4 Ingredient Stovetop Chickpea Mac and Cheese Recipe
Gluten Free & High Protein Mac and Cheese with Chickpea Pasta
Take your favorite cheesy pasta to the next level with this gluten free chickpea mac and cheese recipe! An unbelievably easy stovetop recipe for high protein mac and cheese that you can make with just 4 main ingredients.
All you need is your pasta of choice (gluten free or not), some cheddar cheese, milk, and a bit of butter. No flour and no fancy roux required! Easy, creamy, cheesy, and quick—ready in just 20 minutes. And, you can prepare this entire chickpea mac and cheese recipe on the stove, no baking necessary. (Unless you’d like to, of course!)
If you don’t care about making a gluten free mac and cheese and would rather just use regular noodles, go for it. Just know that it won’t be a high protein mac and cheese anymore, or at least not as high in protein.
Besides being gluten free, one of the benefits of bean and lentil pastas is that they’re loaded with plant based protein! Made with chickpea pasta and tossed in my easy stovetop cheese sauce, each serving of this high protein mac and cheese contains 29g of protein.
Gluten Free Chickpea Mac and Cheese Ingredients
8oz dry chickpea pasta shells (or pasta of choice)*
1 cup dairy milk
2 Tbsp butter
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
*Lately, chickpea pasta has been my JAM, so I’ve been making this Banza mac and cheese at least twice a week... Banza is just one brand of chickpea pasta, but it cooks up nicely and I’m a fan. A 2oz serving of these Banza chickpea shells alone contains 13g of protein!
Easy Mac and Cheese Substitutions
Use any variety or shape of pasta that you like! I prefer to use a gluten free pasta when I’m making this at home, and chickpea pasta is my top choice for a high protein mac and cheese recipe. But, you could also try another gluten free pasta, like brown rice and/or quinoa pasta. Or, for other high protein mac and cheese options, try black bean or red lentil pastas!
If you don’t care about keeping this gluten free, you can also make this easy stovetop mac and cheese using regular ol’ glutinous pasta. Just know that it won’t be quite as high in protein.
In order for this chickpea mac and cheese sauce to work properly, this recipe needs to be made with dairy milk. Nondairy milks just won’t integrate properly, but any kind of dairy milk is fine—I recommend 2% or whole milk.
You can omit the butter, but I highly recommend including it in the recipe! You only need a small amount, and it makes a big difference in the texture and taste of the cheese sauce.
Unfortunately, this high protein mac and cheese sauce just will not turn out as desired with most nondairy cheese alternatives or vegan substitutes. Stick with a dairy based, full fat cheese for best results.
How to Make High Protein Mac and Cheese on the Stove
As with any macaroni recipe, this chickpea mac and cheese starts by cooking up your pasta. I’m using chickpea pasta shells, and I recommend cooking for about 1-2 minutes less than the box directs when cooking with a gluten free pasta alternative. I think this results in a better texture, and prevents the chickpea pasta from getting gummy!
Once cooked, drain the pasta in a colander, rinse with room temperature water to stop the cooking, and toss with a bit of oil to prevent clumping. Next, you can wipe down that same pot and use it to start your high protein mac and cheese sauce.
Over medium high heat, combine dairy milk, butter, shredded cheddar cheese, and a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Then, turn down the heat to low and allow it to cook, stirring regularly, until melted—about 5-10 minutes. LOW heat and regular stirring are both key for making this stovetop mac and cheese without a roux.
Finally, once your easy cheese sauce is integrated to your liking, add the cooked pasta back in and toss to coat. Quick as that, in just 20 minutes, this gluten free chickpea macaroni and cheese is ready to serve! It’s delicious enjoyed warm, but honestly is just as tasty served cold—perfect for a packed lunch.
Can I Bake this Chickpea Mac and Cheese Instead?
Besides the nutritional boost, one of my favorite things about this high protein mac and cheese is that it’s so dang easy! Only 4 main ingredients, everything gets cooked over the stove, all in one pot, 20 minutes and done. Even though I love a baked mac and cheese, sometimes I just don’t want to spend the time on it...
But, if you need this chickpea mac and cheese to be baked, the answer is: yes, you can absolutely put it into a heat-proof dish and pop it into the oven to bake. Sprinkle a layer of breadcrumbs on top if you like, then bake at 350°F (180°C) for about 30 minutes, until crisped to your liking!