Who Says You Can't Make Chili Mac Vegan? 

mbg Editorial Assistant By Jamie Schneider
mbg Editorial Assistant
Jamie Schneider is the Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen with a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan. She's previously written for Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.

Image by Jack Adams Photography / Contributor

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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
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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

Pasta:

  • 16 ounces (454 g) elbow macaroni, or other small pasta 
  • Nonstick cooking spray, for preparing the baking dish
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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.
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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.
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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 are you ready to learn more about how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, prevent disease & achieve optimal health? Register now for our FREE web class with nutrition expert Kelly LeVeque.

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