Smoked Cheddar Mac & Cheese with Baked BBQ Tofu

By Kiersten | Last Updated: May 28, 2014

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 and 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. 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 non-sensical 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 and 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 and 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.

Go to Smoked Cheddar Mac & Cheese with Baked BBQ Tofu recipe

Smoked Cheddar Mac & Cheese with Baked BBQ Tofu

Prep Time:

30 minutes

Cook Time:

40 minutes

Total Time:

1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield:

4 servings

ingredients:

  • 1 (14-ounce) package extra-firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce, divided
  • 8 ounces 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
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instructions:

  1. Press tofu for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Remove the sauce from heat and whisk in the smoked cheddar. Fold in the macaroni, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Divide the mac & cheese into 4 bowls, then top each one with 1/4 of the baked tofu.

About Kiersten

Kiersten is the founder and editor of Oh My Veggies.

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Comments

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!

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!)

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

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!

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!

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.

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!

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!

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!

I tried to start a mac and cheese for Valentine’s day tradition two years ago, but 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?!

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!

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!

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!

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