This dairy free mac and cheese recipe is the only one you'll ever need because it's the real deal! It's super creamy, extra cheesy, kid-friendly, non-vegan approved, and it's ready in 30 minutes!
I have loved mac and cheese since I was a kid. It has always been one of my favorite foods! When I stopped eating dairy, I didn't eat mac and cheese for a few years and I missed it so much. I decided that I had to figure out a way to make it dairy free and taste just as good as I remembered it.
I tested so many different variations of this recipe and this version is the easiest and the best! While I do enjoy dairy free macaroni and cheese recipes that are made with potatoes, carrots, butternut squash, cashews, or cauliflower, I think that using vegan cheese makes it taste the most like the classic mac and cheese that I used to love.
The process to make a creamy mac n cheese that's dairy free is the same as if you were making a regular macaroni and cheese, you just need a few ingredient substitutes. The basic steps are still the same.
This delicious dish is super creamy, extra cheesy, easy to make, kids love it and so do people who aren't plant-based! I just know you're going to love it as much as I do!
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Dairy Free Butter - Miyokos butter is my favorite to use. It tastes so good!
- All Purpose Flour - This is used to make the roux.
- Milk - You can use any plain plant milk you like, but I used coconut because it's so creamy. I wouldn't use soy (I did once and it made it taste sweet).
- Dairy Free Cheese - My favorite shredded cheese to use is Violife shredded cheddar cheese, but I also like Follow Your Heart or So Delicious shredded cheddar cheese too.
- Dried Seasonings - Garlic, onion, paprika, salt, and pepper add so much flavor to the macaroni and cheese.
- Turmeric - Ground turmeric is added to enhance the yellow color, not for flavor. I use this trick also when making chickpea noodle soup.
- Noodles - Use pasta that will catch the cheese like elbows, shells, or cavatappi.
How To Make It
Start by melting the butter in a pan. Once it has completely melted, add the flour and whisk it into the melted butter for a few minutes to cook off the flour taste and form a roux.
Next, add the plant milk, shredded dairy free cheese, and all of the dry seasonings to the pan to make the cheese sauce for the mac.
Cook the elbow noodles in a separate pot of salted boiling water. When the noodles are done cooking, drain the water and pour the melted dairy free cheese over the hot noodles. Stir the pasta until everything is evenly coated.
What Goes With it
This mac and cheese is the perfect side dish to serve with any of the following recipes.
You could also make it a main course by adding green peas (or any type of legume for protein) and roasted broccoli florets. This recipe is also a staple dish that I serve every year for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.
How To Store It
Store leftover mac n cheese in a container in the fridge for 2-3 days.
It can be frozen for 2-3 months. When you're ready to defrost it, take it out of the freezer and put it in the fridge to thaw for 24 hours before reheating it.
You can also make the dairy free cheese sauce by itself (without the pasta) and keep it in the freezer until you need it. Then you can defrost is, warm it up, and pour it over freshly cooked hot noodles. I often do this when I'm cooking Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner because I try to prep as much as possible in advance.
Frequently Asked Questions
It's made with noodles, plant milk, seasonings, dairy free butter, flour, and dairy free cheese.
I use unsweetened coconut milk (from a refrigerated carton, not a can) because it's so creamy. You can also use oat or almond.
Yes, you can make the macaroni and cheese 1-2 days before you plant to serve it. Store it in a container in the fridge until you're ready to reheat it. Add more liquid when you reheat it.
- Use unsweetened and plain plant milk (not soy) so the dairy free cheese sauce won't taste sweet.
- Use elbow noodles or any type of noodle that twists or curves because it will catch and hold the cheese the best.
- The turmeric powder isn't for flavor, it's what gives the macaroni and cheese its vibrant yellow color.
- For extra texture, you could add buttered breadcrumbs on top and bake it for 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees.
More Pasta Recipes You'll Love
- Pesto Pasta Bake
- Tortellini Soup
- Spinach Artichoke Dip Stuffed Shells
- Pesto Pasta with Veggies
- Dairy Free Creamy Alfredo
- Spinach Artichoke Lasagna
Dairy Free Mac and Cheese
- Medium Pot
- Large Pot
- 16 oz elbow noodles
- 4 tbsp dairy free butter (I used Miyokos salted butter)
- 4 tbsp all purpose flour
- 3 ½ cups unsweetened coconut milk (from a refrigerated carton, not a can)
- 3 cups shredded dairy free cheddar cheese (I used Violife dairy free shredded cheddar cheese)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder (Optional)
- ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley roughly chopped
- Cook the elbow noodles in salted, boiling water in a large pot. While the noodles are cooking, make the cheese sauce. When the noodles are done, drain the water.
- Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium-low heat. Add the flour to the melted butter and whisk it for about 3 minutes to make a roux.
- Slowly pour in the coconut milk while whisking continuously. Let it heat up for a few minutes until it thickens.
- Add the shredded cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, turmeric powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Keep stirring until all the cheese melts it's thick and creamy.
- Pour the hot cheese sauce over the cooked noodles and mix it well so the cheese coats every noodle. Garnish with fresh parsley.
- Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days or freeze it for a future meal.