Mac and Cheese that is both Vegan and Gluten-free?! Yes, please! Baked Vegan Buffalo Mac + Cheese is a spicy side dish perfect for Thanksgiving or any occasion really-- This is the ultimate comfort food meal. A creamy buffalo and cashew cream sauce coats gluten-free macaroni before topping it with a crispy GF breadcrumb topping. This will be a new family favorite!
Cold weather calls for a few things: fireplaces, getting cozy, and Baked Vegan Buffalo Mac + Cheese.
Vegan mac and cheese can be very hit or miss. I usually like to make mine at home so I can control just how creamy or spicy the sauce is.
Plus, I've seen mac and cheese on more and more Thanksgiving tables over the years, so this Baked Vegan Buffalo Mac + Cheese is the perfect new holiday side dish that caters to our dairy-free gluten-free friends! It has tons of plant-based hot buffalo flavor along with gluten-free pasta and a breadcrumb topping. Literally, everyone can enjoy this side!
Speaking of Thanksgiving side dishes, here are some of my favorite Vegan sides that everyone will be sure to love.
Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Bites - These are a guaranteed showstopper! At first glance, these beauties truly remind you of buffalo boneless chicken (and trust me, they taste just as good, if not better!), however, they aren’t! Just know that your taste buds won’t be able to tell the difference either!
Vegan Sweet Potato Maple Herb Cornbread - This recipe is the most perfect skillet cornbread that you’ll ever taste! This cornbread is the ultimate fluffy, crumbly, and airy side dish that fits right in with your other Thanksgiving dishes. Unlike traditional cornbread, this version boasts of delicious sweet potato, maple, and herb flavors, all of which creates a sweet + savory taste that will leave you wanting another slice. All vegan ingredients
Easy Skillet Vegan Stuffing - This is a great vegan alternative to traditional Thanksgiving stuffing without compromising flavor. Complete your holiday table with this recipe which comes loaded with a blend of cubed rustic bread, onion, celery, apples, garlic, cranberries, pecans, and herbs. This vegan stuffing is perfect for all eaters. Super easy to make. Made in just one skillet. Make ahead option.
Easy Vegan Roasted Potato Salad - This is the ultimate plant-based side dish for the entire family on any occasion. Jam-packed with veggies and a creamy texture from a homemade dairy-free dressing----this potato salad is sure to be the star on any table.
Thanksgiving is approaching quickly! Here are my favorite 30 Ultimate Plant-Based Thanksgiving Recipes, perfect for bringing to any gathering. Check out the recipes for drinks, sides, main courses, and desserts - all plant-based!
Why Should You Make This Baked Vegan Buffalo Mac + Cheese?
Super creamy & tasty
The perfect side or main meal
Dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, and totally utterly one of the tastiest meals imaginable.
The al-dente noodles are the perfect complement to the faux cheesy gooey umami sauce, made with soaked cashews and plant-based milk. Once the buffalo mac is mixed, it is then topped with a fabulous gluten-free breadcrumb crust for that crispy crunch on top!
The textures in this dish are just as amazing as the flavors! I'm drooling.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is an aspect of wheat flour that is elastic and binding. Many folks experience sensitivity when eating gluten in the form of stomach pain, nausea, and other ailments.
To get an idea of what gluten is, imagine baking bread dough. You continuously knead the bread dough to develop the gluten, or the elasticity, in the bread. Well-developed gluten will yield a soft, pliable texture with lots of air pockets for lightness.
What is Nutritional Yeast?
Nutritional Yeast is a vegan staple ingredient also sometimes called 'Nooch' or Savoury Yeast Flakes. It's known for its cheesy flavor and is great when it comes to making dairy-free sauces! AKA it's perfect for vegan mac and cheese! Nutritional Yeast is an inactive, dry form of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a species of yeast.
Is It Healthy?
Lucky for us, yes!
Because it contains all nine of the human body's "essential" amino acids, nutritional yeast is considered a "complete" protein.
It's a great source of vitamin B. (especially rich in thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B6 and B12).
In its natural state, nutritional yeast does not contain any of the allergens or additives that are common in other foods.
With 2 grams of protein in just 1 tablespoon, this is a great option for vegans looking to boost the protein content of their diets.
Using gluten-free ingredients just means that those items are made without wheat flour containing gluten. Other flours used in GF flour are:
Rice flour (brown or white)
This Baked Vegan Buffalo Mac + Cheese uses no wheat flour. Instead, I use arrowroot to ensure the sauce has a cheese-like consistency.
Ingredients in Baked Vegan Buffalo Mac + Cheese
For the Mac + Cheese:
(8 oz.) box GF Macaroni pasta
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon vegan butter, for cooking
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons arrowroot starch
For the Buffalo “Cheese” Sauce:
1 cup raw cashews, soaked
2 cups almond milk, unsweetened
1 cup organic vegetable broth
1 teaspoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup nutritional yeast + 2 tablespoons
1 teaspoon garlic powder
A teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon ground mustard
3-4 tablespoons buffalo sauce, vegan + GF
1 cup GF breadcrumbs, store-bought or homemade
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons vegan butter, melted
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon dried parsley
How to Make Baked Vegan Buffalo Mac + Cheese
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly grease a large baking dish with butter. Set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (with olive oil) and add macaroni and cook according to packaging. Once cooked, drain and set aside.
To Make the Buffalo "Cheese" Sauce:
Add all of the ingredients to a high-powered blender. Blend for about 1 minute on medium-high speed, until smooth, and it has a liquid consistency.
NOTE: If too thick, add a little warm water (1 tablespoon at a time), until desired consistency is formed.
In a dutch oven or pot, heat butter on medium-high heat and add garlic and sauté for a minute or so. Next, add arrowroot starch and whisk until well incorporated and bubbly. Slowly add the Buffalo 'cheese sauce', whisking frequently, about 2-3 minutes. Once the mixture becomes thickened and bubbly, remove from heat. Add the drained pasta and toss in sauce carefully and pour the coated macaroni into the prepared dish, spreading evenly.
For the Topping:
In a bowl, add together the ingredients, stirring everything together until combined. Generously sprinkle the breadcrumb topping atop macaroni and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top if golden and the mixture is baked through and bubbly. Once done, remove from oven and let cool slightly before slicing. Bon Appetit!
Baked Vegan Buffalo Mac + Cheese FAQ
Can I Use This Sauce for Other Recipes?
YES! Feel free to use this creamy sauce for other vegan dishes that require a cheese sauce. You can also keep the vegan cream cheese in the fridge for gluten-free bagels.
Some vegan dishes you can use this sauce with are:
Broccoli side dish
How To Store Baked Vegan Buffalo Mac + Cheese?
FRIDGE - Any leftovers can be kept in a tightly sealed container and refrigerated for up to 3-4 days. FREEZER- Keep the leftovers in an airtight container in the freezer for 2-3 months.
How To Serve?
Feel free to serve it as a side dish, its a perfect thanksgiving side, or as a hearty satisfying main dish.
How To Reheat?
This vegan mac and cheese can be reheated in the microwave, oven, or on the stovetop over medium heat until warmed through. Be warned as the pasta is GF it might loose its shape a little.
Other Recipes You'll Love
With this Baked Vegan Buffalo Mac + Cheese on the Thanksgiving table, try these other recipes, too!
When it comes to this Baked Vegan Buffalo Mac + Cheese recipe, it is by far more than a fork full of goodness! Super creamy, light, a crunchy crust, and loaded with flavor, this ‘Mac + Cheese” is made from gluten-free macaroni, savory seasonings, a bit of buffalo sauce, and cashews (the cream sauce). Completely vegan and gluten-free and perfect for your Thanksgiving menu.
2cupsAlmond milk, unsweetened(You can use your fave plant-based milk)
1cuporganic vegetable broth
1teaspoonfreshly-squeezed lemon juice
¼cupnutritional yeast + 2 Tbsps
3-4TbspsBuffalo sauce, Vegan + GF (See Notes!)
1cupGF breadcrumbs, store-bought or homemade(See Notes!)
2Tbspsvegan butter, melted
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly grease a large baking dish with butter. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil (with olive oil) and add macaroni and cook according to packaging. Once cooked, drain and set aside.
TO MAKE BUFFALO 'CHEESE' SAUCE:
Add all of the ingredients to a high-powdered blender. Blend for about 1 minute on medium-high speed, until smooth, and it has a liquid-y consistency. **NOTE: If too thick, add a little warm water (1 tablespoon at a time), until desired consistency is formed.
In a dutch oven or pot, heat butter on medium-high heat and add garlic and sauté for a minute or so. Next, add arrowroot starch and whisk until well incorporated and bubbly.
Slowly add the Buffalo 'cheese sauce', whisking frequently, about 2-3 minutes. Once mixture becomes thickened and bubbly, remove from heat.
Add the drained pasta and toss in sauce carefully and pour the coated macaroni to the prepared dish, spreading evenly.
MAKE THE TOPPING:
In a bowl, add together the ingredients, stirring everything together until combined.
Generously sprinkle the breadcrumb topping atop macaroni and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top if golden and the mixture is baked through and bubbly.
Once done, remove from oven and let cool slightly before slicing.
Tips & Tricks
STORAGE: Any leftovers can be kept in a tightly sealed container and refrigerated for up to 3-4 days.
HOMEMADE BREADCRUMBS: To make your own breadcrumbs, simply grind 1-2 cups of cubed gluten-free bread into a food processor until finely chopped. Place crumbs onto a parchment lined baking sheet and spread out evenly. Bake for 5-6 minutes in the oven set at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring occasionally. Once brown + crisp, remove from oven and let cool. Continue recipe steps and store remaining breadcrumbs in a tightly sealed container.
SOAKED CASHEWS: To best soak cashews, add 1 cup of cashews to a bowl or measuring cup and cover with cold water, sealing the top with plastic wrap and leaving it out (at room temp.) overnight. When ready to use, drain and rinse. If not able to soak overnight, simply cover cashews with boiling water and let sit for 30 minutes, drain, + rinse.
ARROWROOT: If you don’t have arrowroot starch, feel free to substitute with regular starch or all-purpose flour, tapioca flour, which all act as a thickening agent.
HOMEMADE BUFFALO SAUCE (VEGAN + GF): To make your own buffalo sauce, Veganosity has a great recipe that is super easy!
OIL: Instead of extra virgin olive oil, you can substitute with grapeseed oil.