This Vegan Chili Mac is super easy and, oh, so cheesy! It’s a kid approved family favorite dinner! Easily made gluten-free.
Easy vegan chili combined with creamy vegan mac and cheese equals a stick to your ribs comfort food dish the whole family will love!
This kid approved recipe is full of plant protein and packed with vitamins and minerals. A delicious dinner that also packs well in a thermos for lunch the next day. Give this Vegan Chili Mac a try today!
Ingredients you need
Ingredient notes and substitutions
Pasta ~ Macaroni, also called elbows, is the “mac” part of this vegan chili mac. Technically, any small or medium-shaped pasta will work, like ditalini, rotini, penne, farfalle, etc.
Use a gluten-free variety, if needed or desired.
Tomatoes ~ Canned diced tomatoes, a plant-based pantry staple, work perfectly here. I like to use fire-roasted tomatoes for extra flavor and a subtle spicy kick.
If you only have a plain diced tomatoes and want that extra kick of flavor, you can add a 4-ounce can of diced green chiles, as well.
Vegetables ~ Onions, bell peppers and corn are typical veggies found in chili so they’re added here, too.
I like green bell pepper in this vegan chili mac, but any color will work so use what you have.
Feel free to add a jalapeño or two if you like spicy heat.
Beans ~ Kidney beans, pinto beans, or black beans are all good choices here. I prefer kidney beans in this dish, but use what you like. Be sure to drain and rinse if you’re using canned beans.
As an alternative, you could sauté some vegan ground “beef”, like Beyond, Impossible or Gardein, etc.
Spices ~ Chili powder and cumin are traditional chili spices. I love adding oregano to southwest-style recipes, too. A pinch of cayenne may be added for a bit of spicy heat.
Cheese sauce ~ I use my super popular Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese sauce to finish off this dish.
This sauce can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge (or even frozen) to make this recipe even quicker and easier. I have also made this chili mac without the cheese sauce, which is also great, but I definitely prefer it cheesy!
How to make the recipe
Please scroll down to the recipe card for exact ingredient measurements and instructions.
Sauté the onions and peppers and until soft. Add the spices and sauté until fragrant. Add the tomatoes. (1)
Add the broth, stir well to combine, and simmer until thick and bubbly (2). Add the beans and corn (3).
Stir everything well (4).
Add the cooked noodles (5) and stir to combine (6).
Add the blended vegan cheese sauce (7), stir well, and simmer until hot throughout (8).
How to serve
This vegan chili mac is a meal in itself. It has protein, carbs, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals all in one dish.
Just like chili can take on lots of toppings, so can chili mac! Besides the cilantro and green onions, try topping it off with diced avocado or homemade guacamole, crushed tortilla chips, quick pickled red onions, or shredded vegan cheese.
If you like something on the side, try a slice of sweet vegan cornbread to offset the spicy, savory flavors of the chili mac.
Storage and freezing
Fridge: Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.
Freezer: You can also freeze this vegan chili mac. Let it cool completely before transferring it to a freezer-safe container or plastic bag. It should keep well for up to 3 months.
Reheat: If frozen, let it thaw overnight in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave or simmer on the stovetop with an extra splash or two of broth.
Pro tips and tricks
~ Be sure to drain and rinse the beans if using canned.
~ Use fire roasted diced tomatoes or add a small can of diced green chiles with regular diced tomatoes for an added flavor boost.
~ Make the butternut squash mac and cheese sauce ahead of time. Or use your favorite store-bought vegan cheese sauce.
~ If you didn’t make the cheese sauce ahead of time, you can cook the squash/onions at the same time you are cooking the pasta and sautéing the veggies for the chili.
~ Sauté the veggies in vegetable broth or water to make this dish oil-free.
~ Use gluten-free pasta to make this dish gluten-free.
~ Let everyone customize their bowl of vegan chili mac with their favorite toppings to please everyone at the table.
Chili Mac is a mash up between chili and macaroni and cheese. Generally, chili mac is made with ground beef, chili spices, tomatoes, macaroni noodles and lots of dairy cheese. This vegan version uses beans instead of beef and a vegan cheese sauce instead of shredded dairy cheese.
I think this Vegan Chili Mac proves that the answer to this questions is YES! My kids always prefer to eat chili with pasta, typically macaroni noodles. But, Vegan Cincinnati Chili with spaghetti noodles is also a favorite!
I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! If you tried it, please use the rating system in the recipe card and leave a comment below with your feedback.
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Vegan Chili Mac
- 1 recipe Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (use water or vegetable broth for an oil-free option)
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 1 green pepper seeded and diced
- 1 jalapeño diced, optional
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- pinch of cayenne for a little heat (optional)
- 1 can (28 oz) fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 cup corn kernels fresh or frozen
- 1 can (15 oz) kidney beans rinsed and drained
- fresh cilantro chopped, for garnish
- green onions chopped, for garnish
- Make the Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat on the stove. Add the onion, green pepper, and jalapeño, if using. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes until softened.
- Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, and cayenne, if using, and sauté 1 minute, until fragrant.
- Add the diced tomatoes and vegetable broth and stir well to combine. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until thick and bubbly.
- Add the corn and kidney beans to the tomato mixture and stir.
- Pour the Butternut Mac Cheese Sauce into the tomato/bean mixture and stir to combine. (I use the whole sauce recipe, but feel free to add less if you prefer).
- Add the cooked noodles and stir to combine
- Serve immediately with fresh chopped cilantro and chopped green onions, if using, sprinkled on top.
Nutrition values are calculated using online calculators and are estimates only. Please verify using your own data.