The Best Chili Mac and Cheese


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A combination of a hearty homemade chili and a cheesy mac and cheese, this Chili Mac and Cheese is comfort in a bowl! This chili mac is the perfect weeknight recipe.

Made in one pot, this chili mac recipe is packed with flavor and a family favorite. It is such an easy weeknight recipe that will always hit the spot and is the perfect kid-friendly recipe. It’s so easy to whip up with pantry staples.

If you want more quick and easy family friendly recipes, you need to try my Healthy Orange Chicken and Spicy Cashew Chicken Recipe. They’re so tasty and easy to make.

Why You’ll Love This

  • A one pot wonder. The less dishes to do on a weeknight, the better! You’ve got the protein, carbs, and vegetables all in one pot. I love making one pot recipes since it’s so easy to cook up.
  • It uses pantry staples. We use a ton of kitchen staples that we always have on hand, like canned beans and canned tomatoes. Plus a ton of seasoning that’s always in the spice cabinet.
  • 30 minute dinner. You really can’t beat a 30 minute dinner. It’s fast, easy, and you won’t have to worry about the kids bugging you about being hungry for dinner.

What You’ll Need

  • Elbow pasta — or a similar small pasta shape if you’d prefer
  • Diced tomatoes 
  • Seasoning: chili powder, salt, cumin powder
  • Green chili pepper 
  • Onion — you can use any type of onion: red, sweet, yellow, or white onion
  • Garlic
  • Broth — I use chicken broth
  • Red bell pepper 
  • Ground beef 
  • Olive oil 
  • Shredded Mexican cheese — or cheddar
  • Red kidney beans 
  • Cilantro
Ingredients needed to make chili mac and cheese.

How To Make Chili Mac and Cheese

  • Sauté the aromatics: Bring a large skillet or pot over high heat and add in the oil. Add in the onion and sauté until tender and translucent in color. Add in the garlic and sauté for another minute.
Set of two photos showing seasoning added to ground meat.
  • Cook the beef and bell pepper: Add in the ground beef and sauté until cooked and no longer pink. Add in the spices, salt and sauté for another minute.
Set of two photos showing bell peppers added to a pot and diced tomatoes with liquid added.
  • Then add in the red bell pepper. Mix together with the meat mixture and cook for 2-3 more minutes.
Set of two photos showing macaroni added into a pot and then red kidney beans added.
  • Add in the rest of the ingredients: Add in the tomatoes, chicken broth and chili powder. Mix and then add in the pasta. Give it another mix, then cover the skillet. Bring the heat down to medium-low and allow the pasta to cook for 5 minutes. Open the pot and add in the drained beans. Stir and cover to cook for another 7 minutes.
Set of two photos showing cheese being mixed into a pot of chili mac and cheese.
  • Add in the cheese: Open the lid and stir in half of the cheese. Mix to combine well. Then top the dish with the other half of the cheese. Turn the heat to low and cover with the lid to allow the cheese to melt. Once it melts remove the pot from heat. Takes just a couple of minutes.
  • Enjoy: Top with some fresh cilantro and serve.
Overhead view of a pot of chili mac and cheese.

Tips and Notes

  • You can use whatever onion you have on hand.
  • Feel free to change the red bell peppers to any type of bell pepper.
  • If you want to make this spicier, you can add some cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes.
  • You can swap the ground beef for any other types of ground meats like ground chicken, ground turkey, etc.
  • Shredded your own cheese will give you the best results. Pre-shredded cheese has a dusting on them to keep them from clumping so it doesn’t melt as smoothly. Shred your own cheese by running a block of cheese through a food processor.
  • Be sure to use a large enough pot so everything fits! At the minimum, your pot should be 5 QTs.
  • Top this with whatever you desire! Avocado, fresh herbs, chips, and more. Any topping you use for chili will go well with this chili mac recipe.
Close upo f a pot of chili mac being scooped with a spoon.

FAQs

Can I freeze this?

Yes, you can freeze this chili mac recipe. Once it has cooled to room temperature, you can transfer it to a freezer container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge and reheat when ready to enjoy.

How do I store leftover chili mac?

If you’ve got leftovers, you can let it cool to room temperature before transferring the chili mac to an airtight container. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can reheat the chili mac and cheese recipe in the microwave or on the stovetop.

Can I add more vegetables in this chili mac and cheese?

You can add all types of vegetables into the dish — try adding cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, peas, and even peas in this recipe for added texture and nutrients. 

Close up of a pot of chili mac and cheese.

Want More Delicious Dinner Recipes?

I hope you enjoy all the recipes I share with you, including this delicious Chili Mac and Cheese recipe. I hope you try it, enjoy it, rate it and share it with your friends and family!

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Chili Mac and Cheese

A combination of a hearty homemade chili and a cheesy mac and cheese, this Chili Mac and Cheese is comfort in a bowl! Made in 30 minutes, this one pot chili mac is the perfect weeknight recipe.

Prep Time 10 mins

Cook Time 25 mins

Total Time 30 mins

Instructions

  • Bring a large skillet or pot over high heat and add in the oil. Add in the onion and sauté until tender and translucent in color. Add in the garlic and sauté for another minute.

  • Add in the ground beef and sauté until cooked and no longer pink. Add in the spices, salt and sauté for another minute. Then add in the red bell pepper. Mix together with the meat mixture and cook for 2-3 more minutes.

  • Add in the tomatoes, chicken broth and chili powder. Mix and then add in the pasta. Give it another mix, then cover the skillet. Bring the heat down to medium-low and allow the pasta to cook for 5 minutes. Open the pot and add in the drained beans. Stir and cover to cook for another 7 minutes.

  • Open the lid and stir in half of the cheese. Mix to combine well. Then top the dish with the other half of the cheese. Turn the heat to low and cover with the lid to allow the cheese to melt. Once it melts remove pot from heat. Takes just a couple of minutes.

  • Top with some fresh cilantro and serve.

Notes

  • You can use whatever onion you have on hand.
  • Feel free to change the red bell peppers to any type of bell pepper.
  • If you want to make this spicier, you can add some cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes.
  • You can swap the ground beef for any other types of ground meats like ground chicken, ground turkey, etc.
  • Shredded your own cheese will give you the best results. Pre-shredded cheese has a dusting on them to keep them from clumping so it doesn’t melt as smoothly. Shred your own cheese by running a block of cheese through a food processor.
  • Be sure to use a large enough pot so everything fits! At the minimum, your pot should be 5 QTs.
  • Top this with whatever you desire! Avocado, fresh herbs, chips, and more. Any topping you use for chili will go well with this chili mac recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 595kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 89mg | Sodium: 1403mg | Potassium: 747mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 3577IU | Vitamin C: 47mg | Calcium: 349mg | Iron: 6mg






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