This 5-minute vegan powdered cheese is one of my favorite last minute plant-based meals. Simply requires to combine a few spices together, then store the mix in the pantry until craving a quick, but scrumptious bowl of cheesy noodles. Dairy-free, nut-free and does not requires a blender or food processor. So much better than the store-bought boxed mac and cheese!
Another mac and cheese recipe? I shared my vegan baked cauliflower mac & cheese recently, but still, I couldn’t wait any longer before sharing this version.
Because you might not know it yet, but you needed this little gold dust in your pantry yesterday. It is so amazing.
I usually keep a Daiya or Annie's boxed vegan mac and cheese in my pantry for these chaotic nights where I just want something quick and easy for my kids. Their ingredient list is not the most terrible thing out there, but still, there are a few ingredients I don't really want in my food. Plus, they are not cheap!
So, I made my own vegan powdered cheese! And oh my goodness, it is so easy and quick, I can never buy another box again. This recipe has a long shelf life as it only contains pantry dry ingredients and it makes for an ultra creamy, rich and flavorful mac and cheese. Just the same as store-bought, but healthier!
Then, whenever a sudden mac and cheese craving strike: simply cook your favorite noodles al dente and then warm up some plant-based milk with the powdered cheese until thickened (5-7 minutes). Combine the sauce with the noodles and dig in!
I also love the fact that it uses things I already have in my pantry, nothing odd or hard to find, plus it is SO amazing for meal-prep. I recommend you to make the recipe as is to test it first, which should give you roughly 2 meals for about 2 people (or 3 little ones). But then, make a double or even triple batch of the mix and store in a large container so you can whip up an easy plant-based pasta meal within 15 minutes.
What's to love about this recipe
- Crazy simple and quick.
- Fully vegan, nut-free & dairy-free.
- Perfect for meal-prep and so convenient.
- A kid's favorite, but grown-ups love it too!
- Healthy & free of preservatives.
- Drool-worthy delicious.
- No blender or food processor needed.
- Great for gifting, traveling and camping.
Ingredients you'll need
- Nutritional yeast: essential for a cheesy flavor, don't skip it!
- Garlic & onion powder: they add flavor and enhance the cheesy flavor.
- Paprika: adds color and a subtle sweet and almost smoky flavor.
- Turmeric: for color, but extra nutrients too!
- Ground mustard: oddly pairs well with a cheesy flavor, but also adds color.
- Coconut sugar: or other granulated sugar, simply balances the spices.
- Flour: all-purpose or whole wheat, to thicken the sauce.
- Cornstarch: also helps thicken the sauce.
How to make it
Make the vegan powdered cheese
So easy! Simply combine all the cheese mix ingredients together. I like to use a glass jar that I can simply shake to combine. That's it! Store in your pantry until you need it.
Make the mac and cheese
Then, whenever its mac and cheese time, then simply cook your favorite short noodles al dente. Then, drain and set the noodles aside in the colander.
Return the empty pot on the stove and add the cold plant-based milk and prepared mac and cheese powder mix. Whisk well and warm up on medium heat until thickened, about 5-7 minutes.
Once the sauce is thick and creamy, you can taste and adjust the salt. Then, transfer your cooked noodles to the pot with the sauce and stir to combine.
Watch how to make it
- I find the cheesy flavor more pronounced when adding a squeeze of lemon juice when the noodles are done.
- To keep this recipe completely nut-free, make sure to use oat or soy milk. Also, be sure not to use a flavored plant-based milk!
- American style mac and cheese typically is super salty. I kept my mix moderately salty, which is plenty for me, but add more salt as needed after a taste test.
- Keep your noodles al dente as they will cook a little more after combined with the sauce.
- You really cannot taste the turmeric at all, but feel free to skip it if you need to. In that case, your sauce won't be as cheesy bright yellow though!
Modifications to the recipe
You can have lots of fun and change up the spices combination. Here are a few ideas:
- Swap the paprika for chili powder for a chili mac and cheese.
- Use a smoked paprika instead of the regular kind for a delicious smoky pasta meal.
- Add some lemon pepper to your mix: it combines well with cheesy recipes.
- Make it spicy by adding some cayenne pepper, chipotle powder or red pepper flakes. A little black pepper would also add a nice kick.
- If you like herby flavors, then add some oregano, basil or chives (for a subtle onion-y taste).
- Even garam masala would be a fun addition!
Also, feel free to load your mac and cheese with veggies or plant-based protein such as:
- Broccoli or cauliflower
- Green beans
- Black bean (yummy with chili spices)
- Spinach or kale
Other ways to use this vegan powdered cheese
Make this vegan cheese sauce whenever a dish is in need of some extra cheesy love! In that case, simply skip on cooking the noodles all together and thicken the cheese sauce as described in the recipe. Adjust texture by adding more or less milk, depending on how you want to use it. Ideas includes:
- Oven-baked nachos
- Vegan cheese dip for tortilla chips
- Over pizzas
- Stir in tofu scrambles
- Vegetable casserole
- Oven-baked pasta
- Or as a popcorn seasoning (in that case, prepare your mix without the flour and cornstarch).
Other vegan creamy pasta dish you might like
- Vegan baked ziti
- Cauliflower Alfredo
- Butternut squash mac and cheese
- Creamy garlic pasta bake
- Tahini pasta
- Broccoli avocado pasta
- Creamy tomato pasta
- Cashew white sauce pasta
- Creamy hummus pasta
- Hidden vegetable mac and cheese
I hope you like this vegan powdered cheese as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was. Your feedback is so helpful!
Vegan Powdered Cheese (Mac and Cheese Mix)
Vegan powdered cheese
- ¾ cup nutritional yeast
- ¼ cup flour - all-purpose or whole wheat
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp paprika - smoked or sweet
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp coconut sugar - brown sugar works too
- 1 tsp ground mustard
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
To make the mac and cheese
- 2 ½ cups macaroni noodles
- 1 ½ cup plant-based milk - unsweetened and unflavored
- ½ cup prepared vegan powdered cheese mix
To make the vegan powdered cheese
- In a medium size storage container, combine all the vegan powdered cheese ingredients together and stir/shake. Store in the pantry until ready to use.
To make the mac and cheese
- Cook the noodles al dente. Then, drain well and set the noodles aside.
- In the same pot, combine the cold milk with the spice mix and whisk well. Then, turn on the heat to medium and bring to a simmer while whisking often. It should thicken after cooking only for a few minutes.
- Add the cooked noodles to the pot of cheese sauce and stir. Taste and add more salt if needed and a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten up the sauce if desired. You can also adjust the consistency by adding a little more milk. Serve right away.
- The powdered cheese has a long shelf life as it contains only dry pantry ingredients.
- Storing the leftover pasta: Once the mac and cheese is done, the noodles tend to soak on the sauce while storing in the fridge. Because of that, try to only make what you need for that meal.
- Fun additions to the mac and cheese mix: chili powder, lemon pepper, cayenne, chipotle powder, smoked paprika, etc.
- Boost your pasta dish by adding cooked vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower or green beans. Include extra protein as well such as cooked beans, tofu and tempeh.