This vegan macaroni casserole recipe is based on a nostalgic dish made with elbow macaroni baked in a cheesy tomato sauce. It uses veggie crumbles, onions, and sweet bell peppers, and is made easy by not pre-boiling the noodles. Follow my tips for easy, vegan, cheesy, deliciousness in each and every bite. Be sure to serve it with some vegan garlic bread.
I love taking a recipe and veganizing it. That’s what today’s post is all about. I originally saw this recipe for Easy Macaroni Casserole on SkinnyTaste. And I thought to myself, this can be done in a vegan kind of way.
Not only did this recipe kick in my veganista ways, but it also turned on my competitive juices. Ms. Taste was impressed that she was able to get this recipe down to 338 calories per serving. I was pretty sure my vegan version could top that.
Or…not top that. Calories are a little like golf, the lower the score the better!
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- Veggie crumbles add plant-based protein and a meaty mouth-feel
- Macaroni noodles are baked to perfection in marinara, meaning you can skip pre-boiling the noodles
- Topping this casserole with vegan mozzarella shreds adds cheesy goodness to every bite.
You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.
- Lemon — We’ll use both the zest and the juice of the lemon.
- Oats — I used rolled oats for this recipe, but you can substitute instant oats.
- Chia — We’ll add some ground chia seeds to create a thicker texture. You can use whole chia seeds; I just prefer ground because it creates a smoother finished texture.
- Syrup — I used maple syrup, but you can substitute agave nectar.
- Milk — We’ll use almond milk for the best overnight oats! Substitute your favorite plant-based milk.
- Yogurt — I love adding some plant-based yogurt (plain, unsweetened) for an even more tangy flavor.
- Protein Powder — I add some vanilla protein powder for increased flavor and nutrients. If your protein powder is not sweetened, you may want to add an extra teaspoon or two of sweetener.
- Cornstarch — We’ll use cornstarch to thicken the lemon curd topping.
- Turmeric — A pinch of turmeric makes that lemon curd sunny yellow.
- Marinara sauce — Choose your favorite dairy-free marinara sauce.
- Veggie Crumbles — There are many crumbles to choose from these days, including Gardein Beyond Beef and many plant-based meat substitutes, like Impossible Burger and Pure Farmland.
- Macaroni — I prefer whole wheat macaroni for this recipe, but you can use any favorite brand or variety of macaroni noodles.
- Vegan mozzarella — Our go-to favorites are Follow Your Heart or Daiya.
Best Peppers for Casseroles
Colorful bell peppers — otherwise referred to as capsicum — are best for casseroles because of their mild flavor. Green bell peppers actually ripen into red bell peppers. That’s why red, yellow, and orange bell peppers are sweeter and milder than green peppers. Once you’ve cut off the tops and bottoms and removed the seedy center, it’s easier to cut bell peppers with the fleshy side up. That smooth skin on the outside can be tough!
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make Vegan Macaroni Casserole:
Step One: Prepare the Sauce
- Add uncooked pasta to a baking dish.
- Add marinara sauce and water and stir to combine.
Note: For a change of pace, substitute this vegetarian pepperoni for the veggie crumbles or add some with the veggie crumbles for a “supreme” flavor.
Spread the pasta and sauce out evenly across the pan.
Step Two: Add Toppings
Add veggie crumbles and spread them throughout the pan. Then, top the casserole with vegan mozzarella.
Step Three: Bake
- Next, cover the casserole dish with foil, crimping the edges slightly to keep the heat inside.
- Bake for 50 minutes.
- Use tongs to remove the foil, and bake for another 15 minutes or so.
- Allow it to cool slightly before serving.
Serve this vegan macaroni casserole with any of the following:
- Vegan Caesar Salad
- Vegan Garlic Breadsticks
- Balsamic Green Beans
- Vegan Parmesan
- You can drizzle some Vegan Ricotta over the top instead of the cheese.
My Easy Vegan Macaroni Casserole comes in at a skinny 296 calories per serving. Not too shabby for a delicious meal…if you ask me!
Recipe Cost Analysis
If you’re curious about costs, I took the ingredient list and did a cost analysis for you. If you think vegan means expensive, this recipe can illustrate that there are inexpensive ways to eat on a vegan diet:
- 2 tbsp olive oil = 0.32 cents
- 1 onion = 0.25
- 1 red pepper = 1.33
- 3 cloves garlic = 0.24
- 15 oz can diced tomatoes 0.59
- 2 cups marinara sauce (I used store brand variety) $1.09
- 1/4 cup vegan parmesan .50
- 1 cup bocca crumbles 1.75
- 2 cups vegan mozzarella $3.50
- 12 oz box whole wheat macaroni $2.89
Total = $12.46 for the entire recipe. Divided by 8 = $1.56 per serving. Not too bad!
Divine! And so easy! This turned out so much better than I could possibly imagine. Thank you!
Give the recipe a try and see if you agree that easy can be soooo good. Be sure to serve it with this Vegan Garlic Bread on the side.
Vegan Macaroni Casserole
- 12 oz elbows pasta (3 cups) (use regular or whole wheat)
- 32 ounces marinara sauce (without dairy or meat)
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup vegan ground crumbles (Gardein, homemade, or Impossible Ground) see notes.
- 1 ⅓ cups vegan mozzarella shredded
- Preheat oven to 350°F/177°C.
- Add uncooked pasta to a 9×13 baking dish.
- Add the marinara, and water, and stir it carefully throughout the pasta.
- Add the veggie crumbles and stir this to distribute equally throughout the pasta.
- Top the casserole with vegan mozzarella, and cover with aluminum foil, crimping the edges just slightly to keep the heat inside. Bake for 50 minutes.
- Remove the casserole from the oven and use tongs to take the foil off. You can return the casserole to the oven for a few more minutes to brown the edges of the casserole. Remove from the oven when done and allow it to cool slightly before serving.
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Optional Add-InsWant to dress this dish up? Here are some optional add-ins:
- Cook an onion in a bit of olive oil over medium heat until tender and add this to the marinara sauce
- Add small broccoli florets to the dish for color, flavor, and nutrition.
- Add small cauliflower florets.
- Add 1 to 2 cups of frozen Italian vegetable blend.
Vegan Meat OptionsIf you’re using frozen veggie crumbles (such as Gardein), these can typically go straight into the casserole dish (no need to pre-cook). With Impossible Grounds, you will need to precook it first. Follow the package instructions. You can also use homemade Veggie Ground Beef. Crumbled tofu is another option, but be sure to use a potato masher to crumble it. Or, you can use this recipe for Tofu Chorizo.
The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
This post was originally published in 2018 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2021.