Vegan Cheese Sauce Pasta is creamy, cheesy and is super easy to make! Your comfort food craving that is totally dairy-free and nut free will be ready in 20 minutes!
As soon as the temperatures drop and it’s fall, I am always making slow cooker soups, no-fuss casseroles and rich sauces. This vegan cheese sauce is rich and satisfying, and no one will know it’s dairy-free!
The cheese sauce happens to also be totally nut-free (and also there is no nutritional yeast). This easy vegan pasta recipe could be made ahead, so it's great for meal prep!
Originally published October 2021 and updated for content November 2022.
I like to make recipes with nutritional yeast, but this sauce does not have any at all.
I was just wondering if you love a delicious mac and cheese as much as I do? Does you mind wonder off and dream about gooey and creamy mac and cheese every once in a while, like mine does??
Nonna (my mom)is the mac and cheese queen! She makes hers starting out with thick roux, then she adds milk to it and it’s basically making a besciamella (or béchamel ) sauce,Her cheese sauce begins with béchamel
I make a béchamel ALL the time for my lasagne (minus the addition of cheese!). But when nonna is making mac and cheese, all the grated cheese gets added into the béchamel.
This recipe can be made on a busy weeknight or on the weekend. A lazy Sunday with a casserole of dreamy mac and cheese sounds just about right!
Here is a glimpse of my Skillet Lasagna Bolognese (and some photos of the white besciamella (or béchamel ) sauce.
My daughter was craving a vegan cheese sauce and I had a packet of dairy-free cheddar in the refrigerator. I didn’t have any macaroni on hand, so it ended up using penne pasta.
You could make this with any small pasta, or a tubular pasta like penne or even rigatoni. The sauce can be poured over the cooked pasta, stirred together, and enjoyed right away.
This vegan cheese sauce is so loved!
Here are the reasons why:
- really cheesy
- super creamy
What are the ingredients in a vegan cheese sauce pasta?
As we mentioned above, there are no cashews or nutritional yeast in this recipe. Just a few simple pantry ingredients that you probably already have on hand!
- Pasta: you could make this with any small pasta, or a tubular pasta like penne or even rigatoni. Macaroni also would be perfect for this recipe!
- Vegan Butter: I used Earth Balance brand, but you could use whatever brand you love.
- Flour: all purpose flour (I have not tested making this GF so cannot give the outcome of using GF flour).
- Non-dairy milk: I used unsweetened almond milk (make sure no vanilla flavoring). You could use oat or soy milk.
- Vegan cheese: I used shredded vegan cheddar cheese in this recipe. You can use a mix of cheddar and mozzarella, or even just vegan mozzarella. I’ve made it with different brands of vegan cheeses. If you are nut-free, be sure to choose a brand without nuts.
- Dijon Mustard: optional, but does bring out the cheesy flavor in the sauce.
- sea salt
- freshly ground pepper (optional)
Is this vegan sauce creamy and cheesy?
Yes! This is a very creamy sauce. Because you are making a bechamel, the sauce is thick and creamy.
Is this vegan sauce cheesy?
Yes! It’s a very cheesy sauce. Since vegan cheese gets added to the bechamel sauce, it is so cheesy! Some of the newest brands of vegan shredded cheese are so good! The flavor and the way they melt are excellent!
So for those that have family members that are dairy-free (like ours!), you could make this vegan cheese sauce, and everyone will enjoy it!
How to store pasta with vegan cheese sauce:
Let the pasta and sauce come to room temperature. Once it’s cooled down, store any leftovers in airtight container (or even a zipped lock freezer bag). Should stay fine in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Can you freeze this vegan cheese sauce pasta?
Yes! Let the the pasta completely cool down. Once it has cooled, transfer to an airtight container or a zipped lock freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
Defrost it in the refrigerator overnight and reheat the next day in a pan on medium-low heat. Keep stirring it and add of non-dairy milk to loosen it up (start with 1 tablespoon and add more 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed).
How to reheat
For best results, transfer to the refrigerator to thaw overnight. Then, reheat in a saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently, until warmed all the way through.
More vegan recipes to enjoy:
Vegan Cheese Sauce Pasta
- 1/2 pound pasta I used rigatoni, but penne or macaroni work fine
- 3 Tablespoons margarine I used Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks, but use your favorite brand
- 3 Tablespoons flour
- 3 cups milk I used unsweetened and unflavored almond milk
- 1 Tablespoon mustard
- 2 cups cheese shredded, I used vegan cheddar cheese
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Fresh black pepper to taste
- 1 tsp garlic powder or onion powder
- In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente (if you want to bake your pasta to get crispy edges, cook the pasta until just before al dente. It will cook more in the oven).
- While the pasta is cooking, in a separate sauce pan, melt the margarine (you could also use olive oil) on medium-high heat.
- Whisk in the flour and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it’s free of lumps.
- Slowly add in your dairy-free milk, whisking to combine with each addition. Stir switching between a wooden spoon and a whisk to keep the lumps from forming.
- Keep stirring until it is all combined and also keep on eye on it so it would stick and burn. It will be simmering and thickening, about 10 minutes. The sauce will thicken once it begins to reach boiling point, and it will reach desired thickness usually a few minutes after it begins that low boil. Be sure to keep stirring. Once it reaches the desired thickness, remove from the heat. Keep in mind sauce will continue to thicken when you remove from heat.
- Stir in the mustard and whisk it all together.
- Stir in the cheese. Season with the salt and freshly ground pepper (if using). If you are would like more flavor, add in a teaspoon of the optional garlic or onion powder and stir to combine.
- Fold the macaroni into the cheese sauce and stir it all together. Serve with additional freshly ground pepper (optional). Enjoy!
- If you are baking it, pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Bake on 350F for 20-30 minutes, until it’s nice and crispy around edges.
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information presented below is an approximation and may vary depending on the exact ingredients used.
Also, can make with olive oil, or even vegetable or canola oil. I used unsweetened and unflavored almond milk. You can use oat or your favorite soy (unsweetened and unflavored). Can use a mix of vegan cheddar and mozzarella if desired.
For a crunchy topping, make a breadcrumb topping. Melt a couple tablespoons vegan butter and add about 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (panko also works great!). Stir together and add on top of the pasta and cheese sauce. Can easily double the recipe to have leftovers.