One Pot Vegan Chili Mac

By Alexandra Caspero on September 21, 2020
One Pot Vegan Chili Mac! This one pot vegan chili mac is kid-friendly, hearty and delicious.
Serves 6


Vegan Chili Mac! An easy weeknight dinner for what has proven to be both the shortest and longest year ever.

Saying I love to cook would be an understatement, but even I’m struggling to find the energy to cook dinner every single night. I’m craving easy, simple, effortless meals that everyone in my family likes– which, with an ever increasing picky toddler, can feel like an uphill climb some days.

Really thankful then for this vegan chili mac! One part chili, one part noodles, one part cheezy deliciousness. This recipe has been a winner in my house by everyone, which deserves a major pat on the back. As an added bonus, it all comes together in one pot– which also makes cleanup and prep a breeze! 

vegan chili mac

How to make vegan chili mac

If you can boil water and open a few cans of beans– you can make this simple chili mac! I love that this recipe is packed with 9 different plants, which means plenty of fiber and plant-based protein, along with antioxidants, iron, vitamin C and zinc. Honestly, this is how I approach recipes these days: healthy enough for me and my husband and acceptable enough for Vander. 

I added in zucchini and mushrooms to this one– though they can be optional depending on time and preference. I love sautéed mushrooms in my chili as I think they really help to increase umami flavor. My son also refuses to eat both of these vegetables, but happily gobbles them down if they are tucked into chili mac. So– into the pot they go. 

vegan chili mac

From there we have three different types of beans: pinto, kidney and black along with corn for a subtle sweetness. My Wisconsin husband is always on team corn, so I usually add it to one-pot meals like this where they make sense. 

Bring to a boil, then add in your elbow noodles! Yes, you’ll cook them right into the pot of this vegan chili mac. Doing it this way means that you don’t need to cook noodles separately and cooking them in the chili adds so much more flavor. From there, it’s time to bring in the cheezy addition! I opted for plant-based cheeze shreds here as I wanted a weeknight meal where I didn’t have to bust out the blender or make my own cheese. 

 You can stick with your favorite shreds (I’ve been really into Violife lately), regular cheddar shreds or a DIY cheese sauce. My queso is delicious in this one — I happened to have both in the fridge one day and poured some onto the leftovers. AMAZING. 

vegan chili mac

What noodles work best?

As a dietitian, you’d probably expect me to say that whole-wheat noodles are preferable here– but both whole-wheat and regular white are good choices. Since this vegan chili mac already packs in 18g of fiber per serving, it’s OK if you prefer regular noodles over the few extra grams of fiber and protein in a whole-wheat version. 

To make this gluten-free, simply sub in gluten-free noodles. I often turn to the legume-based noodles and love them in this dish! Tolerant makes a really good green-lentil elbow that I think tastes good, and Ancient Harvest’s corn and quinoa pasta is pretty good too. 

I topped this with a little fresh cilantro at the end, and recommend doing so if you have it! 

one pot vegan chili mac

Can I freeze this vegan chili mac?

This recipe makes a lot! As I call for three different types of beans, I felt that it was easier to ask you to use the entire can rather than just a cup from each. Therefore, this recipe easily serves 6-8. 

The good news is that it makes for awesome leftovers. The bad news is that leftovers might not be your thing! Therefore, this chili mac is easy to freeze. I recommend placing it in a freezer safe container, then thawing in the fridge overnight before reheating. As some of the flavor is lost in freezing, I recommend stirring in a little more cheese and perhaps a bit more chili powder right before serving.

If you plan on freezing this, then I’d also recommend holding off on adding in cilantro to the entire pot and just garnishing the fresh portions. Cilantro can turn color as it freezes and while it still tastes great, the darkened color can be off putting. 

one pot vegan chili mac

If you make this recipe, let me know! Make sure to come back, leave a comment and rate it. Your feedback helps others and seeing you make my recipe makes my day. 

one pot vegan chili mac

One Pot Vegan Chili Mac

  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


One Pot Vegan Chili Mac! This one pot vegan chili mac is kid-friendly, hearty and delicious.

  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 15ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15ounce can corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 28ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 8 ounces elbow noodles (regular or whole-wheat)
  • 1 cup dairy-free cheddar shreds
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro


  1. In a large stockpan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add in the garlic, zucchini, mushrooms and cook another 10 minutes until the mushrooms have reduced and are slightly browned. Add in the chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, salt and cook another minute or two.
  3. Add in the pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans, corn, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, vegetable broth and elbow noodles and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to low, then cook until thickened and pasta is cooked through. Stir in the cheddar and cilantro until cheddar is melted into the chili.


I really like the Violife shreds for this (not sponsored) but any dairy-free (or regular) cheese will do.

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Plant-Based Chef and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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    1. Dana
      May 7, 2021 AT 4:35 am

      Is it possible to substitute nutritional yeast for the cheese?

      1. Alex
        May 7, 2021 AT 7:20 am

        I don’t see why not– but not sure of how much you would need to get the same flavor. Maybe start with a tablespoon or so and add from there?

    2. Tori
      December 3, 2020 AT 2:46 pm

      I’ve made this chili a couple of times and enjoy it every single time. I think it tastes amazing and is a great meal to have on hand (the recipe makes a substantial amount of food). I originally made it for my 2 year old…she did not eat it. Every time I eat it, I offer her some. No luck yet, but I’m going to keep trying. 🙂

      1. Alex
        December 3, 2020 AT 5:14 pm

        Glad you liked it, thanks Tori!

    3. Leslie
      October 26, 2020 AT 5:31 pm

      Delicious! Will definitely work its way into my regular meal rotation! Thanks for sharing.

    4. Dominique
      October 8, 2020 AT 8:00 pm

      this was delicious! And my 2 year old ate it, so that’s the real win.

    5. Erica
      September 29, 2020 AT 4:26 pm

      Made this tonight and it’s so delicious! Only substitute I used was regular cheddar rather than vegan. Both my husband (who is not vegan and can be picky sometimes) and my 10 month old loved it! We have leftovers for tomorrow night and I froze individual portions in an ice cube tray for my little one to make for quick lunches 🙂

      1. Alex
        September 29, 2020 AT 5:39 pm

        So glad you liked it!