a bowl, and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil before setting aside for step 8.
In a deep pot, melt the butter over medium heat before whisking in the all-purpose flour until golden and bubbling.
Slowly whisk in the milk, followed by the coconut heavy cream and cream cheese. Keep whisking until bubbling and smooth.
Slowly whisk in 3 cups of the combined cheese you set aside in step 3 and ensure everything is thick, smooth, and creamy.
Stir in the cooked pasta you set aside during step 4 and ensure all pasta is coated evenly with the cheese sauce.
Add half the macaroni and cheese into a large, greased baking dish and top it with half the remaining combined cheese.
Add the other half of the macaroni and cheese and top it with the remaining combined cheese.
Optional: In a small bowl, combine the parmesan cheese and smoked paprika (you can add other seasonings if you'd like) and garnish the top of the macaroni and cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes. If you want a browned top, switch to a low broil for 4-5 minutes after the initial 30 minutes of baking.