As of early September, Annie's Homegrown released a new line of one of America's most beloved comfort foods: macaroni and cheese. This isn't just any mac and cheese, however: this is Annie's vegan mac and cheese. 

As a vegan and former mac and cheese lover, I was curious and excited to see if Annie's vegan version of one of their most popular products would measure up. There are a handful of other vegan mac and cheeses available from competing brands, such as Daiya, but what makes Annie's so compelling is the brand's dedication to being organic, non GMO and even gluten free. 

I picked up the "Annie's Homegrown organic and vegan elbow pasta with creamy sauce" from my local Whole Foods for $2.89 a box. 

The Ingredients 

Lauren Arendt

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Annie's vegan mac and cheese is the list of ingredients. The box boasts that what it contains is "made with goodness," and I would not disagree: there are no artificial flavors, synthetic colors or preservatives and everything is non GMO and organic. 

The pasta provided in the box is gluten-free and made with rice flour, a fact so well disguised that it was not until after I ate a bowl of the dish and started reading the box more carefully for this article that I realized it was not "real" pasta. 

The sauce is made primarily with organic pumpkin and sweet potato powder, but also features spices such as paprika and onion and garlic powder.

The only downside of the nutrition label is the sodium level, coming in at a whopping 240mg per serving (a serving is only one cup, so you'll probably eat more). There are 4g of protein per serving and virtually no sugar,  still making it a good alternative to some more processed vegan mac and cheese alternatives. 

The Cooking Process 

Lauren Arendt

Cooking the Annie's vegan mac and cheese is quick and easy. All you need is a saucepan, measuring cup, colander, whisk some almond milk and buttery spread (optional). 

The entire process only takes about 12 minutes, making it a perfect option for anyone in a hurry. 

Lauren Arendt

To make Annie's vegan mac and cheese, you must first cook the pasta. When the pasta is done, drain it in a colander and make the sauce using the same warm saucepan that the pasta was cooked in. Stir a half cup of almond milk with a couple of teaspoons of buttery spread (I used original Earth Balance) and sprinkle the seasoning provided in the Annie's mac and cheese box over top. Whisk everything together until the sauce starts to thicken. Add the cooked noodles to the sauce, give them a good stir, and eat up. 

How Annie's Vegan Mac and Cheese Tasted

Lauren Arendt

I served my Annie's vegan mac and cheese with some nutritional yeast and extra paprika to add a little zest, but I also tasted it on its own. This stuff is really good by itself: Annie's did a great job being assertive with flavors to ensure that the product was not bland. That being said, adding nutritional yeast and paprika made it even more "cheesy" and flavorful. 

Although it has been a long time since I myself have eaten "real" mac and cheese, I found that Annie's vegan mac and cheese was almost scarily similar to the comfort dish I grew up eating. The sauce comes out thick, creamy and bright yellow without any artificial coloring, tricking the taste-buds and mind alike.

In Conclusion  

Lauren Arendt

All things considered, I was impressed by Annie's vegan mac and cheese. I went into the buying process with skepticism and doubt that it would even closely resemble the meal I grew up enjoying as a child. After giving it a try, however, I found that those doubts were completely unwarranted.

I would recommend Annie's vegan mac and cheese to anyone (vegan or not) that wants to enjoy an easy to prepare, affordable and comforting  meal that they can feel good about eating. With a gluten free, non GMO and completely plan-based ingredients, Annie's mac and cheese not only does good for your taste-buds, but does good for your health and environment as well.