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The Best Vegan Mac & Cheese Recipe

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On January 30, 2010 VegWorcester held the first annual Mac Daddy Competition, a vegan mac & cheese cook-off and taste-off. There were 17 excellent entries, but only one person took home the MACNCHZ belt. Greg Opperman won first place with his elaborate Veggie Mac. His recipe includes interesting spice combinations, mock beef, and 30 different ingredients. Check it out!

greg opperman

Mac Daddy’s Veggie Mac

Greg Opperman, Winner of 2010 Vegan Mac Daddy Competition

Serves 4 to 6


For the Veggie Beef

Vegetable Oil (optional)
1 cup TVP (available at the Artichoke Co-op)
2 cups water
2 tablespoons mild chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 veggie broth cube (or equivalent)
Sri Racha hot sauce (aka Cock Sauce – optional)
1/2 package fresh Sage leaves, finely chopped (reserve other half for the topping)

For the Mac & Cheese

1 pound rotini pasta (the multi-colored kind is best)
8 ounces peas
8 ounces corn
1/2 cup vegetable oil (Earth Balance works, too)
1/2 cup white flour
4 cups almond, soy, or rice milk (unflavored)
1 cup nutritional yeast flakes (available at the Artichoke Co-op)
1 1/2 tablespoons turmeric
1 1/2 tablespoons madras curry powder (or any run-of-the-mill curry)
1 tablespoon garam masala
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 veggie broth cube, or equivalent
A healthy squeeze of yellow mustard
1″ chunk of fresh ginger, chopped
Several cloves of garlic, minced (depends on your preference – I use about 4-5 big cloves)
Salt to taste

For the Topping

1/2 package fresh Sage leaves, finely chopped
Panko bread crumbs
8 ounces Earth Balance or other butter substitute (8 oz = 1/2 a tub)
Paprika (optional)


1. Veggie Beef

Coat the bottom of a medium-sized saucepan with vegetable oill place on medium heat. The more you add, the better the beef will taste. If you’re concerned about your health, you can skip it altogether. Add the remaining ingredients, stir thoroughly. Bring to a slight boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, allowing the TVP to absorb the flavors. If the TVP is tasting bland, add more spices to compensate. The beef will provide the majority of the spicy kick in this dish, so I like to make liberal use of the chili powder and Cock Sauce. The veggie beef will be done when all of the water is absorbed, but if you need more time, add more water and continue to simmer.

Note: This veggie beef recipe also works great as an easy meat substitute in other dishes. Use it in tacos, lasagna, or wherever else you need a little bit of texture in your meal. Experiment with other spices.

2. Make the sauce

Pour 1/2 cup of vegetable oil (or vegan butter, if that’s your thing) into a large pot on medium heat. Allow the oil to heat, then mix in the flour, stirring constantly. Once you’ve got your roux (that’s the oily flour goop you just made), add 4 cups of your milk of choice, as well as the veggie broth. Add soy sauce, mustard, turmeric, curry powder, garam masala, ginger, and garlic. Mix well, and bring to a bubble, allowing the flavors to blend. After it bubbles, add nutritional yeast and mix thoroughly. Now that you’ve got your sauce, taste it. If you feel like it’s a bit lacking, punch it up with more curry powder or garam masala. For a cheesier flavor, add more nutritional yeast. Add the peas, corn, and veggie beef, cover, and continue to simmer on low heat. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

3. Get the pasta going (and some sage butter)

You do know how to cook pasta, right? Put on a big pot of water, bring it to a boil, dump the pasta in. You’ll want the pasta a little ‘al dente’, or tastefully undercooked, so shave a minute or two off of the regular cooking time. Meanwhile, in a small pan, melt your butter with the remaining chopped sage on medium-low heat. When the butter begins to bubble and brown (about 5-8 minutes), pour it into a bowl. Toss breadcrumbs in the butter mixture, enough to lightly coat each breadcrumb. If you haven’t forgotten about your pasta (don’t), take it off of the heat and drain it.

4. Assemble, Bake

Pour the pasta into the sauce and mix well. Make sure to dredge up enough peas, corn, and veggie beef from the bottom to create an evenly delicious spread. Don’t worry if there’s way more sauce than solid ingredients – the juicy liquid will reduce in the oven, and your veggie mac will come out perfectly moist. Fill a large baking pan or casserole dish with your veggie mac, making sure the liquid fills up to the top of the pasta. Generously sprinkle your casserole with an even coating of paprika, then cover entirely with breadcrumbs. Place on the top shelf of oven; bake at 400 degrees. After 30 minutes, turn your oven up to ‘Broil’; Broil for about 5 minutes, or until breadcrumbs are golden-brown. Remove from oven, and enjoy!

Download a printable copy of the recipe

Want to keep this with your other recipes in your kitchen? Download the pdf and print it out.

mac daddy booklet

Download the recipe as a printable booklet (pdf).

This recipe is the best vegan mac & cheese recipe in America, possibly the world. Think you have a better one? Put your macaroni where your mouth is. See you at the 2011 Vegan Mac Daddy Competition.

February 5, 2010  Tags: , ,   Posted in: Vegetarian Recipes, Worcester VegFest 2010

3 Responses

  1. avatar Monava - February 5, 2010

    I’d love to see a picture.

  2. avatar Mark - February 9, 2010

    To me, that sounds delicious, but it most certainly does not sound like it should be called mac & cheese.

  3. avatar smilinggreenmom - February 9, 2010

    This recipe looks far easier than another for veggie mac and cheese that I found for sure. I will have to try this one and my goal is to use Kamut Khorasan Wheat pasta for added nutrition. I think our kids will love this thanks.

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