Smokey Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese

Vegan Smokey Baked Mac and Cheese

I’m excited to share this smokey vegan baked mac and cheese recipe with you. It’s super creamy, cheesy, smokey and easy to make. A little different from the traditional mac and cheese recipes out there with a twist of smokiness. 

If this doesn’t hit the spot, then I don’t know what will! I haven’t grown up eating macaroni and cheese, so I don’t have much to compare it to before we became vegan, but I’ve had my fair share of it when we were travelling the West Coast of the US a few years ago. You could get mac & cheese as a side dish, as a main, in burritos, and in pretty much every single place we went to.

I chose not to use vegan cheese in this recipe because they vary so greatly all around the world. I wanted to make sure that the recipe is as accessible as possible with the ingredients that you can find at your supermarket or health food store.

smokey vegan mac and cheese

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A vegan mac and cheese with a difference

I love the slight crunch and different texture from the pasta that has baked on the top. I also love using smoked paprika in dishes like this one. It adds a new depth of flavour and works so well!

I’ve done a couple of recipes in the past that are similar in terms of texture, like this Creamy Pumpkin and Capsicum Penne. I also use the base of this sauce a lot. You can experiment for yourself to see what works best for your taste buds.

Can you use other types of pasta in this dish? 

As I mention below, you can use whatever pasta you like. I prefer to use no larger than the classic penne as it works best to keep it smaller for the texture you’re trying to achieve with a dish like this. And of course, a gluten-free pasta would work just as well. Types of pasta that would also work well are:

  • Penne
  • Fusilli
  • Small conchiglie
  • Spiral
  • Pipe

baked vegan mac and cheese

Can this be made ahead?

Yes, it certainly can! Just add a little extra water in the blender when mixing the sauce as the pasta will soak it up over time in the fridge. Complete the whole recipe without baking and put some foil or a silicone wrap over the dish. It can be left in the fridge for up to two days. 

When ready to bake, preheat the oven and add 5 minutes to the baking time as it has come straight out of the fridge. 

Can this be made gluten-free?

Sure can be. Just switch the pasta to a gluten-free variety and cook as listed instructions on the packet.

Everything else in the recipe is gluten-free, so the pasta is the only thing you’ll need to swap out. I like this gluten-free pasta for this dish.  

How long does this smokey vegan mac and cheese last?

In our house no more than 1 hour! Jokes aside, it will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge. You can also freeze this dish for later. 

Also note that if you’re not into spice (hot spice), then maybe consider reducing the amount of pepper you use. If you like a bit of heat, use the amount that’s in the recipe. Or if you really love hot food, then feel free to add a bit more. Just adjust it to your palette. Same goes for the salt.

I hope you enjoy my take on the super popular dish that is mac and cheese — made vegan and smokey. Just the way I like it!

If you try this recipe, let me know! Would love for you to leave a comment and rating below. If you want to go that extra mile, tag us on Instagram or share your photo of the recipe on Pinterest

Smokey Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese
Yield: SERVES 4

Smokey Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Bake Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

This smokey vegan baked mac and cheese is the perfect comfort dish. Creamy, cheesy and smokey, your tastebuds will be satisfied.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (around 340 grams) macaroni pasta*
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium potato (around 80-100 grams), washed and grated*
  • 1/2 cup (75 grams) raw cashews
  • 1/3 cup (20 grams) nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika + extra for sprinkling
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1.5 cups (375 ml) water + extra

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C (390F).
  2. Bring to boil a pot of water for the pasta. Once boiled, add in the pasta and cook as per instructions.
  3. Drain the pasta once cooked and return back to the pot.
  4. In the meantime, in a small saucepan on medium heat, add the oil, onion and garlic.
  5. Sweat out the onions and garlic for a few minutes stirring occasionally.
  6. Add in the grated potato and cook until the potato has softened. Add a little water if it starts to stick - around 1-2 tbsp.
  7. Place the cashews, nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, water and the cooked onion, garlic and potato mix into a blender, and blend until smooth.
  8. Pour the sauce over the pasta and mix well.
  9. Place in a baking dish (doesn't matter about the shape, just that it all fits) and flatten with the back of a spatula or spoon.
  10. Place in the oven for around 10 minutes or until the pasta starts to brown just a little on top.
  11. You don't want to leave it in there too long as it will dry it out. Remove from the oven and sprinkle some smoked paprika on top.
  12. Serve staright away. This dish would go nicely with a green side salad.

Notes

* You can use whatever pasta you like here. I went for the more traditional style and used macaroni. I have made it with a gluten-free penne before and it's just as delicious!

* Any potato variety that is good for mash. I also don't peel the potatoes, just give them a good scrub under some water. You miss out on so many beneficial nutrients in the skin if you peel it off.

Vegan Smokey Baked Mac & Cheese

Other recipes you’ll love:

  1. 3-Ingredient Cabbage Pasta
  2. Creamy Pumpkin and Capsicum Penne
  3. Creamy Vegan Mushroom Risotto
  4. Leek and Mushroom Vegan White Sauce Fettuccine
  5. Creamy Vegan Cauliflower Bake (7 Ingredients)

Interested in more recipes?

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  • Gulden 24/05/2019 Reply

    That sounds and looks awesome Maša! I will definitely give it a try. It’s a different take on a classic and I like what you’ve done. Thank you for the recipe 🙂

    • You’re very welcome Gulden! Glad you like this take, let me know what you think when you give it a try 🙂

  • Kael 24/05/2019 Reply

    This looks delicious! My kids are massive macaroni cheese fans and I haven’t yet been able to make a decent vegan one, so I’ll be giving this a try!

    • Hope they like it! Maybe reduce the pepper in it if we are young. Pop back here after and let me know what they thought 🙂

  • Julie Dunbar 25/05/2019 Reply

    Cashews are awesome for cheesy sauces. I’ve never tried mac n cheese lol so I am looking forward to trying this one! Thankyou ??☮

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