These Vegetarian Mac and Cheese are perfect for almost any occasion. They are extra crunchy with breadcrumbs on top. The 3 different types of cheese not only make them super creamy but also very flavorful. All the cheeses used contain no animal rennet, making these Mac and Cheese vegetarian.
A never-ending love story
I developed my love for Mac and Cheese during my first stay in the US, and it turned out to be never-ending. You can eat Mac and Cheese on almost any occasion, and you can cook it either as a side or a main dish.”
However, after a while, some Mac and Cheese taste boring since almost all their flavor is coming from the cheese and maybe a bit of pepper and salt. But today, we are going to spice things up! We will not only make them extremely cheesy but also give them extra flavor through breadcrumbs tossed in butter. Trust me, you will hear THE CRUNCH when you´re eating. The spices nutmeg, and paprika will round up the whole dish nicely. So, are you ready for a taste explosion?
Mac and Cheese are not necessarily vegetarian
Whether your Mac and Cheese are vegetarian will largely depend on the kind of cheese you´re using. When cheese is produced with animal rennet, it will not be vegetarian. Rennet is derived from the stomach of young ruminants. In general, this applies to Parmesan, Pecorino, and Gruyère, amongst others. Here is a great overview of the most popular non-vegetarian cheeses: 7 Non-Vegetarian Cheeses You Didn’t Know About.
Gruyère is very popular for making Mac and Cheese, and therefore most Mac and Cheese recipes will not be vegetarian. Luckily there are other cheeses out there with which you can replace Gruyère which are just as tasty or even more.
How to find vegetarian cheese
Let's get started
For this Mac and Cheese recipe, we’re using the cheeses cheddar, Emmental, and mozzarella. The Emmental will replace the tangy taste of the Gruyère. Make sure to look at the food label when buying these cheeses because they are not necessarily vegetarian. Important side note: Please DON’T use bagged pre-shredded cheese. I know it’s super tempting, but cutting it yourself will be so worth it. Pre-shredded cheese contains starch to prevent it from clumping, which in turn keeps it from melting.
Vegetarian Mac and Cheese
- 450 g macaroni
- 60 g butter
- 30 g all-purpose flour
- 400 ml whole milk
- 100 ml whipping cream
- 250 g cheddar cheese
- 200 g Emmental cheese
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 100 g mozzarella
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 120 g panko breadcrumbs
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F) top and bottom heat.
- Cook the pasta very al dente (2/3 of usual cooking time). Take it off the heat and drain it.
- Cut the cheeses into small pieces and mix them in a bowl. Set aside for later.
- Melt the 4 tbsp of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. As soon as it´s melted, pour it in a medium bowl and set it aside for later.
- Melt the 60g butter in the same pan over medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour and frequently whisk until the mixture looks like wet sand. Cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Pour in half of the milk while constantly whisking until the mixture is smooth. Slowly pour in the remaining half of the milk while frequently whisking until smooth. Add the whipping cream and frequently whisk until well combined.
- Continue to heat the mixture over medium heat, frequently stirring, until it reaches a very thick consistency. It should be roughly the texture of condensed milk. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Add pepper, salt, and nutmeg to the mixture. Combine well.
- Add 2/3 of the cheeses little by little to the mixture while whisking.
- Stir in the pasta until well combined.
- Pour in half of the Mac and Cheese into a 20 x 30cm baking dish. Top with half of the remaining cheese. Then add the remaining half of the Mac and Cheese and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.
- Take the bowl with the melted butter and add panko breadcrumbs and paprika. Combine well. Sprinkle the mixture over the Mac and Cheese. Put the Mac and Cheese in the oven and bake them until golden brown, about 20-30min. Serve immediately.
- DON'T use pre-shredded cheese: Pre-shredded cheese contains starch to prevent it from clumping, which in turn keeps it from melting.
- How to find vegetarian cheese: Look at the food label for "vegetable rennet", "microbial rennet" or a Vegetarian label.