Vegan Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese! Always in the mood for mac and cheese, and this awesome twist is packed with goodness!
This creamy and delicious oil free Vegan Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese is brimming with bold jalapeño popper flavors, but in cheesy pasta form. Topped with a crunchy panko bread crumb topping takes this mac and cheese to the next level of yumminess!
Whole Food Plant Based, Vegan, plant based, oil free, refined sugar free, no highly processed ingredients and gluten free.
Hi there, Ameera here!
Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese . . . yes, please!!!! We ate this creamy, spicy, delicious mac and cheese like a pack of hyenas! It’s soooo good!
Low in fat compared to most vegan Mac and Cheese dishes, this wholesome version packs wonderful flavors.
We hope your give it a try and love it too!
Tips for Success:
- Flavor Profile: This mac and cheese dish is coated with a creamy, pickled jalapeno flavored sauce.
- Frozen Cauliflower versus Fresh Cauliflower: You can use either fresh or frozen cauliflower. If using fresh cauliflower, cut pieces into small florets. We used frozen for convenience.
- Sauciness: You can control the “cheese” sauce to macaroni ratio by simply using 12 oz. of macaroni. If you want a little less sauciness, then use 14 oz. We used 12 oz. of elbow macaroni for an ultra-saucy experience.
- Cooked Macaroni: Shake off any excess water and allow to drain for a few minutes. Any lingering water that hangs onto the pasta will water down your sauce.
- Pickled Jalapenos: The ½ cup of pickled jalapenos (in the sauce) is measured before finely chopping. We do not suggest blending them in the high-speed blender with the sauce.
- Texture of the Chopped Pickled Jalapenos: Typically, pickled jalapeno peppers have a little bit of crunch to them. We can see how some folks might not enjoy that tiny bit of crunch in the mac and cheese dish. We had family members who loved that little bit of crunch, yet others who did not. We suggest chopping them finely. If you know that you are not going to enjoy that little bit of crunch from the pickled peppers, then you could potentially place them in the dish whole for the flavor (and easy identification) and push them aside when enjoying the mac and cheese. You don’t want to leave them out completely as they add amazing flavor. We did a kitchen test and left them whole. It was easy to identify them when plating individual servings and push them aside when eating the dish. We know that is a little unconventional, but it does work perfectly. Again, this recommendation (leaving them whole) is only for the individuals who think they might have textural issues.
- Pasta of choice: You can use your favorite pasta in this dish.
- Cashew Substitutes: You can try your typical substitutions like white beans, silken tofu, or other seeds and nuts with the understanding that the flavor and texture will change accordingly. We have not tested any substitutions.
- Low-Fat Dish: This dish was designed to be lower in fat than what you would typically find in a vegan mac and cheese recipe. Most recipes tend to use a lot of cashews. We used only 2 tablespoons (1/8 cup). Because it is lower in fat, you are not going to experience that endorphin rush associated with eating high-fat foods when eating this dish. It is very tasty for what it is, and that is a low-fat dish. We just want to make sure that our Readers recognize this when contemplating making this recipe. If you wish to make it more indulgent, increase the cashews.
- Flavor Builder: The flavors in this dish build on the palate. Taste test 3 times to allow the flavors to build before adding additional seasonings.
Leftovers and Freezing:
Leftovers will generally keep for 4-5 days in the refrigerator. Store in a covered container. Reheating can be done on the stovetop, oven, or in the microwave.
This dish can be frozen; however, it is best if served immediately after making or after refrigerating leftovers. Pasta does tend to get a little mushy after freezing.
Pantry Products Used:
- Vegetable Stock: We use Pacific Organic Low Sodium Vegetable Stock. We love this brand because it is Whole Food Plant Based compliant, as it does not contain MSG, has no oil, and does not contain any highly-processed ingredients.
- Tamari: We used San J Tamari Soy Sauce, Gluten Free, Reduced Sodium. You can substitute the tamari with reduced sodium soy sauce, Braggs Liquid Aminos, or Braggs Coconut Liquid Aminos.
- Dijon Mustard: We used Koops Dijon Mustard. Feel free to use your favorite Dijon mustard.
- Frozen Cauliflower: We used a 14.4 oz bag of Birds Eye Frozen Cauliflower Florets. Feel free to use your favorite frozen cauliflower. Or use fresh cauliflower florets.
- Hot Sauce: We used Frank’s RedHot Original Hot Sauce.
- Pickled Jalapenos: We used Mezzetta Deli-Sliced Tamed Jalapeno Peppers. Be sure to select a mild (“tame”) pickled jalapeno. Fresh jalapenos do not work as well. Note: Mezzettas has recently changed their packaging. Purchase the ones that are labeled ‘tame’ on the jar; however, note that they now use the word ‘medium’ for ‘tame’. We are guessing that folks complained since traditionally the word ‘tame’ means ‘mild’ and we all know that most jalapeno peppers are not mild. If you can’t locate pickled jalapeño peppers, you can make your own. See our Easy Refrigerator Pickled Jalapeños recipe.
- Panko Crumbs: We used Ian’s Gluten Free Panko crumbs for this recipe. If you do not need to be gluten free, feel free to use a panko bread crumbs of your choosing.
- Ume Plum Vinegar: We used Eden Ume Plum Vinegar. We get a lot of questions on ume plum vinegar. It is fairly inexpensive and adds amazing flavor. You can find it in most health food grocery stores. You can leave it out if you can’t find it, adjust your flavors accordingly. If you are concerned about purchasing this vinegar and you may not use it thereafter, let us assure you that we have plenty of recipes using ume plum vinegar.
- Sea Salt: Please adjust the sea salt based upon your family’s sea salt preferences and/or based upon dietary needs.
Kitchen Products Used:
- Stock pot to cook the pasta
- Stock pot to boil the potatoes and cauliflower
- High-Speed Blender
- Small casserole dish
We certainly hope you give this deliciousness a try.
If you try this flavorful mac and cheese, we would love to know if you enjoy it as much as we do! Please leave us a review! Post a picture on Facebook or Instagram and tag us! We would love to hear from you.Print
Vegan Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese
- Prep Time: 25 Minutes
- Cook Time: 15 Minutes
- Total Time: 40 Minutes
- Yield: 4-5 Servings 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop, Oven
- Diet: Vegan
This creamy and delicious oil free Vegan Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese is brimming with bold jalapeño popper flavors, but in cheesy pasta form.
- 1 – [ 14.4 oz. bag ] frozen cauliflower florets *
- 3 cups Russet potatoes, peeled, small dice
- 1/8 cup (raw) cashews *
- 1/3 cup unsweetened plain plant milk
- ½ cup low-sodium vegetable broth *
- ¾ cup water
- 2 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon ume plum vinegar *
- 1 Tablespoon hot sauce *
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard *
- 1 teaspoon reduced-sodium tamari *
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast (+/-)
Sauce Herb/Spice Ingredients:
- 2 Tablespoons dried minced onions
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon dried ground mustard powder
- ½ to 1 teaspoon sea salt (+/-) *
- 12 to 14 oz. elbow macaroni (or pasta of choice)
- ½ cup pickled jalapeno peppers, fine chop *
Crumb Topping Ingredients:
- ½ cup panko crumbs *
- 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt (+/-) *
- ½ cup pickled jalapeno peppers *
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Cook macaroni according to package directions to al dente, drain, rinse with cold water to remove any excess starch, shake well, set aside.
- Place the frozen cauliflower florets, diced potatoes, and cashews into a medium stockpot, bring to a boil, gently boil until fork tender (about 10 to 15 minutes). Drain off the water, then place them in a high-speed blender.
- In the meantime, place the Crumb Topping Ingredients into a small bowl, mix well set aside.
- Add all the Sauce Ingredients and Spice/Herb Ingredients into the high-speed blender with the cooked cauliflower, potatoes, and cashews. Blend on high until smooth and emulsified.
- Place the cooked pasta and chopped jalapeno peppers into a large bowl and pour the sauce over top, mix well to combine.Then place the mixture into a casserole pan, sprinkle the Crumb Topping over top and dot with pickled jalapenos. Place into a preheated 350 F oven, center rack, for 15 minutes.
*Please reference the blog post for Tips for Success, Pantry Items Used, Storage and Freezing, and Kitchen Products Used.
*Sea Salt: Please adjust the sea salt based upon your family’s sea salt preferences and/or based upon dietary needs.
*Serving: 4 to 5
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Hi there Linda,
We are so happy that you enjoyed this recipe! Thank you so much for your review.
-Ameera and Robin 🙂
Well this is just delicious!! I’m not sure how I came across this recipe, but I’m glad I did. I ended up with some extra sauce which would be tasty on broccoli.
Hi there Christabel 🙂
Yaaaayyy! We are so thrilled that you enjoyed this recipe. Thank you so much for sharing your awesome review with us. We appreciate you taking the time to write.
-Ameera and Robin 🙂