Hidden Vegetable Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese in a meal prep container

Hidden Vegetable Mac and Cheese

This Mac and Cheese is macro friendly with 50 grams of protein and is full of nutrients from vegetables hidden in the cheese sauce. The sauce is made up of carrots, cauliflower, milk, and cheese.
PREP TIME
30 Minutes
COOK TIME
30 Minutes

Per Serving – Makes 6

596 Calories

54g C | 50g P | 20g F

How to Make Hidden Vegetable Mac and Cheese

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Mac and cheese in a meal prep container

Hidden Vegetable Mac and Cheese

4.62 from 102 votes
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: American, meal prep
Keyword: chicken, free, freezer friendly, gluten free, meal prep
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 596kcal
This Mac and Cheese is macro friendly with 50 grams of protein and is full of nutrients from vegetables hidden in the cheese sauce. The sauce is made up of carrots, cauliflower, milk, and cheese.
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Ingredients

  • 2 lbs (908 g) boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 12 oz (340 g) macaroni noodles gluten free if needed
  • 1 lb (454 g) frozen cauliflower
  • 3 medium (300 g) carrots
  • 1 tbsp (15 g) oil
  • 8 oz (227 g) cheddar cheese block is best
  • 2 cups (480 g) pasta water
  • cups (360 g) 2% milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • any other seasoning you like is optional

Instructions

For the Vegetables

  • Wash and cut your carrots into smaller pieces so that they roast quicker.
  • On a lightly oiled sheet pan, place the carrots and frozen cauliflower. Drizzle over 1 tbsp of oil and lightly season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
  • Roast at 425°F (218°C) for 20-25 minutes, flipping half way through.

For the Chicken

  • Trim the excess fat and skin from the chicken and either cut or pound the chicken so that is even in thickness throughout. I shoot for about ½" in thickness.
  • Season both sides lightly with salt and pepper and place onto a sheet pan. Place into the oven at 425°F for 15 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165°F.
  • Once the chicken has finished, allow it to rest for 10 minutes before cutting it into a very small dice.

For the Macaroni

  • Cook the macaroni according to the packaging. Shoot for just past al dente on the doneness. Reserve 2 cups of the pasta water for your cheese sauce. Be sure not to use too much water in your pot. Too much water will dilute the starchy pasta water that we will use to thicken the sauce later.
  • Once cooked, rinse and store in cold water to stop the cooking process until you are ready to use later.

For the Cheese Sauce

  • NOTE: If you wanted to add a bit of mustard powder, paprika, or another spice you could certainly do that. I like to personally keep it to salt and pepper but you should make it how you like it. Using a blend of different cheese can also add layers of flavor if you don't mind buying a few blocks of cheese.
  • Shred your block of cheese using a box grater or food processor.
  • Once the vegetables have finished roasting, place them into a blender with 2 cups of pasta water, cups of milk, and about ⅘ of all of the cheese you just shredded. Blend on high speed for 30-60s or until smooth.

For the Mac & Cheese

  • In a 13"x9" baking dish, pour about half of the cheese sauce into the bottom.
  • Drain the water away from your macaroni and dump the noodles into the pan.
  • Add in the chopped chicken and pour the remaining cheese sauce over the top.
  • Stir to evenly distribute the cheese sauce and give it a taste test. Adjust with salt and pepper to taste. Mix again if necessary.
  • Top the dish with the remaining shredded cheese and place back into the oven at 425°F for 10 minutes to brown the cheese and thicken the sauce. For the last two minutes, I like to turn the oven to broil to help the cheese brown.

Plating

  • This recipe makes 6 servings. Cut the dish into 6 equal portions and place into each meal prep container. Top with chopped parsley for a garnish if you wish.

Nutrition

Calories: 596kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 50g | Fat: 20g

NUTRITION INFO

The information in the following table are estimates for the total nutrition of the recipe, as written.  If you follow the recipe listed above, as written, you can use these tables to determine the nutrition information if you wanted to split the recipe, as written, into more or less servings than what is originally listed.  If you update the number of servings in the “Servings” field of the recipe above, the information in these tables are no longer accurate as you have updated the ingredients.

Servings
Carbs
325g
Protein
302g
Fat
120g
Calories
3588 cals

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This Post Has 35 Comments

  1. Bradley

    Is there anything different you would need to do to fresh cauliflower if you can’t find frozen?

    1. Joey

      Just buy fresh one, cut them down to small pieces. Remove excess stalk et voila.

  2. Shawn H

    5 stars
    Delicious and healthy!

  3. Porter

    Really tasty, threw a couple jalepenos in with the carrots and cauliflower, nice little bump of heat for any spice lovers out there

  4. Matt

    5 stars
    Made this tonight, and it was really good. Ended up using unflavored oatmilk instead of of 2% and used some gluten free rice pasta shells. Ended up accidently pouring the pasta water out and had to substitute chicken broth for the 2 cups of pasta water (hoping it was an OK equivalent).

    Ended up tasting really good. I want to try a jalapeno version like Porter said!

  5. Nave Amitay

    5 stars
    Big vibes

  6. Andreas

    Add nutmeg, smoked paprika, and dry mustard to the sauce and lots of salt and pepper.

    And I also roasted 3 big Anaheim or poblano peppers. Tbh I had no idea what they were other because they were written in Chinese and noone spoke enlgish in the grocery.

    The sauce actually makes a really killer soup if you don’t add it to the macaroni.

    The flavour is good, it was alot of cleaning and prepping but I’ve been eatting the firecracker beef and Brussels for 2 months straight for lunch and dinner so I don’t mind the change.

    Down 30 pounds. My bank account is larger. Thanks man. I can’t believe I waited until I was in my 30s to realize the power of meal prep.

  7. Brent Movson

    3 stars
    For a healthy version of mac n cheese I would say it is a keeper in the cookbook

  8. Rachel

    5 stars
    Wow! This recipe is fantastic. Would love to see an alfredo take on it, when you get a chance (or anything else you can think of!)!

    1. Chris Gerstorff

      Joshua Weissman did a cauliflower alfredo that looks really good.

  9. Dylan Sanchez

    I did not expect this to turn out as good as it did! thank you for your meals, they have been a big help in my weight loss journey 🙂

  10. Daniel Jones

    5 stars
    I know you don’t like broccoli but I do, so I substituted the cauliflower with it. The sauce came out looking like a baby poop color. It didn’t look good but it tasted pretty damn good.

  11. Vivienne Manning

    5 stars
    I made this exactly as written other than adding a small amount of mustard to the sauce. It is absolutely delicious and I will definitely make again.

  12. Sean

    I skip adding the 2 cups of starch water and add Buffalo sauce. Very good that way

  13. Collin Cockerham

    5 stars
    Just sat down and ate this for the first time and I must say I think this is one of your best yet. This will be a go to for meal prep moving forward. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Nik

    Roasted 2lbs of thinly sliced tofu in the over and then chopped it up small as I’d already had a pretty chicken-heavy week. It turned out awesome, with the sauce providing all the flavour you really need. It also felt extremely thin in the blender but I think that was the amount of air worked in. It settled down in the over. Still, if you have super large chunks of cauliflower that retain a lot of moisture you might not need as much water.

    This is a fantastic recipe that’s going in my rotation for sure. Hard to overstate how great it is to mow down a giant serving of cheesy pasta that’s still macro friendly.

  15. Rhydian Dunne

    Can I replace the cauliflower with broccoli?

  16. Erik Fazio

    Tastes great. Would recommend a little less of the pasta water. Sauce Came out a bit watery

  17. Abby

    Could you use these cheese sauce like a nacho cheese?

  18. Santiago Hernandez Jr

    5 stars
    This was great, I fixed this a few nights ago but I went heavy handed with the cauliflower so the cheese sauce was a little thicker than I would have liked, my own fault though, thank you for sharing this recipe.

  19. Victoria Madaffari

    5 stars
    Filling Mac and cheese??!! Yass!
    My toddler loves Mac and cheese. But like most toddlers he won’t eat it or anything if it has veggies or meat on top. He likes veggies, he likes fruit, he likes meat, but don’t combine them!! 😳 I was so happy when I saw him sit down with his bowl and take a bite, then another then another!
    Undercover Mac & Cheese FTW!

    I didn’t have cauliflower in the freezer. But I have tons of other veggies. I used [frozen] purple carrots & broccoli, and from the garden, cherry tomato’s & a few jalapenos.
    It really needs to be blended in a blender to get the smooth cheese sauce texture. I tried it in the food processor and it just wasn’t right. Delicious! I am so glad I saw your yt short of this recipe and found this website. We really need to eat better in our house. Thanks You!

  20. Sarah R

    5 stars
    I wasn’t sure how I felt about this at first since it’s obviously different from its indulgent original. The macros are great, the portion size is generous, the vegetables aren’t noticeable, and it’s freaking macaroni and cheese. This was a great take on a healthier version of a classic comfort food. Thanks as always, Josh. Now if you’ll just come and wash up all of these dishes, I’ll be set. 🙂

  21. Samuel Gonzalez Jr

    5 stars
    I know it’s already been said before but THIS IS AMAZING! I am a pasta guy, and i must say, I was very skeptical about this recipe. But boy is it amazing! Better than some other Mac and cheese recipes that aren’t macro friendly. Thank you so much Josh!

  22. Liam Newman

    4 stars
    This is nothing short of incredible! Perhaps it’s the Brit in me, but this is even better with mustard, only a tablespoon of English/Dijon sends this to the moon! I hate veg so this is brilliant!

  23. Peter Berkvens

    3 stars
    The word ”hidden” implies that the vegetables in the sauce are masked by the cheese flavour, but this was not the case for me as it ended up tasting like cauliflower only so that was disappointing. I might make this again with a different vegetable, so if anyone has suggestions please reply.

  24. Ro

    5 stars
    I added some nutritional yeast to the sauce, added lots of cheesy/umami flavour. Turned out wonderful. I’ll probably add some jalapenos to the veggie tray like another user suggested, that sounds wonderfu!

  25. Dylan Smith

    5 stars
    thank you for hiding disgusting vegetables so well. highly suggest dicing everything except the noodles into the tinest little bits for smooth cheese romance. go ahead and add some jalapenos and sriracha like i did if you wanna slow dance with some simmering heat. i heard this recipe was nominated for a Nobel Prize and i can see why.

  26. Geddon

    5 stars
    Love this recipe :3 I made a pesto version with this! I used frozen riced cauliflower, 1.5 cups of basil (the seasoning kind is fine), a whole bag of spinach and garlic paste. Garlic cloves are best but all I had was the paste.

    Roasted the cauliflower and spinach and performed the rest of the recipe per usual. I blended the sauce bit by bit (milk/garlic/basil first, the cauliflower/spinach mix second and the cheese (mozz) last, making sure to stir in between) and it came out smooth.

  27. Adam Kerr

    5 stars
    Great recipe, recommend it to everyone!

  28. Ed Wilhelm

    5 stars
    Had to use a winter blend as they only had a cauliflower/broccoli bag in the frozen aisle, too lazy to get a head of cauliflower and chop it. Ended up using two baking dishes to fit it all which is alright. Been wanting to make this for a while now, turned out awesome. I don’t expect it to taste like the less healthy official mac n cheese, love it nonetheless.

  29. Amanda

    5 stars
    Excellent recipe – made this tonight at supper and it was a hit all around. Added some Buffalo sauce on top which really set it off!

  30. Mason

    5 stars
    This was really tasty!
    Note I did add about a teaspoon of smoked paprika, a little under half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, some chicken stock and a handful of nutritional yeast flakes in making the sauce. Used a vitamix to blend it, real saucy.
    Would never have thought to make this on my own though, thanks!

  31. Ryan

    5 stars
    For my first go around I made the following changes: no fat cottage cheese instead of milk. Less pasta water to compensate. Used 8 Oz Banza noodles. (After this batch may try 2 packs of noodles to see if i 16oz is a better proportion)

    The sauce was thick and creamy from the bleder for me and the changes should skew toward more protein. I’m loving the flavor, color and the amount of sauce this makes!

  32. Spencer Jordan

    Is the measurement for cooked noodles or dry?

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