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Creamy Vegan Noodle Casserole – Connoisseurus Veg

This vegan noodle casserole is made with veggies, noodles and a creamy sauce, baked to bubbly perfection and topped with a crispy panko breadcrumb coating. A delicious dairy-free comfort food meal that’s infinitely customizable!

White wooden surface set with casserole dish and bowl of Vegan Noodle Casserole.

A few years ago I tried to develop a recipe for vegan tuna noodle casserole. It was not good. I’ve successfully mimicked the flavor and texture of tuna in dishes like my vegan tuna salad, but in the casserole it was just weird and wrong.

But there were a lot of things I really liked about the dish.

So I decided to keep the good stuff and ditch what I didn’t like. I ended up here, with a simple vegan noodle casserole. On it’s own the dish is comforting and creamy. It’s also VERY kid friendly.

But it’s also customizable! If the prospect of creamy breadcrumb topped veggies and noodles sounds too basic for you, try one of my customizations mentioned below to jazz it up. In my house we enjoyed it plain, doused in hot sauce, and with added vegan sausage. We loved every version.

Jump to:

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Pasta. The noodles you’ll find in most conventional noodle casseroles contain eggs, so we’re using dried pasta instead (pasta is technically a variety of noodle). I used rotini, but you could also use another small pasta shape like macaroni or mafalda.
  • Raw cashews. It’s important that the cashews are raw (not roasted) in order for the sauce to turn out right. We’ll be soaking them in water and blending them up.
  • Water.
  • Vegan butter. This is sold near the regular butter at most grocery stores. Earth Balance, Melt and Miyoko’s are a few brands to look out for.
  • Button mushrooms.
  • Onion.
  • Carrot.
  • Celery.
  • Garlic.
  • Flour. I’ve only tested the recipe with all-purpose wheat flour, so I can’t say if any other varieties will work.
  • Non-dairy milk. Just about any variety that’s unflavored and unsweetened will work. I used Almond Breeze almond milk.
  • Bouillon. You can use vegetable bouillon cubes or paste. I used Better Than Bouillon in seasoned vegetable flavor.
  • Dried thyme.
  • Lemon juice. Use freshly squeezed juice for the best flavor.
  • Frozen peas.
  • Salt and pepper.
  • Panko breadcrumbs.

How It’s Made

The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you’d like to skip right to the recipe!

  • Start by boiling your pasta according to the package directions. Drain in into a colander when it’s done.
  • Blend the cashews. Drain them of their soaking water and give them a rinse, then add them to a blender with some water. Blend until smooth!

Tip: Blending cashews until perfectly smooth can be a challenge if you’re not using a high-powered blender like a Vitamix or Blendtec. Try blending them first in a small amount of water (¼ to ½ cup), until a smooth paste forms, then add the rest of the water.

Cashew milk in a blender.
  • Heat some vegan butter in a skillet, then add the mushrooms in a relatively even layer. If you can’t fit them all without crowding, cook them in two batches.
  • Cook the mushrooms for about five minutes on each side, until they turn golden brown, then remove them from the skillet.
Mushrooms cooking in a skillet.
  • Add some more butter to the skillet, the add diced onion, celery and carrot. Cook the vegetables for about 5 minutes, until they start to soften.
  • Add minced garlic and sprinkle in the flour. Stir everything up well so that the flour coats the vegetables, and continue cooking the mixture for just about a minute.
Celery, carrots, onion, garlic and flour cooking in a skillet.
  • Slowly pour in the non-dairy milk. Add a bit at at time and stir well before adding more. This will help prevent the flour from clumping.
  • Add the cashew mixture, bouillon, and dried thyme. You can also return the mushrooms to the skillet at this point. Raise the heat and bring the sauce to a simmer.
  • Let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes, until it thickens a bit.
Vegan casserole sauce cooking in a skillet.
  • Remove the skillet from heat and stir in the lemon juice.
  • Combine the cooked noodles, sauce mixture, and (thawed) frozen peas in a casserole dish. Be sure to give the mixture a taste-test and season it with some salt and pepper if needed at this point.
Unbaked Vegan Noodle Casserole in a casserole dish.
  • Cover the dish and pop it into the oven. Bake it for about 20 minutes, then uncover it, sprinkle the top with panko breadcrumbs, and bake it for 5 minutes more.
  • Be sure to let the casserole sit for at least 5 minutes when it comes out of the oven. Then you’re ready to serve and enjoy it!
Vegan Noodle Casserole in a baking dish with spoon.

Variations

  • Add cheese. Sprinkle a layer of your favorite shredded vegan cheese over the casserole before topping it with panko breadcrumbs.
  • Hot sauce. Spice up your noodle casserole by adding hot sauce to taste to the pasta/sauce mixture before baking. I used Cholula and loved it.
  • Add protein. Add your favorite meat substitute, such as vegan chicken or chopped up sausage links. You could also add seitan or a savory baked tofu like this smoked tofu or this lemon and herb tofu.
  • Vegan tuna casserole. Even though I wasn’t a fan of my totally homemade vegan tuna casserole mentioned above, you could probably make this recipe work with a commercial vegan tuna like Good Catch.
  • Topping variations. Instead of panko breadcrumbs, top your casserole with crushed potato chips or French fried onions.

Leftovers & Storage

Leftover vegan noodle casserole will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days, or in the freezer for about 3 months.

More Vegan Casseroles

Like this recipe? If so, please stop back and leave me a review and rating below if you try it! Also be sure to follow me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram, or subscribe to my newsletter for more recipes like this one!

Bowl of Vegan Noodle Casserole with a fork.

Creamy Vegan Noodle Casserole

This vegan noodle casserole is made with veggies, noodles and a creamy sauce, baked to bubbly perfection and topped with a crispy panko breadcrumb coating. A delicious dairy-free comfort food meal that’s infinitely customizable!

Total Time 5 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 10
    ounces
    dried rotini pasta
    (about 3 ½ cups of pasta)
  • ½
    cup
    raw cashews,
    soaked in water 4 to 8 hours, drained and rinsed
  • 1
    cup
    water
  • 3
    tablespoons
    vegan butter,
    divided
  • 8
    ounces
    button mushrooms,
    cleaned and sliced
  • 1
    medium onion,
    diced
  • 2
    medium celery stalks,
    diced
  • 2
    medium carrots,
    diced
  • 2
    garlic cloves,
    minced
  • 3
    tablespoons
    all-purpose flour
  • 2
    cups
    unflavored and unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 3
    vegetable bouillon cubes,
    crushed (Note 1)
  • 1
    teaspoon
    dried thyme
  • 1
    tablespoon
    lemon juice
  • ½
    cup
    frozen peas,
    thawed
  • Salt and pepper,
    to taste
  • ½
    cup
    panko breadcrumbs

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook it according to the package directions. Drain the pasta into a colander when done.

  2. Place the cashews and water into a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.

  3. Coat the bottom of a large skillet with two tablespoons of the vegan butter and place it over medium heat.

  4. When the butter has melted, add the mushroom slices in a relatively even layer. (Note 2)

  5. Cook the mushrooms for about 5 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove them from the skillet and transfer them to a plate when done.

  6. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the skillet. Once the butter melts, add the onion, celery, and carrots.

  7. Cook the veggies for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften.

  8. Add the garlic and flour. Stir the mixture well to coat the vegetables with flour and continue cooking the mixture for about 1 minute.

  9. Slowly begin adding the non-dairy milk, stirring in just a bit at a time to prevent the flour from clumping. Once all of the milk has been added, stir in the cashew mixture, bouillon, thyme, and cooked mushrooms.

  10. Raise the heat and bring the mixture to a low boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened slightly. Preheat the oven to 350°F while the sauce simmers.

  11. Remove the skillet from heat and stir in the lemon juice.

  12. Combine the cooked pasta, sauce mixture and peas in a 2-quart casserole dish. (Note 3)

  13. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.

  14. Cover the casserole dish and place it into the oven. Bake the casserole for about 20 minutes, until heated throughout.

  15. Remove the foil from the dish and sprinkle the casserole with panko breadcrumbs. Bake 5 minutes more.

  16. Let the casserole sit out for 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

  1. Bouillon paste can also be used. Make sure to only use as much bouillon as you’d need for 3 cups of broth (some brands of bouillon cubes are made for 2 cups – check the label).
  2. Cook the mushrooms in batches if the skillet becomes too crowded.
  3. A 9 x 9 inch baking dish is perfect.
  4. This recipe makes 4 pretty generous servings. You could also get 5 or 6 smaller servings out of it.

Nutrition Facts

Creamy Vegan Noodle Casserole

Amount Per Serving

Calories 558
Calories from Fat 177

% Daily Value*

Fat 19.7g30%

Saturated Fat 4.9g25%

Sodium 917mg38%

Potassium 684mg20%

Carbohydrates 79.9g27%

Fiber 7.2g29%

Sugar 8.6g10%

Protein 17.2g34%

Calcium 287mg29%

Iron 6mg33%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.



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