Search This Blog

Search This Blog

Easy Vegetarian Macaroni Cheese

An easy recipe for creamy macaroni cheese made from a family recipe. Suitable for vegetarians.

Creamy macaroni cheese in a white bowl

Easy Vegetarian Macaroni Cheese

This vegetarian macaroni cheese is the first dish that my mum taught me to make and it is a real favourite in our house. 

A good homemade cheese sauce was the one thing I asked my mum to teach me to make before I left home to be a student.

My mum's mac and cheese was always superb.

It has been a real help to have that recipe over the years and it's much nicer than any bought cheese sauce.

A close up of bendy, elbow macaroni shapes

Which pasta should I use for macaroni and cheese?

My favourite pasta for macaroni cheese has to be elbow macaroni. 

It's a classic for a reason. I

t fills up with sauce and the sauce clings to it beautifully.

I sometimes like to use short macaroni, which is small, short, straight tubes or for a more substantial dish I will serve it with penne or rigatoni, which are much bigger pasta shapes.

If I use penne or rigatoni I will usually add some vegetables to the mac and cheese too.

Cheddar Cheese

For the perfect mac and cheese you want to choose a good-flavoured mature cheddar.

Usually, I go straight for the strongest extra mature cheddar I can find, but it's not the best one for this dish as it can be overpowering and spoil the dish.

When choosing a cheddar, make sure you check the pack to be sure it is vegetarian. 

Most are these days, but some are made with animal rennet. 

Vegetarian Style Parmesan

I add a vegetarian parmesan-style cheese to this dish as my update to the family recipe. 

It adds flavour and a little bit of tang to the final dish.

Parmesan itself is never suitable for vegetarians. 

It always has animal rennet. 

An EU directive protected the name and withdrew rights for vegetarian and vegan parmesan-style cheese to use the name.

When looking for a vegetarian version of parmesan, look for the words pasta cheese or hard cheese.

It will be in the same triangular wedge and sold alongside the parmesan.

Heat the milk

Top tip, when making a cheese sauce, the trick is to heat the milk before you add it to the roux.

It helps prevent lumps and results in a much creamier and smoother sauce.

I add flavouring to the milk, but you can skip this is you like and just season the cheese sauce with salt and pepper once it's ready to stir through the pasta.

I often add half an onion, a bay leaf and a few peppercorns.

A close up of macaroni cheese

Cheese sauce made with a roux

This macaroni cheese is made with a homemade sauce made from a roux.

A roux is the base of a sauce where flour is cooked with melted butter and milk is added to make a sauce.

Don't be daunted, it's really easy to do, you just have to keep whisking and adding milk until you have a creamy cheese sauce.

Mac and cheese can be made and then baked in the oven topped with cheese, but I often like to serve it as it is, all creamy and cheesy and glorious.

If you have a slow cooker, try my luxury slow cooker mac and cheese.

Why is this mac and cheese so good?

Here's why I love this macaroni cheese so much.

  1. Homemade
  2. Family recipe
  3. Easy to make
  4. Super creamy
  5. Very cheesy
  6. Best kind of comfort food
  7. Tastes fabulous

More vegetarian pasta dishes to try

Here are a few easy pasta recipes for you to try next.

pin it for later

Vegetarian Macaroni Cheese - a family recipes for the creamiest, cheesiest mac and cheese.

Follow me on PinterestFacebookTwitter and Instagram. Then join my Facebook group Living on the Veg? It's a very friendly community with lots of recipes and chat. I'm in there every day chatting to group members.

Remember and say hi. I'm always happy to chat and answer questions.

vegetarian macaroni cheese, vegetarian mac and cheese, vegetarian pasta, veggie mac and cheese, veggie macaroni cheese
Yield: 4
Author: Jacqueline Meldrum
Easy Vegetarian Macaroni Cheese

Easy Vegetarian Macaroni Cheese

An easy recipe for creamy macaroni cheese made from a family recipe. Suitable for vegetarians.
Prep time: 5 MinCook time: 15 MinTotal time: 20 Min


  • 500ml (2 cups) milk
  • 25g (2 scant tablespoons) butter
  • 25g (1 oz) plain flour
  • 100g (1 1/4 cups) mature cheddar, grated
  • 50g (1/2 cup) veggie style Parmesan, grated
  • 1/2 onion, peeled
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper
  • 400g macaroni


  1. Heat the milk in a saucepan with the peppercorns, onion and bay leaf. Bring to the boil and then remove the onion and strain off the peppercorns and the bay leaf.
  2. In another saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Add a little milk at a time and whisk until mixture thickens, then add a little more milk and do the same until all the milk is used.
  3. Bring the sauce to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes, keep whisking. Add the grated cheddar and veggie-style Parmesan and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the macaroni in a large pan of salted water according to the packet instructions until al dente. Drain and return to the pan. Stir in the cheese sauce.
  5. Enjoy!


  • Don't use a really strong extra mature cheddar as it will overpower the sauce, a mature cheese is fine.
  • You can warm the milk and skip the peppercorns and bay leaf, just season the cheese sauce with salt and pepper.
  • You can add some dried or fresh parsley to the chees sauce and some chilli flakes can be nice to for a bit of heat.
  • If the cheese sauce is a little thick add some of the pasta water towards the end of the cooking time.
  • Want to add veg? Add spinach, small broccoli florets and corn to the cooking pasta for the last few minutes.
  • You can also add the cooked macaroni cheese to an ovenproof dish and top it with more grated cheddar and slices of tomato, then cook under the grill (broiler) or in the oven until the cheese has melted and started to browned a little.

Nutrition Facts





Sat. Fat






Net carbs











  1. You're killing me! This looks great. I have about 10 recipes for mac and cheese - it was my specialty. Unfortunately my husband and I can't seem to handle dairy anymore and there is no acceptable way to adapt mac and cheese so I'm left drooling over pictures!


  2. Oh no! That is dreadful news, well to me as a cheeseoholic anyway! You must give your recipes to me so they can live on!

    Have you tried making a white sauce from flour, soya milk and vegetable fat or olive oil? I am sure I tried this years ago for a guest and it was ok! Lots of freshly ground pepper, nutmeg and herbs.

  3. I don't think I have ever had macaroni cheese other than the boxed variety. I will be trying this very soon!

  4. LOVE macaroni and cheese on a cold night! It's so comforting. I like to add some sauted leeks to the sauce and pop it under the grill to make the cheesy top all crisp.

  5. I was just getting ready to ask what kind of pasta that is. This looks very good!

  6. You've made me hungry reading this, I must it soon as it's a favourite of mine.

  7. Oh, now I'm so hungry and I just ate lunch! That looks super tasty, I'll have to borrow this recipe. My husband will thank you, he loves mac n cheese (though I thank you for a more adult version ;)

  8. Wow, that looks soooooo yummy!! :)

  9. I love vegan mac & cheese. Those are gigantic noodles--they look fun and substantial.

  10. I DO love it. It looks delicious and I'm adding it to the Presto Pasta Night Roundup even though I didn't actually get your email submission.

    Better luck next week and keep 'em coming.

  11. Thanks Ruth, I must have been re-emailing you at the exact time you were writing your comment! How weird is that?

    Thanks everyone for your great comments on my macaroni, well, Pennoni Rigati if truth be told! It was absolutely delicious and Graham really enjoyed it!

  12. It looks terrific! I always make mac & cheese with penne. My poor niece was so disappointed when I told her we were having mac & cheese and served her penne - it didn't look like anything she'd ever seen before :)

  13. Hi Shawnda, I do like using penne, as it hold so much sauce. I sometimes have bolognaise with penne. I mix it through and then sprinkle over parmesan! I usually do this with second day bolognaise!

  14. The only problem with this was it was too tasty! Seconds were had as per usual.

  15. Thanks for leaving the link to this over at my blog - I'm definitely saving a bookmark so I can come back to it someday when I'm in the mood for pasta with cheese again.

  16. Hi K, I hope you do try my mum's macaroni some time. I am sure you will enjoy it :)

  17. Just so you know, parmesan cheese is not vegetarian!

    1. Actually there are several parmesan style cheese out there suitable for vegetarians. They are made the same way and have a similar flavour, but a European ruling meant they cannot be called parmesan, even though they are exactly the same except for the rennet. My 2 favourites are from Bookhams and Sainsburys.

    2. Yes there are vegetarian and vegan style parmesan cheeses out there just as there are vegetrian style meats but as a a veggie recipe writer you would hardly say a recipe called for bacon you would specify that it was a veggie style bacon.

    3. I don't think it is quite the same as vegetarians generally know to look for the veggie symbol on cheeses, but I have taken you advice on board and re-writtten the post with tips on the cheese. I am always happy to take constructive criticism.

    4. Sorry if my post came off as being harsh. I think for people new to vegetarianism or who maybe be cooing to cook for vegetarian friends these little details matter.

      ps made your chickpea patties, they were lovely!

    5. No, no you are quite right, I was assuming people should know and as you say they may not. Glad you liked the patties and feel free to speak up again if you notice anything :)


I love reading comments, so thank you for taking the time to leave one. Unfortunately, I'm bombarded with spam, so I've turned on comment moderation. I'll publish your comments as soon as I can and respond to them. Don't panic, they will disappear when you hit publish. Jac x