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Smoked Cheddar Mac & Cheese with Baked BBQ Tofu

Smoked Cheddar Mac & Cheese with Baked BBQ Tofu Recipe

Smoked Cheddar Mac & Cheese with Baked BBQ Tofu
Two years in a row, I have made my husband Noodles & Company mac & cheese rip-offs for his birthday. Last year, I did Truffle Mac, and this year, I did a vegetarian version of their BBQ Pork Mac & Cheese recipe. I don’t really know how this became a thing for us, but I guess it has. I don’t think anyone can beat us when it comes to nonsensical traditions to mark important occasions, which is okay with us, because mac & cheese is far superior to sappy greeting cards anyway.

This item isn’t always on the Noodles & Company menu, but when it was, Chris and I were both intrigued. We wondered if they could sub out the pork for tofu, but neither of us wanted to be that person, so we didn’t ask. For months, I promised him I would try to make a meatless version at home. When tackling this recipe myself, I knew that I couldn’t just use any kind of tofu—it had to be baked!

Baked BBQ Tofu
The last thing you want in your mac & cheese are soft cubes of tofu. Baked tofu has a firm, chewy texture because baking in the oven dries it out. My Baked Barbecue Tofu recipe is one of the most popular posts on Oh My Veggies. It really is tofu for tofu haters! Or at least people who think they hate tofu, because if you still hate it after it’s been baked to chewy perfection and slathered in barbecue sauce, then you really do hate tofu and you can wear that label proudly. Or with shame. Whichever you prefer.

I tweaked the tofu recipe a little bit to make it work for this mac & cheese—I cut the tofu into smaller cubes and I skipped marinating it to save a little time. Because I had a big block of smoked cheddar in the fridge, I used that instead of traditional cheddar, which made the finished dish even tastier.

Between the creamy mac & cheese and the chewy BBQ tofu, this is the kind of meal that will scratch any comfort food itch you might have. A lot of vegetarians miss the smoky flavor of some meats, like bacon, and if you fall into that camp, this recipe is for you.

Smoked Cheddar Mac & Cheese with Baked BBQ Tofu Recipe

Smoked Cheddar Mac & Cheese with Baked BBQ Tofu

A meatless remake of Noodles & Company's BBQ Pork Mac & Cheese. (Yes, it involves tofu!)
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


  • 1 14 oz package extra-firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce divided
  • 8 oz elbow macaroni cooked according to package
  • 2 cups reduced-fat milk
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded smoked cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes. Transfer it to a bowl and toss it with 1/4 cup of the barbecue sauce, then place it on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake the tofu for 20–30 minutes, or until it's browned on the edges, stirring halfway through cooking time. Put the tofu back in the bowl and toss it with the remaining barbecue sauce.
  • While the tofu is baking, start the mac & cheese. Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until warm, then reduce heat to low. Stir occasionally to prevent film from forming.
  • In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk it into the butter. Continue to whisk until the mixture is golden brown, 3–5 minutes.
  • Slowly pour the warmed milk into the flour mixture, whisking constantly. Once the sauce is smooth, let it continue to cook until it's slightly thickened, about 3 minutes, continuing to whisk constantly.
  • Remove the sauce from heat and whisk in the smoked cheddar. Fold in the macaroni, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Divide the mac & cheese into 4 bowls, then top each one with 1/4 of the baked tofu.
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  • Reply
    Anele @ Success Along the Weigh
    May 28, 2014 at 8:09 am

    Is it wrong to want to dive head first into that bowl?

  • Reply
    Kelli @ The Corner Kitchen
    May 28, 2014 at 9:29 am

    This mac & cheese is pure comfort food heaven!! Looks so creamy & perfect!

  • Reply
    May 28, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Love the look of the smoked tofu! Seems divine!

  • Reply
    Julia Mueller
    May 28, 2014 at 11:32 am

    I’m all about a nonsensical tradition, especially if it involves mac n cheese! I’ve never been to a Noodles & Company (can you hear me pouting all the way from the West coast?) but I’d bury my face in your version of the mac any ol’ day!

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      May 30, 2014 at 5:54 pm

      Oh man, you need to seek one out because Noodles is AWESOME. It’s like traveling the world. In noodles. Or something.

  • Reply
    Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche
    May 28, 2014 at 11:47 am

    That macaroni cheese looks amaaaaazing! Super duper creamy. I’m still not the biggest fan of tofu but I love that you added a protein element to a dish that’s usually pure carbs + fat (not that I’m complaining!)

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      May 30, 2014 at 5:53 pm

      Yeah, I get why tofu can be a hard sell. It took me a long time to warm up to it!

  • Reply
    Katie (The Muffin Myth)
    May 28, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Seriously Kiersten, just stop it!!! Smoked cheddar is one of my favourite things on this entire earth EVER. And you’ve gone and done a bbq tofu topped mac n cheese? Well stick a fork in me.

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      May 30, 2014 at 5:52 pm

      I LOVE smoked cheddar too. But I kind of love smoked anything…

  • Reply
    Elisa @ Insalata di Sillabe
    May 28, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    I don’t really like tofu, even if I’ve never tried it baked sooooo…maybe you’re right, I’ll completely change my mind about it after trying! Anyway I think this mac & cheese would be perfect even on its own, you had me at the “smoked cheddar”!

    xo, Elisa

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      May 30, 2014 at 5:51 pm

      If you try it baked and you still don’t like it, then you officially don’t like tofu. 🙂 But a lot of people have changed their mind after baking it!

  • Reply
    Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl
    May 28, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    I LOVE the sound of this!! I am a big-time bbq tofu lover, and I can only imagine how tasty it is in mac and cheese. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    lisacng @
    May 28, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    I love tofu, even plain!!!! Hehe. But I never thought to bake it! Tks!

  • Reply
    May 28, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Tofu on my mac ‘n cheese–this is AWESOME! That flavor profile is perfect and I can’t believe I’ve never considered making anything comparable. Thank you for sharing this, I’m excited to try it for our next host dinner!

  • Reply
    Allison B
    May 28, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    Smoked cheddar mac and cheese???? How could that go wrong?

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    May 28, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    This is such a unique take on mac and cheese?! Who can think of putting tofu in mac and cheese but you girl?!! Loving it!

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      May 30, 2014 at 5:50 pm

      Ha! Well, I used to go to a restaurant where they had a chicken mac & cheese and I asked them to substitute tofu in it instead and magic happened, so I knew it would work. As long as the tofu is baked so the texture is chewy and not slimy, it’s good!

  • Reply
    May 28, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    Tofu looks amaaaaazing. I want to eat this entire bowl right now!!! Great recipe 😉

  • Reply
    How to Philosophize with Cake
    May 28, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    Woah, now this is making me hungry right now. 🙂 I have an ongoing love affair with homemade mac n cheese, will definitely have to try this variation ASAP.

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      May 30, 2014 at 5:48 pm

      Me too. I hoard homemade mac & cheese recipes – I have a ridiculous number of them that I’ve cut out of magazines over the years. But I guess hoarding mac & cheese recipes is better than hoarding dead roaches and empty yogurt containers.

  • Reply
    Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner
    May 29, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    That looks amazing! I love tofu and mac and cheese and can’t wait to make this-yum just pinned it!

  • Reply
    May 29, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Thank You 🙂

  • Reply
    Natalie @ Once Upon a Cutting Board
    May 29, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    This is the ultimate comfort food – I would love to be treated to it on my birthday! I forgot to tell you that I tried your baked bbq tofu for the first time the other week and it was so good! I always thought I didn’t like tofu before and now I can’t wait to make it all the time and use it in different dishes. This mac and cheese would be a good one to try next! Thanks!

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      May 30, 2014 at 5:38 pm

      Woo hoo! I’m glad it won you over. Adding barbecue sauce always helps! 🙂

  • Reply
    May 30, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    The great thing about Noodles is that they actually encourage their customers to get wild with customizations! Their tofu is the best that I’ve had anywhere and I have tried many of their meat based dishes with it (I’ve even been known to ask for EXTRA tofu on occasion). This recipe looks fantastic and I can’t wait to try it!

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      May 30, 2014 at 5:13 pm

      I am a huge fan of Noodles too. We used to live a few blocks away from one and ate there waaaay too often, but I never got tired of it. 🙂 The Japanese Pan Noodles are my favorite – always with tofu!

  • Reply
    June 2, 2014 at 7:38 am

    I tried to start a mac and cheese for Valentine’s day tradition two years ago, but the.boy DOESN’T LIKE HOMEMADE MAC AND CHEESE. And there is no way I am making the blue box. So now I have a make all the mac and cheese and eat it myself tradition. It’s awesome. I am loving how smoky the flavors in this are! Who would even miss the meat?!

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      June 2, 2014 at 3:33 pm

      Chris always thought he didn’t like mac & cheese, but it turned out he had only had the boxed kind and THAT was what he didn’t like. Now it’s one of his favorite things. 🙂 But I like your tradition of eating it all yourself – that works too!

  • Reply
    November 4, 2014 at 11:09 am

    I have made tofu a million and one different ways, and this was definitely one of my favorites! So simple and the texture was awesome. The Mac and cheese was delicious as well, my grocery store didn’t have smoked cheddar so I did half sharp cheddar and half smoked gouda, it was perfect 🙂 thanks for the recipe, it will definitely be made again!

  • Reply
    June 6, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    Love this recipe! I just made it for my family and my two year old had three bowls! My husband asked for seconds, and he asked that I keep this recipe in rotation! 😀 Thanks!

  • Reply
    February 5, 2016 at 5:18 pm

    When I was a kid, my dad would cut up hot dogs in mac and cheese–you know, because you need protein. Maybe the kid will eat this!

  • Reply
    December 11, 2019 at 7:14 pm

    Thanks for the idea! I was looking for a way to use up some of my tofu and this hit the spot.

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