This healthy vegan chili mac is made with wholesome ingredients and the ultimate comfort food. While it’s great for kids, adults love it too!
I received a free copy of Easy Whole Vegan by Melissa King to review, all opinions and text are all mine
This post was originally published on December 8, 2016.
I love a good mac, and when I can throw in protein and have it be easy to make, it’s pretty much a no brainer!
This recipe is comprised of a variety of nutritious ingredients for a healthy meal, even if it doesn’t feel like it! Here is what you’ll need:
- Pinto beans
- Spices and seasonings
- Cheese sauce
When it comes to cooking lentils, I have a post all about how to cook lentils! I also link many other ways to use them so it’s a great resource.
The cheese used in this recipe is flexible. You can use the macadamia based cheese sauce that is in the original recipe (see below on my friend’s book where this came from!) or you can use my famous creamy vegan cheese sauce.
How to Make Chili Mac and Cheese
You can make this recipe either on the stovetop or using a slow cooker, both methods are super easy!
I prefer cooking it on the stove as it’s faster, here’s what you’ll do:
- Sauté onions and garlic then add everything but the water and pasta.
- Add the water and pasta and cook.
- Add in the cheese sauce.
- Garnish and serve!
If slow cookers are your jam, it’s basically a dump and let the slow cooker do the job kind of recipe! You still need to make the cheese sauce separately however.
Dress up your Chili Mac with some of these tasty toppings!
This recipe is hearty enough to serve on its own, but any of these dishes would pair nicely:
- Mexican Coleslaw
- Collard Chips
- Grilled Romaine Salad
- Roasted Veggies (use this guide on the best way to roast them!)
- Sautéed Spinach
- Vegan Pigs in a Blanket
This book is awesome for the whole family. There are loads of easy and mouthwatering recipes that your kids are sure to love! From simple snacks, to full dinners, to incredible desserts.
You need to read Melissa’s story, you’ll get chills. Like my story, a change in diet was life changing for her family. It’s so amazing what an impact it has and I am so happy for her!
Tips and Tricks
- This dish can be made ahead of time and reheated when ready to serve! Just store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
- To prep ahead have everything chopped and ready to go. Make sure the lentils are cooked and the cheese sauce is made.
- To reheat, microwave mac until hot. Or, use an oven safe dish to bake at 375° F/ 190° C until bubbly.
- If you you want to spice things up, add 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder or diced chili peppers.
It’s basically just pasta mixed with a version of chili!
Yes! I like to put it in a freezer safe air tight container. I also put a piece of plastic wrap right on top touching and covering the chili mac to help avoid freezer burn.
As long as it’s in an airtight container it should last 5-7 days. It’s of course best sooner for texture reasons.
If frozen properly it can last around 3 to 6 months, but 3 months is best for freezer burn and overall flavor.
Healthy Vegan Chili Mac
- crock pot (optional)
- 2 cups diced yellow onion
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic , or 1 garlic clove, minced
- 3 cups diced tomatoes (or one 28-ounce 794 g] [can diced tomatoes, drained)
- 2 cups cooked pinto beans (or one 15-ounce 425 g] [can pinto beans, drained and rinsed)
- 1 cup cooked green lentils
- 1½ teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt , or to taste
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika , plus extra for garnish, optional
- 4 cups water , reduce to 2 cups if making the stove top version
- 2 cups uncooked brown rice elbow macaroni
- 2 cups vegan cheese sauce ( or the Macadamia Nut Cheese Sauce from the book below)
- Chopped green onion for garnish , optional
Macadamia Nut Cheese Sauce
- 2 cups raw macadamia nuts, soaked in water overnight (see note)
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt , or to taste
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
For stove top version
- Saute onions and garlic with a drizzle of oil or broth until softened.
- Add the tomatoes, beans, spices and salt and cook until bubbly.
- Add the water and pasta, cook until the pasta is al dente.
- Mix in the cheese sauce.
- Serve and enjoy!
For crock pot version
- Combine all the ingredients except the macaroni and the Macadamia Nut Cheese Sauce in a large slow cooker. Cover, turn it on high, and cook for 3½ hours.
- Meanwhile, make cheese sauce. Drain and rinse the nuts. Add them to a high-power blender with the rest of the ingredients. Blend until smooth.
- Add the macaroni and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pasta is done.
- Pour in the cheese sauce and stir well.
- Garnish with more paprika and chopped green onions, if desired, and serve immediately or refrigerate for later. This will keep in the fridge for at least a week. It can also be frozen for up to 6 months.
- If you want some extra heat in this recipe, you can add ½ teaspoon cayenne or even some diced chile peppers.
- If you forget to soak the nuts for the cheese sauce overnight, you can boil them for 30 minutes to soften. You can also grind them dry in a coffee or spice grinder.
- This cheese sauce will last a couple weeks in the fridge. I store mine in a large mason jar. You can also freeze the sauce for up to 3 months.
Recipe by Veggies Don’t Bite, visit our site for more great plant-based recipes.