Lentil Veggie Mac & Cheese

Let’s talk about mac and cheese for a minute. Growing up, I pretty much lived on the stuff. And by stuff, I mean this:

I ate it all.the.time. In fact, I ate it all the time up until about 3 years ago. And then I stopped eating it for a while. AND THEN, a funny thing happened. I bought a box, made it just like I always did, and hated it! It didn’t taste good anymore….it was bland and boring and all around gross. Weird, right?

Anyways, ever since then I’ve been on a quest to make some mac and cheese of my own. I’ve had several failed attempts where I tried to make it “too healthy” and it just wasn’t even worth eating. Until this week. This week I got it right.

Is this the healthiest dinner I could ever eat? No.
Is it terribly unhealthy? No.
Is it approximately one million times better than the boxed version. You betcha!


This vegetarian Lentil Vegetable Macaroni and Cheese is healthier than the boxed version and easy enough for even the newest cook!
It’s packed with veggies and lentils! Some of you might think lentils are gross. I’m kinda with ya on that one. I’d never eat just a spoonful of plain lentils. But here’s the thing about lentils. I’ve noticed lately that if I put them IN things that already have lots of other things in them, I don’t even notice they’re in there. Like my lentil veggie soup last week….and the lentil veggie mac and cheese this week. They’re just kinda there, leading a bland existence and taking on the flavors of the stuff you eat them with…but at the same time they’re a great source of protein and fiber. SOOOO, that’s a win in my book! If you don’t like lentils, you could substitute another source of protein like chicken if you eat meat, or canellini beans. You can use whatever kind of vegetables you want. I used red pepper, sweet potato, carrots and onion. I also made mine extra spicy with lots of cayenne pepper :)

Lentil Veggie Mac & Cheese

by Lindsay L

Prep Time: 20 min

Cook Time: 15 min

Keywords: saute bake side entree vegetarian healthy


Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 3 cups mixed vegetables, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 c pasta, uncooked
  • 1 c white cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 oz goat cheese
  • 1 c Skim milk
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 1/2 c lentils, cooked
  • 2 c fresh spinach


1. Cook pasta according to package directions and set aside.
2. In a medium pan, saute vegetables and garlic until tender. Remove from pan and set aside.
3. In the same pan, melt butter, then stir in flour.
4. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly to remove the lumps.
5. Add the cheese and spices and stir until melted.
6. Stir in the veggies, lentils and spinach and stir for 2 minutes while spinach wilts.
7. Add the pasta, stir to combine and heat through. Serve warm

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This vegetarian Lentil Vegetable Macaroni and Cheese is healthier than the boxed version and easy enough for even the newest cook!

This vegetarian Lentil Vegetable Macaroni and Cheese is healthier than the boxed version and easy enough for even the newest cook!

This vegetarian Lentil Vegetable Macaroni and Cheese is healthier than the boxed version and easy enough for even the newest cook!
There you go, friends! Enjoy :)



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 looks absolutely delicious and I can’t wait to try it! Always looking for a healthier mac n’ cheese.
    Bridget recently posted..Kelly’s (not-so) Counterculture Kale Salad

  2. Very interesting! I never thought of putting lentils in Mac n cheese. Brilliant!
    Boxed Mac n cheese has always freaked me out. Powdered day glo “cheese” is just not right.
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..Get Bikini Ready! Total Body Workout

  3. Im in.
    Im not a sneaker :) so I need to know if my girl (and husband!!!!) will eat this.
    Miz recently posted..Join me in exercising *less*?

  4. Ooh I like this idea!! I’ve never cooked with lentils before. I’m guessing you just follow the directions on the box to cook them?
    Kristen @ notsodomesticated recently posted..I could really use a better knife.

  5. i totally just made this on monday but used quinoa mac and cheese and added avocado.. AMAZING!
    lindsay recently posted..Adventurous “Bites”

    • Mac and cheese with avocado!? I’m drooling!

      I happen to love lentils and this is a fun, new way to use them! Thanks for the fabulous idea!

  6. I was definitely a Kraft hater when I was a kid, I LOVED the Velveeta Mac and Cheese! But now I HAVE to try this recipe…PINNED!
    Gina (The Candid RD) recently posted..I Got the Moves Like Alton (Scrambled Eggs, Alton Brown Style)

  7. This sounds wonderful, Lindsay. I’ve got to try it. I personally Could eat a spoonful of lentils. I grew up with my Gram making them all the time.Thanks for the recipe!
    Fran@ Broken Cookies Don’t Count recently posted..E Is For Ele

  8. Mmm… veggie mac & cheese, sounds pretty fantastic! I bet if you used red lentils, they would dissolve into the cheese cause completely and no one would be the wiser.

  9. YUM! I’m a sucker for lentils and this sounds like a great alternative that is so much healthier! I can’t wait to try it! Do you like daal? A lot of times people like the lentil dishes of India more than anything else :)
    Aparna B. @ Not A Leaf recently posted..[Captioned] WIAW [From Mon and Tues] – #11

  10. I, on the other hand, absolutely adore lentils and would love this less if they weren’t in there :) Wonderful recipe!
    Kiri W. recently posted..Blog Swap – Easy Potato-Leek Soup With Amanda From The Red Table

  11. Oh my gosh. this looks so good! I give you major props for using such a small bowl. When I make it (much less healthy than yours btw), I end up eating a WHOLE dish of it – cheese OVERLOAD!!
    Michele @ nycrunningmama recently posted..Ironman 70.3 Texas

  12. Oh Em Gee. LOVE!! I happen to love lentils so this is right up my alley – totally TOTALLY trying this!! Ps. I wonder if you could sub the pasta for spagetti squash and try to recreate it that way?? Hmmm, I may have to play around with this one ;-)
    Jess recently posted..On gettin’ ‘er done

  13. Oh awesome recipe. My hubby could eat the boxed mac n cheese every day. When I’m out of town, he gets super excited that he can eat that LOL. He does add in frozen veggies though ;-)
    Heather (Where’s the Beach) recently posted..Street to Sweat #PROOF

  14. this looks delicious! i never thought of adding lentils to mac & cheese. yum!
    Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chef recently posted..Pineapple-Apricot Teryaki Chicken

  15. What a great way to sneak in some veggies & lentils! I am looking forward to trying this – I’m a HUGE mac n cheese fan!
    Andrea @ Vegvacious recently posted..Happy {Short Week} What I Ate Wednesday!

  16. I really need to try this out. Lentils scare me, but mixed with some mac and cheese, i think I can handle them!
    Mattie @ Comfy and Confident recently posted..The Perfected Protein Pancake

  17. Great job with the photos, lady, that looks delicious! Just pinned :)
    Ericka @ The Sweet Life recently posted..Got My New Shoes On

  18. A girl after my own lentil heart! YUM!!! I wonder what the calories are, have you calculated at all? I can do it myself, just curious ;-)
    jobo recently posted..On marriage: never sliding into complacency

  19. I love this! I made lentil soup on the weekend and precooked too many lentils, so I have leftovers. I think I know what I’m going to do with them now :)
    Yellow Haired Girl recently posted..A Little Bit Of Heaven

  20. I love lentils and I think this sounds amazing! I might even add more lentils to the mix. :)
    Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table recently posted..Edamame and Jicama Salad

  21. i havent made mac and cheese in FOREVER!! i think the last time i did i made kraft (duh) with hot dogs haha…very classy, healthy dinner. i should try some healthier mac and cheese though…great recipe thanks!
    amy@healthyhungryhappy.com recently posted..Lightened Up Zucchini Bread

  22. I used to love velveeta shells and cheese!! Oh, and Ramen noodles- disgusting! I’ve never made mac n cheese with lentils. How cool. Thanks for the foodie penpals email. I already got my list of likes/dislikes from my pal and am ready to go!
    Miriam @ Bellaspire recently posted..The Lunge Mile

  23. Emily @ Glitz Glam Granola says:

    As someone who also grew up on the Blue box (though I only liked the powdered cheese variety) you have know idea how excited I am for a healthy-ish version! This looks delicious and I think is the perfect use for the lentils sitting in my fridge!
    Emily @ Glitz Glam Granola recently posted..Thai Sweet Potato Soup

  24. i love homemade mac & cheese! i always try mixing in different cheeses and veggies. roasted veggies are my favorite to add. and it’s ALWAYS served on top of a big bowl of spinach!
    sarah @ sarah learns recently posted..veg out

  25. Carolynn says:

    Oh my goshhhh I can’t wait to try this!! Sounds so delish. I used to love the boxed Mac and cheese, too but it’s positively gross to me now. Thanks for the recipe :)

  26. Oh boy that looks so tasty! And it’s good to know that the lentils take on the flavor because I’m not a huge fan of them haha.
    Lindsay @ In Sweetness and In Health recently posted..Food Diary

  27. That looks so good! I wonder if I could make it with gluten-free pasta?
    Carissa recently posted..Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal

  28. I lived on mac and cheese too, and then easy in college. I had a similar experience where I bought a box of Aunnie’s and it was blehh.
    This looks really great! This looks really great. My bf and I love lentils a lot actually. We actually would eat a spoonful of lentils.
    Ashley @ Freckles & Spice recently posted..Flying Time + {Belated} March Foodie Pen Pal

  29. I kind of love lentils. Does that make me bland!?! I hope not. I just made some delish baked mac and cheese the other day…I made it super creamy with laughing cow garlic cheese wedges and then topped it with some panko bread crumbs. Why is mac and cheese so good and so…versatile?!
    Talia @ Bite Size Wellness recently posted..Fiddlehead Ferns: A Vegetable with Character

  30. girl. YUM! I love making homemade mac n cheese. uhhhhasdfasdjf!! so flipping good. i grew up on boxed mac n cheese as well. Not gonna lie, was a huge fan of the KRAFT shaped mac n cheese. I still swear it tastes different than the regular stuff…

    I’m with you 100% on the lentils. Not a huge fan, but you can hide them very well in things! :)
    Charlotte recently posted..7 Day CLEANSING Detox

  31. I have been looking for something to add to my baked mac and cheese. This is a marvelous idea!
    Alison~wifemeetslife recently posted..10 Things I Love about Easter

  32. Hmm not really anything unhealthy about this. It’s all real food!

    I used to live on mac and cheese too. Homemade is so much better :)
    Matt @ The Athlete’s Plate recently posted..A Foolproof Way To Hard-Boiled Eggs

  33. drooling!! Making this ASAP!
    Amy recently posted..Catching Up

  34. Sounds great. Cayenne is so good with creamy/cheesy stuff. I have lentils that I need to use. This one bag of dry lentils is lasting me the rest of my life.
    StoriesAndSweetPotatoes recently posted..Things I Might Literally Die Without

  35. oh yum! love the addition of the lentils!
    Pure2raw twins recently posted..no more bodyrock

  36. Even though I could not eat this without a side of Lactaid, I appreciate the lentil-sub or “sneak” idea. I first started trying this out with tomato sauce instead of using meat, and I LOVED the texture.
    Sarah @ The Smart Kitchen recently posted..Alphabetical (Dis) Order

  37. Yum!! I definitely love this idea–and I’m a huge lentil fan as it is. ;)
    Tara @ Chip Chip Hooray recently posted..Peanut Butter Raisin Oatmeal

  38. This is totally healthy, and a one-dish meal. Love the idea!
    Claire @ Live and Love to Eat recently posted..I Don’t Care If I Ever Get Back

  39. I <3 mac & cheese. I need to try this!

  40. this sounds DELICIOUS! i can’t wait to make it!
    Julianna @ Julianna Bananna recently posted..Disneyland Recap! {WIAW}

  41. I actually really like lentils but only usually add them to soup. This looks amazing & I’ve been craving it ever since I saw it in IG :)

  42. Hey Lindsay…I’m meal planning and writing a grocery list for the week and would like to make this! Couple of questions though since I know you’ve made it many times :)
    Almond Milk should be fine to use instead of skim, correct?
    Frozen mixed veggies–yay or nay?
    If I don’t use goat cheese and just use more cheddar in it’s place will that make a big difference do you think?
    Danica @ It’s Progression recently posted..workouts 11/18 – 11/24


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