Vegetarian Chili Mac


See my guide on how to use an Instant Pot.


This Vegetarian Chili Mac is a delicious mash up of two favorite meals: hearty vegetarian chili and gooey mac and cheese. This chili mac recipe is a one pot meal that you can have on your table in just 30 minutes!

This one pot vegetarian chili mac is one of my favorite quick and easy dinner recipes. It’s a cheesy, hearty and healthy meal that the whole family will love!

chili mac topped with cheese and green onions in a bowl with a spoon

My family loves pasta for dinner, and some of our favorite pasta recipes include Instant Pot Spaghetti, Lasagna, Instant Pot Mac and Cheese and this comforting chili mac recipe. If you’d like a slow cooker version of this chili mac and cheese, my Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili Mac is a reader favorite.

This vegetarian chili mac recipe is the perfect meal for those nights when you are short on time and energy but still want to make a wholesome meal for yourself and your family. The recipe is quick and easy to make using macaroni pasta, vegetables, beans and cheese.

steaming vegetable chili mac on serving spoon held over pot

The pasta absorbs delicious flavor as it cooks in the pot with the tomatoes, veggies and seasonings. The tomato-based sauce is slightly spicy, and you can easily adjust the spice level to your tastes. If you want to add ground beef or turkey to this recipe, I’ve included tips for that below.

Ingredients

ingredients for vegetarian chili mac

  • Olive Oil: Olive oil is used when sautéing the vegetables.
  • Onion, Bell Pepper & Carrots: This trio of healthy veggies provide flavor and nutrition. Chop the veggies into small pieces, no bigger than 1/4-inch, so that they will become tender in the time it takes the pasta to cook.
  • Garlic & Seasonings: Fresh garlic, chili powder, cumin and salt add flavor to the chili mac.
  • Diced Tomatoes & Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies: These help to create a sauce for the chili mac. The diced tomatoes with green chilies add extra flavor and some spice.
  • Elbow Macaroni Pasta: Both whole wheat and white pasta work well in this recipe.
  • Black Beans & Kidney Beans: Canned beans add filling protein to this vegetarian pasta recipe. You can use other types of canned beans if you prefer, such as pinto beans.
  • Water: The pasta will absorb the water as it cooks.
  • Shredded Cheese: Cheddar, Monterey jack and mozzarella all work well in this recipe. You can use one type of cheese or a combination. I recommend buying a block of cheese and shredding it yourself. The preshredded cheese that is sold at the store is often coated with an anti-caking agent that makes it not melt as smoothly.

How to Make Vegetarian Chili Mac

This recipe takes just a few easy steps to prepare. You’ll find the full recipe with ingredient amounts and instructions in the recipe card below. Here’s a quick look at the recipe steps.

  1. Sauté the onion, bell pepper and carrots in olive oil until soft. 
  2. Add the garlic and seasonings and cook for 30 seconds, stirring. carrots, bell pepper, onion and seasonings in pot
  3. Stir in the tomatoes, pasta, beans and water. stirring in tomatoes, beans, pasta and water
  4. Increase the heat to bring the pot to a simmer.
  5. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook, covered, until the pasta is tender. Stir every few minutes while the pasta cooks to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot and to help it cook evenly. 
  6. Stir in the cheese, reserving some to sprinkle on top of the chili mac.

cheesy vegetarian chili mac in pot with wooden spoon

Recipe Variations

  • This chili mac has a little bit of spice to it. To make it mild, use mild diced tomatoes with green chilies or substitute with another can of plain diced tomatoes. To make it spicier, you can add a small amount of cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes along with the other seasonings. 
  • To add meat to this recipe, add ground beef or ground turkey to the pan after sautéing the onion, carrots and bell pepper for a few minutes. Cook the meat, crumbling, until browned and then proceed with the recipe. 
  • For vegan chili mac, either omit the cheese or use a block of vegan cheddar. 

chili mac served in a bowl with pot in background

Can You Freeze Chili Mac?

You can freeze chili mac for up to 3 months. Let the chili mac cool and then store it in an airtight container in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. 

Reheating Instructions

  • This dish reheats well and the leftovers are perfect for a quick lunch!
  • Vegetarian chili mac can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Reheat individual servings in the microwave until steaming hot. 

chili mac and cheese served in a bowl with cheese and green onions

More Delicious One Pot Meals

Vegetarian Chili Mac

chili mac topped with cheese and green onions in a bowl with a spoon
Print Pin
5 from 1 vote
This Vegetarian Chili Mac is a delicious mash up of two favorite meals: hearty vegetarian chili and gooey mac and cheese. This chili mac recipe is a quick and easy one pot dinner, perfect for busy days!
Course Main Dish, One Pot Meal
Cuisine American
Keyword chili mac, vegetarian chili mac
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Servings 6 servings
Calories 447kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 bell pepper (chopped small, any color)
  • 2 medium carrots (chopped into ¼-inch pieces)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 10 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies* (such as RO*TEL)
  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni pasta (whole wheat or white)
  • 15 ounce can black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 15 ounce can red kidney beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar, Monterey jack, mozzarella, or a combination)

Instructions 

  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet* or pot over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and carrots and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and salt to the pan with the vegetables and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the diced tomatoes, diced tomatoes with green chilies, pasta, black beans, kidney beans and water. Stir.
  • Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover, and cook, stirring every few minutes, until pasta is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 12-15 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in most of the cheese, reserving a little for sprinkling on top. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese. Serve.

Notes

  • You will need a skillet or pot that is at least 12 inches wide and 2 inches deep to fit the full recipe.
  • This recipe makes a chili mac with some spice to it. The spice is not overwhelming, but if your family prefers less spice I'd recommend using mild diced tomatoes with green chilies or subbing with a can of diced tomatoes without green chilies (fire roasted diced tomatoes would be delicious). To make the chili mac spicier, add a small amount of cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes along with the other seasonings. 
  • To add meat to this recipe, add ground beef or ground turkey to the pan after sautéing the onion, carrots and bell pepper for a few minutes. Cook the meat, crumbling, until browned and then proceed with the recipe. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 recipe | Calories: 447kcal | Carbohydrates: 63g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 29mg | Sodium: 1029mg | Potassium: 920mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 4811IU | Vitamin C: 42mg | Calcium: 306mg | Iron: 5mg
Nutrition information is an estimate.
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