This Jalapeño Quinoa Mac and Cheese is a delicious twist on a classic. It combines your favorite mac and cheese flavors with jalapeño and bacon and uses quinoa instead of noodles for a gluten-free dish!
Say Hellooooo to Spicy Mac and Cheese
This spicy take on mac and cheese is not only delicious, it’s gluten free! We love the flavor combo of jalapeños and bacon (have you tried our bacon wrapped jalapeño poppers?!) and then you throw deliciously creamy cheese into the mix, and you really do have an ultimate dish.
Plus, we love that this recipe is GF thanks to using quinoa instead of a traditional noodle. Looking for a more classic mac and cheese recipe? We’ve got that, too 😀
What You Need
To make this jalapeño bacon quinoa mac and cheese, you’ll need the following ingredients. Looking to turn up the heat in this recipe? Or make it a little less spicy? We’ll give you a few recos for that below as well. You’ll need:
- Uncooked quinoa
- Broth (chicken or vegetable will work!)
- White onion
- Minced jalapeños
- White whole wheat flour
- 2% milk
- Greek yogurt
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Chopped kale
- Salt & pepper
You Choose the Level of Spice!
When it comes to the spicy level of this dish, it’s all up to you! Which is really great for those of you who enjoy the flavor of jalapeños, but not necessarily the heat level that comes with the seeds.
So, this recipe calls for 2 small or 1 large jalapeños with the seeds REMOVED. The reason we remove the seeds is because the majority of the spicy heat in jalapeños is stored in the seeds themselves. This means that if you remove the seeds from the jalapeños, you’ll have a much more mild pepper.
If you’re looking for a little extra spice in this dish, feel free to add a few seeds to the pot from the jalapeños to the pot when you add in the sliced jalapeños. If you like a lot of extra spice, get crazy and put a ton of seed in your mac. You do you!
Pro tip: know that jalapeños can vary in spice level. Just because you bought a super spicy jalapeño from the grocery store last time, doesn’t mean the next one you buy will be just as spicy. When in doubt, set some of the seeds aside when you cut your jalapeños to add to the pot at the end once you taste test for spicy level.
How to Make Quinoa Mac and Cheese — Step by Step
- First, prepare your quinoa: Place uncooked quinoa and broth in a medium saucepan and heat over medium/high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and cover. Let simmer for around 15 minutes or until all liquid has absorbed. Once cooked, set the cooked quinoa aside.
- Next, sauté veggies: heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium/high heat. When the olive oil is fragrant, add onion and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Then, add minced garlic and continue to sauté until the onions are translucent. Lastly, add in minced jalapeños and cook for 2-3 more minutes.
- Now, make the cheese sauce: Add 1/4 cup of olive oil to the pot with the jalapeños in it. Then, sprinkle in white whole wheat flour and sauté with a wooden utensil until a paste forms. Whisk in milk and continue to heat over medium/high heat until thickened. This will take 2-3 minutes. Once the milk is thick, add in Greek yogurt and whisk. Then, add in 1/2 cup a cheese at a time and whisk until all cheese is melted. Finally, add in salt and pepper and mix it all to perfection.
- Add in the kale: Once everything is smooth, add in packed kale and continue to stir over the heat until the kale has wilted.
- Time for the quinoa: Stir in cooked quinoa.
- Serve & enjoy: Serve immediately topped with chopped up cooked bacon, and additional slices of fresh jalapeños if you want to spice it up even further.
How to Store Quinoa Mac and Cheese
Store this quinoa mac and cheese in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3-5 days.
Reheating Quinoa Mac and Cheese
The key to reheating this quinoa mac and cheese is to add a little moisture (milk works great!) since the quinoa will continue to absorb moisture even after it’s originally cooked, and to reheat low and slow to avoid the cheese and Greek yogurt from breaking down and changing texture.
If you have time to reheat your quinoa mac and cheese in the oven, that is a great method! Simply add a little milk (start with a tablespoon, and go up from there depending on how much mac you’re reheating!), and stir thoroughly before covering an oven-safe dish and placing in the oven at 350°F.
You’ll need 10-20 minutes of reheating time, depending on how much quinoa mac you’re reheating.
Jalapeño Quinoa Mac and Cheese
- 1.5 cups uncooked quinoa
- 3 cups broth chicken or vegetable
- 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil divided
- 1/2 medium white onion minced
- 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/4 cup minced jalapeños seeded (~2 small jalapeños or 1 large)*
- 1/3 cup white whole wheat
- 2 cups 2% milk
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- 4 cups chopped kale packed
- First, prepare quinoa. Place uncooked quinoa and broth in a medium saucepan and heat over medium/high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and cover. Let simmer for around 15 minutes or until all liquid has absorbed. Set aside.
- Next, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium/high heat. When the olive oil is fragrant add onion and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Then, add minced garlic and continue to sauté until the onions are translucent. Add in minced jalapeños and cook for 2-3 more minutes.
- Now, make the cheese sauce. Add 1/4 cup of olive oil to the pot with the jalapeños in it. Then, sprinkle in white whole wheat flour and sauté with a wooden utensil until a paste forms. Whisk in milk and continue to heat over medium/high heat until thickened. This will take 2-3 minutes. Once the milk is thick, add in Greek yogurt and whisk. Then, add in 1/2 cup a cheese at a time and whisk until all cheese is melted. Finally, add in salt and pepper and mix.
- Once everything is smooth, add in packed kale and continue to stir over the heat until the kale has wilted.
- Stir in cooked quinoa.
- Serve immediately topped with cooked bacon*.
Tips & Notes
- This recipe was updated on January 26, 2021. For the original recipe CLICK HERE.
- Jalapeños: if you like it extra spicy, feel free to add a few seeds to the pot.
- Bacon: we topped this quinoa mac and cheese with cooked bacon, diced.
So good! I made a couple of changes, i did not have kale so I used frozen corn and broccoli, I steamed the broc first and chopped it up before throwing it in. I also did not have jalapeño but I had 4oz can of diced green chilies so I used that instead. Its a winner!
big fan! I love that at least if I’m eating an indulgent and cheesy meal, that it sneaks some healthy quinoa and kale in there. great for a snowy day 🙂
one small note: the instructions reference garlic but they’re not listed in the ingredients. the older version said 1 tbsp so I used roughly that much.
Do you have any ideas of the calorie content and other nutritional content of this dish?
I live in a place that has no oven. Do you think it’s possible to cook this all in the microwave?
Do you have the nutrition info for this dish? I looks delicious!!
Hi, can you substitute water for the chicken/vegetable broth [trying to cut down on the sodium] or will it lose too much of the flavor? Thanks!
You should be good to sub water!
Looks pretty good.
Only thing is, you misspelled the main ingredient wrong on your image: Q-U-N-I-O-A…oops!
this looks outstanding! I cannot wait to try it. Anything with jalapeno, bacon, and cheese…I’m in!
Woooot! This recipe has so much flavor, you’ll have to let me know if you try it!
Only voting if you promise to hang out the next time I’m in ‘Merica….or when you come visit NEXT YEAR HUH?!
YES!!!!!! You have to promise to meet me in Sydney. How far is that from you?
I love quinoa dishes that have that little bit of “naughty” to them…this looks perfect 😉
Okay that is the PERFECT way to describe this recipe! <3
Obv voting for you! Esp since I ate two servings of this. FEED ME BACon.
Of course I’ve voted for you! (Are we bestest friends now?? :-D)
This dish sounds delicious. It’s nothing I would make myself, the ingredients are just not my staples and I don’t make bakes often, or at all. Enough reasons to actually make this one time!
I feel like we have the same food style… cheese, bacon, healthy comforting yummmmo
WI WI WI WINNNNING! One day we shall meet in real life and cook our butts off 😀
An IRL cooking showdown would be ahhhhmazing… one day.
You do wonderful things with quinoa!! Another bake to add to the list. I just need to sub the cheese some non dairy ish. Boo sensitivities. Keep em coming girl:D good luck in your competition!
Thanks lady! I was lactose intolerant growing up…severely. I grew out of it after puberty and there’s been no stopping me ever since with the cheese 😀 What’s your fav non-dairy cheese?
I really don’t have a favorite at this point since I recently discovered this like 8 months ago…I just avoided it. I don’t like a lot of the ones on the market with all the preservatives. Any suggestions or any faves growing up?
Yuck!!! I actually don’t think I’ve ever purchased any dairy free cheese. I’m no help 😀
Ummm… this looks delicious lady!! Even though you’re my competition, I’m pinning this recipe right now. 🙂 xoxo
You’re the absolute BEST 😀
Wow! Does this ever sound so delicious. Quinoa, bacon & cheese. What could be better.
OMG. I died and went to food heaven. Cheese + bacon + jalapeno = love.
Yah, this recipe is my boyfriend 😉
I have been dying to make mac and cheese with quinoa! And this looks ah-mazing. Plus the hubs would be all over the jalapeño and bacon. Winning!
Put meat in it and it’s an instant win for the significant other 😉
This looks like some amazing, warm, winter comfort food. I need to make it this weekend to warm up from the snow!!
Boooo snow 🙁 I just got home from abroad and there was no snow when I left…now it’s everywhere! #sigh
I love the idea of using quinoa instead of macaroni! This dish sounds so delicious 🙂