Vegan chilli macaroni cheese is the perfect mid-week meal for those extra busy days when you need something flavourful, nutritious, quick and easy. Enjoy a comforting and warming bowl on those long chilly, Autumn/Fall evenings.
This chilli mac is simply prepared in one pot and can be ready in just 30 minutes.
What is chilli macaroni cheese?
Chilli mac and cheese originates within Midwestern United States, and is a fusion of macaroni cheese and chilli con carne.
Chilli macaroni cheese is commonly sold in tins or packets in the US, whereas in the UK it is less well known. Although as individual meals, macaroni cheese and chili are popular meals within the UK.
Macaroni cheese is a blend of pasta and cheese sauce and is traditionally baked in the oven until golden, often with a breadcrumb sprinkle. Pasta and cheese as a meal has been around since 14th Century, Italy.
Whereas in Tenochtitlan (now known as New Mexico) the Aztecs were enjoying bowls of chilli stew by the 1500s.
Traditionally, chilli con carne is simply meat cooked with chilli’s. With tomato sauce and kidney beans common additions. Chilli con carne is claimed as a Tex-Mex dish originating in Texas before being adopted by the US.
At some point in recent history someone must have been inspired to create a fusion dish and chilli macaroni cheese was the result!
Vegan Chilli Mac
For my vegan chilli mac I wanted a dish that was super easy and could be prepared in one-pot. To replace the meat I decided kidney beans and green lentils was a good fit seeing as kidney beans are a traditional addition to chilli.
Dried onion and garlic are used to save time, and besides these dried versions do add lots of flavour. The only fresh veggies are kale and bell pepper which are easily prepared.
For the chilli flavourings I stuck with the classic chilli powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne and oregano.
Everything is cooked in one pot with plant milk added to the veggie stock for the creamy factor.
Nutritional yeast flakes, vegan grated cheese and white miso paste provide the delicious cheesiness required for a mac and cheese.
Everything works together to create such a flavourful dish and the savoury and cheesy aromas will have you anticipating the meal even more. Its just as well this meal is ready quickly!
Recipe Notes And FAQs
How do I store and reheat leftover chilli mac?
Leftovers can be stored in a covered container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Reheat by placing in a saucepan, bringing to a simmer, and heat through until piping hot. Extra veggie stock, water or plant milk may need to be added if the sauce is very thick. Stir frequently to avoid sticking.
Any ideas what I can do with leftovers?
- reheat and have on top of toast for lunch
- or make a chilli mac toastie/vegan grilled cheese sandwich or quesadilla
- use chilled chilli mac as a tortilla or burrito wrap filling
- have a chilli mac sloppy joe
- add little bits of leftovers to a pizza to make a chilli mac pizza
- use small amounts of leftovers as a topping for vegan carrot hot-dogs
- stuff leftovers into a baked white or sweet potato
- or use as a stuffing for bell peppers, courgettes, butternut squash, large tomatoes, etc.
Can I make this recipe gluten-free?
Yes. Simply use gluten-free pasta shapes, as well as gluten-free stock. And check that your miso is gluten-free.
What can I serve with chilli mac and cheese?
This dish is substantial enough to serve on its own but a few ideas for those extra hungry days or when you need to stretch to more portions:
- garlic bread
- crusty bread
- mixed salad
- fresh green leaves such as spinach, arugula/rocket, watercress
- steamed greens
- steamed veggies
What can I add to garnish the chilli mac or add extra flavour?
- grated vegan cheese
- extra nutritional yeast flakes
- mix through a scoop of vegan soft cheese at the end of cooking
- hot sauce
- sprinkle of red pepper/chilli/paprika flakes
- fresh chilli slices
- dollop of salsa or guacamole
- slices of avocado
- fine diced fresh tomatoes
How To Easily Prepare Chilli Mac And Cheese:
Vegan Chilli Macaroni Cheese
- Large non-stick saucepan/Dutch oven/stock pot
- 60 g kale chopped
- 500 g wholemeal pasta or macaroni pasta
- 1 can kidney beans 400g/14oz can, drained
- 1 can green lentils 400g/14oz can, drained.
- 1 can chopped tomatoes 400g/14oz can.
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 bell pepper Diced.
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp chilli powder use however much chilli powder your family prefers, either less or more
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp oregano
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 750 ml plant-based milk
- 750 ml vegetable stock
Add at the end of cooking:
- 45 grams nutritional yeast
- 55 grams plant-based cheese grated
- 1 tbsp white miso
- Add everything to a pan, except the plant-based cheese, nutritional yeast and white miso.
- Mix well.
- Bring to the boil.Lower the heat and simmer gently until macaroni is cooked. Around 12-15 minutes. Stir frequently to ensure its not sticking to the pan.
- Remove from the heat and add the nutritional yeast, plant cheese and white miso.Mix well.
- Check seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Nutritional data is provided for guidance only and is not a strict calculation. Data is analysed using computerized nutrition apps.
- Leftovers will keep fresh for up to 3 days in the fridge.
- Reheat by loosening up the sauce with a little water, plant milk or veggie stock, if necessary, and bring to a simmer. Reheat for 2-3 minutes or until piping hot. Stir frequently to prevent sticking to the pan.
- This recipe makes 5 portions as I like to have leftovers for my kids lunch the next day. However, the amount of pasta can be reduced to meet your own family’s needs.
- Leftovers are tasty served hot on toast for next days lunch.
- Serve chilli macaroni cheese with a side salad, garlic bread, or simply on its own.