Cooking With Confidence
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Economical, Main Dishes, Pasta, Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Tofu Mac and Cheese

by Nick

I’m not one to try to hide healthy foods in unhealthy dishes.

My normal philosophy is just to make healthy food that tastes good and unhealthy food that tastes good and know the difference.

But occasionally there are ways to healthify an unhealthy dish without sacrificing much.

Turns out that making mac and cheese with TOFU is one of those ways.  It tastes almost identical to the real version and is actually much easier to make.

I did this recipe just as a personal experiment, but it turned out so perfect that I just had to post on it.

Yield
Serves 4-6.
Prep Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...

Print Recipe Tofu Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 pound macaroni
  • 1 pound tofu (silken is best)
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2/3-1 cup milk
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Toasted Bread Crumbs:
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Helpful Equipment

Directions

1) Add tofu to a food processor and pulse until it's in a grainy texture.

2) Pour in yogurt, milk, and cheddar cheese and process until it's smooth. If it looks a little grainy it's okay, but if it's very grainy than add in a bit more milk.

3) Cook macaroni according to package. Drain.

4) Add butter to pot along with macaroni and stir over low heat until butter is melted.

5) Stir in all the cheese sauce and stir until heated and melted, about 5 minutes.

6) In a large skillet add butter over medium heat with the bread crumbs and red pepper flakes. Cook until crumbs are lightly browned.

7) Season macaroni with salt and pepper.

8) Serve immediately topped with seasoned bread crumbs!

Making the Sauce

I’ve made a fair number of mac and cheese dishes over the years.  I’ve posted five of them, but trust me – I love my mac and cheese.

Normally, I make a rich bechemel sauce with butter, flour, and milk and then whisk in a metric ton of cheese.  This works and is very delicious but you can get shockingly close to it with these basic ingredients.

sauce

Simple ingredients.

Ideally, you would use silken tofu for this so it’s easier to blend.  I couldn’t find any on this day so I actually use FIRM tofu which still worked.

The only deal-breaker for this sauce is that you definitely need a food processor or blender for it.  There’s no other way to get the ingredients to the right consistency for the sauce.

If you’re using a food processor, add the tofu block and pulse it until it’s really crumbled.

If you’re using a blender you’ll probably have to add all the liquid ingredients right away to get it to mix which is fine.

tofu

Try to use silken…

Next add in your yogurt, milk, and grated cheese.  Normally, for my mac and cheese recipes I’ll use at least a pound of cheese.  For this version though, I got away with just eight ounces.  Because you are using less, be sure to use a really flavorful cheese.

I went with an extra sharp cheddar cheese that worked wonderfully.

cheese

A little goes a long way.

Process or blend this mixture until it’s very smooth.  Depending on the kind of tofu you use, you might need a little more or less milk so just add it in small batches.

I was a bit worried when I looked at my finished sauce because it looked like it had little grainy bits in it.  I thought that was the tofu, but it was actually the cheese.  Once the sauce got hot, they melted out completely.

sauce

Pretty smooth!

The Mac

You can use a lot of different macaroni for this dish.  I went with kind of a fancy elbow macaroni called cavatappi.

macaroni

Any good macaroni will work.

Just cook your pasta according to the package and then drain it and add in a knob of butter.  The butter just helps the sauce smooth out a bit.

cooked

Some butter is nice.

Then just scoop all your cheese sauce right into your pot!

I was a bit worried at this point, but there was no going back now.

sauce

I was concerned at this point…

Add the pot back over the heat on medium-low heat and stir stir stir while the sauce heats.

Almost magically, the sauce will completely smooth out and you’ll end up with a big pot of really creamy mac and cheese.

If you cook your sauce too long, it might start to clump up a bit.  If that happens, just add in a bit more milk and stir it vigorously.

super creamy

Super creamy!

The Topping

I like my mac and cheese to have some texture and I didn’t want to bake this because I wasn’t sure how it would hold up in the oven so I just toasted some bread crumbs with a bit of butter and red pepper flakes in a large skillet.

Toast them for a few minutes until they start to brown slightly and you’ll be all set.

breadcrumbs

Great topping!

Then just sprinkle some of the topping on each serving of the mac and cheese and you’ll be in heaven!

tofu

Shockingly good.

When Betsy tried this for the first time she said, “It tastes exactly the same. No difference at all.”

I noticed a very slight taste difference but it wasn’t bad at all, just different.  In fact, I would venture that most people probably couldn’t identify the secret ingredient.

The One Downside

I did notice one downside to this recipe: It doesn’t have a great shelf life.  On day two the sauce was really grainy and I wasn’t really able to reheat it correctly to get it silky smooth again.

That said, it still tasted okay, just not quite as good as normal mac and cheese on day two.

I was really blown away by how great this turned out.  I’m not saying that it’s a healthy dish (it’s still mac and cheese), but it’s at least healthier and more filling than the normal version.  Plus it’s easy to make if you’re not a fan of making bechemel sauce.

Give this a shot if you’re looking for a twist on mac and cheese!

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19 comments on “Tofu Mac and Cheese

  1. Hmmmm… I am intrigued. I’ve never made “from scratch” mac n cheese, but I might have to try this! My usual standby is Annie’s, and I eat a lot of it, especially when it comes on sale, as a college student pressed for time and money. But I love experimenting with healthified or even vegan cuisine (which i cook a lot of, even though I’m not even vegetarian). I think I’ll try this next weekend! Thanks for the recipe! :)

  2. Mmmm…this sounds a lot better than the cleanse sandwich from yesterday. I’m going to make this mac & cheese and not tell the hubs that there’s tofu in it – see if he can tell.

  3. Another way to “healthify” your mac & cheese is to use steamed cauliflower in place of half of the noodles. I like to get a cool, funnel-shaped pasta called “torchio” (seen here, towards the bottom: http://www.foodsubs.com/PastaShapes.html…I also like the one they call “gigli”), because I can cut my cauliflower florets so that they’re almost exactly the same size and shape. I always bake my mac & cheese, so I only lightly steam the cauliflower before I mix it in with everything else, and once it’s baked, it blends in seamlessly with the pasta and cheese. Also, since I’m vegan, I make cashew cheese to use in place of bechemel, but that’s a whole other ballgame. ;)

  4. This is pinned and I’m definitely trying this soon! I have some tofu in the fridge I need to use up…though I have to warn you that my kids are tough critics when it comes to the classics; I’ll have to let you know if it passes by discriminating 6 and 8 yr old palates!

  5. Yay! I can’t wait to try this. I think I already have everything it takes to make it actually. Although I have to say, I do miss Denver Tofu…..Yum!

  6. I have to say, this looks absolutely delicious, and I will add it to my “recipe queue”. But I have to take you to task about the “healthier” part. It looks like you’ve simply subbed a whole pound of pureed tofu for a couple of tablespoons of flour used in a bechamel and a little milk. There’s still a half pound of cheese in it, plus all the calories in a pound of tofu. Adding tofu doesn’t automatically make something healthier. Easier, yes, healthier, probably not, lol. Still love the blog, Nick, and this is pinned.

    1. Yea… you might be right. When I make my bechemel for mac and cheese it usually have around 3 cups of milk and a pound of cheese so I definitely cut back on those.

      Also, I don’t feel so bad about tofu because it has a ton of protein in it and is more filling so I ate less of it actually.

      Good point though… I didn’t do the math. It probably isn’t THAT much healthier.

  7. Great recipe! I do a vegan mac n’ chz (for when my lactose/vegan friends come over) with coconut milk as the base and a lot of nutritional yeast that’s really yummy. It’s like yours in that it’s not really “healthy” but the lactards can handle it!

  8. This is really good. I used 1/2 C soy milk instead of 2% and skipped the yoghurt because I’m lactose intolerant. cheese usually doesn’t bother me, so left that in. I LOVE Mac n cheese, and I think thus is just as good as the real thing. Plus its super easy to make. :) thanks

  9. Macarons in Japan are a popular confection known as “makaron”.There is also a version of the same name which substitutes peanut flour for almond and is flavored in wagashi style, widely available in Japan.;^.`

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  10. Macaroni is a variety of dry pasta made with durum wheat. Elbow macaroni noodles normally do not contain eggs, (although they may be an optional ingredient) and are normally cut in short, hollow shapes; however, the term refers not to the shape of the pasta, but to the kind of dough from which the noodle is made. Although home machines exist that can make macaroni shapes, macaroni is usually made commercially by large-scale extrusion…,,:

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  11. This recipe is phenomenal! The cheese sauce tastes delicious and the mac is creamy, and nutritious. I put in some garlic and sriracha for extra flavor. I have made this five times now
    And I like it more than a traditional mac. Thanks for the awesome recipe!

  12. Anxious to try it. Would love to make this in the one pound as shown in recipe. But I would have to freeze it, which is fine, I would love to have all those servings in the freezer. Has freezing been tried by anyone?

    1. Hey Carol, to be honest, I’m not sure how well it would freeze. I think it would probably get really grainy and lose it’s texture. I would maybe just half the recipe if you think you can’t get through a whole batch. Good luck!

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