Vegan Mac & Cheese Balls

As an adult that loves kid’s food, I’ll be the first to say that there’s no shame in that game; a lot of the time, comfort foods are the ones that remind us of food from our youth. More often than not, the hardest part of being (and staying) vegan is feeling like there are a bunch of foods you’ll never have again. Luckily, there is help!

This recipe is put together super easily and quickly, using the best ever plant-based cheese sauce recipe. Not only is this cheese sauce completely mouth-watering and reminiscent of nacho cheese out of a gas station pump (in a good way), but it only takes about half-an-hour and doesn’t require soaking nuts overnight, or any of that other crazy vegan cheese stuff.

Satisfy your craving – and maybe your kids’ cravings, too – for cheesy, breaded mac and cheese. This recipe is made to be a little bit more adult, using some spicy flavors and tri-color pasta, but just cut the spice and use regular macaroni noodles if you wanna make this for actual children, and not just your inner child.


Yes, that is plant-based.

Yes, you remember right that I said it tastes just like nacho cheese.

Yes, you also remember right that I said it only takes half-an-hour.

I have been pretty much obsessed with this cheese sauce ever since the first time I made it; I literally think it’s the best vegan cheese in the world, and I use this sauce in most recipes that call for a plant-based cheddar sauce. It’s delicious, cheesy, thick, easy to make and it’s made almost entirely of potatoes and carrots.

Most people that have been eating plant-based for a long time know about Nutritional Yeast, and it’s uncanny flavor-resemblance to cheddar cheese. It may seem weird if you’re new to the scene, or only cook plant-based once-in-a-while, but believe me when I say that Nutritional Yeast is key to making any vegan recipe taste… suspiciously cheesy.

With this cheese sauce, the color and texture is made perfect by the cooked veggies, but the flavor is definitely hinged on the use of Nutritional Yeast, so pick some up, if you don’t got some already!

The other thing I love about this recipe, is that it only takes about an hour to make, and it’s pretty inexpensive. I mean, really, the bulk of the recipe is potatoes, carrots and noodles– you can’t get dinner much cheaper than that, especially one that’s satisfying!

I was inspired to make these mac n’ cheese balls originally because years ago, when I was eating just a vegetarian diet, I would eat the frozen mac and cheese balls from Trader Joe’s pretty much constantly. I mean, hey, I was also in college at the time, so that was years before I ate anything not-frozen. Anyways, those TJ’s frozen mac and cheese balls quickly became one of the first things I started to miss when I decided to eat strictly plant-based. So, what am I gonna do, sit around and never have my favorite foods? No!

And the fact that they really don’t take too much longer to make than the old ones took just to bake, ain’t hurtin’ no one.

I have the whole recipe, including how to make the cheese sauce, on the next page for ya– have a great dinner tonight!

Vegan Mac & Cheese Balls



Prep for 20 minutes

Cook for 50 minutes

Ready in 1 hour 10 minutes

Serves 2-3 people

It’s Vegan! ✌🏻


Ingredients

Cheese Sauce:

Veggies & Bulk:

  • Potatoes (4-5)
  • Carrots (3 ½)
  • Jalapeño (1)
  • Olive Oil

Seasonings/Extras:

  • Chili Powder (optional)
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Liquid Smoke

Other Ingredients:

  • Spiral Noodles 
  • Shell Noodles
  • Corn Starch
  • Whole Wheat Flour
  • Panko

Preparation

  1. Fully cook your potatoes and carrots either by steaming them the old-fashioned way using a pot and steam basket, or by using an Instant Pot on the ‘steam’ setting. Either way, it should take about 20-30 minutes for them to cook fully. 
  2. Preheat your oven to 400F.
  3. Take your potatoes and carrots, and put them into a food processor, smashing them down slightly by-hand as you get ‘em all in there.
  4. Quickly chop up one jalapeño, and toss that into the food processor, too! 
  5. Now, pour olive oil liberally into the food processor, until you’ve included about ⅓ cup. If you don’t want to use that much oil, you can easily replace about half of the oil for water, and you’ll be fine.
  6. Blend it up! Check on the consistency periodically, and blend until it becomes a thick sauce, with no chunks!
  7. Honestly, it will already taste suspiciously good, but make it even better and cheese-sauce-ier by adding:
    • Salt
    • Black Pepper
    • Nutritional Yeast
    • Garlic Powder
    • Onion Powder
    • Liquid Smoke (just a dash!)
    • Chili Powder (optional, for a spicier sauce!)
  8. Fold the spices in using a spatula, and give it a try to make sure it’s perfect!
  9. Set aside, and allow to cool while covered.
  10. Now, boil a pot of water, and make about four (4) cups of noodles, according to box instructions; about 8 minutes.
  11. When your noodles are done, strain them, and then put them back into the pot. Then, fold in your cheese sauce.
  12. Now you’ve got yourself totally ready-to-eat delicious mac ‘n’ cheese! Temptation be damned, though, ‘cause you must press forward! 
  13. Add in a bit of corn starch, and then start adding flour, folding it in slowly, and adding corn starch and/or flour only until the consistency is very thick, and not to the point where there are any built-up bits of powder. Add in just little bits at a time– you can always add more, but you can’t take any back out!
  14. Once this mix is quite thick and becomes difficult to stir, taste it and see if it needs any seasoning added– I seasoned mine back up with just a bit of Black Pepper and Garlic Powder.
  15. Now, when they taste perfect, just fold in about a cup of Panko with your hands, and start to mold and pack them into ball-shapes using the palms of your hands. 
  16. Place each one onto a greased cookie sheet, about 1” apart from each other. This recipe should yield about 12 mac n’ cheese balls!
  17. Just top with whatever extra seasonings you’d like, such as extra chili powder or salt, and then throw ‘em in!
  18. Bake for 20-25 minutes, and then allow to cool! Viola!
  19. Enjoy.

Thanks for reading!

~ Chef G.

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