Gluten-Free, Vegan Macaroni and “Cheese”

Nailed it!

That’s totally what went through my head with this recipe. I told my husband last week that I was craving Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. (Doesn’t everyone have these random cravings for nostalgic, refined “crap” foods once in a while?) It’d been forever since I’d had anything close to macaroni and cheese, much less the “real” thing (Kraft or homemade). Last year around this time, I made a “cheesy” grain-free, vegan cauliflower and butternut dish that was a delicious swap for macaroni and cheese. But never had I attempted something that would really replace macaroni and cheese. I wanted, you know, noodles. With a creamy cheesy-like sauce.

So I went for it. I found some brown rice pasta that I enjoy. I grabbed a whole can of full-fat coconut milk, my good ol’ vegan cheesy standby – nutritional yeast – and a few other ingredients, and got to work. What resulted surprised me. It looked and felt very much like the cheese sauce you might find in a boxed macaroni and cheese. It was creamy. Smooth and rich. Orange, even. Only it tasted better. The flavors were more complex, but still cheesy, and still kid-friendly. My oldest son Matt, who really enjoys the simpler flavors of childhood days, commented that this was some good macaroni. (I hadn’t told him that it wasn’t “real” cheese until afterwards.) The kid in me could imagine some sliced up hot dogs thrown in. (My favorite meal when I was about five – no joke!)

Of course, if you want to elevate this to grown-up status, you could certainly put it in a baking dish, top it with some non-dairy shredded cheese, sprinkle some gluten-free breadcrumbs over, and bake for 20-30 minutes. It’d be amazing that way as well.

So embrace your childhood. Make some mac ‘n’ cheese today!


Macaroni and “Cheese” (gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, nut-free)

1/4 c vegan butter or butter-flavored palm shortening

1/3 c chopped onion

3 large cloves garlic, minced

1/4 c potato starch

1 T lemon juice

1 14-oz can full-fat coconut milk

1/4 c nutritional yeast

2-3 T Dijon mustard

2 T tomato paste

1 t turmeric

Salt and pepper to taste

12 oz gluten-free pasta (I used Tinkyada), cooked according to directions on package

Smoked paprika, for sprinkling

Heat the vegan butter or shortening in a medium saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another minute. Add the potato starch and whisk in until thick. Add the lemon juice, coconut milk, and remaining ingredients and whisk in completely, and stir occasionally until the sauce bubbles. Remove from heat and transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Stir in cooked gluten-free pasta, and serve with smoked paprika sprinkled over.

Serves 4-6.



  1. says

    Alta, I agree with you. We all have those moments when we crave something that we really shouldn’t eat.

    Sometimes we cave and give in to the urge because you can only ignore it so long. I would much rather though find a healthier version that I can indulge in without the guilt.

    I think that that is exactly what you created here. It has the rich gooiness of an old childhood standby with the nutrition quality that we want as an adult.

    I am passing this recipe along to parents I know so that they can make this for their children as well.

    I can’t wait to see what else you invent!

    • altawrites says

      Elle – I love figuring out a healthier version of those cravings too – or even just a version that won’t make me sick! This definitely fit the bill. :) Thanks for sharing it!

  2. says

    I agree on the cravings, too! For me lately it has been carbonated beverages. Anything fizzy and I’m in. Definitely will be telling some dairy-free moms I know about this recipe!! 😉

    • altawrites says

      Hallie – I love indulging in a quality fizzy drink every now and then. Kombucha is a regular, but sometimes I want Perrier, or on a rare day, I’ll grab a “real cane sugar” (gasp!) soda. Gotta indulge every once in a while!

  3. says

    Yum! Oddly enough, my cravings have totally changed lately, with “cheesy” things topping the list. Very strange since I never liked cheese.

    This definitely looks like a “nailed it” success – pinned and can’t wait to try!

    • altawrites says

      Alisa – I don’t often have “cheesy” cravings anymore now that I’ve been dairy-free for so long. But now, I have a go-to solution! LOL Thanks!

  4. says

    I can’t wait to try this. I’m lactose intolerant and trying to eliminate gluten from my diet (easier said than done when you don’t actually have an allergy), but this is going to help so much!

  5. says

    I love listening to my cravings :) Haha, who doesn’t!!! Looking forward to trying this for the kids. Callum loves “cheesy” pasta, we’re still working on Livvie.

  6. says

    Alta, This looks good (and easy)! My kids love all versions of vegan mac and cheese, and this one looks like a definite winner. I wouldn’t have thought to add tomato paste. Interesting ….


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