Macaroni & Cheese. It’s was one of the few dishes, along with pizza, that most vegans long for nostalgically from their cheese eating days. Thankfully for us and the animals we abstain from eating, vegan cheese has come a long way in recent times and there’s literally nothing left that we can’t have anymore, even pizza is back on the menu. Vegan food has truly arrived with wonderful substitutes that rival, or even in some circumstances surpass the originals they seek to imitate.

At the top of the vegan simulated foods chain sits Daiya Cheese, a marvel of taste and ingenuity. Daiya Cheese is the sort of stuff that’s going to start a revolution. The cheese flavor is dead on and even more remarkably, Daiya melts just like real cheese. No joke, this stuff is the real deal, a true cheese substitute that melts and stretches and actually makes you want to eat it. No one can complain anymore that it’s too hard to go vegan because they’d die without pizza… because vegan pizza is out there and is as good as the “real” stuff. And now I’m here to tell you, so is Macaroni & Cheese.

I scoured the internet reading over dozens of baked mac & cheese recipes, and borrowed shamelessly from many various sources (including Veggywood and Alton Brown’s recipes) to come up with my version that seemed both easy enough to pull off as well as incredibly delicious. Guess what? It was both!

Vegan Baked Macaroni & Cheese with Daiya

Here’s what I did:

16oz package of elbow macaroni or pasta of choice (I used Conchiglie)
3 cups shredded Daiya Cheddar Cheese
3 tablespoons vegan butter (I used soy-free Earth Balance)
3 tablespoons flour (I used chickpea flour because that’s what I had, worked fine)
2 to 2 1/2 cups* unsweetened rice or soy milk (see recipe below for notes)
4 or 5 slices of vegan ham (I used Lightlife ‘Smart Deli’ Baked Ham). Chop into small pieces.
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste (or omit, the Daiya is pretty salty)
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Enough panko bread crumbs to liberally cover (I used an “Italian” flavored variety)
Red chili flakes to taste (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook pasta about 5 minutes until it’s just tender. Don’t cook all the way or it will fall apart when you bake it.
3. Drain pasta and transfer to greased baking dish. I packed it all into a smaller 8×10 dish so it would set up nice and thick.
4. Mix in about 2/3′s of the cheese into the pasta and set aside.
5. In a small pot melt the butter. Add the salt & pepper, then whisk in the flour until combined. Stir in the milk. Keep stirring until it starts to boil, then keep stirring for about another minute until it thickens up. *(Start with 2 cups of milk but if sauce gets too thick just add a little bit more, you don’t want it to be like a paste, just a thickened liquid).
6. Pour the milk mixture into the pasta and mix everything well. Top with the remaining cheese. Sprinkle the bits of ham on top, then cover everything with a generous layer of breadcrumbs. Give the whole thing a light dusting of paprika.
7. Pop in the oven for 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and top is starting to brown. If you like it spicy sprinkle some of the chili flakes on top when serving.

Vegan Baked Macaroni & Cheese with Daiya

Unbelievable. It’s not that this stuff is just like mac & cheese, it IS mac & cheese. I swear I could feed this to anyone out there and no one would know it’s vegan cheese unless I told them. Daiya is truly a miracle product and it baffles me how they managed to turn a cassava root into something that can pretend it’s cheddar cheese. Since Daiya is made of cassava (that’s just crazy!) it’s soy-free. It’s also cholesterol free, trans-fat free, free of just about anything that anyone is allergic to, and of course, dairy and animal free. Totally vegan, totally healthy, totally delicious. I even made the whole dish soy-free by using the soy-free Earth Balance butter and rice milk. I don’t have issues with soy but I was just being trendy for the heck of it. Those of you with soy intolerance must be even more stoked on Daiya than I am. You could even take it to the next level of “free of everything” by using gluten free pasta. [Update: As pointed out by 'The Vegan' in the comments, this actually wasn't totally soy-free because the ham is made of soy. Duh! So yeah, leave that out or use a seitan based meat if you're trying to avoid soy for real.]

Daiya is crossing boundaries and knocking down walls with it’s cheesy goodness. No more excuses, the time to stop straddling the dairy fence is now… you actually CAN live without cheese, and live well as a matter of fact. Visit the Daiya website to find out where to get Daiya Cheese, (if it’s nowhere near you mail order is available) and if you’re lucky enough to live in southern California, many of our local Whole Foods now sell it in their cheese section. Go to any length to get, pay any amount and stock up (you can freeze it!) then make this recipe… you won’t regret it. I don’t work for Daiya and they are not paying me… I just want everyone to make this and love it (and go vegan).

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40 Responses to “Vegan Baked Macaroni & Cheese with Daiya”
  1. Jojo says:

    That looks seriously amazing, the Daiya people really need to get themselves to the UK asap!

  2. quarrygirl says:

    awesome post! you have succeeded in making me want macaroni and cheese at 6:30am. i love daiya so much, i think it’s the best vegan product out there. i’ve been eating so many pizzas and paninis, it’s crazy.

    i will definitely try out this recipe. i’m glad to hear that the cheddar bakes well. plus, if this worked for you, these are really good guidelines for other baked cheesy recipes. my mom has so many southern ones i wanna try.

    yum. daiya FTW!

  3. The Vegan says:

    This dish looks delicious! I am soy and gluten intolerant so yes this new Daiya cheese
    is a miracle product for me. I have bought the cheese by itself and also bought many pizzas with it at Whole Foods. They even have a gluten free crust so I am in heaven. BTW, your dish isn’t completely soy free. The ham has soy in it. I will definitely try this out though. I of course will leave out the ham and either leave out or find a substitute for the bread crumbs. Thanks so much for this recipe!!!

  4. FoodEater says:

    quarrygirl: Thanks! I’ve been living off this stuff for days now… breakfast, lunch and dinner! I took a leap of faith and believed the claim on the Daiya website that it could be used just like cheese in recipes, so I didn’t change the time or anything, and it worked out great. So yeah, I’d say it can be used as a cheese substitute in just about anything. Oh the possibilities!

    The Vegan: Whoops, thanks for correcting me on the soy-free stuff, I’ve made a note in the post.

  5. jennifer says:

    that’s some of the filthiest food porn i’ve seen in awhile ;) looks AMAZING!!! and again….um, i thought you “couldn’t” cook… :) thanks for posting the recipe!!

  6. FoodEater says:

    Jennifer: I’m a very dirty girl once you get me in the kitchen ;)

  7. ElectricSunflower says:

    Ooooo – this looks simply amazing! I’ve got a load of Daiya in my fridge and I’ve been wanting to try a Mac ‘n Daiya bake – perfect timing! Daiya is food fit for royalty, if you ask me. Every time I open the bag I just about pass out from the wonderful cheesy aroma – and that’s before it’s even melted!

  8. Ohhh man, this is on the list of things Im definitely going to be making in the near future!

  9. studiodrome says:

    This looks insane. I want some. When is the vegan mac & cheese party?

  10. chow vegan says:

    I have yet to try Daiya but now I want to more than ever – that mac and cheese looks amazing! :-)

  11. kim g. says:

    Yum! Adding the diced “ham” is such a good idea. I think I’m gonna have to make this sooner than later!

  12. EricM says:

    Thank you for the idea! I made this last night, following your recipe, and it turned out GREAT!

    I might have added a bit too much flour, as the sauce was a bit too thick, but that was my fault.

    So easy, so good! And the 1/2 lb container of Daiya cheese, sold at Locali, is almost exactly 3 cups…PERFECT!

    Thank you so much!!!

  13. FoodEater says:

    EricM: I’m so glad you tried it! I wonder if the sauce was left to heat a little bit too long? That might be one reason it got too thick. Then again, I adapted this recipe from a combo of a few others and worked out the amounts on my own… the sauce wasn’t too thick when I made it but I can see how cooking it a few seconds longer or at a higher temp might thicken it too fast. Probably easy enough to fix with a little bit more milk. I’ll add a note to the recipe that a little more might be needed. Either way, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I’m about ready for another batch :)

  14. knockedupvegan says:

    I ran out and made this last week after seeing that amazing photo. It IS stunningly delicious. I’m already dreaming of more…
    Thank you SO MUCH for your site!

  15. Ellie says:

    Where can I find that in Pa?

  16. Sunny says:

    Daaaaayum, Woman!!! I think you’re a genius! Your mac & cheese looks nommiliciously nommm nommers! :)

  17. JennShaggy says:

    He is such a little Billy Bad-Ass. Only 12 weeks old, and he’s already trying to run the place. On the plus side, Shwee is out of her antisocial shell and loves to play with him.

    This Mac N Cheese looks rocking delicious.

  18. Lisa Marie says:

    My God! That looks delicious. I must order that cheese and make this at once. Before I went vegan I never ate the stuff. But dear God, that picture has my mouth watering for some mac and cheese. I’ve been wanting to try Daiya Cheese for a while now. I’m going to have to order some asap. I should probably be able to make this by next week. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Thanks for the recipe. And thank you for making me more hungry than I already was. Now I have to go cook something.

  19. Whitney says:

    WOW – that looks AMAZING!

  20. Mytch says:

    Oh look – MAC ‘n CHEESE! Just as you described!!! Awesome.

  21. Colleen says:

    Made it tonight and it was killer! Not a speck left! Thanks for posting a great recipe!

  22. FoodEater says:

    knockedupvegan and Colleen: I’m so excited to hear you guys tried it and enjoyed it!!! I seriously can’t get enough of this dish and I’ve now made for myself too many times to mention and I still crave it when it’s not around. I’ve now had 5 people report back on having made it, and only one said they didn’t like it, so I’m going to consider this a good track record. The person who didn’t like it HATES Daiya so I’m not going to feel bad about them not enjoying this recipe (because it’s clearly all about the Daiya). Frankly, if made correctly, I don’t see how anyone in their right minds couldn’t like this!

  23. Erin says:

    Where in Los Angeles are you guys getting this crack “cheese?” I’ve checked the Whole Foods on Fairfax & Santa Monica and on Fairfax & 3rd. Maybe you’re buying their entire stock? Share!

  24. FoodEater says:

    Erin: Both the Sherman Oaks Whole Foods carry it and I was under the impression that most of the southern California Whole Foods now had it as well, including the one on Fairfax. I know I’ve seen them use it on their hotbar pizzas. If you can’t find it there I suggest asking them to order it for you… if the mini-Whole Foods here in the valley have it I don’t know why they shouldn’t be able to stock it at the larger Fairfax store by now as well. Good luck!

  25. TRacy says:

    I LOVE Daiya cheese! I bought some not too long ago, and have already ordered the 5lb bulk bag to stick in my freezer! I have meaning to make a mac n’ cheese with it, but just haven’t gotten around to it, so thanks for sharing the recipe…I think it will be dinner tomorrow night! And for those of you that don’t know where to get it, I get it from You can order it in 1/2lb, 1lb, and 5lb bags, and it comes in either cheddar or Italian blend, which is perfect to put on pasta or mix with the cheddar and put on pizza! My husband is in love with me for finding this since he has not been able to eat cheese that tastes like real cheese in 7 years! A MUST for anyone struggling with giving up cheese! It changed me! One Love – tracy

  26. Vegan in Vegas says:

    Just got a 5# bag from vegan essentials. You get roughly 23 cups of cheese from a 5# bag.

    This recipe is unbelievable! Had no ham, so I subbed chopped/diced Trader Joes faux-beef strips. Yummy yummy yummy

  27. Dylan says:

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe. A restaurant near me in NYC does vegan Mac & Cheese with Daiya but the $$$ per serving was killing me, so I resolved to save some dough doing it myself. It was such a relief to find your recipe days before my Daiya cheese arrived from vegan essentials. I followed the recipe with a few minor deviations and it totally rules.

  28. Dylan says:

    Another note! I just tried this recipe with the Italian flavor cheese, and following the recipe with that cheese effectively produces Vegan Fettucine Alfredo with Daiya!

  29. Cheezees says:

    I made 1/2 of this recipe tonight (with Follow Your Heart Cheddar) and my boyfriend and I polished it all off. Every last bit. The “sauce” was heavenly and I doubt anyone could tell it was vegan. I wait to make this again….oh wait, I’ll make it again….tomorrow. Delicious!!!!

  30. Melissa says:

    I’ve been following your blog for quite a while and enjoying your wealth of good recipes. When Foodista announced that they are going to publish the best food blogs in a full color book that will be published by Andrews McMeel Publishing Fall 2010, I naturally thought of you. This recipe would be a good submission! You can enter here:

    Editor and Community Developer — The Cooking Encyclopedia Everyone Can Edit

  31. Rita says:

    I tried daiya cheese for the first time today. I purchased both flavors, italian and cheddar. They melted like cheese, which was amazing. I liked the cheddar better because it had a stronger flavor. I’m sure if I didn’t eat real cheese for five years and then had daiya, I would think it tasted pretty darn close to real cheese. However, I am not a vegan and eat real cheese all of the time, so I was disappointed by how unlike cheese it tasted. But that doesn’t mean it tasted bad, it just tasted like “not cheese.” I’d eat it again, but I’d definitely have to tell myself that the quesadilla I’m eating is really a “something else dilla.” All in all, it wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t cheese.

    Your mac & cheese looks delicious though! I will definitely make it with the rest of my cheese and see what I think. I would give up real cheese in a heart beat if I could just find a decent substitute.

  32. Happy Herbivore says:

    YOU ARE A LIFE SAVER!!! I became vegan about 7 months ago and am having total separation anxiety about the lack of cheese! I LIVE for cheese (sad i know). After trying many different soy brands I called it a lost cause and vowed never to subject my poor taste buds to the cruelty of the “cheese” search again. This recipe was my last glimmer of hope. I’m so glad I took the risk. AMAZING! I didnt add the “ham” stuff, but i stuffed my mac and cheese FULL of broccoli and cauliflower. mm mmm MMM! Just ate this for supper tonight and I’m in yummy melty cheesy heaven. I dont know you, but I could kiss you :) Just kidding (but not really). Thanks so much, definately going for the mac and cheese muffins next!

  33. Jo says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I tried the recipe, wow very delicious! The best vegan mac and cheese I’ve tried so far!

  34. Roxanne says:

    Has anyone tried to make this without fake ham? I’m not big on the fake meat products…but I don’t want to alter the recipe and create something horrible/waste my Daiya. It’s hard to get Daiya in Ohio…I had to order it off the interwebs. (although I hear Whole Foods is going to carry it nationwide soon)

  35. FoodEater says:

    Roxanne: Just leave it out of you want to, I think it adds a lot to the dish but if you don’t like just omit.

  36. Beth says:

    We made this tonight and used Tofurkey Italian sausage. Yum! I think it would be good without the fake meat. Thanks for sharing!