This vegan macaroni gratin is pure comfort food! Irresistibly creamy, this dish is a must-make whether you’re plant-based or not!
This recipe was originally published on December 21, 2019. It was updated with new information on August 24, 2022.
What is macaroni gratin?
Gratin is a French way of cooking where ingredients are covered in cheese or breadcrumbs and baked until brown. It sounds easy and delicious, right?
Macaroni gratin, or macaroni au gratin, is a popular yōshoku (western-style) dish in Japan. You can find this dish served in most yōshoku restaurants, and it was one of my favorite dishes to order when we would eat out for lunch or dinner.
Some popular mixins are chicken, seafood, onion, mushroom, and broccoli!
Japanese macaroni gratin vs. vegan macaroni gratin
Japanese macaroni gratin is as simple as macaroni covered in béchamel sauce, topped with cheese and breadcrumbs! Butter and flour are cooked together to create a roux, and whole milk is whisked in and cooked until it becomes a béchamel sauce.
For a vegan béchamel, you could make a roux with olive oil and flour, and thin it out with non-dairy milk like almond or soy milk, much like the way you make a traditional béchamel.
While I enjoy a good béchamel made with a roux, I'd rather sneak a vegetable in and use that as a thickener. My secret to a smooth and creamy white sauce: sautéed cauliflower and coconut milk!
How to make vegan macaroni au gratin
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While it's boiling, sautée cauliflower and garlic with some olive oil and salt. Put it in a blender and set it aside to cool while sautéeing the onions and mushrooms in the same pan.
- While the onions and mushrooms are caramelizing, add some salt to the boiling water and cook the macaroni according to the package's instructions.
- Once the onions and mushrooms have caramelized, add the spinach and cook until it's wilted.
- To the blender with the cooled cauliflower and garlic, add salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and a can of Chef's Choice coconut milk. Blend until you end up with a smooth and creamy sauce! Don't forget to taste for seasoning.
- Add the cooked macaroni, sautéed veg, and sauce in a casserole dish. Top with shredded vegan cheese and put it under the broiler until the cheese melts and turns golden. Voila!
I can't begin to tell you how comforting it is to have a creamy cheesy casserole for dinner! I'm really feeling comfort foods these days and this vegan macaroni casserole is now one of my go-to dinners this season!
More vegan dishes to try!
- Rice stuffing
- Green mac and cheese
- Red curry mac and cheese
- Coconut curry
- Creamy grits
- Red curry ramen
- Arroz Valenciana
- Cream stew
- Pasta Salad
Vegan Macaroni Gratin
- 8 oz macaroni (regular or gluten-free)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, separated
- 15 oz cauliflower (about 1 medium)
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon white wine (optional)
- 8 oz sliced onion (about 1 medium)
- 7 oz sliced cremini mushrooms
- 8 cups chopped spinach
- 2 teaspoons sea salt (plus more for boiling the macaroni)
- freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 13.5 fl oz Chef's Choice coconut milk
- ½ cup shredded vegan cheese (or as much as you like!)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- While the water is boiling, cut the cauliflower into 1-inch pieces. Sautée over medium heat with garlic, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and ½ teaspoon salt until cooked, about 7 minutes. Put in a blender and set aside to cool.
- In the same pan, heat another tablespoon of olive oil and add the onion and mushrooms. Once they've caramelized, about 10 minutes, add the spinach and cook until wilted.
- While the onions and mushrooms are cooking, add some salt to the boiling water and cook the macaroni according to package instructions.
- To the blender with the cooled cauliflower and garlic, add 1 teaspoon salt, black pepper, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and a can of Chef's Choice coconut milk. Blend until smooth and creamy. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
- Add the cooked macaroni, sautéed vegetables, and sauce in a casserole dish. Top with shredded vegan cheese and put it under the broiler until the cheese melts and turns golden.
Disclosure – Thank you to Nature’s Charm for sponsoring this post! It’s a delight to be working for people and a business I find inspiring. I love the values the company is built on, and I’m proud to be collaborating with them!