Whether you’re vegan or lactose intolerant, you probably still crave the cheesy goodness of mac and cheese. After all, what’s not to love about Monster Mac’s pile of ooey gooey mac and cheese. This comforting classic is perfect any time of day, month, or year. Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives that you can cook up in just a few easy steps that will curb your cravings without bringing dairy into the picture.
The feeling of curling up with a bowl of mac and cheese is a nostalgic experience that most of us can relate to. It may even be one of the tastiest foods in the world. After all, it is beloved by children and adults alike. But not everyone can enjoy dairy. That’s why creative vegan chefs have created plant-based alternatives that will not only scratch the itch but blow you away with their amazing resemblance to the tried and true classic.
Dairy-free mac is family-friendly and great for sharing. Plus, if you cook your “cheese” sauce from scratch, you may even be able to squeeze a few extra vegetables into your meal for a healthy bonus. So get ready to dig in and feel amazing after eating mac and cheese, made dairy-free.
Even if you’re not dairy-free, maybe you can treat a lactose-intolerant or vegan friend to a bowl of homemade milkless mac and cheese, while treating yourself to a gooey bowl of the real stuff. Below you’ll find a recipe for milkless mac & cheese, brought to you from one of the top mac & cheese restaurants out there, Monster Mac.
First things first: if you are making your vegan mac and cheese from scratch, you will need to choose the right pasta noodle for you. Luckily, you can make mac and cheese with any noodle shape or type. You can even use a healthier pasta alternative that is made from quinoa, whole wheat, or other vegetables. Why not make your dairy-free mac a bit healthier?
Traditional mac and cheese is typically made with macaroni noodles, but you can use any pasta shape you choose. Some people like to use shells or rotini because they are great at holding thick, creamy sauces. Trust us, dairy-free mac will be just as creamy and delicious as the dairy versions—you’ll want all the saucy goodness you can get.
Making Sauce From Scratch
When making mac and cheese with dairy, you typically gather up butter, cheese, milk, and more cheese. Making mac and cheese without milk or other dairy products is a drastically different process, but it results in the same gooey mac and cheese goodness you’re used to.
To make the “cheese” sauce vegan, you will need several different ingredients you may not expect. By combining spices, a creamy element, and something to give your mac that yellow cheesy color, you will be able to create your very own dairy-free mac and cheese.
The base of most dairy-free cheese sauces starts with cashews. Cashews are rich in fiber, healthy fats, and are a great source of protein. They also conveniently make a great creamy base for a vegan mac and cheese sauce. Most recipes start by gently toasting the cashews over a medium flame to give them a delicious roasted flavor.
After the cashews are all nice and toasty, they are blended with some type of milk alternatives, such as almond milk or soy milk. Once combined into a creamy consistency, a spice blend is added to create a zesty sauce base. The types of spices vary from recipe to recipe but generally consist of:
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Salt and pepper
- Mustard powder
Just like with regular mac and cheese, the spice blend is totally up to you. So feel free to play around with it to see what is best for you. If you prefer to simplify, you can always use a garlic and herb spice blend like in this recipe.
Most vegan cheese sauces then use onion, garlic, and some type of orange vegetables, such as carrots or butternut squash—for color. These veggies are combined in a saucepan with olive oil and cooked until soft and fragrant. These tasty, pungent onions and garlic will give the cheese sauce a savory flavor, without the use of funky, aged cheeses.
Once the veggies are soft, they are added to the blender alongside some soy sauce and nutritional yeast. If you have never used nutritional yeast before, it is a very common ingredient in vegan cooking. Nutritional yeast is a very versatile seasoning that is used to add a cheesy flavor to dishes that don’t have any dairy.
This sauce is then blended for several minutes until it is smooth and creamy. From here all you have to do is cook up your pasta and add the sauce. It’s that easy!
The best part about this method is that it is much less fatty than its dairy-filled friend. By using natural, plant-based ingredients, it is easy to create a mac that is super tasty and better for you. Rest assured, this tasty recipe can become one of your regulars—guilt-free!
If you want to make your delicious dairy-free meal a bit more special, you can also add a panko bread crumb topping. This will give your mac an authentic comfort food feeling.
If this cooking adventure seems a bit too complicated for you, then there are also other ways to create a delicious dairy-free mac.
The Easier Method
Okay, maybe you’re not a master chef. Let’s make things even easier. You can make delicious vegan mac and cheese without all the chopping, sauteing, and blending. We get it—sometimes you don’t have time for all the fuss of a meal from scratch.
Luckily, there are several different alternative cheese products available that you can use to make a delicious dairy-free sauce. You will be amazed by how easy it is to adapt your favorite dairy-filled recipe by simply swapping out the cheese for a vegan alternative. Try using a shredded vegan cheddar or mozzarella.
You can replace the milk with a dairy alternative, such as soy or almond, and even use a scoop of vegan yogurt for added creaminess. With so many amazing innovations to dairy-free products, you can easily find a variety of vegan options.
Want to simplify things even further? Try looking at your local store for a vegan boxed mac and cheese option. Yes, several different companies now make vegan alternatives to your classic kraft-style boxed mac and cheese. With these types of products, it’s as easy as following the instructions on the side of the box and voila—milk-free mac and cheese!
Not Worried About Dairy?
Warning, this mac and cheese is not for those avoiding dairy.
Do you like your mac and cheese with real, dairy-loaded cheese? What are you doing here? This is a dairy-free/vegan mac and cheese article. Not to worry. We’ve got you covered. If you’re looking for vegan mac for a friend, why not whip them up one of these fantastic dairy-free options, then order in some real deal mac and cheese for yourself.
If you can eat dairy, then you have got to try some of the best mac and cheese around. That’s right; we’re talking about Monster Mac. This delivery-only spot is available across the country via your favorite delivery apps. They are serving up some of the best ooey-gooey mac and cheese with a variety of flavors and toppings. Seriously, this menu is jam-packed with tasty options.
If you’re looking to double down on dairy, then try their Loaded Beast Mac. This mac and cheese takes creamy to the next level with cheesy mac, bacon, green onions, crème fraîche, fried shallots, and garlic chips. This mac is out of this world delicious and loaded with dairy.
Monster Mac also serves up tasty fries, mac and cheese bites, and cookies for dessert. Need we say more?
Whether you like your mac and cheese dairy-free or packed with cheese, the most important thing is that you can enjoy mac and cheese in some way. After all, mac and cheese have a special place in all of our hearts. A warm bowl of mac is as comforting as a warm hug on a cold day. Luckily, you can make an ooey-gooey bowl of mac and cheese with or without dairy.
Hopefully, you have learned about the process of making a tasty vegan alternative to your favorite American classic. Now you can decide how you want to enjoy mac and cheese next time the craving comes knocking—with or without the cheese.
For more mac and cheesy reads, check out the Monster Mac blog.