Vegan Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese tastes like a jalapeño popper in pasta form! It’s ultra creamy, perfectly spicy and crave worthy.

looking down on a casserole dish of mac and cheese

Similar to my Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese and with flavors inspired by Jalapeño Poppers, this mac and cheese dish is incredibly tasty and will keep you coming back for more!

If you don’t like really spicy foods, don’t worry, the jalapeño spice is quite mild. If you want it spicier, you can leave some of the seeds in. My kids all enjoy it and they can’t handle a ton of spice.

spoonful of mac and cheese with a jalapeño slice from casserole dish

How to make it

(This is simply an overview, for full instructions and amounts see printable recipe at the bottom of the post)

  1. Soak your cashews, then make the cheese sauce in your blender. Set aside.
  2. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  3. Sauté onion, garlic and jalapeños in a small pan.
  4. Add drained pasta, cheese sauce and vegetables to the casserole dish, and stir. Sprinkle on panko topping and bake for 20 minutes. That’s it!

If you don’t want to bake it, you can omit the panko/vegan butter topping and simply add the cheese sauce and vegetables to a pot with the cooked pasta. Stir over medium heat until the sauce thickens, and serve!

showing whole white casserole dish with baked mac and cheese with jalapenos

Want more mac and cheese recipes?

square image of pan of mac and cheese with jalapenos

Vegan Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese

Vegan Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese tastes like a jalapeño popper in pasta form! It's ultra creamy, perfectly spicy and crave worthy.
5 stars (7 ratings)


Cheese Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca starch


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow or white onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 jalapeños, seeds removed and diced small

The Rest

  • 16 ounces elbow pasta
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter, melted


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 9x13 inch casserole dish.
  • Soak the cashews: Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Pour the hot water over the cashews and let soak for 5 minutes.
  • Make the cheese sauce: Drain the cashews and discard the soaking water. Add them to a blender along with 3 cups of fresh water, lemon juice, salt and tapioca starch. Blend until very smooth, and set aside. It will appear a bit watery, but that is right as it thickens while it bakes.
  • Cook the pasta: Cook the pasta according to package instructions, but one minute less. The noodles will continue to cook in the oven. Drain and set aside.
  • Sauté vegetables: In a small pan on the stove, sauté the onion, garlic and jalapeños in the olive oil for about 5 minutes, until softened. Remove from heat.
  • Add the drained, cooked pasta to the casserole dish. Pour the cheese sauce on top and add the vegetables. Stir to combine right in the dish.
  • In a small bowl, mix the panko breadcrumbs and melted vegan butter, then sprinkle the mixture on top of the pasta. Bake for 20 minutes until warm and bubbly, and the sauce has thickened. Do not over bake or the sauce will dry out. Enjoy!


  1. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, but it does not freeze well.
  2. Gluten free: Use gluten free pasta and breadcrumbs to make this gluten free. You could also use almond flour in place of the breadcrumbs.
  3. May omit the tapioca starch if needed, but it makes it slightly stretchy like melted cheese.
  4. I prefer to remove the seeds from the jalapeños as it would be super spicy if you included them. Cooking them with the onion and garlic tame the spice a bit as well.
  5. If you don't want to bake it, omit the panko topping and add the drained pasta back to the pot, along with the cheese sauce and vegetables. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens.


Serving: 1serving, Calories: 411kcal, Carbohydrates: 56g, Protein: 13g, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Sodium: 498mg, Potassium: 340mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 228IU, Vitamin C: 14mg, Calcium: 35mg, Iron: 3mg

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Read my full disclosure here