Chili Mac

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My Chili Mac recipe is a mouthwatering masterpiece! Chili mac and cheese is a mildly spicy and hearty pasta casserole that absolutely overflows with ooey-gooey cheesiness!

chili mac recipe on fork

Chili Mac ingredients are all delicious on their own: creamy beans, ooey gooey cheddar cheese, savory ground beef, tender macaroni, and the always drool worthy garlic.

Toss them all together in a skillet, and you have a meal no one will resist! Top it with your chili favorites, or enjoy it as it is. 

One-pot pasta meals are lifesavers. Whether you’re a student on a budget, a parent, or a busy professional, you gotta love them!

They are inexpensive, filling, and always taste fantastic.

This particular chili mac recipe doesn’t use any seasonal ingredients, so you can really make it any time you want!

Personally, I love making it during cold or rainy weather – it sticks to your ribs and is so cozy!

ingredients for chili mac recipe in bowls

Chili Mac Recipe

This recipe comes together in 30 minutes, and makes a hefty 7 servings. So it’s great for families, meal prep, or game day parties!

Dressing up mac and cheese is almost a pastime of mine. Try out these recipes that combine this cheesy delight with broccoli, beer and bacon, and even Jack Daniels!

adding ingredients for chili mac to pot

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Ground Beef – You want to use lean ground beef — somewhere around 90%. But this is also the perfect recipe to swap in some healthier proteins!

    Turkey, chicken, and even a meatless alternative are just as tasty as beef.
  • Onion and Garlic – Where there’s flavor, there’s onion and garlic! Don’t swap in onion or garlic powder.

    Take the time to saute and bring out the natural flavors (and irresistable scents!) of these ingredients.

    As for substitutes, green onion, shallots, or chives are all super onion choices.
  • Elbow Macaroni – A classic mac and cheese noodle, but don’t feel boxed in! Any tube pasta is really fine. And if you want to use farfalle or fusilli? I say go for it!
  • Pinto Beans – These creamy beans are my choice for chili. Black beans or kidney beans, however, work like a charm. You can even use a mix — go nuts!
  • Cheddar Cheese – Use one that’s nice and sharp, and ideally freshly grated. Even better, use a variety of cheeses. More cheese, please!

    Parmesan, Monterey Jack, and Gruyere are three really delicious varieties that I love to use in mac and cheese. Mix them into the dish, or just melt them on top!
adding shredded cheese to chili mac recipe

Ideas for the Best Ever Chili Mac and Cheese

  1. Make it meatless. You don’t need meat to enjoy the chili flavor and you’ll still have a filling meal. Amp up the beans – use more than one kind if you’d like!

    Bell peppers or any hot chiles can also be tossed right in — saute them with the onions and garlic.

    Chickpeas and corn are two other vegetarian chili faves of mine that you can add to the mix!
  1. Dress up your chili mac. What chili toppings do you love? Jalapenos, avocados, Fritos, or sour cream? Toss them right on top!
  1. Make it spicier. Play with the spices for your ideal heat level. Cayenne pepper works really well with the flavors in this dish.

    If you don’t want to spice up the whole batch, just add some hot sauce to your own bowl.
  2. And don’t be afraid to go all out inferno hot – add some fresh chile peppers like jalapenos or chiles in adobo on top!
blue pot full of chili mac

Storing and Reheating

Wrap your leftovers up in an airtight container and toss them in the fridge; they should stay fresh for about 4 days.

Reheating is a breeze – just microwave for 20 seconds, give it a stir, and repeat until warmed through.

My chili mac recipe is also great for make-ahead meals because you can freeze it for up to 3 months.

It isn’t a good idea to freeze, thaw, and then refreeze meat, so be sure to store in separate containers if you plan on making leftovers into several meals. 

Chili Mac Recipe FAQ

Do I have to use macaroni in chili mac and cheese?

Not at all! Use any noodle you have shoved toward the back of your pantry.

I recommend using a tube or smaller noodle, but the only pasta I really don’t recommend using is something long and thin like spaghetti.
 
But again, use whatever you want! It’ll be tasty either way. 

What can I serve with chili mac and cheese?

I have so many recommendations, but I’ll narrow it down to just a few! Cornbread and/or red rice are scrumptious carbs to have on the side, for sure.

As for veggies, you can’t go wrong with green beans and coleslaw.

plate of chili mac recipe on table with forks

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close up of chili mac recipe on fork

Other Easy Mac and Cheese Recipes

fork of chili mac close up

Chili Mac Recipe

Donna Elick
My Chili Mac recipe is easy to make for a hearty comfort food meal! Chili mac and cheese is a bit spicy, super cheesy, SO flipping good!
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main
Cuisine American
Method Stovetop
Servings 7

Equipment

Ingredients
 

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 32 ounces beef stock
  • 3 cups dry elbow macaroni
  • 29 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 30 ounce can pinto beans , drained and rinsed
  • 14.5 ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions
 

  • Add the ground beef to a large pot or Dutch oven and cook over medium heat until all the meat is browned, approximately 7 minutes.
  • Line a plate with paper towels and drain the beef onto the plate.
  • Add the oil and onions, cook over medium until the onions have become translucent, about three minutes. They will continue to soften as they cook. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
  • Pour in the broth, pasta, tomato sauce, beans, diced tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.
  • Bring the mixture up to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Uncover and cook for an additional 3 minutes until some of the liquid has been reduced.
  • Stir in the cheese and serve warm.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 959cal | Carbohydrates: 136g | Protein: 60g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 1548mg | Sugar: 11g | Fiber: 24g | Calcium: 451mg | Iron: 11mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
chili mac close up

Originally published July 2022

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2 Comments

  1. Wow, this sounds great, I’m going to try it! I didn’t see where you add the macaroni/pasta in the directions but I assume you put it in uncooked along with the broth, etc. Yummy!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Melanie! Yes, the pasta is added in step 4, along with the broth. Please come back after you make it and let us know what you think.
      TSRI Team member, Becca

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