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One-Pot Vegetarian Chili Mac

With tender macaroni and hearty beans in a cheesy chili-tomato sauce, this One-Pot Vegetarian Chili Mac is, basically, comfort food perfection. The fact that it comes together quickly and easy in a single pan is a bonus! We love this vegetarian chili macaroni – and I think (hope!) you will too.

When I tell you I’ve been working on this One-Pot Vegetarian Chili Mac recipe for YEARS, I’m not exaggerating! It’s not that vegetarian chili mac is a complicated recipe, it’s just that it took me a bit of time, moving away from it and coming back to it, and then finally several chili mac dinners over the past couple of years – to get it just right.

The result is a perfectly cheesy chili mac recipe that’s super hearty – and delicious! – despite its meatless status.

Table of Contents

The Story Behind the Recipe

Why You’ll Love This One-Pot Vegetarian Chili Macaroni

Vegetarian Chili Mac Ingredients


How to Make One-Pot Vegetarian Chili Mac

Tips for Success

More One Pot Pasta Recipes

Jump to the Full, Printable Recipe

Read Comments & Reviews

The Story Behind the Recipe

I created a vegetarian chili mac recipe over a decade ago for another website, and always wanted to circle back around to it, because something about it didn’t feel quite right. I felt like I used a bit too much chili powder to make up for the fact that it was a relatively quick recipe, and there wasn’t much time for the flavors to all develop. I also suggested cooking the pasta in a separate pan, which felt unnecessarily fussy.

So I added this one back into my “recipes I’m developing” folder, and over the past couple of years, I’ve been making vegetarian chili mac for dinner every few weeks, until I got it just right.

My first goal was to make this a one-pot chili mac without having to cook the pasta separately. I took a cue from Recipe Tin Eats’ chili mac recipe, where she cooks the pasta right in the pan with everything else, after browning the ground beef.

I added the broth and macaroni right to the pan, and, yay! Easy peasy vegetarian chili mac in one pot.

This method has bonus of time, which turns out to be a win-win. The extra 10 minutes or so that it takes the pasta to cook also allows the chili flavors to develop without having to go overboard on the chili powder. My first recipe called for 2 tablespoons of chili powder. This one takes more like 2 teaspoons. (I think it’s perfect this way, but if you want more chili powder, go for it!)

Why You’ll Love This One-Pot Vegetarian Chili Macaroni

Well, first of all, it tastes amazing! It’s hearty and a little spicy and cheesy. Total comfort food.

If you’re feeding meat-eaters, I’m willing to bet they won’t miss the ground beef that you find in traditional chili mac recipes. My resident meat-eater is a huge fan of this vegetarian chili mac. But I have provided an easy option to give this the one-dish-two-ways treatment, for half vegetarian chili mac and half with meat.

I use two cans of beans for some extra heartiness and protein, and I think that it’s the perfect pasta-to-bean ratio.

I’m willing to bet you’ll also love how easy this one-pot vegetarian chili mac is to make! The one-pan preparation is so satisfying, and half the time is hands-off. Just enough time to whip up a salad or easy veggie side.

Vegetarian Chili Mac Ingredients

Kidney beans – I use two cans of cooked kidney beans in this vegetarian chili mac. I like that they’re big and hearty and even a little – dare I say – meaty. I also feel like using two cans instead of one provides the perfect bean-to-pasta ratio.

Pasta – I like to use classic elbows in my chili mac, but other medium tubular pasta shapes work great too. Penne is great!

Crushed tomatoes – I prefer my chili mac without any chunks of tomatoes, but if you like it that way, feel free to sub in some diced tomatoes. Fire-roasted diced tomatoes would be great.

Veggie broth – I like to use low-sodium vegetable broth to better control my salt levels.

Onion & green pepper – These veggies add flavor and some nutrients. Win-win!

Garlic – Garlic + chili flavors = a must.

Oregano, chili powder, and cumin – The chili trifecta.

Cheese – I like to use sharp cheddar in my chili mac recipe. Feel free to use medium or mild if you prefer.

Salt & pepper – adjust to your liking.


Dietary Adaptations:

Vegan Chili Mac & Cheese – Leave out the cheese, or swap in a vegan cheese that melts well.

Meaty Chili Mac & Cheese – After sauteeing the veggies and garlic, add lean ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Continue with the recipe.

One Dish Two Ways – Cook 1/2 pound of ground beef in a separate skillet. Before topping your chili mac with cheese, move half of it over to the skillet with the ground beef. Top both with some cheese and serve.

Gluten-Free Vegetarian Chili Mac – Swap in your favorite GF pasta. Watch your cooking times as it may take a longer or shorter amount of time to cook. Splash in more broth if needed.

Ingredient Substitution Ideas:

Change up the beans: Feel free to use your favorite beans, or swap one can of kidney beans for another! I’ve used black beans, cannellini beans, and chili beans. All good!

Use whole wheat pasta: Sometimes I sub in a whole grain pasta for a heartier veg chili mac. Also excellent!

How to Make One-Pot Vegetarian Chili Mac

It’s simple! First, sauté your onion and green pepper until tender. Add the garlic and oregano, and sauté for another minute. Then, add the chili powder and the cumin and cook, stirring, until the veggies are coated and the dish is nice and aromatic.

From there, add the tomatoes, beans, veggie broth, and pasta. Cook until the pasta is tender, then add some of the cheddar cheese, stirring until melted. Top with more cheddar and scallions and cilantro if you like.

That’s it! I told you this One Pot Vegetarian Chili Mac was easy. 😊

Tips for Success

Add sugar if it’s tasting acidic: Some canned tomatoes are rather acidic; if you find your chili mac is tasting acidic, I recommend stirring in a teaspoon or two of granulated sugar or honey. Sounds weird, but it does an amazing job of taming the acidity and rounding out the flavors!

Add more broth if needed: If your pasta hasn’t cooked through but your chili mac is getting dry, splash in some more broth, a little at a time, until cooked through.

More One Pot Pasta Recipes

One-Pot Pasta Primavera

One-Pot Pasta Florentine

One-Pot Creamy Pumpkin Pasta

Vegetarian Pasta e Fagioli


One-Pot Vegetarian Chili Mac

This hearty, saucy, and cheesy chili mac is comfort food nirvana! It comes together quickly and easily in a single pan, perfect for weeknight dinners.
Course entree, Main Course
Keyword one pot chili mac, one pot vegetarian chili mac, one pot vegetarian chili mace, vegetarin chili mac and cheese
Prep Time 10 minutes minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes minutes
Servings 6
Calories 392kcal
Author Kare


1 large skillet


1 tablespoon olive oil1/2 medium yellow onion diced; about 1 cup1 small green bell pepper diced; about 1 cup2 medium garlic cloves minced1/2 teaspoon dried oregano2 teaspoons chili powder1 teaspoon ground cumin14 ounces crushed tomatoes 1 can2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth15 ounces kidney beans, drained and rinsed 1 can8 ounces elbow macaroni pasta 2 cups1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more to taste1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded


Set a large pan over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. When hot, add the onion and bell pepper along with a little pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and tender, about 7 minutes.
Add the garlic, oregano, chili powder, and cumin. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the crushed tomatoes, broth, beans, macaroni, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Stir well to combine.
Increase the heat to high, until boiling, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Cook, stirring frequently to keep the pasta from sticking, until the pasta is just tender, about 12 minutes. If the mixture gets very dry, splash with a little more veggie broth.
Remove from heat and stir one cup of the cheese, until melted. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired.
Cover with the remaining cheddar and place the lid on the pan to trap the heat and melt the cheddar, one minute or so.
Serve with cilantro, chopped scallions, and sour cream if desired.


Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat leftovers in a microwave or on the stovetop in a lidded pan with a splash of water. 

Vegan option:

Leave out the cheese, or swap in a vegan cheese that melts well.

One Dish Two Ways option:

Cook 1/2 pound of ground beef in a separate skillet. Before topping your chili mac with cheese, move half of it over to the skillet with the ground beef. Top both with some cheese and serve.

Gluten-Free option:

Swap in your favorite GF pasta. Watch your cooking times as it may take a longer or shorter amount of time to cook. Splash in more broth if needed.

Substitution Ideas:

Swap one or both cans of kidney beans for another. I’ve used black beans, cannellini beans, and chili beans. 

Use whole wheat pasta of GF pasta in place of the pasta.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 392kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 500mg | Potassium: 562mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 704IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 254mg | Iron: 4mg

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