A vegan Mac and Cheese recipe made with festive Mexican-style flavors! We combine pasta, veggies, and a taco-seasoned cheese sauce accented with green chiles. It's richly flavorful and made with healthy, whole food ingredients! (Vegan, oil-free, gluten-free option.)
This festive Mexican-style Mac and Cheese recipe is a big bowl of creamy, cheesy, satisfying goodness. It's protein-rich, crazy flavorful, and easy to prepare in just 30 minutes. Pure comfort food... but made with healthier ingredients!
My idea was to take this Vegan Mac & Cheese and give it a flavorful southwest twist. (Yes!) So we combine tender pasta and colorful diced veggies. Then mix it with a simple homemade taco-seasoned cheese sauce accented with green chiles.
The flavor is out of this world! Plus you can prepare it mild as written, or give it a spicy kick with jalapeño pepper, hot chiles, or hot sauce. Your choice!
Ingredients for Mexican Mac & Cheese
For this recipe you will stir together in a large skillet or pan on the stove:
- Elbow pasta: Be sure to use gluten-free pasta if needed. Lately I've been enjoying Banza elbow macaroni which is made from chickpeas. Or you can use another shape like fusilli, shells, penne, or other small noodle.
- Green onions: These are also called scallions. They add a delightful mild onion flavor!
- Roasted red pepper: I use one large jarred roasted red bell pepper. But feel free to add more if you enjoy the flavor.
- Roma tomato
- Raw cashews: I use organic, unsalted raw cashews. We'll soak them first so they're softer and easier to blend into a creamy, smooth sauce. (See notes below the recipe for tips on soaking.)
- Vegetable broth: Use low-sodium if desired.
- Nutritional yeast: This is what gives the sauce a savory, cheesy flavor. It tastes a little like cheddar cheese so it's great in this vegan cheese sauce.
- Taco seasoning: I use my zesty homemade Taco Seasoning recipe. It's made from flavorful spices like ground cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, oregano, onion powder, and garlic powder. I always keep a small jar of it in the pantry for convenience.
- Diced green chiles: These typically come in a small 4 ounce can. I use mild chiles.
- Fresh lemon juice: We'll use two tablespoons which is about a half lemon. You could also substitute with fresh lime juice if desired.
- Apple cider vinegar
- Salt: I use fine grain salt. You can also include black pepper to taste if desired.
Make it spicy: Include a jalapeño pepper in the cheese sauce before you blend. Or you can use medium or hot diced green chiles instead of mild. Chipotle powder or chipotle in adobo sauce would be tasty for some smoky spice (though I haven't tested this yet). Or simply top your bowl with your favorite hot sauce before serving.
Make it "beefy": Add your favorite vegan ground beef crumbles or plant-based sausage. I suggest cooking these separately according to package instructions, then stir them into the mixture towards the end of cook time.
Other additions: Change up the veggies with fresh bell pepper instead of roasted, sautéed onion, fresh minced garlic cloves, sweet corn, or even a scoop of salsa. Serving this mac and cheese next to seasoned black beans can add extra plant-based protein and fiber as well.
Baked: I haven't tried this, but I'm guessing you could prepare this dish as a baked mac and cheese. Simply place the finished mixture in a baking dish then bake in the oven with a breadcrumb topping if desired.
Garnish your bowl with fresh chopped cilantro or hot sauce to taste. The recipe yields about 6 cups mac & cheese, so you can serve this as a main dish (with about three large 2-cup servings) or as a smaller side dish (about 6-8 servings).
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I find it keeps well for a few days, then you can simply give it a stir and reheat in the microwave when ready to enjoy.
Mexican Mac and Cheese (Vegan!)
- 8 oz. elbow noodles (gluten-free if desired)
- 3 green onions
- 1 roasted red pepper
- 2 roma tomatoes
For the Mexican-style cheese sauce:
- 1 cup raw cashews (soaked*)
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 Tbsp. taco seasoning
- 4 oz. can diced green chiles (I use mild)
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- Cook pasta according to package instructions, leaving al dente (slightly firm, not mushy). Drain when finished.
- Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce: Place all sauce ingredients in a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth.
- Slice green onions.
- In a large non-stick pan over medium heat, add cheese sauce and green onions. Heat for 6-7 minutes, stirring often until slightly thickened.
- Meanwhile, finely dice tomato and roasted pepper.
- When cheese sauce has slightly thickened, add drained pasta, tomato, and roasted pepper.
- Heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often, or until warmed through.
Nutrition Per Serving (Estimate)
Sodium: This is omitted as I cannot provide an accurate number. I encourage you to calculate your own to provide a much more precise reading based on the exact ingredients, brands, and amounts you're using.
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