I Eat Plants: Vegan Mac & Cheese Ideas


I submit that Mac & Cheese is a year-round food.

Even in the heat, it only takes a few minutes to make on the stove top, so it’s a winner even in the heat!

And yes, of course I mean Vegan Mac & Cheese.

I know, this is a sore spot for many people.  It’s true, there are vegan cheeses out there that are not very good or are an acquired taste.  You don’t want to have to acquire the taste, I get it.

But there are a number of Vegan Mac & Cheeses out there, and lots of them are good.  You can make it or you can buy it, but you should absolutely dress it up before you eat it.

My recent trip happened to be for the Vida Vegan Conference.  One of the awesome things about an all vegan conference is the all vegan food at the meal times (and snack times!  Do you know how often I get a cookie when I’m at a conference?).  The conference being in Texas, tacos were a definite food feature.

Tacos with Mac & Cheese, that is.

Well, one of these tacos did not contain Mac & Cheese.  The ones that did were better!

Well, one of these tacos did not contain Mac & Cheese. The ones that did were better!

That gave me ideas about a future Mac & Cheese toppings party.  This will happen one of these days, but in the meantime, some ideas for Vegan Mac & Cheese toppings for you!

So here are some ideas for the art of the Mac & Cheese topping.

1.  Kim Chi Mac & Cheese

With this one I like to make sure I mix in some of the brine before topping it off with some chopped up kim chi, toasted sesame oil, and snipped scallions.   Baked tofu, bean sprouts, and toasted peanuts or sesame seeds would make a nice addition.

Kim Chi, scallions & sesame oil top this bowl.

Kim Chi, scallions & sesame oil top this bowl.

2.  Nacho Mac & Cheese

Nacho toppings!  With maybe even some crushed corn chips on top!  Pictured here is also peach salsa and vegan sour cream.  I’m a big fan of Heidi Ho’s Spicy Chia Cheeze as a topping, as well as vegan chorizo- I love the Trader Joe’s brand.

Nachos and Mac:  a combo meant to happen.

Nachos and Mac: a combo meant to happen.

3.  Pesto Mac & Cheese

Sometimes you work with whatever toppings you have on hand.  I often have pesto in the freezer, so this is a no brainer.  I added a bit of Cheeky Monkey Politely Spicy Tomato & Garlic Oil, as well- and if you haven’t tried it, you really, really should.

Work with what you've got!

Work with what you’ve got!

4.  Sauerkraut and Sausage Mac & Cheese

The above Mac & Cheeses were all homemade with a nutritional yeast-based cheese sauce, using this recipe (not mine, I’m afraid, though I did sub cashew milk for the hemp).  This picture is using Earth Balance White Cheddar Mac & Cheese.  I’ll stipulate that the nutritional value on this stuff is nil, but it is tasty, and unlike any boxed vegan Mac & Cheese that you’ve ever tried, if you’ve dared to try one.

The grown up version of hot dogs and ketchup.

The grown up version of hot dogs and ketchup.

The sausage here is Tofurkey Artisan Chick’n & Apple Sausages.  They’re quite tasty!  This Mac & Cheese is the grown up version of hot dogs and ketchup mixed in your Mac, though there’s nothing wrong with that, either- Smart Dogs brand of vegan hot dogs are perfect for this.

5.  Mix it up!

You can take any of these items and mix them together!  Other toppings you might try:  Sriracha, crushed potato chips, vegan coconut bacon, kale, spinach, peas, edamame… your imagination is the limit!

Of course, let us all remember that Mac & Cheese, be it vegan or dairy based, is a sometimes food.  And after this, I think I might be Mac & Cheese’d out!


About Author

I Eat Plants columnist Jodie Deignan went vegetarian in 2004 and fully committed to veganism in 2007. By day she’s a psychiatric nurse practitioner and by night she spends a lot of time cooking delicious vegan food for herself and her friends. She’s a bit of a picky eater, with a special distaste for mushrooms, seaweed, raw tomatoes, and eggplant, though she’s discovered along the way she’s a little more open-minded than she once thought. She blogs at The Picky Vegan.

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