The 4th of July may be the most important summer holiday but the 7th of July is right behind it. What’s so important about the 7th of July, you ask? It’s National Macaroni Day! Each year on July 7th, pasta lovers across the nation celebrate macaroni. Your next question is probably “what is the difference between pasta and macaroni?” Good question! Technically, macaroni is a type of dry pasta that is made with just wheat and water and no eggs (YAY!). Many people say it is the dough that makes it macaroni rather than the shape. Other people say the shape of the macaroni is characterized by a short length and usually an elbow or C-shape cylinder. You probably remember making jewelry or picture frames out of macaroni when you were a kid.

One thing we can all agree on is that the most popular macaroni dish is mac and cheese. There is probably no dish that comes to mind more than mac and cheese whenever we think of comfort food. Many of us grew up with the kind that came in the little blue boxes. Sure, we loved it but the best mac and cheese is the one you make yourself at home. But you don’t need envelope of powdered cheese, bricks of processed fake cheese or any dairy products at all to make the creamiest, cheesiest, most decadent vegan macaroni and cheese you ever tasted. Check out all the tips and tricks in How to Make the Most Decadent Mac and Cheese and How to Make Creamy, Rich Sauces Without Dairy.

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It’s important to cook the macaroni correctly too. Read Pasta: How to Avoid 8 Common Cooking Mistakes. Then put on your macaroni necklace and make any of these 10 prize-worthy mac and cheese dishes plus a few extra cheese sauce recipes that are totally vegan. Don’t forget to take pictures of them to put in your macaroni frames!

1. Green Chili Mac and Cheese

12 Prize-Worthy Mac and Cheese Dishes That are Totally Vegan

This Green Chili Mac and Cheese is insane. The sauce is made with potatoes, cashews and cauliflower plus green chiles to kick up the spices. You’ll love this sauce no matter what you put it on.

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2. Smoky Vegan Mac and Cheese

12 Prize-Worthy Mac and Cheese Dishes That are Totally Vegan

It’s astonishing how many ways mac and cheese can be prepared without using a single ounce of dairy and still taste incredibly filling and delicious. This Smoky Vegan Mac and Cheese made with cauliflower, cashews and marinated mushrooms is perfect example of such dairy-free decadence.

3. Spicy Vegan Cheese Sauce

12 Prize-Worthy Mac and Cheese Dishes That are Totally Vegan

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If you like your cheese sauce to have a kick, make this Spicy Vegan Cheese Sauce. Cashew-based and spiced with chipotle pepper, this sauce would liven up any macaroni dish.

4. Cashew Mac and Cheese Bread Bowl

12 Prize-Worthy Mac and Cheese Dishes That are Totally Vegan

This Cashew Mac and Cheese Bread Bowl is your new favorite dish. Really. This mac and cheese is covered in a decadent cashew-based sauce and has lots of green veggies in it. But the best part is that you can eat the bowl – more deliciousness and less dishes to wash!

5. Cheesy Vegan Mac n’ Yeast

12 Prize-Worthy Mac and Cheese Dishes That are Totally Vegan

Step away from the blue box. It doesn’t get easier than this Cheesy Vegan Mac n’ Yeast. When you want something creamy and comforting without doing a lot of work, this favorite dish comes together quickly and easily.

6. Extra Creamy Vegan Mac and Cheese

12 Prize-Worthy Mac and Cheese Dishes That are Totally Vegan

This Extra Creamy Mac and Cheese is the ultimate vegan mac and cheese. The sauce is made with carrots, onions, and potatoes plus nutritional yeast for that cheesy flavor. Coconut milk makes it extra creamy.

7. Fat-Free Vegan Cheese Sauce

12 Prize-Worthy Mac and Cheese Dishes That are Totally Vegan

Who says that you need dairy, loads of fat and tons of sodium to make a cheesy sauce for mac and cheese? Not only is this Cheese Sauce totally vegan, but made with zucchini and Yukon potatoes, it’s also gluten-free, fat-free and nut-free.

8. Baked Vegan Macaroni & Cheese

12 Prize-Worthy Mac and Cheese Dishes That are Totally Vegan

This Baked Macaroni & Cheese has just the right amount of a healthy touch. It’s gluten-free and dairy-free but packed with flavor and creamy goodness. The crunchy gluten-free bread crumbs on top are just bonus.

9. Very Vegan Mac N’ Cheeze

12 Prize-Worthy Mac and Cheese Dishes That are Totally Vegan

If you miss mac and cheese, this Very Vegan Mac N’ Cheeze will make you feel better. It’s a slightly spicy, flavorful, much healthier recreation of the classic dish. It’s filled with healthy and delicious ingredients just waiting to be gobbled up.

10. Cheeze ‘Burger’ Mac

12 Prize-Worthy Mac and Cheese Dishes That are Totally Vegan

Why choose between a burger or mac and cheese when you can have both in one fabulous dish! This Cheeze “Burger” Mac has creamy, delicious and comforting mac and cheese with ground tempeh burger crumbles on top for the perfect combo of two classic dishes.

11. Mac ‘N Squash

12 Prize-Worthy Mac and Cheese Dishes That are Totally Vegan

You can have comfort food that is satisfying and healthy. This Mac ‘N Squash has a sauce made of pumpkin puree. You get all the beta-carotene, all the creamy sauciness and all the deliciousness in one good-for-you dish.

12. Grilled “Cheesy Mac n’ Rib Pizza”

12 Prize-Worthy Mac and Cheese Dishes That are Totally Vegan

This “Cheesy Mac n’ Rib” Pizza is covered in macaroni and cheese. Yes, you read that right: ooey-gooey macaroni and cheese on a pizza plus caramelized onions and BBQ seitan. We haven’t stopped drooling yet.

There is no better way to celebrate National Macaroni Day then to dress those noodles up in a creamy, delicious, dairy-free cheesy sauce.

Lead Image Photo: Cashew Mac and Cheese Bread Bowl