Best Ever Dairy and Gluten Free Mac and Cheese

My sister’s kids are all dairy free and when we spend summers on our ranch in Montana I somehow always struggle with serving up any form of pasta and cheese because it just never quite measures up. Well, until now. I love how this recipe doesn’t just scream fake-mac-and-cheese but has redeeming qualities as its own unique dish. This recipe uses real ingredients and has loads of flavor. Heck, I’d make this as an alternative to the traditional mac and cheese even for people who do eat dairy because its that good. Try making the best ever dairy and gluten free mac and cheese in a muffin tin for cute individual servings! This is also the perfect side dish to my favorite soup recipes, and an ideal side for school lunches, or a party food idea.

Muffin Tin Servings

A muffin tin recipe is great for when you want to serve individual portions or whip up a fast weeknight dinner recipe. My best ever dairy and gluten free mac and cheese muffins can easily be prepared a day in advance or freeze for later. For next day baking, put together the whole recipe then store the whole batch in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When time has come to bake them, simply distribute your mixture evenly in (2) standard 12-cup muffin pan. Bake according to directions. Second option, bake them in advance and reheat the next day. Want to make them even further in advance? Bake, cool completely, then add to a Ziplock bag or airtight container to freeze. Read my DIY kitchen hack: a genius way to freeze anything before the freezing process for seamless transitioning from freezer to oven.


  • Gluten free macaroni—elbow noodles are a classic macaroni and cheese choice however you can also use small shells. I don’t recommend using anything bigger than a macaroni noodle because they are baked in cups. 
  • Nutritional yeast—a great source of protein for this vegan mac n’ cheese! Why? Nutritional yeast contains vitamins, minerals, and all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein like those in animals. This will help thicken your mixture, making it perfect choice for my muffin tin macaroni and cheese with breadcrumbs.
  • Breadcrumbs—breadcrumbs are ideal because they help the mixture from sticking to the sides of the pan, plus they add great texture! An extra step is combining breadcrumbs with dried Italian seasoning for more flavor. Not sold on breadcrumbs? Not a problem—use nonstick spray liberally before adding your mixture to each cup! Bake away!


How To Make Macaroni and Cheese Muffins

The process is the exact same as making macaroni and cheese with one extra step, a muffin tin! Rather than baked in a dish I use a spoon to fill each cup to the top. First, cook your macaroni noodles. When those are almost ready, start by preparing your muffin pans with nonstick spray for easy removal. Then, whip together your sauce, and assemble. It is that easy!

Add diced vegetables, protein of choice, or even more fresh herbs to your muffin tin macaroni and cheese.


Side Dish

If you’re serving mac and cheese in addition to your main meal, a good rule of thumb is 2 muffins per person. So, for dinner parties, I would suggest doubling this recipe or tripling it depending on your eaters, of course! The best ever dairy and gluten free macaroni and cheese recipe will please your guests and your belly! Discover party hosting ideas whether you are hosting your friends, family, or a large gathering. Enjoy!

Best ever dairy and gluten free mac and cheese

Dairy free and gluten free macaroni and cheese in a muffin tin with gluten free breadcrumbs.

Course Side Dish
Keyword gluten free, mac n cheese, macaroni and cheese, pasta, vegan
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 18 muffins


  • 16 ounces gluten free elbow macaroni noodles
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 ounces cashews toasted
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion chopped, about a cup
  • ¾ cup oat milk or other dairy free milk
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed
  • ¾ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon mustard powder
  • Pinch ground black pepper
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast plus 1 tablespoon more for thickness
  • 5 teaspoons tamari or low sodium soy sauce

Panko Topping

  • 1 cup gluten free panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
  • Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning optional


  1. Boil noodles according to directions. Strain and reserve pasta water. Set aside.

  2. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease 2 muffins pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.

  3. Add cashews to a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Stir cashews frequently until golden brown and toasted. Add toasted cashews to a food processor or blender.

  4. Using the same skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, sauté until translucent. Add crushed garlic, onion powder, ground turmeric, mustard powder, salt and pepper. Cook another 30 second until garlic becomes fragrant.

  5. Remove your skillet from the heat and pour in nutritional yeast and tamari or soy sauce. Stir to combine then transfer to the food processor or blender with your cashews.

  6. Add milk and blend for about 1 minute until everything is combined and you are left with a smooth, creamy texture. If the sauce is too runny, add a tablespoon extra of nutritional yeast.

  7. Mix together your cooked noodles and sauce. Toss to combine. If too thick once your sauce meets the starch on the noodles, add a tablespoon of reserved pasta water to the mixture to thin out.

  8. Blend all of your breadcrumb ingredients together.

  9. Sprinkle a bit of your breadcrumb mixture in the bottom of each cup. This will help them not stick.

  10. Scoop macaroni mixture into each cup of your prepared pans. Filling each cup to the top.

  11. Lastly, sprinkle remaining mixture evenly among each of your cups. You will use the entire mixture.

  12. Bake 15 minutes. Allow to rest for 3-5 minutes before removing.

  13. Enjoy!


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