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Creamy Dairy Free Mac and Cheese

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Get your comfort food fix with this delicious and super creamy dairy free mac and cheese that’s easy to make with ingredients you most likely have on hand! Our recipe is also gluten free, peanut free, has a vegan option, and is made without cashews.

photo collage showing photos of bowl filled with super creamy dairy free mac and cheese.

There is something so comforting about that well-loved classic dish: mac and cheese. That perfect blend of carbs and creamy sauce makes it the epitome of comfort food!

While we really shouldn’t build our diet around recipes like mac and cheese (no matter how amazing it is), it is great to have those creamy comfort foods every once in a while. Especially when you have food allergies and don’t get this kind of food very often!

I revisited an older recipe of ours from my second year of blogging (2012) for dairy free mac and cheese and made it even better tasting and creamier than ever!

Food allergy notes for this recipe:

  • Dairy free
  • Egg free, vegan option
  • Gluten Free
  • Peanut free
Overhead photo of a bowl of mac and cheese with a black spoon.

Why we love this recipe

This recipe for dairy free mac and cheese is super creamy and saucy! Unlike some of the dairy free boxed mac and cheese options at the store, ours has lots of creamy smooth cheese sauce.

Our version is also really easy to customize as well: you can make this with your favorite allergy friendly pasta and your favorite brand of dairy free cheese if you prefer one that’s different from what we recommend. And this is super easy to make vegan, too.

How to make creamy dairy free mac and cheese

This cheddar cheese sauce for our dairy free mac and cheese is based on a simple white sauce with cheese added to it. In fact, several of our recipes use a similar base (like our alfredo sauce and our queso dip), it’s so versatile and something I’ve been using in our kitchen for years!

overhead photo of dairy free cheese sauce for mac and cheese.

Here are the steps to make this mac and cheese in under 30 minutes (this is just an overview of steps, the full recipe card is at the end of the post!):

  1. Get a 2 quart pot ready for cooking the past: fill it about 3/4 full with water, add a couple dashes of salt, and cook over medium heat.
  2. While the water is heating up for the pasta, in a different saucepan, whisk together some of the canned coconut milk (an excellent replacement for dairy cream), nutritional yeast, and spices/seasonings. Heat over medium heat until simmering.
  3. Once the sauce simmers, lower the heat to medium-low.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining coconut milk and cornstarch. Add this mixture to the simmering sauce and whisk regularly for a few minutes while it thickens.
  5. Once the water starts boiling for the pasta, cook your chosen pasta according to the package directions.
  6. While the pasta is cooking, add the bag of dairy free cheddar cheese to the sauce and continue cooking over medium-low heat, melting the cheese completely into the sauce, whisking regularly. It will take about 4 to 6 minutes for the cheese to melt completely into the sauce and create a smooth cheese sauce.
  7. Once the cheese is melted into the sauce, turn off the heat and let the sauce cool slightly for about 5-10 minutes. It will continue to thicken a bit as it cools.
  8. Once the pasta is done cooking, drain it thoroughly and add it back to the pot. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and stir to combine.
  9. You can serve this immediately, or you can put it in a 9×13-inch casserole dish, top with additional cheese and bread crumbs, and bake at 350 degrees F for about 15-20 minutes or until the top is golden.
Dairy free macaroni and cheese in a pot with a red spatula.

How to make vegan mac and cheese

I used some chicken broth powder in this recipe to add some additional depth of flavor, but you can easily make this recipe into vegan mac and cheese by swapping out the chicken broth powder for a vegetable broth powder.

We used the Orrington Farms chicken broth powder and this brand also makes a vegetable broth powder/base that might be a good option (I haven’t tried the vegetable broth from this brand).

But if you have a favorite vegetable broth base or broth powder, you can use that in this recipe as well!

A speckled blue bowl full of mac and cheese.
Vegan macaroni and cheese in a bowl.

Creamy Dairy Free Mac and Cheese

Get your comfort food fix with this delicious and super creamy dairy free mac and cheese that's easy to make with ingredients you most likely have on hand!
Dairy free, gluten free, peanut free, vegan option
4.67 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dairy free mac and cheese, gluten free mac and cheese
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6 cups
Calories: 419kcal

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Fill a 2 quart saucepan about ¾ full with water, add a few dashes of salt, and heat over medium heat until boiling for the pasta.
  • While you're waiting for the water to boil, make the cheese sauce in a separate saucepan: add 1 ½ cups canned coconut milk, whisk in the nutritional yeast, and the spices and seasonings. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  • Once the sauce is simmering, lower the heat to medium-low. Whisk the cornstarch into a small dish with the remaining ¼ cup of coconut milk to create a cornstarch slurry, and whisk this cornstarch mixture into the hot coconut milk.
  • Whisk regularly for a couple of minutes until the sauce has thickened.
  • Once the water for the pasta is boiling, add the macaroni pasta (whichever kind you're using) and follow the package directions for cooking time.
  • While the pasta is cooking, keep the heat on medium-low for the sauce and add the package of dairy free cheese to the sauce and stir regularly until smooth and completely melted (this may take about 5 to 6 minutes to fully melt into the sauce).
  • Turn off the heat and allow the sauce to cool for about 5 to 10 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken a bit more (it will thicken as it cools slightly).
  • Once the pasta is cooked, drain the pasta very well, add back to the pan, and add the sauce to the pasta and stir to coat thoroughly.
  • You can serve this immediately, or you can put it in a 9×13-inch casserole dish, top with additional cheese and bread crumbs, and bake at 350 degrees F for about 15-20 minutes or until the top is golden.

Notes

*For vegan mac and cheese, use a vegetable broth powder instead of the chicken broth powder.
**1/2 Tablespoon = 1 1/2 teaspoons. So 1 1/2 tablespoons = 1 Tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons

Nutrition

Calories: 419kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 23g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 441mg | Potassium: 247mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 139IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 2mg
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This post was originally published in May 2012, I recently updated the recipe and photos! Here is the original recipe and one of the original photos:

vegan mac and cheese in a blue bowl with a fork.

My original recipe didn’t have as much sauce or cheese with it, and it was thickened with brown rice flour instead of cornstarch. Our newer recipe is much better in my opinion, but if you are looking for the old one, here it is!

Our original recipe for vegan mac & cheese

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces brown rice elbow macaroni I use Tinkyada brand
  • 1 ½ cups coconut milk unsweetened and unflavored from carton
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons brown rice flour depending on how thick you want your sauce
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • ½ teaspoon Mrs. Dash table blend
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder or paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup Daiya shredded cheese or your favorite non-dairy shredded cheese
  • Optional: Gluten-Free Bread or cracker crumbs

Instructions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat water and cook brown rice macaroni according to package directions.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the milk until simmering. Whisk in the brown rice flour and seasonings. Simmer until sauce thickens, stirring often to prevent burning.
  3. When the sauce has thickened, stir in the cheese and stir until melted (or mostly melted).
  4. Stir the sauce into the cooked and drained macaroni. At this point you can add in other ingredients, serve immediately, or you can top with bread crumbs and bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes or until the top is golden. Enjoy!

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