Miso-Carrot Mac & Cheese

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Why You’ll Love Miso Carrot Mac and Cheese

If you’re skeptical, just bear with me. The carrot flavour disappears and adds the familiar orange you expect from mac and cheese, and miso is a magical ingredient that adds saltiness and umami.

I promise, this macaroni and cheese recipe does not taste like carrots and miso noodle soup.

I made this recipe for casual dinner with friends a while ago, when I thought I had nothing at all in the fridge. I love something-from-nothing meals.  

I have this tub of miso paste staring at me from the fridge and it was driving me crazy that I didn’t use it more often. It’s got such a great depth and savouriness without having an over-powering flavour.

Here’s What You Need

For the Miso-Carrot Mac & Cheese recipe, a blend of traditional ingredients with a twist of miso and carrot puree makes this dish stand out. Let’s look at what you’ll need to create this comforting yet innovative meal.

Miso-Carrot Mac & Cheese Ingredients

Each ingredient in this recipe plays a crucial role in delivering its unique taste and creamy texture.

  • Penne or Elbow Macaroni: The foundation of any mac & cheese, choose your preferred shape.
  • Butter: Used for sautéing and adding richness.
  • Onion: Adds sweetness and depth to the sauce.
  • Garlic: For a hint of sharp, aromatic flavor.
  • All-purpose Flour: Thickens the sauce, creating the perfect consistency.
  • Milk: The liquid base for the creamy cheese sauce.
  • White Miso Paste: Introduces a savory umami depth that’s unexpected and delightful.
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese: Provides the classic, gooey cheese pull and flavor.
  • Cooked Pureed Carrots: Adds natural sweetness, color, and a nutritional boost.
  • Pepper and Salt: Essential seasonings to enhance the overall flavor.
  • Fresh Breadcrumbs or Panko: Adds a crunchy texture contrast as a topping.
  • Parsley: Brings freshness and color to the breadcrumb topping.
  • Lemon Zest: An optional zing that brightens up the flavors.

Variations and Substitutions

This recipe is flexible, allowing for personal adjustments or dietary considerations.

  • Gluten-Free Options: Substitute regular pasta and flour with gluten-free alternatives.
  • Vegan Adjustments: Use plant-based milk, vegan butter, and cheese substitutes. There are also miso pastes that fit vegan diets.
  • Additional Vegetables: Mix in spinach, peas, or broccoli for an extra dose of greens.
  • Spice It Up: A sprinkle of chili flakes or a dash of hot sauce can add a warm kick.

Grab these Tools

A few basic kitchen tools will assist you in making this delicious dish.

  • Large Pot: For cooking the pasta to just the right texture.
  • Saucepan: Necessary for making the miso-carrot cheese sauce.
  • Whisk: Helps incorporate the miso paste smoothly into the sauce.
  • Blender: For pureeing the cooked carrots, unless pre-prepared puree is used.
  • Baking Dish: A 2-quart dish is ideal for assembling and baking the mac & cheese.
  • Mixing Bowl: Needed for combining the breadcrumb topping ingredients.

Armed with these ingredients, variations, and tools, you’re all set to prepare Miso-Carrot Mac & Cheese, a dish that promises to be as delightful to make as it is to eat.

So I’ve been whisking it into all kinds of sauces and dressings and gravies where it technically has no business, and of course, homemade mac and cheese sauce.

How to Make Miso-Carrot Mac & Cheese: An Easy Guide

Miso-Carrot Mac & Cheese offers a unique twist on the classic dish by incorporating the umami richness of miso and the natural sweetness of carrots. This recipe serves 6 and is a delightful way to add a burst of flavor and nutrition to your meal.

Preparing the Ingredients

  • Cook the Pasta: Start by boiling your pasta in a large pot of salted water until it’s al dente. Drain and keep it aside.
  • Sauté the Base: Melt butter in a saucepan, then cook chopped onion until it softens. Add minced garlic and cook for a bit more.

Crafting the Miso-Carrot Sauce

  • Thicken with Flour: Stir in flour to the sautéed onions and garlic, cooking for a minute before slowly adding milk to avoid lumps.
  • Incorporate Miso: Mix the miso paste with a bit of the hot sauce to dissolve, then combine it back into the saucepan, enriching the sauce with umami.
  • Cheese and Carrot Puree: Blend in the shredded cheese until smooth, then stir in the carrot puree for sweetness and color, seasoning with pepper and salt.

Baking to Perfection

  • Combine Pasta and Sauce: Mix the pasta well with the miso-carrot sauce, ensuring each piece is coated.
  • Add Toppings: Prepare the breadcrumb mixture with parsley, lemon zest, melted butter, and extra cheese for a crispy top layer.
  • Bake: Place it all in a baking dish and bake until the top is golden and the edges are bubbling.

Make Ahead and Storage

This Miso-Carrot Mac & Cheese is not only scrumptious but also perfect for prepping ahead:

  • Prep Ahead: Assemble the dish up to the point of baking and refrigerate it covered for up to 24 hours before you plan to bake it.
  • Storing Leftovers: Store cooled leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. They’ll stay good for up to 3 days.
  • Freezing: You can freeze the baked dish for up to a month. Just thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat.
  • Reheating: Warm it in the oven at 350°F until hot throughout or microwave in short bursts, stirring in between.

With its unique flavor profile, this Miso-Carrot Mac & Cheese is sure to become a new favorite in your recipe collection, blending classic comfort with an innovative twist.

Note: for the carrots, peel and slice them, just barely cover them with water in a saucepan over high heat, then cook until very tender before draining and pureeing in a blender or food processor.

Don’t Miss These Mac and Cheese Favs:

Other Creamy Pasta Favorites:

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Miso-Carrot Mac & Cheese

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 6


For Macaroni & Cheese

  • ¾ lb 340 g penne or elbow macaroni
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • ½ medium onion finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 4 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ cups milk
  • 2 tbsp white miso paste
  • 10 ounces 2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, or a combination of cheddar and gruyere
  • 1 cup cooked pureed carrots (see cooking note above), from about 4 medium carrots
  • tsp pepper
  • salt to taste

For Topping

  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs or panko
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh parsley or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 tsp lemon zest optional
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • ½ cup 2 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
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  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Cook pasta in a large pot of salted, boiling water until al dente (for elbow macaroni, that’s about 7 minutes, for penne, more like 10). Drain and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk, a bit at a time.
  • Bring sauce to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to low and cook until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes.
  • Place the miso paste in a small bowl and slowly whisk in about 1/2 cup of the hot sauce until completely blended. Whisk this miso mixture into the rest of the sauce. Add shredded cheese, whisking until smooth. Whisk in carrot puree, pepper, and salt to taste. Add pasta to the sauce and stir to evenly coat. Transfer pasta to a buttered 2 quart (2 litre) baking dish.
  • In a medium bowl, combine all topping ingredients and sprinkle evenly over pasta. Transfer dish to oven and bake until topping is golden and sauce is bubbling at edges, about 20 minutes.
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