A simple and satisfying mac and cheese recipe with a twist – a flavorful hidden veggie-loaded cheese sauce! It’s cheesy, comforting, and healthy – sure to become an all-time favorite family meal.

Graphic for post – veggie mac & cheese, easy, delicious, three hidden veggies, made in 20 minutes. Images of a dark pink plate and bowl with an orange park resting on top with veggie mac & cheese with veggies scattered on the countertop next to the plate.

Medically reviewed and cowritten by Jamie Johnson, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), and Lauren Braaten, Pediatric Occupational Therapist (OT).

Hidden Veggie Mac & Cheese

What’s even better than traditional mac and cheese? This kid-friendly, hidden veggie mac and cheese, of course!

This savory dish boasts not one, not two, but THREE different veggies in its base – carrots, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower. We’ve got a solid dose of vitamins A, C, and E, as well as potassium and fiber thanks to these veggies.

As far as prep time, this hidden veggie mac and cheese comes together in 20 minutes, so you can easily whip this up on a busy weeknight. You could also chop your veggies ahead of time (or use frozen!) to help this meal come together even faster.

With dozens of dinner recipes for kids to choose from, like my crazy good Chicken Parmesan MeatballsEasy 10 Minute Pita Pizza, or these readers favorite Baked Cauliflower Tots, there are zero reasons to be in a dinner food slump. Be sure to also check out my best-selling cookbook, Little Foodie: Baby Food Recipes for Babies and Toddlers with Taste, for even more dinner ideas! 

Veggie Mac & Cheese Video

Watch this video to see how easy it is to make this Veggie Mac & Cheese recipe!

Reasons to Love Veggie Mac & Cheese

  • One pot meal
  • Made in 20 minutes
  • Great for the entire family
  • Budget-friendly
  • Easily adaptable depending on what ingredients you have
  • Loaded with healthy veggies
  • Perfect for baby-led weaning
  • Leftovers store and freeze well
Spread of ingredients for a recipe of veggie mac & cheese, all ingredients have fonts with their titles and accident on a white countertop.

Ingredients

Be sure to read the full recipe card below for the full amounts and instructions.

  • Pasta: smaller types of pasta, such as elbows, rotini, farfalle, fusilli, or penne are best for this recipe
  • Cheddar Cheese: is best to be grated by hand, not pre-shredded
  • Cauliflower: fresh or frozen
  • Carrots: fresh or frozen
  • Sweet Potatoes: fresh or frozen, or you can use Butternut Squash
  • Butter: adds that rich creamy flavor to pasta; use unsalted butter
  • Milk: whole milk is best for added creaminess, but you can also use 1 or 2% milk
  • Salt:  we’re using a very small amount anyway, but feel free to reduce by half as needed

Tip: to make this meal gluten-free, you can use any gluten-free pasta you prefer.

Benefits of Veggie Mac & Cheese

This is not your average mac and cheese. This veggie mac and cheese is full of nutrients and health benefits!

  • Pasta is full of carbohydrates needed for fuel for energy.
  • Cheese is an excellent source of calcium which is important for strong bones.
  • All of the veggies in this mac and cheese are full of essential vitamins and minerals that help support the immune system, and fiber for healthy digestion.
  • It has less preservatives, additives and sodium than your typical store bought boxed mac and cheese.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to the directions on the box for ‘al dente’. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, cook your veggies. If using frozen veggies, place the veggies in a microwave-safe dish along with 2 tbsp water and cook for 2 minutes or until tender. If using fresh veggies, steam in a steamer basket over boiling water for 5-6 minutes or until tender.
  3. Add the cooked veggies and milk to a blender and blend for 1-2 minutes or until smooth.
  4. In the same pot, turn the heat to low and melt the butter. Add in the veggie mixture, shredded cheese, salt and pepper.
  5. Whisk the sauce until completely smooth, which usually takes 1-2 minutes for the cheese to fully melt.
  6. Add in the pasta and mix until well incorporated. If the sauce gets too thick, add in a few tablespoons of milk to thin it out.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this veggie mac and cheese ahead of time?

Yes, you can absolutely make it ahead of time. It stores well in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat on the stove top and add one tablespoon of milk per cup of mac and cheese to a saucepan. Set to medium heat and stir to break up as it warms. 

What type of pasta is best for Mac and Cheese?

Smaller types of pasta, such as elbows, rotini, farfalle, fusilli or penne are best for this recipe. The tubular shapes and little nooks and crannies hold onto the creamy cheese sauce so well!

Can you freeze this mac and cheese?

Yes, just know that the texture might be slightly different when you reheat it. You will likely need to add a more milk and/or butter when you reheat it. If you do plan to make a double batch to freeze, you may want to cook the pasta very al-dente so it isn’t too soggy when you reheat it.

A pink bowl on top of the pink plate with a colorful napkin with veggies scattered on the white countertop. The bowl is full of veggie mac & cheese.

Variations

Even those this dish calls for carrots, sweet potatoes and cauliflower as its veggies, you don’t have to feel tied to using those vegetables. The beauty of this mac and cheese is that it’s also incredibly versatile! Here are some of our favorite variations and additions.

  • Peas
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Butternut squash
  • Shelled Edamame
  • Quartered cherry tomatoes
  • Mozzarella or parmesan cheese
  • Stir in a couple of tablespoons of cream cheese
  • Top with crispy panko breadcrumbs
A pink kids, bowl and plate on a white countertop full of veggie mac & cheese.

How to Store

Store veggie mac and cheese leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Store in the freezer for up to 2 months.

A pink plate and bowl with a colorful napkin and orange fork with three veggie mac & cheese on top.

Recipe Tips

  • Shredding your own cheese is preferred, as it melts better than pre-shredded.
  • Feel free to use sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese for a stronger cheese flavor more similar to traditional mac and cheese or go with a mild cheddar for a softer flavor.
  • To make meal prep even quicker, you can chop your veggies the day before or go with frozen veggies.
  • Win over even the pickiest of toddlers and older kids by letting them choose from a couple toppings they can sprinkle over their bowl, such as bacon crumbles, everything bagel seasoning, panko breadcrumbs, or grated parmesan cheese.  
A pink bowl on top of the pink plate with a colorful napkin with veggies scattered on the white countertop. The bowl is full of veggie mac & cheese.

Get the recipe: Quick Stovetop Hidden Veggie Mac & Cheese

5 stars (1 rating)
A simple and satisfying mac and cheese recipe with a twist – a flavorful hidden veggie-loaded cheese sauce! It's cheesy, comforting, and healthy – sure to become an all-time favorite family meal.

Ingredients 

  • 8 oz pasta
  • 1/3 cup cauliflower, chopped – fresh or frozen
  • 1/3 cup carrots, peeled and chopped – fresh or frozen
  • 1/3 cup sweet potato, peeled and chopped – fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup block of cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper optional

Instructions 

  • Pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add pasta, and cook according to the directions on the box for 'al dente'. Drain and reserve.
    Silver sauce pan, cooking noodles for mac & cheese.
  • Veggies: Meanwhile, cook your veggies. If using frozen veggies, place the veggies in a microwave-safe dish along with 2 tbsp water and cook for 2 minutes or until tender. If using fresh veggies, steam in a steamer basket over boiling water for 5-6 minutes or until tender.
    Small glass bowl, full of carrots, cauliflower and sweet, potatoes, ready to be microwaved on the white countertop.
  • Blend: Add the cooked veggies and milk to a blender and blend for 1-2 minutes or until smooth.
    Eclair blender on a white tank top with blended veggies and milk.
  • Sauce: In the same pot, turn the heat to low and melt the butter. Add in the veggie mixture, shredded cheese, salt and pepper.
    A silver sauce, pan with melted butter, shredded cheese, and salt and pepper.
  • Whisk: Make sure to whisk the sauce until completely smooth, usually takes 1-2 minutes for the cheese to fully melt.
    Pan with melted butter, three veggies, milk, shredded cheese, and seasoning, melted down into a sauce.
  • Mac & Cheese: Add in the pasta and mix until well incorporated. If the sauce gets too thick, add in a few tablespoons of milk to thin it out.
    A silver sauce pan with mixed noodles in a veggie cheese sauce.
  • Serve: Serve and enjoy!
    A pink plate and bowl with a colorful napkin and orange fork with three veggie mac & cheese on top.

Notes

Age: 9+ months
Veggie Amount: I used a total of 1 cup of veggies for this recipe, but you could easily go up to 1 1/2 cups of veggies if you prefer. 

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