Jump to Recipe Print Recipe

Macaroni is dressed in creamy dairy-free cheese sauce and topped with a coating of crispy panko breadcrumbs, smoky coconut bacon, and fiery jalapeño slices to make this spicy vegan jalapeño popper mac & cheese.

A few months after going vegetarian my husband accidentally ate some meat. A well-meaning coworker offered him a jalapeño popper. It had bacon in it. Oops.

I’d never heard of bacon being an ingredient in jalapeño poppers, but I guess when you’ve spent the majority of your life as a non-bacon eater, you miss a few things. My husband requested I come up with some kind of vegan jalapeño popper-themed recipe featuring bacon so that his little accident wasn’t all in vain. I’d already done a recipe for regular old vegan poppers, so I had to come up with something new. Popper mac it was.

Some good did come out of the bacon popper incident, because vegan jalapeño popper mac is the best thing ever. Pasta, spicy cheese, crispy breadcrumbs, coconut bacon, and of course, jalapeño slices all add up to magic.

The recipe is a little involved for mac and cheese. To a certain extent that’s unavoidable when you’re making vegan mac & cheese, because you’ve got to make the cheese out of something. For this particular recipe I went with a cheesy vegan sauce made from cashews, cauliflower and carrots. In the past I’ve used just cashews, but I actually like it better with the veggies. They add some body to the sauce and just a bit of savory flavor. Miso gives the sauce even more savory flavor, and hot sauce and nooch add up to lots of cheezy goodness.

But this recipe has a bunch more elements and steps, so I’ll say this: if you really don’t feel like dealing with making coconut bacon, roasting jalapeño peppers, and broiling the panko topping, then don’t! Even if you skip all that, just the pasta and sauce alone would make an awesome spicy vegan mac and cheese.

5 from 2 votes Print

Vegan Jalapeño Popper Mac & Cheese

Macaroni is dressed in creamy dairy-free cheese sauce and topped with a coating of crispy panko breadcrumbs, smoky coconut bacon, and fiery jalapeño slices to make this spicy vegan jalapeño popper mac & cheese. CourseEntree CuisineAmerican Prep Time 20 minutes Cook Time 25 minutes Total Time 45 minutes Servings 6 Calories 551 kcal Author Alissa Saenz


  • 4jalapeño peppers,sliced (or use as many or as few as you like)
  • 1teaspoonolive oil
  • 10ouncesdried elbow macaroni pasta

For the Cheese Sauce

  • 2cupscauliflower florets
  • 1medium carrot,chopped
  • 1cupraw cashews,soaked in water 4-8 hours and drained
  • 1cupunflavored and unsweetened soy or almond milk
  • ¼cupnutritional yeast flakes
  • 2tablespoonswhite miso paste
  • 2tablespoonsvinegar-based hot sauce,Cholula works great. If you prefer something non-vinegar based like sriracha, just add a bit of vinegar to balance out the flavor.
  • Salt to taste

For Topping

  • ½cupcoconut bacon
  • ¼cuppanko breadcrubs
  • Chopped scallions
  • More hot sauce


  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the jalapeño slices into a medium bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon of olive oil to coat. Arrange the slices on the baking sheet in an even layer. Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 15 minutes, until the peppers are softened and browned in spots.
  2. While the peppers bake, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions, then drain the pasta into a colander. Return the pasta to the pot and toss it with a bit of olive oil to avoid sticking.
  3. While the pasta boils, make the cheese sauce. Place the cauliflower and carrots into a medium pot and cover with water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Allow to cook until very tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the veggies and place them into a food processor bowl with the rest of the cheese sauce ingredients. Blend until smooth, taste test, and adjust seasonings to taste. Add in a few of the baked jalepeño slices if you’d like some more heat (I used 4).
  4. Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir to coat.
  5. Optional: Transfer the macaroni to a baking dish or oven safe skillet and sprinkle the top with coconut bacon and panko breadcrumbs. Arrange the jalapeño peppers on top, then place everything under the broiler for a few minutes to toast the panko.
  6. Otherwise, just divide onto plates or into bowls and top each with panko, coconut bacon, and jalapeño slices.
  7. Sprinkle with scallions and drizzle with some extra hot sauce if you’d like. Serve.

Recipe Notes

If you’re making the coconut bacon at the same time as the mac and cheese, you can stick it in the oven right with the jalapeño slices—it cooks at the same oven temp!

Nutrition FactsVegan Jalapeño Popper Mac & CheeseAmount Per ServingCalories 551Calories from Fat 156% Daily Value*Fat 17.3g27%Saturated Fat 5.6g28%Sodium 377mg16%Potassium 671mg19%Carbohydrates 59.9g20%Fiber 7.1g28%Sugar 7.5g8%Protein 16.9g34%Calcium 50mg5%Iron 6.7mg37%* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.« Vegan Polenta PuttanescaVeggies & Dumplings Stir-Fry »

Sharing is caring!

I made this with a few tweaks to the sauce: 1 1/2 cups cooked carrots, zero cauliflower (too lazy to hit the store), and added the ol southern1/4 cup vegan mayo, and 1/8 cup Dijon mustard. I also used my air fryer at the same temps for the coconut bacon and jalapeños.
IT’S SO DANG GOOD. I’m so excited to devour this thing


  • I have tried recipes from your website before, and they are always hits. This, however, was a game changer. I am a bit grossed out by the texture of real cheese and even most imitation cheeses, and this felt nothing like it. It was creamy, full of flavor, and absolutely amazing! Probably the best vegan mac I’ve ever had. My non-vegan boyfriend even loved it! You deserve so much praise for this recipe, I would give it more than 5 stars if I could!


  • Hi, I’m Alissa! I’m a former attorney turned professional food blogger. I love creating vegan recipes with bold flavors!

    More about me →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *