Vegan Life | Lifestyle

The Best Vegan Mac and Cheese? 10 Boxes Taste-Tested

November 21, 2022

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Ten vegan mac and cheese boxes on a table with a person behind them with palms up

Mac and cheese used to be one of my favorite junk foods, but when I went vegan it suddenly became a lot harder to find a vegan mac that I liked. It seemed like I was always hearing someone raving about a new vegan mac and cheese, and I'd try it, just to be disappointed. So in a quest to finally find something better, I got together with another vegan friend and we taste-tested ten vegan mac and cheese products.

To date, the best vegan mac and cheese that I've had was at Good Life Cafe in Columbia, South Carolina. It's more of a gourmet mac and cheese with breadcrumbs than a traditional mac, but I thought it was quite good. So if you're in that area, I'd definitely recommend that you check it out.

Testing Methods

All of these vegan macs were prepared according to the box instructions (except for the Sweet Earth Cauliflower Mac and CedarLane Mac and Cheeze; both of these required adjustments to the baking time). Some of them have a microwave option, but I opted for the stove or oven preparation in all cases. The boxed mac and cheeses with a powdered sauce packet all required the addition of non-dairy milk and vegan butter. So for each of these, I used Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks (salted) and 365 unsweetened original almond milk.

Vegan Mac and Cheese Similarities and Differences

Our vegan mac and cheeses fell into 3 main categories, plus Upton's Naturals Mac, which is in its own category. Unfortunately, the serving sizes for each one of these are wildly different, which made it hard to compare pricing and nutrition. So I chose a standard serving size for each category, then did the math to adjust the nutrition facts for each one. These nutrition facts may not match what you'll see on the box, but they'll be a little easier to compare.

  • Boxed mac with a powdered sauce packet (3 macs; 71-gram serving size)

  • Boxed mac with a fully-prepared sauce packet (3 macs; 100-gram serving size)

  • Boxed mac with fully-prepared sauce and pasta (Upton's; 143-gram serving size)

  • Refrigerated or frozen mac (3 macs; 255-gram serving size)

Taste Test Results

1. Best of the Bunch: Sweet Earth Cauliflower Mac

Box of Sweet Earth Cauliflower Mac

Sweet Earth Cauliflower Mac was my favorite vegan mac going into this taste test. And as much as I was hoping to find something better, nothing on our list outperformed it.

This is a frozen mac and cheese that gets heated up in the oven (or the microwave); however I have found in the past that heating it for the recommended 40 total minutes is too long, so I reduced the baking time by 5 minutes.

Sweet Earth Cauliflower Mac, prepared in a small dish with a spoon

This vegan mac is not a creamy mac and cheese; it uses breadcrumbs to accomplish more of a baked mac and cheese texture. (For a creamy vegan mac, try the #2 ranked Daiya). The cauliflower is quite prominent in the dish, so it's not a purist's mac and cheese. And it's definitely more of an adult dish, rather than a junk food mac. However, both my taste tester and I found the flavor to be quite good. It could definitely benefit from a bit of salt to bring the flavor out, but since they don't add it for you, you can choose how much to add (or not to add) depending on your preferences.

Overall rating: 7/10

Flavor: 7/10

Texture: 7/10

Box size: 9 oz.

Price (US): $4.99-6.49*

Cost per 255-gram serving: $4.99-6.49* (most expensive)

Category: Frozen mac

Organic: Some ingredients

Per 255-gram serving:

  • Calories: 310 (approximately average)

  • Fat: 10 g. (higher than average)

  • Sodium: 460 mg. (lower than average)

  • Carbohydrates: 47 g. (approximately average)

  • Protein: 9 g. (approximately average)

2. Best Creamy Mac: Daiya Cheddar-Style Deluxe Mac & Cheeze

Daiya Mac and Cheeze Box

If you like creamy mac and cheese, Daiya really does a great job with the texture of this one. The sauce is creamy and even has a little bit of stretch to it. The pasta is gluten-free as well, and neither my taste tester or I even noticed that the pasta was any different from the others.

The flavor is quite cheddary, however it's a bit too strong of a flavor for our tastes. There's also a strong acidic note that's taking away from the overall flavor. However, it's still a good option. Daiya also makes this Mac & Cheeze in five other flavors, so if one of those other varieties has a better taste, it could easily be ranked #1 here.

Daiya Mac and Cheeze prepared in a small bowl with a spoon

Overall rating: 6.5/10

Flavor: 5.5/10

Texture: 8/10

Box size: 10.6 oz.

Price (US): $4.19-4.99*

Cost per 100-gram serving: $1.40-1.66* (lower than average)

Category: Boxed mac with a fully-prepared sauce packet

Organic: No

Per 100-gram serving:

  • Calories: 290 (lower than average)

  • Fat: 9 g. (approximately average)

  • Sodium: 670 mg. (higher than average)

  • Carbohydrates: 49 g. (approximately average)

  • Protein: 4 g. (lowest)

3. Worth a Try: Trader Joe's Vegan Mac

Trader Joe's Vegan Mac Container

Although it's in our third spot, overall, the Trader Joe's Vegan Mac didn't impress us too much. The sauce has a decent (creamy) texture, but it's not very cheesy. It's more similar to a white sauce than a cheese sauce. And the noodles are quite soft, thanks to being pre-cooked.

The sauce is not bad overall. It has a little nutmeg and pepper to add some interest. It would probably be a little better if they sold the sauce on its own and let you boil the noodles separately, but the sauce still didn't wow us.

Trader Joe's Vegan Mac in a small bowl with a spoon

Overall rating: 5/10

Flavor: 5/10

Texture: 5/10

Package size: 20 oz.

Price (US): $4.69*

Cost per 255-gram serving: $2.11* (approximately average)

Category: Refrigerated mac

Organic: No

Per 255-gram serving:

  • Calories: 300 (approximately average)

  • Fat: 10 g. (higher than average)

  • Sodium: 750 mg. (highest)

  • Carbohydrates: 44 g. (lowest)

  • Protein: 8 g. (approximately average)

4. Unique Flavor: Annie's Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Vegan Mac

Annie's Vegan Mac Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Box

While the Annie's Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Vegan Mac didn't wow either of us, both my taste tester and I agreed that it does have an interesting flavor. You can definitely taste the pumpkin and sweet potato in the sauce. If you're evaluating it as pasta and pasta sauce instead of vegan mac and cheese, it's passable. However, the sauce is overall on the bland side.

Annie's Vegan Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Mac in a bowl with a spoon

Overall rating: 5/10

Flavor: 5/10

Texture: 4/10

Box size: 6 oz.

Price (US): $3.69-4.69*

Cost per 71-gram serving: $1.54-2.39* (lower than average)

Category: Boxed mac with a powdered sauce packet

Organic: Yes

Per 71-gram serving (not including vegan butter):

  • Calories: 260 (lowest)

  • Fat: 1.5 g. (lowest)

  • Sodium: 300 mg. (lower than average)

  • Carbohydrates: 56 g. (highest)

  • Protein: 8 g. (approximately average)

5. You Might Like: Follow Your Heart Cheezy Carrot Super Mac

Follow Your Heart Cheezy Carrot Super Mac box

The Follow Your Heart Super Mac struck us right away with its bright orange color. The texture of the sauce was better than those with powdered sauce packets, but also not the best. My taste tester and I were split on the flavor of this one. We did agree, however, that "cheesy carrot" is a good description for the sauce. Carrot is the dominant flavor, with a little bit of cheesiness. It's definitely not going to fool anyone that it's mac and cheese. I thought the flavor was a little too strong, but my taste tester liked it and found the flavor interesting.

Follow Your Heart Cheezy Carrot Super Mac in a small bowl with a spoon

Overall rating: 4/10

Flavor: 4/10

Texture: 4/10

Box size: 8.1 oz

Price (US): $5.99*

Cost per 100-gram serving: $2.61* (approximately average)

Category: Boxed mac with a fully-prepared sauce packet

Organic: Yes

Per 100-gram serving:

  • Calories: 270 (lower than average)

  • Fat: 4.5 g. (lower than average)

  • Sodium: 580 mg. (approximately average)

  • Carbohydrates: 47 g. (approximately average)

  • Protein: 8 g. (approximately average)

6. You Might Like: Upton's Naturals Deluxe Ch'eesy Bacon Mac

Upton's Naturals Deluxe Ch'eesy Bacon Mac box

I may be a bit biased against this particular vegan mac and cheese because I never liked bacon much. My taste tester, however, did like bacon before she was vegan, so she helped me out. (I would have loved to try the plain mac and cheese, but sadly it wasn't available in my area).

Overall, Upton's Ch'eesy Bacon Mac was okay but didn't blow either of us away. Dominique felt that the sauce had too much mustard flavor and that the "bacon" didn't taste very much like bacon. The texture of the seitan isn't really even a meaty texture, but definitely not crunchy like bacon. There's some liquid smoke in there that's adding a smoky taste to the sauce, but it actually had a stronger smoky smell than flavor.

Because the noodles are pre-cooked, they're also a little soft. However, that does make this one pretty quick to prepare. The sauce texture is better than the powdered sauce packets, but drier than some of the better options like the Daiya. Neither one of us loved this option, but your preferences may be different than ours, so if you think you might like it, give it a try!

Upton's Naturals Deluxe Ch'eesy Bacon Mac in a ramekin with a spoon

Overall rating: 4/10

Flavor: 3.5/10

Texture: 4.5/10

Box size: 10.05 oz.

Price (US): $4.99-5.99*

Cost per 143-gram serving: $2.50-3.00* (approximately average)

Category: Boxed mac with fully-prepared sauce and pasta

Organic: No

Per 143-gram serving:

  • Calories: 270 (lower than average)

  • Fat: 6 g. (lower than average)

  • Sodium: 270 mg. (lowest)

  • Carbohydrates: 44 g. (lowest)

  • Protein: 10 g. (higher than average)

7. Edible: Pastabilities Vegan Organic Mac 'N Cheese

Pastabilities Vegan Organic Mac 'N Cheese box

Pastabilities is one of three boxed vegan macs that all taste very similar (the other two are #8 Annie's Rich & Creamy and #9 Annie's Vegan Mac). What all three have in common is that the sauce is quite thin and basically tastes like salt and vegan butter. As all three are very similar, they were hard to rank. Pastabilites came in a hair above the other two because my taste tester and I both liked the ruffle pasta. However, the box says to boil the pasta for 6-7 minutes, and at 7 minutes the pasta was still a bit undercooked. So if you do try this one, I'd recommend cooking it for at least 8-9 minutes.

While this option is fairly inexpensive, the sauce pack doesn't add much to the sauce. You would likely get a very similar result if you just toss some pasta with vegan butter, and you'd spend less money. So while there's nothing particularly bad or offensive about Pastabilities or the two similar Annie's, we just felt that all of them were not adding enough flavor to the sauce to justify the price.

Pastabilities Vegan Organic Mac 'N Cheese, prepared in a ramekin with a spoon

Overall rating: 3/10

Flavor: 3/10

Texture: 2.5/10

Box size: 9 oz.

Price (US): $5.39*

Cost per 71-gram serving: $1.50* (lower than average)

Category: Boxed mac with a powdered sauce packet

Organic: Yes

Per 71-gram serving:

  • Calories: 330 (higher than average)

  • Fat: 4.5 g. (lower than average)

  • Sodium: 520 mg. (approximately average)

  • Carbohydrates: 51 g. (higher than average)

  • Protein: 8 g. (approximately average)

8. Edible: Annie's Deluxe Rich & Creamy Vegan Mac

Annie's Deluxe Rich & Creamy Vegan Mac box

Annie's Deluxe Rich & Creamy Vegan Mac tastes pretty much exactly like Annie's original Vegan Mac (aside from the pasta shape). Despite that, we ranked this one higher because the sauce pack is more convenient (no adding vegan butter and milk), and the sauce does look a little creamier and more appetizing.

Overall, it's not offensive-tasting; our main problem with it is that you could make something similar with less effort and money.

Annie's Deluxe Rich & Creamy Vegan Mac, prepared in a ramekin with a spoon

Overall rating: 3/10

Flavor: 3/10

Texture: 2.5/10

Box size: 10.8 oz.

Price (US): $4.99-5.29*

Cost per 100-gram serving: $1.63-1.73* (lower than average)

Category: Boxed mac with a fully-prepared sauce packet

Organic: Yes

Per 100-gram serving:

  • Calories: 290 (lower than average)

  • Fat: 8 g. (approximately average)

  • Sodium: 510 mg. (approximately average)

  • Carbohydrates: 50 g. (approximately average)

  • Protein: 8 g. (approximately average)

9. Edible: Annie's Vegan Mac

Annie's Vegan Mac box

While this mac and cheese is the cheapest per serving of all the options we tested, we still felt it wasn't worth the price. Like #7 Pastabilities and #8 Annie's Rich & Creamy, the sauce is quite thin and doesn't have any texture that resembles cheese. The powdered sauce packet adds very little to the flavor of the sauce, which overwhelmingly tastes like salt and vegan butter.

While there is nothing terrible or repulsive about this vegan mac, you could probably get a very similar flavor by cooking some pasta and tossing it in vegan butter. And it would be less expensive than this $3 boxed mac.

Annie's Vegan Mac, prepared in a ramekin with a spoon

Overall rating: 2.5/10

Flavor: 3/10

Texture: 2/10

Box size: 6 oz.

Price (US): $2.99*

Cost per 71-gram serving: $1.25* (lowest)

Category: Boxed mac with a powdered sauce packet

Organic: Yes

Per 71-gram serving (doesn't include vegan butter):

  • Calories: 270 (lower than average)

  • Fat: 3.5 g. (lower than average)

  • Sodium: 600 mg. (higher than average)

  • Carbohydrates: 51 g. (higher than average)

  • Protein: 8 g. (approximately average)

10. Hard to Eat: CedarLane Butternut Squash & Pumpkin Mac & Cheeze

CedarLane Butternut Squash & Pumpkin Mac & Cheeze box

The CedarLane Mac and Cheeze looked so nice from the box and I had really high hopes for it, especially at $7.99 for a package. Unfortunately, it fell flat.

This one is a refrigerated option that gets heated in the oven (or microwave, if you prefer). I baked it according to the package instructions, but had to leave it in for another 5 minutes because it wasn't heated all the way through.

CedarLane Butternut Squash & Pumpkin Mac & Cheeze, prepared in a ramekin with a spoon

I found this mac and cheese to be somehow bland and repulsive at the same time. Because the sauce was so bland, I was overwhelmingly tasting the noodles. My other taste tester didn't find it to be quite as bland (she tasted the pumpkin and garlic), but she still thought the taste was bad and complained about an aftertaste. Because this one is refrigerated, the noodles were also quite mushy.

Overall rating: 1/10

Flavor: 1/10

Texture: 2/10

Box size: 16-oz.

Price (US): $7.99*

Cost per 255-gram serving: $4.49* (higher than average)

Category: Refrigerated mac

Organic: No

Per 255-gram serving:

  • Calories: 440 (highest)

  • Fat: 23 g. (highest)

  • Sodium: 660 mg. (higher than average)

  • Carbohydrates: 49 g. (approximately average)

  • Protein: 12 g. (highest)

Conclusion

Unfortunately, none of these vegan mac and cheeses are so good that they would convince anyone that they're not vegan. As my taste tester Dominique said, "these are all very vegan." Even the best of these options are good only as long as you're not trying to compare them to regular mac and cheese.

Ultimately, we had to rank them based on the good points of each one, as they're all a bit mediocre. So if you're looking for a spot-on mac and cheese replacement, maybe wait it out a while and something better will come along. In the meantime, there are a few options here that are interesting, even if they're not what I'd call mac and cheese.

* Note: Prices are based on in-store prices in South Florida in November 2022. These prices may be different in your area or may change over time.

** Second Note: Amy's Kitchen also makes a few options for vegan mac and cheeses. We did not test these vegan macs in support of Amy's workers.

StephSunshine

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