Stovetop Southwest Tuna Mac and Cheese

A southwest inspired version of tuna mac and cheese with taco seasoning, black beans, yellowfin tuna and plenty of cheese. This creamy, spicy tuna mac and cheese recipe comes together in just 30 minutes and is packed with protein. Perfect for weeknight dinners, game day or anytime you have a comfort food craving!

Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
25 mins

Raise your hand if you loveeeee mac and cheese.

As a kid, my Dad would always make me mac and cheese made with sharp or white cheddar, LOTS and lots of pepper. If I was lucky, he’d would add peas (because I loved them more than any other veggie in the world.)

Now that I’m into full on #adulting, I LOVE when my mac and cheese is packed with anything just a little bit unique: truffle mac and cheese, vegan mac and cheese, mac and cheese with a Ritz cracker topping, mac and cheese with brussels, zucchini mac and cheese, or even a classic broccoli cheddar mac and cheese. Can mac and cheese be its own food group yet?

I thought I’d bring you another unique twist on mac and cheese that I’m absolutely in love with: SOUTHWEST TUNA MAC AND CHEESE with spicy flavors and unique umami flavor. Trust me, I know that it sounds a little crazy, but I promise you it’s one of the BEST tuna mac and cheese recipes you’ll ever make.

spicy tuna mac and cheese in a skillet

Ingredients in tuna mac and cheese

Not only is this tuna mac and cheese packed with flavor, but it also uses simple ingredients and pantry staples that you might already have on-hand. The extra protein makes this a delicious, healthy tuna mac and cheese dinner!

  • Elbow noodles: You can use gluten free, whole grain or regular noodles. I really love the chickpea pasta noodles because of the extra fiber but whole grain is wonderful, too.
  • Sharp cheddar cheese: I like to use a block of cheddar because it melts much easier. I do not recommend using pre-shredded cheddar for this recipe, but rather shred or cube it yourself.
  • Whole wheat pastry flour: this flour helps to make a perfectly thick cheese sauce for the tuna mac and cheese. You can also use all purpose or gluten free all purpose flour!
  • Canned yellowfin tuna: I AM IN LOVE with the tuna in this recipe. It adds an interesting savory umami flavor that I can’t get enough of, not to mention tons of protein. You can use yellowfin or albacore tuna in this delicious recipe.
  • Taco seasoning: I decided to use a packet of organic taco seasoning to season the mac and cheese because that’s what I had in my cupboard, however I have a DIY version of taco seasoning is in the recipe notes for you!
  • Black beans: These beans are another reason I love this recipe. The fiber and protein in the beans help to keep you full and add a southwest flair to the recipe.
  • Unsweetened cashew or almond milk (from the carton): Obviously you can use regular milk (although I wouldn’t use skim). I chose to use cashew milk because it’s incredibly creamy and adds amazing flavor to the mac and cheese. Feel free to use unsweetened cashew milk from the carton or homemade cashew milk. You can also use unsweetened coconut milk or almond milk.

stovetop tuna mac and cheese in a skillet

How to make tuna mac and cheese on the stovetop

  1. First boil the noodles until al dente, according to the directions on the package. Once done cooking, drain and set aside.
  2. While the noodles are boiling, make a slurry: In a large oven safe skillet or pot add butter and garlic. Once butter is melted, whisk in the flour and onion powder and cook for 30 seconds until a paste forms. Slowly add in cashew milk, whisking away any lumps.
  3. Increase the heat and bring your mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes stirring every so often, until the sauce thickens up similar to a gravy
  4. Next add in 6 ounces of shredded cheese and 1 packet of taco seasoning and stir until completely melted. 
  5. Finally fold in cooked noodles, black beans and drained tuna and mix until well combined. 
  6. Top with 2 ounces of shredded cheddar. Then you can either serve the mac and cheese and just fold in the extra cheddar you just added, or remove it from the heat and place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and slightly golden. Top with cilantro and hot sauce if desired!

How to make your own taco seasoning

Mix together the following and add to the tuna mac and cheese as instructed:

This combo will give your easy tuna mac and cheese that spicy southwest flavor. YUM.

healthy tuna mac and cheese in a skillet with a wooden spoon

I know you are going to love this filling comfort food tuna mac and cheese. It’s wonderful on a cozy evening and great for reheating too. I recommend topping it with hot sauce and cilantro!

If you like this recipe, you might also like

One Pan Enchilada Zucchini Turkey Meatballs and Rice

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Healthy Tuna Noodle Casserole

30 minute Healthier Pasta Carbonara

Goat Cheese & Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breast with Caramelized Onions + Mushrooms

If you make this easy tuna mac and cheese recipe, be sure to leave a comment and rate the recipe below letting me know how you like it. You can also upload a photo and tag #ambitiouskitchen on Instagram! xo.

Stovetop Southwest Tuna Mac and Cheese

5 from 13 votes
tuna mac and cheese in a skillet
Course Dinner, Seafood
Cuisine American
Keyword spicy tuna mac and cheese, stovetop tuna mac and cheese, tuna mac and cheese
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Serves 6

A southwest inspired version of tuna mac and cheese with taco seasoning, black beans, yellowfin tuna and plenty of cheese. This creamy, spicy tuna mac and cheese recipe comes together in just 30 minutes and is packed with protein. Perfect for weeknight dinners, game day or anytime you have a comfort food craving!

Ingredients

  • 8 oz elbow noodles (or whatever noodles you'd like)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or sub regular flour or GF all purpose flour)
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cashew or almond milk
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 oz sharp cheddar cheese (about 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese)
  • 1 (1.1 ounce) packet taco seasoning (preferably organic)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (5 ounce) can yellowfin or albacore tuna, drained
  • 2 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded and reserved for the topping (or about ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese)
  • To garnish:
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Hot sauce, if desired

Instructions

  1. First boil the noodles until al dente, according to the directions on the package. Once done cooking, drain and set aside.
  2. While the noodles are boiling, make a slurry: In a large oven safe skillet or pot add butter and garlic. Once butter is melted, whisk in the flour and onion powder and cook for 30 seconds until a paste forms. Slowly add in cashew milk, whisking away any lumps.

  3. Increase heat and bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes stirring every so often, until the sauce thickens up similar to a gravy

  4. Next add in 6 oz cheese and 1 packet of taco seasoning and stir until completely melted. 
  5. Finally fold in cooked noodles, black beans and drained tuna and mix until well combined. 

  6. Top with 2 ounces of shredded cheddar. At this point you can either serve the mac and cheese and just fold in the extra cheddar you just added, or remove from heat and place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and slightly golden. Serves 6. Top with cilantro and hot sauce if desired!

Recipe Notes

To make your own taco seasoning: mix together the following and add the mac and cheese: 2 teaspoons cumin, 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon paprika, ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper, ¾ teaspoon salt.

To make dairy free: feel free to use my cashew cheese sauce instead of making the cheese sauce for this recipe.

Nutrition
Servings: 6 servings
Serving size: 1 serving
Calories: 425kcal
Fat: 19g
Saturated fat: 10.6g
Carbohydrates: 40.8g
Fiber: 6.6g
Sugar: 1.6g
Protein: 23.2g
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