Cheesy Vegetarian Chili Mac

It’s been really cold here (well, cold for me) and that makes me want comfort food. One dish that I absolutely loved in the past but haven’t had a chance to remake is my One Pot Chili Pasta from the SNAP Challenge in 2014. That pasta not only saved my life as far as filling me up on an extremely restricted budget, but it was SO GOOD. I was really excited to make it again this week, but I had already spent a large part of this weeks budget on pork for my Nam Sod, so I decided to transform the old One Pot Chili Pasta into a new Vegetarian Chili Mac and Cheese.

One Pot Vegetarian Chili Mac and Cheese

Overhead view of a bowl full of one pot vegetarian chili mac and cheese, a bag of pasta on the side

No Beef, More Beans

The new vegetarian version is very similar to the old One Pot Chili Pasta, but it has no beef (obvi), more beans, some diced tomatoes, and uses vegetable broth in place of the beef broth. How did it turn out? OMG still so good. Like, so good that I’ve been eating it for breakfast all this week because I’m so excited to eat it every day that I can’t even wait for lunch. There’s something about the thick, tangy sauce with the smoky chili powder and just a hint of cheddar that is just irresistible to me. 

Meal Prep the Leftovers

This recipe makes a huge batch, like around 10 cups. I suggest dividing the pasta up into single portions right after cooking so you have it meal prepped for the next 4-5 days. If you know you can’t finish it all within 5 days, it can be frozen. Pasta does get a bit softer upon freezing and thawing/reheating, but for me that’s negligible for a dish that tastes so freaking good.

Can I Make this Vegan?

Yes, since there is only one ingredient in this recipe that is animal based, it will be really easy to swap that out and make this recipe vegan. To replace the cheddar cheese you can either use a vegan cheddar substitute, like Daiya Cheddar Shreds, or add some nutritional yeast for a slightly cheesy flavor (it won’t be creamy, but you’ll get that cheesy umami goodness).

Side View of a bowl full of vegetarian chili mac and cheese


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4.74 from 115 votes

One Pot Cheesy Vegetarian Chili Mac

This rich and comforting One Pot Vegetarian Chili Mac and Cheese is the perfect quick and easy weeknight meal. Works great for meal prep! 
Total Cost: $8.90 recipe / $1.11 serving
Author: Beth - Budget Bytes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 35 mins
Servings: 8 1.25 cups each

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.16)
  • 1 yellow onion ($0.31)
  • 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
  • 2 Tbsp flour ($0.02)
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder* ($0.60)
  • 1 15oz. can diced tomatoes ($0.79)
  • 1 15oz. can tomato sauce ($0.88)
  • 1 15oz. can kidney beans ($0.89)
  • 1 15oz. can black beans ($1.15)
  • 1 15oz. can pinto beans ($1.49)
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels ($0.44)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth ($0.26)
  • 2 cups uncooked macaroni noodles ($0.50)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar ($1.25)

Instructions

  • Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Sauté the onion and garlic with olive oil in the bottom of a large pot (5 qt) over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the onions are soft and transparent.
  • Add the flour and chili powder to the sautéed onions and garlic. Continue to stir and sauté for about two minutes, or just until the flour and chili powder begin to coat the bottom of the pot.
  • Drain and rinse the kidney beans, black beans, and pinto beans. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, all three beans, corn, and vegetable broth to the pot. Stir to combine and to dissolve any flour and chili powder off the bottom of the pot.
  • Add the uncooked macaroni noodles and stir to combine. Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to medium high, and let the pot come up to a boil. Stir every other minute or so to loosen the noodles from the bottom of the pot as it heats up.
  • When the pot reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low, or just above low, so it continues to gently simmer. Let the pot gently simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until the pasta is tender and the liquid is thick and saucy. Stir frequently as it simmers to make sure the pasta does not stick to the bottom of the pot.
  • Once the pasta is tender, add the shredded cheddar and stir it in until melted. Serve hot.

Notes

*This chili powder is a blend of mild red chiles and other spices. Some brands may contain spicy cayenne, so just be aware of whether your chili powder is spicy or mild.
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Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingCalories: 400.38kcalCarbohydrates: 74.7gProtein: 19.29gFat: 3.89gSodium: 921.28mgFiber: 15.18g
Nutritional values are estimates only. See our full nutrition disclosure here.

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Overhead view of a bowl full of vegetarian chili mac and cheese

How to Make Vegetarian Chili Mac and Cheese – Step by Step Photos

Sautéed Onions and Garlic in a large pot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Begin by dicing one yellow onion and mincing two cloves of garlic. Sauté the onion and garlic with 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large pot over medium heat until the onions are soft and transparent (about 3 minutes). Make sure you’re using about a 5 qt pot because this makes a large batch. 

Chili powder and flour added to the pot

Add 2 Tbsp chili powder and 2 Tbsp flour. This is a mild chili powder, which is a blend of mild red chiles and other spices. Some brands may have some cayenne pepper (spicy) in the blend, so just be aware of what type you have and how much you’re adding. I use McCormick, which is 100% mild. If you have a mild chili powder and WANT spicy, you can add a pinch or two of cayenne pepper.

Toasted Chili Powder and Flour in the pot

Continue to stir and sauté the flour and chili powder with the onions and garlic for about two minutes more, or until it begins to coat the bottom of the pot. This toasts the spices and flour and creates a roux, which helps thicken the sauce later.

Tomatoes, Beans, and Corn added to the pot

Add one 15oz can diced tomatoes (not drained), one 15oz can each of kidney beans, black beans, and pinto beans (all drained and rinsed), and one cup of frozen corn kernels.

Broth and Tomato Sauce added to the pot

Also add one 15oz can tomato sauce and two cups vegetable broth. Stir everything to combine and to dissolve any flour and chili powder that have stuck to the bottom of the pot (you should be able to feel when the bottom of the pot is smooth).

Uncooked macaroni added to the pot

Finally, add 2 cups (or about 1/2 lb.) uncooked macaroni noodles and stir to combine with the rest of the ingredients. Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to medium high, and let the pot come to a boil. Stir every couple of minutes while it’s heating to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom.

Simmered Vegetarian Chili Mac, close up from the side

Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until the pasta is tender and the liquid is thick and saucy. Make sure to keep stirring every couple of minutes to prevent the pasta from sticking while it is simmering.

Simmered Chili Mac in the pot overhead view, wooden spoon in the pot

The chili mac is pretty good at this stage, but it’s about to go to the next level…

Shredded cheddar cheese added to the pot

Add one cup of shredded sharp cheddar. It’s important to use cheddar because cheddar melts into sauces very smoothly and does not get stringy the way other cheese, like mozzarella, would. It’s also important to get “sharp” cheddar because it’s tangier and more potent than mild or medium cheddar, which means you can use less and still get a good cheesy flavor in the whole pot.

Overhead view of one pot vegetarian chili mac and cheese in the pot with a wooden spoon

When the cheddar stirs in it will melt into the thick sauce and turn it all creamy and delicious.

Side view of vegetarian chili mac in the pot, with steam rising off the surface

This stuff is serious business. 

Close up overhead view of a bowl full of vegetarian chili mac and cheese

I can not say no to the Cheesy Vegetarian Chili Mac!

Close up overhead view of a bowl full of vegetarian chili mac with the title text in the top right corner.

Can you??

Cheesy Vegetarian Chili Mac - BudgetBytes.com Cheesy Vegetarian Chili Mac - BudgetBytes.com