Skip to content

Who Says You Can't Make Chili Mac Vegan? 

Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Editor By Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Editor
Jamie Schneider is the Associate Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and wellness. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
Who Says You Can't Make Chili Mac Vegan?

Image by Jack Adams Photography / Contributor

Our editors have independently chosen the products listed on this page. If you purchase something mentioned in this article, we may earn a small commission.

When you take a bite of this creamy, cheesy dish, you'll be surprised to know that it's 100% vegan. You'll be sure to impress all of the carnivores in your life with this Vegan Chili Mac recipe that's perfect for a cozy fall afternoon. Ingredients such as turmeric add some anti-inflammatory components to the meal, while the fair amount of beans and lentils in the chili ensures a significant amount of protein. Plus, the avocado topping (optional, but recommended) offers some healthy fats and makes this recipe the total, nutrient-dense package.

This recipe is also a great way to use up leftover chili (can you say, meal prep?). If you don't have any leftovers on hand, it also includes a quick, vegan chili that can be ready in minutes. Who says plant-based meals can't double as comfort food?

Vegan Chili Mac

Chili Ingredients:

  • 3 cups (594 g) cooked lentils or (516 g) black beans, or 2 (15.5-ounce, or 425-g) cans, rinsed and drained
  • 1½ cups (390 g) tomato salsa (hot or mild)
  • 3 tablespoons (48 g) barbecue sauce
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons (5 to 8 g) chili powder, plus more as needed
  • Salt, to taste 
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

Cheese Sauce Ingredients:

  • 3 cups (720 ml) plain unsweetened nondairy milk
  • 1¼ cups (175 g) unsalted raw cashews, soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes and drained 
  • ⅓ cup (20 g) nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric


  • 16 ounces (454 g) elbow macaroni, or other small pasta 
  • Nonstick cooking spray, for preparing the baking dish

Toppings (optional)

  • ¾ cup (47 g) crushed tortilla chips, or corn chips
  • 1 ripe Hass avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced

To make the chili:

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine all the chili ingredients.
  2. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through and the flavors are well blended, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add as much water as needed to create a sauce-like consistency and prevent the chili from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until heated through and any raw taste from the chili powder is cooked off, about 15 minutes.

To make the sauce:

  1. In a high-speed blender, combine all the sauce ingredients.
  2. Blend until very smooth and creamy.
  3. Set aside.

To make the pasta:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
  2. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions until al dente. Drain the pasta and return to the pot.
  3. Pour the sauce over the pasta and toss to combine.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) baking dish with cooking spray.
  5. Spread the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish. Spread the chili evenly on top of the pasta.

To finish:

  1. Sprinkle the tortilla chips on top of the chili.
  2. Bake for 20 minutes until hot.
  3. Serve topped with the avocado.

Recipe excerpted from Vegan Mac & Cheese. Text © 2019 by Robin Robertson, reprinted with permission from Harvard Common Press.

And do you want to turn your passion for wellbeing into a fulfilling career? Become a Certified Health Coach! Learn more here.


More On This Topic


The Ultimate Guide To Plant-Based Nutrition

The Ultimate Guide To Plant-Based Nutrition
More Food

Popular Stories


Latest Articles

Latest Articles

Your article and new folder have been saved!