Lentil Macaroni and Cheese

A childhood favorite kicked up a notch! This Lentil Macaroni and Cheese is packed with vegetables and lentils for a hearty vegetarian meal. 

A childhood favorite kicked up a notch! This Lentil Macaroni and Cheese is packed with vegetables and lentils for a hearty vegetarian meal.

Hi Friends!

Time for another second-look recipe. This Lentil Macaroni and Cheese is one of my absolute favorites. I first shared it on the blog back in 2012 and I’ve probably made it 100 times since then. What can I say? I love mac and cheese. Always have. Always will. Plain old mac and cheese will probably always be my favorite, but to make it a more complete meal, I’ve added lots of veggies and some extra protein to this version. I can easily make a batch and eat it for lunch or dinner several days in a row. So good.

A childhood favorite kicked up a notch! This Lentil Macaroni and Cheese is packed with vegetables and lentils for a hearty vegetarian meal.


I made a few tweaks to the original recipe and took some new pics so I thought I’d share it again! The best part about it is that it’s a very forgiving recipe so you can really vary it based on what veggies you have on hand, add extra cheese or a different kind if you want (I’ve been known to throw in some goat cheese!), throw in some meat or beans instead of or in addition to the lentils, etc.

Here’s how you make it.

4.0 from 1 reviews

Lentil Macaroni and Cheese
A childhood favorite kicked up a notch! This Lentil Macaroni and Cheese is packed with vegetables and lentils for a hearty vegetarian meal.

  • 1 cup pasta, uncooked
  • ¾ cup lentils, uncooked
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 cups mixed vegetables, diced (fresh, frozen or combination)
  • 5 oz frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed to remove excess moisture (or 3 handfuls fresh baby spinach)
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 5 oz cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper, optional

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Cook lentils according to package directions.
  3. While pasta and lentils are cooking, melt butter in a large saute pan. Add garlic and vegetables and saute for 10 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle vegetables with flour.
  5. Add milk and cheese and stir until well combined.
  6. Stir in cooked pasta and lentils, add spices and serve warm.

I usually make it with fresh spinach and think I like it slightly better that way, but frozen was all I had on hand this time and it worked just as well! If you don’t like spinach, leave it out all together. For veggies, I usually use fresh red peppers and onions and then add a couple cups of frozen mixed veggies. Broccoli, green beans, peas, carrots, etc are all great options. I’ve also added sweet potatoes.

A childhood favorite kicked up a notch! This Lentil Macaroni and Cheese is packed with vegetables and lentils for a hearty vegetarian meal.

If you’re feeling adventurous, check out my How To Sprout Lentils post and use those when you make it! If you don’t like lentils, sub your favorite protein – it’s a great way to use up leftover chicken or pork and I often add chicken sausage when I make it!

A childhood favorite kicked up a notch! This Lentil Macaroni and Cheese is packed with vegetables and lentils for a hearty vegetarian meal.

You get the idea. As you can see, this is just a base recipe. Put your own twist on it!


About Lindsay

Lindsay Livingston is a Registered Dietitian and new mom from Columbus, Ohio. On her blog, she shares simple, healthy recipes, nutrition tips, workouts and snapshots of her life. Follow her on Twitter @LeanGrnBeanBlog and Instagram @TheLeanGreenBean and be sure to subscribe via RSS or email so you never miss a post!


  1. This was the delicious meal that you were photographing the other day. Can I please hang out at your house? Love how you’ve added some health and color to an old time fav.
    Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted..Comment on The “What If” Weed by Jody – Fit at 57

  2. Whoa, I’ve seen spinach and broccoli mixed with the mac but never lentils- what a vego protein boost here! epic photos to boot 😉
    Arman @ thebigmansworld recently posted..Easy Couscous Paella

  3. We are big mac and cheese fans here too because it is so easy. There is no stress in making mac and cheese. This looks awesome!
    Hollie recently posted..It’s Not You…It’s Me…

  4. I possess a child who is 98.9839% mac and cheese.
    CARLA recently posted..40 Days of LESS (guest post).

  5. I like the sneaky lentil’s! Pinning and making soon!
    Angela @ happy fit mama recently posted..High Five Friday

  6. Ughhh so good. Mac n cheese will always be a favorite of mine too, and I love all the veggies you’ve added. Deeeeelicious!
    Erin @ The Almond Eater recently posted..Healthy Bananas Foster Donuts

  7. -Never- would have thought to add lentils to mac and cheese, but I’m loving the idea! Definitely blows the hot dog version out of the water :)
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted... thinking out loud #123 .

  8. this looks AWESOME! pinned for later!!!
    Linz @ Itz Linz recently posted..50-40-30-20-10 Workout

  9. Yum you are always SO creative in the kitchen! Thanks for sharing xo C
    Courtney Bentley recently posted..Booty Workout in the Park

  10. Lindsay I don’t know what inspires you but you are genius! So glad you remade this and shared the recipe because it’s way to smart. All my favorite ingredients (which I have on hand) and its Mac and cheese. Yum!!
    Sam @pancakewarriors recently posted..Ultimate Butt Workout

  11. I want this for dinner tonight. I love all the healthy veggies and fiber packed lentils added in for health and flavor. Yummy!!
    Katie | Healthy Seasonal Recipes recently posted..pork meatballs with sauteed cabbage

  12. Yum!! My boyfriend is obsessed with mac and cheese, so it’s fun finding a healthier version. I love pretty much anything with lentils, so I’ll definitely be trying this out :)
    Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl recently posted..How to Easily Remove the Peels from Canned Chickpeas

  13. This looks like such a good “use up the fridge” dinner! I have so many random veggies and cheese to use, I’m going to have to try this soon! Love your creativity always, Lindsay!
    Cassie @ Almost Getting it Together recently posted..Now Trending – Best Links Week of 3.23

  14. Ooo my favorite thing to do to boxed mac and cheese is adding veggies to it, whatever I have on hand. I actually did add lentil soup once. It looked kinda gross but tasted good! This looks much better however

  15. in the winter i so often find myself craving hearty pasta dishes like this. never thought to use lentils with pasta!
    kristin | W [H] A T C H recently posted..LONG RUN: VIETNAM

  16. Lovin’ the legume addition 😉

  17. This is one of the prettiest mac & cheeses that I’ve seen! And it looks so flavorful! Pinning and tweeting now :)

  18. Great recipe idea! I love taking recipes that I loved as a kid and adding extras and changing the ingredients to create a whole new healthy food item! I really love adding a bunch of vegetables to noodles and mac and cheese too! Thanks for sharing the great recipe, I will need to try this soon!
    Amanda Marie recently posted..{Blogging for Books}

  19. Yum! I often add white beans to my macaroni but haven’t tried lentils. Love how colourful it is.
    Jen @ pretty little grub recently posted..FYI Friday – What’s the deal with GMO’S?

  20. Yum! I love lentils, but the hubby doesn’t. This might get him to eat them though. 😉
    Tiff @ Love, Sweat, & Beers recently posted..Missing My Buddy

  21. Ohhh this looks so yummy!
    Erin @ Her Heartland Soul recently posted..Friday Five

  22. I’ve seen you posting this on your IG all the time– about time I made it for myself!! I am a huge fan of mac and cheese as well.
    Emily @ Zen & Spice recently posted..Cholesterol Update: What You Need to Know + The Fueled Athlete Ebook

  23. I think by the photo you used green lentils? Just curious, because red lentils would probably “hide” into the cheese sauce, but Green Lentils would probably add great texture. Either way – great recipe! I will definitley be making this – even though I have a 4 month old, I’m trying to test and save some “kid friendly” recipes!

  24. I just pinned this post… I don’t cook with lentils nearly as much as I’d like and I love that you turned a classic (and let’s be real–not always healthy) old favorite into a hearty and healthy meal :) Kudos!
    Charlotte recently posted..The Essential Trio: Jewelry That Men and Women Should Have

  25. So excited you posted this! I love how simple it is and the nice bit of extra protein from the lentils. Gorgeous pics too!
    Kaila at Healthy Helper Blog recently posted..Post Secret Live

  26. I would have never thought of pairing lentils with mac and cheese… I’ll admit, I’m intrigued! I bet I could even get the kids to try this!
    Jerusha T recently posted..Feeling Not So Fit Friday – A Check-In

  27. I am in love with how veggie filled this is! This is my kinda mac and cheese :)
    genevieve @ gratitude & greens recently posted..Smoked Sea Salt and Maple Almond Butter + The Health Benefits Of Almonds

  28. Thanks for linking up to this recipe over at #recipefriday! Pinning :)
    Kierston recently posted..#RECIPEFRIDAY: Easy Zesty Lemon Chicken Spaguetti…

  29. I am a Mac & Cheese lover too, and I think amping up the veggies and the protein in this casserole is fantastic. Genius idea, and the pics came out fantastic. Thanks for sharing.


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  2. […] Lentil Macaroni and Cheese via The Lean Green Bean. Loving this vegetarian version of a spruced up childhood favourite! […]

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