Spicy Southwestern Stovetop Dairy-Free Mac and Cheese


For Allergy Awareness Month, I’m focusing more on everyone-friendly recipes, like this Southwestern-inspired, dairy-free mac and cheese. It just happens to be vegan (with options for add-ins for everyone!), soy-free, nut-free, gluten-free, egg-free, and even mustard- and sesame-free for my Top 11-free Canadian friends.

Hungry yet? This versatile little recipe comes together so quickly on the stovetop, can be flavored up or down (we like our salt for more cheesiness!), and is delicious as is (a little savory, spicy and sweet contrast thanks to the corn and fresh bell pepper). But, it can be deliciously pumped up with your favorite Southwestern-style ingredients (see my notes in the recipe for suggestions).

Spicy Southwestern Stovetop Dairy-Free Mac and Cheese (Gluten-Free & Vegan, too!)Spice Tips: Though I label it as “spicy”, when made as is, this Southwestern-style dairy-free mac and cheese has a nice little kick that many kids will even enjoy. My husband and I aren’t fire breathers – our definition of spicy is probably just touching on medium heat for many. If you like a bigger zing in your dairy-free mac and cheese, feel free to double the cayenne, sauté a little chopped jalapeno with the bell peppers, add some diced canned green chiles just before serving, stir in a little of your favorite salsa, or add a few shakes of chili powder to the spice mix in the sauce.

Spicy Southwestern Stovetop Dairy-Free Mac and Cheese (Gluten-Free & Vegan, too!)This was originally a sponsored post for Vine Market, a Quidsi-Amazon company. But they are no longer around. Also, I’m sharing this recipe on the Gluten-Free Wednesdays Carnival at Gluten-Free Easily and at Allergy Free Wednesdays hosted on Whole New Mom.

Special Diet Notes: Southwestern Dairy-Free Mac and Cheese

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free (though you can use wheat-based macaroni, if desired), peanut-free, soy-free, tree nut-free, vegan, vegetarian and all-around top food allergy-friendly.

4.5 from 4 reviews
Spicy Southwestern Stovetop Dairy-Free Mac and Cheese
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
To our timid taste buds, this dairy-free mac and cheese has medium heat. For a bigger kick, see my tips in the post above. This recipe was adapted from my book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook.
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 8
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Do not rinse.
  2. While the noodles are cooking, add 1 cup milk alternative, ¼ cup oil, lemon juice, carrot, nutritional yeast, cornstarch, onion powder, salt, garlic powder, smoked paprika and cayenne to your blender, and blend until smooth. Add the remaining 2 cups milk alternative, and blend until smooth.
  3. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add bell peppers and sauté 2 minutes. Add corn, sauté 1 minute more. Pour in sauce mixture from blender and whisk as it bubbles until thickened, about 3 minutes.
  4. Season sauce to taste with additional salt (I often add ¼ to ½ teaspoon more), cayenne, and/or lemon juice, if desired.
  5. Stir in the cooked pasta until well-coated. Divide between bowls.
Some other fantastic add-ins include:
3/4 to 1 lb cooked, diced chicken
1/2 lb cooked chorizo (or vegan chorizo)
Diced green chiles (canned)
Diced jalapeno (cook in with bell pepper, optionally skip cayenne)
Sliced olives
Diced tomatoes
Salsa (tastes great stirred in)

About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Food 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, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.


  1. Thank you so much! My 1.5 year old loved this one and she is extremely picky. Sorry, I normally hate when people make a bunch of changes, but I only want to mention that it turned out great DESPITE the changes I made.

    I used pumpkin puree instead of carrots, halved the amount of pasta to 8 oz (was perfect amount), halved the veggies, kept the amount of sauce the same, added a little mustard because I ran out of lemon juice, only used paprika (no cayenne), and used flax oil. Whew.

    All that to say that it still ended up being the best Mac and “cheese” we’ve tried so far. It was fairly quick and easy too, which is a huge plus for me. Definitely will remake (properly next time). Thanks again!

    • Oops, I thought you said you can’t eat nuts – just read that again. You can get an equally delicious, though not as cheesy, result using ground cashews. It gives it more of a delicious, alfredo-like vibe. Add some miso and lemon juice to taste for more umami-ness 🙂

  2. What oil can I substitute for the grapeseed oil? I’m looking forward to trying this, but do not have the grapeseed oil and it isn’t in the budget for a while. Thank you!

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  4. Sorry if this is a duplicate post — my original comment didn’t show up.

    I made this recipe last week. It had a nice texture, but it was a little too bland for me. I would have added more spice (maybe some salsa, per the optional ingredients listed at the end of the recipe) and a big spoonful of miso, I think.

    Note to Amanda: Miso can be used as a substitute for nutritional yeast. They both add umami flavor. See this article for more information:


    • Hi Alex, thanks for your feedback! Great suggestion to Amanda on the miso. I’m a little surprised as it was far from bland for us (though this is a “mild” spicy) – perhaps our cayenne had a bigger kick! Definitely add in some salsa if you like more spice, and miso is an excellent cheesy addition. This recipe was created for food allergy awareness week, which is why I opted to not use miso (many of my readers have expressed difficulty in locating soy-free miso, though it does exist!). I wanted it to be a great top allergen-free option. For those who can’t use miso, additional salt and lemon as noted, to taste, add nice flavor and pungency.

      I don’t see your prior comment in here, it may have been caught in spam – I apologize for that!

  5. Is there a substitute I can use for the Nutritional Yeast? I am allergic to yeast (and nearly everything else you omitted which is wonderful!) and this is ALMOST the perfect recipe to cure my mac & cheese cravings without winding up in the hospital!

  6. I’m a huge fan of adding a little spice to everyday foods, and this fits the bill! I also love the idea of adding the bell pepper and corn in for some extra crunch, yum!

  7. My nephew would LOVE this! He’s not exclusively dairy-free, but my sister tries to keep dairy low in their household to prevent developing an allergy. Definitely passing this on to her!

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