Vegan Caramelized Onion Mac ‘n’ Cheese

When I learned that you could make queso without cashews, I knew cashews mac and cheese would happen. The possibilities of eggplant cheese sauce are endless.

Origins of Mac ‘n’ Cheese

The ultimate comfort food is Mac ‘n cheese! Where did this delicious dish originate?

It is believed the first written recipe for mac ‘n cheese came from a southern Italian cookbook dating back to the 13th century. The dish, de Lasanis, was made from squares of fermented dough lasagne layered with cheese and spices.

What if you don’t think of mac ‘n cheese as a dish? Over the years, this dish has undergone many changes!

Some believe that the first mac ‘n cheese in America was introduced when Thomas Jefferson returned from Italy with a pasta maker. It’s possible that the dish originated as a New England church food called macaroni puddin. In 1937, Kraft introduced their mac ‘n cheese in a box. It quickly became popular because it was affordable.

The plant-based has all of the comforts but without the dairy!

Vegan Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Vegan mac ‘n Cheese was made before with a cashew sauce. It was really amazing! Cashews are high in fat and calories, which makes them a heavy ingredient. Although I am not a calorie counter, I do like to lighten up recipes whenever I can.

It’s so easy to make this eggplant sauce – roast the eggplant for 10 minutes, then peel the skin before adding it to the blender. The sauce is infused with nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and sea salt to give it a cheesy flavor. The sauce was so good I could have eaten it all on its own. But the noodles called.

This mac ‘n cheese is made even better by the caramelized onion and the crisp breadcrumbs.

The caramelized onions and crunchy breadcrumbs are the perfect toppings for this dish. I could have eaten this whole pan – I’m not lying.



  • One small-medium-sized eggplant (each eggplant yields approximately 16 1/3-inch-wide slices)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 medium yellow onion (sliced into 1/4 inch rings, wedges, or rings // 1 1/2 onions will yield about 4 cups of sliced onions)
  • 10 ounces of macaroni (GF for those who are gluten-free)
  • 3-4 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 3/4 cups plain unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 – 2 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • Sea Salt


  • If you are gluten-free, make sure to use vegan breadcrumbs.
  • 1 Tbsp of olive oil (or vegan butter)


  • Slice the eggplant into rounds that are slightly smaller than 1/2 inch (but not exactly 1/4 inch; use a ruler as a reference), and sprinkle sea salt on both sides. Place the colander over the sink to drain any moisture and remove bitterness.
  • Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a large skillet and sauté the onions over medium heat. Cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring frequently. If the browning is too rapid, turn down the heat. Place the caramelized sugar in a bowl to be used later.
  • Place an oven rack at the top of your oven and preheat it to high broil.
  • Bring a large pot of water and 1 Tbsp. Salt to a rolling boil.
  • Rinse and thoroughly dry the eggplant. Place eggplant in one layer on a baking tray and drizzle olive oil on both sides. Broil the eggplant on HIGH for 3-4 minutes per side until it is brown (be sure not to burn; just roast).
  • Wrap the eggplant in foil and steam it for 5 minutes. Peel off the skin, and then add it to a blender along with cornstarch, almond milk, nutritional yeast, and garlic powder. Add a pinch of sea salt to begin with, and then add more as needed (we used 1/8-1/4 teaspoon).
  • Blend until smooth and creamy. Add more nutritional yeast, garlic powder, or salt if needed.
  • Add noodles to boiling pasta water. Drain and cover the noodles with a towel once they are cooked according to the package instructions.
  • Bring the eggplant sauce to medium heat in the same pan you used for the onions. Cook for 5 minutes to thicken. Once the noodles start bubbling, reduce heat to low/simmer. Stir occasionally until they are ready.
  • If you want to top the dish with breadcrumbs, heat a small pan over medium heat and add vegan butter or olive oil. Add breadcrumbs and stir. Stir fry for 5 minutes, until golden brown. Set aside.
  • Stir in half the caramelized onions with the drained pasta to the eggplant sauce. Transfer the mixture to an oven-safe dish if your saucepan is not oven-safe. Spread the mixture with a spatula or spout and sprinkle the remaining caramelized onions on top.
  • Optional: Preheat oven to high broil and move oven racks to the second level. Place macaroni in the oven to toast it for 1 – 2 minutes or until it is golden brown. Be careful not to burn it as the heat can be very fast. Do not walk away.
  • Serve immediately after removing from the oven with an oven mitt. This dish does not reheat very well, as the noodles absorb the sauce. Fresh is best.

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