Quick Chili Mac and “Cheese”


Beth HillsonThis is a special guest post and chili mac recipe from Beth Hillson, author of Gluten-Free Makeovers. Beyond her blog and book, Beth wears many hats in the gluten-free community – – president of the American Celiac Disease Alliance, a volunteer advocacy group that works on celiac causes such as the FDA gluten-free labeling regulations; editor of a weekly e-newsletter for www.glutenfree.com; and food editor of Living Without Magazine specializing multiple food allergies including gluten, dairy, eggs, and nuts. 

When I was diagnosed with celiac disease 35 years ago, I went to culinary school to better understand how food was prepared.  I discovered I could remake the recipes so they were safe for my gluten-free diet.  As long as I maintained the ratio of ingredients in the original recipe, I could replace regular flour with gluten-free flour and the results were always delicious.

As food editor at Living Without Magazine, I am always thinking “substitution” when we make a recipe and these basic principles I discovered 35 years ago still hold true.  We regularly replace the gluten, dairy and sometimes the eggs in our recipes with yummy results.

I think of myself as the champion of substitution these days. But truthfully, it’s mostly about knowing the ingredients to replace. For that I keep a running list of suitable alternatives. I know, for instance, that some butter alternatives contain casein while others are vegan and completely dairy-free. I know that these dairy-free butter substitutions can be cut and frozen to make flakier pie crust and cookies. And I can list the alternatives for milk in order of the ones with the highest protein – – Soy, Hemp, Almond, Rice, and Potato – – for starters.

When one of our readers contacts me with a lengthy list of ingredients they must avoid, I suggest that they make a list of the ingredients theycan have, too, and keep those in mind every time they want to make a recipe.  It’s empowering.  It makes them feel like the world is full of possibilities.  After all, the glass is not empty if you arm yourself with friendly substitutions.

Here is a recipe that has been a favorite with our readers, Quick Macaroni and Cheese. To be honest, I hadn’t tasted macaroni and cheese in many years. Gluten-free/dairy-free versions aren’t standard fare on restaurant menus and making it from scratch—well, let’s just say, it seemed like a lot of work. But this year I gave into my craving and headed to the kitchen to develop a gluten-free, dairy-free version of this universal favorite.

My goal was to make something fast, yet flavorful – – a mac and cheese full of creamy good taste without the time-consuming preparation. I had no desire to stir up a “cream” sauce or shop for ingredients. Instead, I used what I had on hand. Then I melded flavors (and saved time) by using the microwave.

The result? A wonderfully grown-up version of mac and cheese that speaks comfort. This chili mac is so delicious and easy to make, I wonder why I waited so long.

Dairy-Free Chili Mac and Cheese

Quick Chili Mac and “Cheese”
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This versatile recipe tastes even better the second day. To add a bit of fire, use hot sausage. For even more zip, stir in a small can of chopped green chilies. If you prefer a vegetarian version, omit the sausage or use a vegetarian sausage that’s safe for your diet.
Serves: 6 servings
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) dried elbow pasta or 3-4 cups (8-10 ounces) other gluten-free short pasta, uncooked
  • 3-4 hot or mild chicken, turkey or pork sausages*
  • 1-1/2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 cup gluten-free, dairy-free chicken stock*
  • 2 teaspoons Mexican or dairy-free Taco spice blend
  • 2-1/2 cups shredded dairy-free cheese substitute, divided (Daiya is a good soy-free option)
  1. Lightly oil a deep ovenproof dish (7-1/2x11-inch, 9x13-inch, or 9-inch round).
  2. Cook pasta in salted water for half the time specified on package. Pasta should be undercooked (slightly opaque but not brittle). Drain and transfer to prepared baking dish.
  3. While pasta is cooking, remove sausage from its casing and crumble into a well-oiled saucepan. Sauté meat until brown. Add corn, stirring to combine.
  4. Using a wooden spoon, gently fold meat mixture into pasta.
  5. Heat chicken stock in the saucepan until hot but not boiling. Add the spice blend and stir well. Remove from heat and add 2 cups cheese substitute. Stir until smooth and pour over pasta. Gently toss to coat.
  6. Top mixture with remaining cheese substitute. Cover dish with moist paper towel and microwave on medium-high for 5 minutes or until bubbly. Enjoy.
For a vegan / vegetarian dish, you can substitute in vegetarian sausages and "no chicken" broth.

For more of Beth’s recipes, check out her book, Gluten-Free Makeovers.

Gluten-Free Makeovers Cookbook by Beth Hillson

About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.


  1. Pingback: Surfing Saturday 10-6-12 | Elite Daily Diet and Fitness

  2. This mac and cheese looks creamy dreamy! So delicious. I also love the mentality of remembering what you CAN have rather than what you can’t.

Leave A Reply