Delicious and Healthy Vegetarian Chili Cheese Mac Recipe

Are you a fan of comfort food but looking for a healthier, plant-based version of your favorite dishes? Look no further than this Vegetarian Chili Cheese Mac recipe!

This one-pot wonder is the perfect combination of rich, comforting flavors and nutritious, fiber-packed ingredients. It’s the ultimate fusion of cheesy vegetarian chili and mac n’ cheese – perfect for a cold winter’s night or a weeknight dinner.

But don’t be fooled by its indulgent taste – this recipe is simple to prepare and budget-friendly too. With reduced-fat cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese and protein-rich beans as the stars of the show, it’s an easy way to enjoy your favorite foods guilt-free.

So let’s dive into this easy one-pot vegetarian chili mac recipe that will leave you satisfied and wanting more.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Vegetarian Chili Cheese Mac
Vegetarian Chili Cheese Mac

Are you looking for a rich, comforting and vegetarian meal that is budget-friendly and easy to make? Then you will fall in love with this Vegetarian Chili Cheese Mac recipe!

You’ll appreciate the versatility of this recipe as it can be made in just one pot or an instant pot, or even a slow cooker making it perfect for busy weeknights when time is precious. With its oozing cheesy goodness and spicy kick of a vegan chili, vegetarian chili mac has everything that you want in an easy one-pot meal.

And if you’re a cheese budget conscious foodie, you’ll appreciate the reduced-fat cheddar cheese and reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese used here, allowing you to enjoy your favorite mac n cheese dish without compromising on flavor or texture. Additionally, if you follow dietary restrictions such as gluten-free or vegan, this recipe can easily be adapted to meet your needs.

But let’s get real about why you’ll love this Vegetarian Chili Cheese Mac. Not only is it a cozy comfort food that will satisfy your cravings, but it also packs the nutritional punch of fiber and plant-based protein from the kidney beans diced tomatoes and black beans.

In summary, with its savory flavors and creamy texture, this recipe not only tastes good but will also leave your mouth watering and your stomach full. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and get creative in the kitchen with our elevated vegetarian chili mac recipe!

Ingredient List

 A hearty and satisfying bowl of vegetarian chili cheese mac!
A hearty and satisfying bowl of vegetarian chili cheese mac!

Here are all the Ingredients you will need to make this delicious Vegetarian Chili Cheese Mac recipe:

  • Elbow macaroni (8 ounces)
  • Olive oil (2 tablespoons)
  • Onion, diced (1 medium)
  • Garlic, minced (4 cloves)
  • Diced tomatoes (1 can, 15.5 oz)
  • Kidney beans, rinsed and drained (1 can, 15 oz)
  • Black beans, rinsed and drained (1 can, 15 oz)
  • Crushed tomatoes (1 can, 28 oz)
  • Tomato sauce (1 can, 8 oz)
  • Ground cumin (2 teaspoons)
  • Chili powder (2 tablespoons)
  • Dried marjoram (1 teaspoon)
  • Salt (1 teaspoon)
  • Reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded (4 ounces)
  • Reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (4 ounces)

Note: This recipe is vegan-friendly when using plant-based elbow macaroni and vegan cheese substitutes. Also, feel free to adjust the seasoning levels according to your personal taste preference.

The Recipe How-To

 Creamy, cheesy and spicy all in one dish. What could be better?
Creamy, cheesy and spicy all in one dish. What could be better?

Now that you have all the ingredients prepared, let’s start cooking! This one-pot vegetarian chili mac is perfect for a cozy dinner in, and it only takes about 30 minutes to make.

Step 1: Cook the Onion and Garlic

First, in a large pot or Dutch oven, heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Once heated, add in 1 minced garlic clove and 1 diced white onion. Cook until the onion becomes translucent and fragrant.

Step 2: Add the Tomatoes and Spices

Once the onion and garlic are cooked, add in 2 cans of diced tomatoes with their juice (15 oz each). You can also replace one can of diced tomatoes with tomato sauce if you prefer it to be less chunky. Then mix in your spices: 1 tablespoon of chili powder, 1 teaspoon of dried marjoram, 1 tablespoon of ground cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Let everything simmer for about 5 minutes.

Step 3: Add the Beans and Macaroni

Next, you’ll want to add in your beans. We recommend using 1 can (15 oz) of rinsed kidney beans and 1 can (15 oz) of rinsed black beans to give your chili mac some great texture. Then, stir in 6 ounces of elbow macaroni or any short pasta shape you prefer directly into the pot. You don’t even have to cook the pasta beforehand!

Step 4: Let Everything Simmer

Stir everything together to ensure that everything is mixed well, then bring everything to a boil over medium-high heat. After it starts boiling, reduce the heat to low and cover with a lid. Simmer for around 15 minutes or until the pasta is al dente.

Step 5: Add Cheese and Finish Cooking

Finally, stir in your cheese! We recommend using a blend of 8 ounces of reduced-fat cheddar cheese and 8 ounces of reduced-fat Monterey jack cheese, but use any cheese combination that suits you best. Let it melt while stirring constantly until all the cheese has melted.

Step 6: Serve Hot!

Now that your vegetarian chili mac is finished cooking, it’s time to dish up! Garnish with some chopped green onions or fresh parsley if you like a little color on top! Enjoy this rich comforting meal on its own or serve as a side dish for your next potluck dinner.

Substitutions and Variations

 Perfect for a cozy night in or for feeding a crowd at a party.
Perfect for a cozy night in or for feeding a crowd at a party.

Looking to switch things up from the traditional recipe? No problem! Here are a few substitutions and variations to customize your Vegetarian Chili Cheese Mac recipe to your liking!

– Go Vegan: Simply replace the reduced-fat cheddar cheese and reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese with a vegan cheese alternative. There are many options available at most grocery stores or you can even create your own homemade vegan cheese.

– Gluten-Free: Looking for a gluten-free version of this recipe? Simply use gluten-free elbow macaroni instead of regular pasta.

– Bean Choices: While the recipe calls for kidney beans, feel free to switch it up with black beans or even pinto beans.

– Spice Level: Adjust the spiciness level by increasing or decreasing the amount of chili powder used in the recipe. For a milder version, reduce the chili powder to 1 tablespoon. To turn up the heat, add an extra tablespoon.

– Add More Veggies: Add additional vegetables like bell peppers, corn, or zucchini for added flavor and nutrition.

– Meat Lovers: If you’re craving meat, you can substitute the vegetarian chili with ground beef to create a hearty casserole dish.

Overall, this recipe is very versatile and can easily be adapted to suit individual preferences. Feel free to get creative and tailor it to your liking!

Serving and Pairing

 One bite of this chili mac and you'll be hooked!
One bite of this chili mac and you’ll be hooked!

You know what’s great about the vegetarian chili cheese mac recipe? You can enjoy it in so many different ways! First and foremost, you can serve it as a main dish. Whether you choose to enjoy the dish at home with your family or make it for an outdoor picnic or potluck event, this recipe is sure to please a crowd.

The mac and cheese element of this dish makes it especially kid-friendly, too. Plus, unlike traditional mac and cheese, you’ll get some added nutrition from the protein-packed beans and flavorful veggies.

Another great way to serve the vegetarian chili cheese mac recipe is to use it as a side dish for your main course. It pairs great with a wide range of entrees including grilled chicken or even a hearty steak, if you’re not following a strictly plant-based diet. It also goes well with hot dogs or burgers if you’re looking for an easy summer meal.

Finally, if you’re really feeling adventurous, you can get creative with your leftovers. Why not try using your leftover chili mac as a filling in enchiladas or tacos? Or mix it with some fresh vegetables and some black beans for a quick and easy bean salad?

No matter how you choose to enjoy this rich and comforting vegetarian chili cheese mac recipe, one thing’s for sure: the opportunities are endless!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 The ultimate comfort food that doesn't compromise on flavor or nutrition.
The ultimate comfort food that doesn’t compromise on flavor or nutrition.

As a busy vegan chef, I know the importance of planning ahead and meal prepping for the week. Luckily, this Vegetarian Chili Cheese Mac recipe can easily be made ahead of time and reheated for later use.

To make ahead, simply prepare the dish as instructed and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When ready to eat, reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop until hot throughout.

If you’re planning to serve a larger crowd or want to have leftovers for meals throughout the week, this recipe can easily be doubled or tripled. It’s perfect for potlucks, meal prep, or a cozy family dinner.

When storing any remaining portions of the Vegetarian Chili Cheese Mac, it’s best to place them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The mac and cheese will stay fresh for up to 3 days. If you’d like to save it for longer periods, then consider freezing it instead.

To freeze, let it cool completely and portion out into freezer-safe containers or bags. Label with the date and freeze for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy this rich and comforting dish again, simply defrost it overnight in the refrigerator before reheating in the microwave or on stovetop.

With these make-ahead, storing and reheating tips, you’ll be able to enjoy this flavorful one-pot vegetarian chili mac recipe anytime that you crave rich satisfying flavors without having to spend too much time in your kitchen.

Tips for Perfect Results

 A delicious and easy alternative to traditional chili.
A delicious and easy alternative to traditional chili.

Creating the perfect Vegetarian Chili Cheese Mac can be tricky, but with a little knowledge and some helpful tips, it can become an easy recipe in your culinary book. Here are some tips that will ensure you get the best results every time:

1. Use high-quality ingredients: investing in high-quality ingredients such as spices, canned tomatoes and cheese will make a significant difference in the taste of your final product.

2. Don’t overcook the pasta: it is essential to keep an eye on your pasta while cooking to avoid mushiness or undercooking. Follow the package’s instructions for cooking time and regularly test during the final minutes of cooking.

3. Experiment with different bean varieties: While the recipe calls for kidney beans, feel free to substitute with black beans or any other bean of your choice. The variation will create a new flavor profile that is sure to impress.

4. Add more water if needed: if you notice your chili is too thick or dry, add extra water slowly to thin it out to your desired consistency.

5. Do not over-stir: When making chili mac cheese, it’s tempting to stir continuously to mix all ingredients evenly. Over-stirring can lead to broken pasta and vegetables, resulting in an unappealing texture.

6. Adjust seasoning accordingly: Taste and adjust the seasoning as per your preference before serving your vegan chili mac to enhance its flavors or increase their heat. Season with salt, pepper or few dry herbs sprinkled on top of it can do wonders for its taste.

By following these tips when preparing Vegetarian Chili Cheese Mac, you’ll have flavorful vegan chili mac that is sure to impress both vegans and non-vegans alike!

Bottom Line


In conclusion, this vegetarian chili cheese mac recipe is a must-try for anyone looking for rich, comforting food that’s both delicious and easy to prepare. With its hearty blend of spices, beans, and tomatoes, this dish will satisfy every taste bud and leave you feeling full and satisfied.

Whether you’re a vegan or vegetarian, on a budget or not, this recipe can be adapted to meet your needs. You can use gluten-free ingredients or substitute the elbow macaroni with your favorite pasta shape. And if you prefer a meaty version, simply swap the veggie chili with ground beef.

Overall, this recipe is an excellent alternative to the classic mac and cheese casserole. It’s perfect for potlucks, family dinners, or any time you crave something warm and cheesy. So why not give it a try? You’ll love it!

Vegetarian Chili Cheese Mac

Vegetarian Chili Cheese Mac Recipe

This is a vegetarian version of the "Chili Mac & Cheese" recipe from Slow Cooker Recipe Book. Slightly modified
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Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 5 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine Vegetarian
Calories 253.3 kcal


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 lb Morningstar Farms Meal Starters Grillers recipe crumbles
  • 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 pinch ground cumin
  • 1 pinch dried marjoram
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 cups whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 3/4 cup reduced-fat monterey jack cheese
  • 3/4 cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese


  • heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Chop onion. Saute onion and garlic until soft.
  • Coat slow cooker with cooking spray. Transfer onion mixture to cooker. Stir in tomatoes, beans, meal starters "meat", chili powder, cumin, marjoram and salt.
  • Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.
  • Boil pot of water and parcook macaroni for 5 minutes or until slightly flexible. Stir into cooker and cook for 1 to 1 1/2 more hours.
  • stir in cheese and serve!

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 210gCalories: 253.3kcalCarbohydrates: 43.6gProtein: 13.1gFat: 4.4gSaturated Fat: 1.1gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 483mgFiber: 7.5gSugar: 4.8g
Keyword Beans, Cheese, One-Dish Meal
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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