Jalapeño Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

Jalapeño mac and cheese is perfect for warming up on winter weeknights. With roasted cauliflower & fresh kale, it's filling, simple & nutritious.

Jalapeño & Roasted Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

Hi everyone, Jack here reporting in from the frozen tundra of Chicago. We flew in for a quick weekend over Jeanine’s birthday (happy birthday!!!) and it is just beyond cold. Austin’s apparently snowing today, but still, not much prepares you for walking outside into 9ºF (-13ºC) weather from a nice, warm airport.

This blog is almost always about making meals completely from scratch, but it’s cold times like this that sometimes you just want to pour a box of mac and cheese into a pot and go to town. Well we did that, posted a photo here on Instagram, and people went crazy for it. So this barely qualifies as a recipe, but our Instagram has spoken, and who are we to deny the people what they want?

Of course, we had to add some kale to it, jalapeños for some kick, roasted cauliflower, and a little fontina cheese. In case you want to make your own jalapeño mac and cheese a bit fancier, check out some of our other recipes whose sauces you may want to borrow:

Also, one last time, happy birthday, Jeanine. I LOVE YOU!!!

4.6 from 7 reviews

Jalapeño Cauliflower Shells & Cheese

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Jalapeño mac & cheese is a great weeknight dinner! Roasted cauliflower & fresh kale add extra bulk and nutrients to this vegetarian recipe.
Recipe type: Main Dish
  • 3 cups cauliflower florettes
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • Annie's Shells & White Cheddar Mac & Cheese (+ some almond milk)
  • (or 1.5 cups uncooked shells and sauce from here, here, or here)
  • ½-1 jalapeño, sliced
  • two handfuls of finely chopped kale
  • extra splashes of plain almond milk
  • grated fontina cheese
  • salt & pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss cauliflower with a little olive oil, salt & pepper and roast on a baking sheet for 30 minutes (or until golden brown)
  3. Prepare your shells and cheese (according to the box), or make your sauce and cook your shells. Mix together, adding enough almond milk to make it creamy.
  4. To your pot of mac & cheese (while it's still hot), add chopped jalapeños, kale and stir until the kale wilts. Stir in the roasted cauliflower, and a grating of fontina cheese if you like. Season with salt & pepper.
  5. Curl up on the couch under a blanket and enjoy!



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  1. Caroline

    Absolutely love your blog! I am new to almond milk – is the almond milk you use here (and in your other recipes) original unsweetened?

    • jeanine

      Hi Caroline – yep, for the most part, especially for using to cook savory foods. I only use it sweetened to drink with and sometimes to bake with.

  2. Joanna

    Hi. how many servings is this recipe? I am making this for myself and 2 men that can eat a lot. I was thinking about making two boxes of Annie’s because 1 box seems small sometimes. What do you think?

    ps. this is my favorite blog and I tell everyone about it!!

    • jeanine

      Hi Joanna,

      Ha, thanks! I would make 2 boxes – Jack and I ate this whole thing ourselves – we eat a lot but if I was serving 3 hungry people it would be just as easy to make more 🙂

  3. Margaret

    This sounds yummy, but im not a fan of kale. Someone suggested spinach and that sounds good, but at what point would you add the spinach so it doesn’t get overcooked?

    • jeanine

      Hi Margaret, stir it in at the last minute – it’ll wilt & cook down pretty quickly

  4. I love mac and cheese, and your cauliflower and jalapeño additions sound amaaaazing. Annie’s is my fave and I always have it on hand, so I totally need to whip this up when I get my next craving. Love – pinned!

  5. Jayda

    I discovered your blog via Bloglovin, and I am so glad I did! Amazing recipes!

    xo, Jayda

    • jeanine

      I’m glad too – welcome!

  6. jacqueline from eleventhfloorprovisions.com

    I LOVE Annie’s Shells & White Cheddar Mac & Cheese! I use almond milk too (sometimes Greek yogurt!) and am always making it spicy + adding veggies. 🙂 Great recipe!

  7. Grace from Sweetspree.com

    Love the additions, sometimes the box is too comforting to pass up.

  8. Melissa from sterlingandoats.blogspot.com

    This right here is EXACTLY what I want during this cold & wet Texas weather. Now I just need to figure out how to successfully cook and move around the kitchen with my warm blanket still wrapped around me, without succumbing to buying a Snuggie.

  9. Brian from kitchendomination.com

    What a great idea for adding veg to mac and cheese…have you ever tried this with any vegetables other than cauliflower or had any ideas about what other veg might work well?

    • jeanine

      Hi Brian – broccoli is good, so is spinach – really any green vegetable!

      • Brian from kitchendomination.com

        The more I think about it, the more I think that a green zucchini might hold up very well here…thanks!

        • jeanine

          definitely – I love adding zucchini to any kind of pasta 🙂

  10. let me count the ways i love annies shells. i’ve never even thought to make any additions because they are so good on their own, but, truly, you have opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me.

  11. steph from iamafoodblog.com

    happy birthday jeanine!! i can’t think of a better way to celebrate than with mac and cheese! 🙂

    • jeanine

      thanks Steph 🙂

  12. man you guys know how to dress up a box of Mac and cheese!! Love the fontina addition. Super yummy! Thanks for sharing, the people of IG never lie!

    • jeanine

      Ha, thanks! (The fontina was a last minute addition – needed a bit more cheese after I went a little overboard with the veggies 🙂

  13. Molly

    This recipe sounds delicious. I love Annie’s mac n cheese, but as a single person, the leftovers do not reheat well. Does anyone have any suggestions for reheating the leftovers so that it is not so awfully dry and tasteless?

    • jeanine

      The 2 of us finished the whole thing – maybe try reheating, then mixing in more milk & cheese to make it creamy again? (That or I would cook half at a time since its altogether pretty quick to make).

  14. Those Annie’s shells are one of our favorites here, too. I make them sometimes for my son, and almost always wind up taking a little bowl for myself, too. I usually just add peas or broccoli, but this looks SO much better.

  15. Never too old for box mac and cheese. I love it and it’s exactly what I grab when I don’t feel like cooking. So “recipe” or not, I’m so down with this very grown-up mac and cheese!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.