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January 30, 2024

Dairy Free Mac and Cheese

If you’re cooking for someone who has a dairy allergy, or who follows a vegan diet, this dairy free mac and cheese is a great way to serve everyone’s favorite classic.

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baked dairy free mac and cheese topped with panko bread crumbs in a 9x13 baking dish
Photography by Gayle McLeod

More dairy free dinners to love:

Our Best Dairy Free Mac & Cheese

Our dairy free mac & cheese recipe uses our old starchy friend the potato as a thickener, which results in the secret to this sauce. It’s equally delicious made with your favorite gluten free pasta and breadcrumbs. Add this recipe to your file of vegetarian recipes, including our Vegan Cashew Cheese Sauce & Vegan Chipotle Cream Sauce to spice up your favorite Buddha Bowl. Our Macaroni Salad is another great dairy free recipe.

potatoes, pasta, chicken stock, nutritional yeast, vegan cheese, spices, vegan butter, lemon juice and panko in prep bowls

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Ingredients For Creamy Dairy Free Mac & Cheese

  • Fresh: russet potatoes, lemon

  • Seasoning: nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt, turmeric, paprika

  • Pantry Ingredients: elbow pasta, chicken or veggie stock, panko bread crumbs

  • Vegan Dairy: vegan cheese shreds, vegan butter

panko crumbs and melted vegan butter being stirred together in a small bowl
boiled potatoes being scooped into a blender
stock, vegan cheese shreds, nutritional yeast, spices, lemon juice, vegan butter and boiled potatoes in a blender
dairy free cheese sauce in a blender made with stock, vegan cheese & vegan butter, nutritional yeast, spices, boiled potatoes

How To Make Dairy Free Mac & Cheese

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

  2. Boil the potatoes in a large pot of salted water.

  3. Drain the potatoes and transfer to a blender.

  4. Make the pasta in a second large pot of salted water.

  5. Drain the pasta and transfer to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

  6. Make the cheese sauce by adding the seasoning, lemon juice, vegan butter to the blender. Blend until smooth.

  7. Pour cheese sauce over the pasta and stir until combined.

  8. Make the panko breadcrumbs in a small bowl. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top of the pasta and bake for approximately 20 minutes.

dairy free cheese sauce being poured over cooked macaroni noodles in a 9x13 pan
dairy free mac and cheese topped with panko bread crumbs in a 9x13 baking dish
baked dairy free mac and cheese topped with panko bread crumbs in a 9x13 baking dish
baked dairy free mac and cheese topped with panko bread crumbs in a 9x13 baking dish

How To Store Leftovers + Tips

  • Leftovers will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge. If you plan to freeze this recipe, we recommend working through step four, and stopping before you bake the mac & cheese. At this point, let the pasta cool before wrapping tightly and freezing for up to 3 months.

  • Gluten free version: This recipe is easy to turn into a gluten and dairy mac & cheese, because it doesn’t use a flour-based base to thicken the cheese sauce. Just use your favorite gluten free pasta and breadcrumbs.

  • If you have regular bread crumbs on hand, you can use them in place of panko bread crumbs. We call for panko in this recipe, because we prefer their light and airy structure, but any breadcrumbs will work.

  • Make sure to season the water for your potatoes and pasta as this will have an important impact on how well the end dish is seasoned. Under-seasoned mac & cheese is no good!

  • Plenty more mac and cheese recipes from The Modern Proper: Mushroom Mac and Cheese, Instant Pot Mac and Cheese, Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese, 4-Ingredient Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

baked dairy free mac and cheese topped with panko bread crumbs in a 9x13 baking dish

More Dairy Free Noodle Dishes

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Dairy Free Mac and Cheese

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time:  15 min
  • Cook Time:  40 min
  • Calories: 506

Ingredients

  • 1½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 16 ounces elbow pasta
  • 2 cups chicken or veggie stock
  • 2 cups vegan cheese shreds (we like Violife Mozzarella Shreds)
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • 1½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons vegan butter, melted
  • ¾ cup panko bread crumbs

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F with a rack in the center position.

  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes and return to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-high and cook until the potatoes are very tender, 10-12 minutes. Drain and transfer the potatoes to the base of a high speed blender.

  3. Meanwhile, bring a second large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta to the water and cook until al dente according to the package instructions. Drain and transfer the pasta to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

  4. Add the stock, cheese shreds, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, turmeric, paprika, lemon juice, and ½ cup of the melted vegan butter to the blender with the potatoes. Blend on high until smooth, 3-5 minutes. Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta and stir until combined.

  5. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted vegan butter with the panko. Sprinkle the panko mixture evenly over the macaroni and cheese, bake for 20 minutes, or until the panko is golden and the vegan “cheese” sauce is bubbling. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories506
  • Protein13 g
  • Carbohydrates71 g
  • Total Fat21 g
  • Dietary Fiber5 g
  • Cholesterol0 mg
  • sodium645 mg
  • Total Sugars3 g

Dairy Free Mac and Cheese

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

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  • Autumn Brownlee

    In the video, it looks like you use Violife cheddar shreds but the recipe calls for Violife mozzarella shreds. Which one would be ideal?

    You can honestly use either. Whichever flavor you prefer!

  • Sadie Lender

    This was absolutely delicious! I'm glad I have that newsletter thing or I would've never found this amazing recipe!

    Thanks Sadie, we are so happy you loved it! So happy to hear the newsletter is helpful!

  • Wren

    Absolutely the best. Can't wait for left overs tomorrow.

    Yay! Glad you loved it!