Mac Attack Series | Jalapeño Popper Mac

April 16, 2018 , In: Eat, Recipes , With: No Comments

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All of this cold “spring” weather has me craving hot and spicy foods, all day… every day. So today, I’m following up last week’s spicy Buffalo Mac and Cheese with an equally spicy jalapeño popper inspired mac and cheese!

“You’re going to wanna get jalapeño bowl of this mac and cheese.” – Me

The Origin

This recipe has been on my list of things to make for a few years. When I had my old blog, Tasty Kaiti’s, I created three gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches (one of them being the Mac Daddy Grilled Cheese featured earlier in this series). One grilled cheese was a jalapeño popper grilled cheese with Daiya Cheddar, Kite Hill Cream Cheese, and both raw and roasted jalapeños.

I love the combined heat and flavor that comes from the roasted and fresh jalapeños. And for this particular jalapeño popper mac and cheese, the addition of Kite Hill’s NEW Jalapeño Cream Cheese is the proverbial icing on the cake! Here’s a link to see if it’s near you… If you can’t find it, don’t freak out! See the Recipe Note for a simple swap.

The breadcrumb topping on this mac and cheese is completely optional. I personally think it adds the necessary crunch that you’d get from a deep-fried jalapeño popper.

That Jalapeño is so freakin’… good for you!

I’m a huge fan of spicy foods and after learning about how many health benefits I want them in every dish!

Did you know, the capsaicin (the spicy stuff) in jalapeños:

  • Helps improve circulation in the body.
  • Reduces inflammation throughout the body.
  • Is a bacteria fighter. It especially helps with bacteria that causes sinus headaches and migraines.
  • Increases metabolism, which can aid in weight loss.
  • Releases endorphins in the brain, creating a mild pleasant feeling in the body.
  • Is currently being studied for beneficial effects in treating allergic rhinitis.

I don’t know if I’m alone in this or not, but when I get a sinus infection, I crave spicy foods! Maybe it’s the combination of its inflammation reducing and bacteria fighting properties that help provide some relief.

Next week, I’ll be back with my ULTIMATE BBQ Mac and Cheese… which is also known in my family as “Vegan Mac Crack”! Mark your calendars because with summer coming up, you’re not going to want to miss this one!

Mac Attack Series | Jalapeño Popper Mac

Yield: 6-8

Mac Attack Series | Jalapeño Popper Mac


  • 2-4 Jalapeños, depending on how much heat you like
  • 1 cup potato, peeled & chopped into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 small white onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup plain unsweetened dairy-free milk
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable broth, low sodium
  • Salt, to taste
  • 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 pkg Kite Hill Jalapeño Cream Cheese (semi-optional, *see note)
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter, melted
  • 1-lb favorite shaped pasta, I like shells here or pipe rigate to catch the pieces of jalapeño


  1. Roast jalapeños, chop and set aside. Here's a great method
  2. Prepare pasta according to package directions and drain. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. In a small saucepan, cover the potato, onion, and garlic with water and boil until potato is softer than fork tender.
  4. Drain completely and transfer veggies to a high speed blender with cashews, nutritional yeast, Kite Hill if using, dairy-free milk, and 1 cup of vegetable broth. Blend on high for approximately 6 minutes, adding remaining broth as necessary to create a smooth sauce. Season with salt to taste.
  5. While the sauce is blending, finely chop the roasted jalapeños, reserving one to slice in bigger pieces for topping.
  6. In a small bowl combine breadcrumbs and melted dairy-free butter.
  7. In a large bowl combine the sauce, pasta, and finely chopped jalapeños. Pour into a casserole dish and top with breadcrumb mixture and larger slices of jalapeños. Bake for 10-15 minutes until sauce thickens and breadcrumbs toast to a light golden brown. Then, serve it up!
  8. *Note: I am borderline obsessed with Kite Hill's Jalapeño Cream Cheese. But I know that in my area, I can only find it at Whole Foods. Check here to find it near you. If you can't find it, don't stress. Just add an extra jalapeño!
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Kaiti J

Welcome to Garnished with Gratitude! I'm so glad you're here. I'm Kaiti, a fan of healthy-ish ways, lists/plans, and I'm a total goofball. I'm here to create a space that provides resources to live your best life! From food and exercise to visualization and inspiration, this site is for you.

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