This Vegan Chili Mac is the perfect combination of two comfort food favorites. It’s also easy to throw together, making it perfect for game days, busy weekdays, or a lazy Sunday. What’s more, it packs a healthful punch with lots of fiber and protein while still satisfying that comfort food craving.
You will Love this Chili Mac
- It’s super easy. With minimal prep and mostly pantry ingredients, this chili mac is the perfect easy weeknight dinner. I just love easy slow-cooker meals!
- It’s big on flavor. Thanks to a blend of smoky spices, this easy meal has big, bold flavors that bring that hearty feel without any meat.
- It’s protein-rich and satiating. This vegan version has that same stick-to-your-bones quality as classic chili, without being greasy or overly rich. While traditional chili and mac & cheese rely on a hefty fat content to keep you satiated, this chili mac uses fiber and protein to satisfy.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Spices: I use a mix of chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, crushed red pepper, ancho chili powder, and fresh cracked black pepper to give this big pot of chili mac bold, smoky flavor. Adjust the spice level by adjusting the red pepper flakes or adding cayenne pepper.
- Tomatoes: Tomato sauce and diced tomatoes make a great base for this one-pot meal. Use fire-roasted tomatoes for extra roasty flavor!
- Corn: Corn adds a nice sweetness and texture to this recipe. Canned, frozen, or fresh sweet corn all work great!
- Beans: This easy recipe uses pinto, light and dark red kidney beans, but pretty much any combination of beans will work well. I've used black beans in place of some of the kidney beans and this recipe was just as delicious.
- Bell pepper: I usually use red bell pepper in this recipe. Alternatively, use green to add a more bitter, earthy flavor instead of a sweeter red or yellow pepper.
- Vegetable stock: Vegetable broth or stock both work great for vegan recipes like this chili. You can also use chicken-less broth for a meatier flavor.
- Pasta: Shorter pasta shapes work best for this recipe, such as elbow macaroni or rotini. I love lentil or chickpea gluten-free pasta since they're a great source of fiber and plant protein. Plus, it makes this chili more shareable!
- Vegan cheese shreds: I love to add vegan cheddar shreds but, of course, you can use dairy products for a vegetarian chili mac recipe. If you would rather use a cheese sauce, you could try the vegan queso recipe that I use to top my easy vegan nachos!
- Optional toppings: I love to top this chili with vegan sour cream, tortilla chips, a squeeze of lime, and chives or green onions.
First, turn your slow cooker on high. Add all your spices and oil to the slow cooker. Allow the spices to become fragrant while you gather and prepare the other ingredients.
Then, add the rest of your ingredients except the noodles to the slow cooker. Cook for 4-5 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low. About 10 minutes before serving, add the noodles and give a good stir. When ready to serve, top with a generous heap of cheddar shreds and any other favorite toppings!
- One-pot vegan chili mac: Make this easy vegan dinner on the stovetop! In a large pot or dutch oven on medium heat, add the oil and spices. When the spices are fragrant, add the rest of the ingredients except the noodles. Turn the heat up to medium-high and allow the ingredients to come to a boil. Then, turn the heat down to low, add a lid, and let the chili simmer for at least 30 minutes. When you are about 10 minutes from serving, stir in the noodles. To serve, add a generous heap of cheddar shreds (or regular cheddar cheese for a vegetarian chili mac) and any other toppings you'd enjoy!
- Vegan chili mac casserole: Follow the recipe above for one-pot vegan chili mac. Then, after stirring in the noodles, transfer the chili mac to a 13x9 baking dish. Top with the cheddar shreds and bake at 375° F for 10-15 minutes (until the cheese has completely melted). Remove from the oven, add additional toppings, and serve.
- Store: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days or freezer for 2-3 months. If you know that you plan to freeze this chili, do not add the noodles until after you reheat it.
- Reheat: Reheat soup in a covered microwave-safe container for 2-3 minutes. If reheating a large amount of soup from frozen, transfer the frozen soup to the refrigerator 1-2 days before reheating. Then, reheat the thawed chili mac in a large pot over low-medium to medium heat until simmering. Once the soup is simmering, add the noodles if they were not previously added, stir, and allow to simmer an additional 8-10 minutes until the pasta is al dente.
- I love to add oil and spices to the pot first while I prepare the other ingredients. This “blooms” the spices, which helps enhance the flavor.
- This chili mac goes great with lots of toppings! Aside from a generous heap of cheese, I love a squeeze of lime, a dollop of vegan sour cream, some green onions or chives, and a handful of tortilla or corn chips.
- In a pinch (and if you want to use only pantry ingredients), you can substitute the bell pepper for one 4.5 oz can of mild green chilis.
Sure! Easily adapt this recipe to a vegan chili by omitting the noodles and reducing the broth by 1-2 cups. Alternatively, you could substitute textured vegetable protein for the noodles if you would like a meatier texture chili.
Definitely. While I love to use chickpea rotini to boost the fiber and protein, you can use whatever noodle sounds best to you. Of course, macaroni noodles would really drive home the "mac" part of this chili mac!
Most chili is not vegan due to the addition of ground beef. Usually, the rest of the chili is made from plant-based ingredients including beans, tomatoes, and spices. Therefore, you can usually adapt your favorite chili recipe to a vegan or vegetarian version by using a plant-based protein in place of the meat. Adapt that same recipe to a chili mac by adding noodles (and usually some more liquid for the noodles to absorb) and topping with cheddar-inspired shreds or sauce
Easy Vegan Chili Mac
- 1 ½ tablespoon shallot-infused olive oil (or: oil of choice and 1 teaspoon onion powder)
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional- adds mild heat)
- ½ teaspoon ancho chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
- 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
- ½ cup corn (canned or frozen)
- 1 15 oz can light red kidney beans , drained and rinsed
- 1 15 oz can dark red kidney beans , drained and rinsed
- 1 15 oz can pinto beans , drained and rinsed
- 1 bell pepper , any color, diced
- 2 cups unsalted vegetable stock
- 8 oz chickpea rotini noodles (or pasta of choice)
- salt to taste
- 1 7.1 oz bag cheddar style shreds (or: shredded cheddar for vegetarian)
OPTIONAL TOPPINGS (per bowl):
- 1 handful tortilla chips
- 1 lime wedge
- 1 dollop vegan sour cream
- 1 teaspoon fresh chives
- Turn slow cooker on high. Add oil, chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, red pepper, ancho chili powder and black pepper. Allow oil and spices to heat while preparing other ingredients.
- Once spices are fragrant, add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, corn, beans, diced bell pepper, and vegetable stock (Do NOT add the noodles at this time).
- Cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 8-10 hours.
- About 10 minutes before servings, turn slow cooker up to high (if not already on high). Add uncooked noodles and stir to combine. Cook until the noodles are tender, about 8-10 minutes.
- To serve, top each bowl with a generous heap of cheddar shreds and other desired toppings.
- In a large pot or dutch oven on medium heat, add the oil, chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, red pepper, ancho chili powder and black pepper.
- When the spices become fragrant, add the rest of the ingredients except the noodles.
- Turn the heat up to medium-high and allow the ingredients to come to a boil. Then, turn the heat down to low, add a lid, and let the chili simmer for 30 minutes to two hours.
- About 10 minutes from serving, stir in the noodles. Allow chili to continue to simmer until the noodles have cooked to al-dente, about 8-10 minutes.
- To serve, add a generous heap of cheddar shreds (or regular cheddar cheese for a vegetarian chili mac) and any other desired toppings.
- Salt to taste and depending on your nutritional needs. If all ingredients are unsalted, about ½ teaspoon salt is sufficient to enhance the flavors in my experience.
- This chili stores well in the fridge for up to five days. To freeze, do not add the noodles and allow the soup to cool before storing it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
This recipe was inspired by Budget Bytes' One Pot Cheesy Vegetarian Chili Mac
Love how tasty this is for how easy it is to make!
Glad you loved them! 😊
This recipe was so delicious and so so easy to prep! Loved it!
Yayyyy! So glad you loved it, Madeline!!
This recipe was perfect and so easy to make. I love to be able to throw ingredients in the slow cooker and carry on with my "to do" list. It was pleasing to hear all the positive comments during dinner time.
So glad you liked it! Thanks for sharing!