This Homemade Vegan Boxed Mac and Cheese comes together in the same amount of time as the store bought version!
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Vegan Boxed Mac & Cheese
In our pre kid days Kraft boxed mac and cheese was a weekend lunch ritual for Irving and I. Just about every weekend, without fail. After I became vegan the easy boxed options were more limited (this was before easy store bought vegan mac and cheese), and I wanted something I could share with my kids to keep our weekend routine. Slowly different vegan boxed mac and cheeses came on the market, and I do like them (I’m looking at you, Annie’s!), but it turns out that you can make homemade vegan boxed mac and cheese at home just as easily!
How my Boxed Macaroni and Cheese Came to Be
A few years ago David and I planned early in the day that we would have our old favorite convenience food—Earth Balance Macaroni and Cheese (RIP)—for dinner that night. We usually picked up a box when we went to Whole Foods, so I had assumed we had some in the pantry and went about my day. You can imagine the sinking feeling I had when at 6 o’clock I went to grab the box in the pantry and found that we were all out! Yikes! With no plan B, and very hungry kiddos I decided to improvise with what I had on hand and see if I could replicate the taste of boxed macaroni. Turns out that it’s not that hard to do, and it comes together just as quickly as the boxed variety, with pantry staples. David would call this a “mom brain” moment—he uses “mom brain” to mean when a mom remembers a specific preference of one of her kids, or figures out a good mom hack! I love his positive spin on it!
How do you make boxed vegan mac and cheese?
Making vegan boxed mac and cheese at home is actually really easy! The first time I did it I just glanced at the ingredients you’d find in a boxed mix, and tried to replicate the flavor mix at home. I use nutritional yeast (see below), salt, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and turmeric to make a “cheese powder” mix. The nutritional yeast gives a cheesy flavor, and the paprika and turmeric give the mac and cheese it’s signature orange color. Once you have your cheese mix you proceed like you would with any box of mac and cheese. Boil the pasta, melt the butter, add the milk, mix in the cheese powder, and then add the cooked pasta. Seriously easy, and fast!
What is Nutritional Yeast?
Nutritional yeast, affectionately referred to as nooch by vegans, is an inactive strain of yeast. It’s the same type of yeast you’d using in bread making, but it’s been pasteurized to dry the yeast and bring out it’s nutritional benefits. And while you might think it looks like fish food (spoiler alert: it does), it has a cheesy taste! It’s perfect in mac and cheese, but also great for sprinkling on top of pasta!
This vegan boxed mac and cheese might be one of my kids’ favorites! I made it earlier this week to photograph and they immediately devoured half of it when they got home from school! I packed the leftovers in their thermoses for school lunches two more times this week—they’re obsessed! For a full meal at home I like serving it up kid style—with a side of gardein nuggets and whatever fruit or veggie that I have on hand.
^^^ Kid approved by baby David, circa 2015!
Other Kid Favorites you will love!
- Vegan Sloppy Joes with Lentils
- Crispy Pizza Tofu Nuggets — Kid Approved!
- Vegan Pizza Pockets — Just 4 Ingredients!
- Mac and Cheese with Pumpkin
- Vegan Dirt Cups
- Sweet and Sour Tofu
- Vegan Chocolate Birthday Cake
Let’s make homemade vegan boxed mac and cheese!
Whip up this easy homemade vegan boxed mac and cheese sometime this week! It’s sure to be a hit with both the little and big kiddos in your life! Be sure to drop me a note in the comments below, along with a 5 star rating if you love it!
Homemade Boxed Mac and Cheese
- 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika (not smoked)
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 4 Tablespoons vegan butter plus extra for serving if desired
- 1/2 cup non dairy milk
- 1 pound pasta (use gluten free if needed)
- Bring a medium pot of water to boil on the stove. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
- In the meantime, mix all dry ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Drain the cooked pasta.
- While it is draining, place butter into the now empty pot over low heat. Once melted add the non dairy milk. Mix together and then add the dry mix. Mix well.
- Add the pasta back into the pot and toss to coat the pasta with the sauce. Add an extra pat of butter if desired. Serve right away!