Chili Mac and Cheese is a hearty, homey, comfort food dish that is a tasty combination of classic chili and mac and cheese. This Chili Mac recipe is a delicious easy dinner that can be on the table in 30 minutes which makes it a total winner for busy weeknights as well as game day.
What Is Chili Mac?
What happens when you combine the two best comfort food recipes in the world? You get Chili Mac! This homey, hearty recipe is a mouthwatering combination of my Crockpot Chili and Mac and Cheese. It’s unbelievably delicious and one of our go-to dinner recipes when chilly weather kicks in.
Chili Mac and Cheese is one of the recipes you don’t know you’re missing out on until you try it. It’s got the best of both worlds and has been a family favorite for years. Make it once and you’ll be hooked!
Chili Mac Recipe
If you love quick and easy dinners that are ready to go in just about 30 minutes, add this recipe to your menu today. Made with ground beef and macaroni, this easy dinner idea is perfectly seasoned and topped with melted cheese.
It’s a kid-friendly recipe that comes together quickly with pantry staples. It’s a pasta dinner that is extra hearty and loaded with protein. Basically, it’s amazing. Serve with some dinner rolls or Homemade Beer Bread or on it’s own. You really can’t go wrong.
More Ground Beef Recipes
Have more ground beef on hand and need some ideas? Here are some of our go-to recipes that use ground beef:
- Crockpot Chili
- Salisbury Steak Recipe
- Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe
- Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans
- Lazy Day Lasagna
- Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza Pinwheels
What You’ll Need
I love that I keep most if not all of these ingredients on hand. This meal is such a staple in our household, it’s frequently requested and being able to pull it together at the last minute is always a plus. As always, you can find the full printable recipe with complete instructions in the recipe card at the end of this post. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need:
- elbow macaroni – you’ll need 8 ounces of pasta, uncooked. That’s half of a one pound box.
- lean ground beef – you could also use Italian sausage. I use 85% to 90% lean ground beef for this recipe.
- yellow onion
- garlic cloves
- seasoning: chili powder, ground cumin, cayenne (optional), smoked paprika and salt
- tomatoes: crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste
- Worcestershire sauce
- beef broth – or beef stock, use low sodium.
- hot sauce – this is optional but adds a nice kick to the dish.
- kidney beans – rinsed well and drained. You’ll need (2) 15 ounce cans. You can sub in other beans if you like.
- garnish – shredded cheese (Cheddar, Colby Jack, Mozzarella), green onions, parsley, cilantro – all optional.
How To Make Chili Mac
Make the Macaroni.
Cook macaroni according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
Make the Chili.
Brown the ground beef until mostly cooked through. Add the diced onion and cook until onion is translucent. Add minced garlic and continue cooking for an additional minute. Stir in the seasoning until combined. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, hot sauce and kidney beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes or until chili has thickened.
Chili Mac Time.
Stir the cooked macaroni into the chili and top with shredded cheese, place a lid on the chili mac to melt the cheese or place under the broiler for a few minutes, just until cheese is melted and bubbling. Serve and enjoy.
One Pot Chili Mac
The Best Chili Mac Toppings
I love toppings on chili and chili mac is no exception. Do not in anyway limit yourtoppings to these suggestions. Do what feels right 🙂
- Cheese – sharp cheddar is my favorite
- Avocados – you can go sliced, diced, or guacamole
- Jalapeños – pickled or fresh
- Green Onions – adds a bright, fresh flavor
- Cilantro – the same as green onions, and my personal favorite
- Bacon – because… bacon.
Variations To Consider
I know you’re going to love this recipe as written but I like to provide some simple changes that you can easily make for a new twist on this recipe.
- Try a different type of pasta. Any pasta will work in this recipe since it is cooked first and then just stirred in. You could use penne, bow tie or even spaghetti!
- Use a different type of bean. I like kidney beans in this recipe but we also use black or pinto if that’s what I have on hand. Use two different beans for more flavor.
- For a chunkier tomato chili, opt for diced tomatoes instead of crushed tomatoes.
- Make it a one pot chili mac by increasing the amount of beef broth or stock to 4 cups and add the pasta in the same step. Bring to a boil and then continue cooking until pasta is tender.
Refrigerator. Leftovers should be store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Freezer. To freeze, let cool to room temperature, transfer to an airtight, freezer safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm gently on the stove top. You may need to add additional beef broth or stock to “loosen” it up.
Watch Me Make It
More Comfort Food Favorites
- Salisbury Steak Recipe
- Chicken Fried Steak Recipe
- Chicken and Noodles Recipe
- The Best Tuna Casserole with Noodles
- Easy Stuffed Shells
- Easy Lazy Day Lasagna
- The BEST Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese
How To Make Chili Mac
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni pasta uncooked, dry
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1½ tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne optional
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 22 ounces crushed tomatoes use the entire can, juice and all
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ¾ cup beef broth
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 30 ounces kidney beans 2 cans, rinsed well and drained
- 8 ounces shredded cheese for serving
- Cook macaroni according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside.8 ounces elbow macaroni pasta
- While the macaroni is cooking, brown the ground beef in a dutch oven or large, deep skillet over medium heat until mostly cooked through. A little pink is fine.1 pound lean ground beef
- Add the diced onion and stir to combine, cooking over medium heat until onion is translucent. Add minced garlic and continue cooking for an additional minute.1 medium yellow onion, 2 garlic cloves
- Stir in the chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne (if using) and salt until combined.1½ tablespoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, ¼ teaspoon cayenne, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, ½ teaspoon salt
- Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, hot sauce and kidney beans.22 ounces crushed tomatoes, 8 ounces tomato sauce, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, ¾ cup beef broth, 1 teaspoon hot sauce, 30 ounces kidney beans
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until chili has thickened.
- Stir in the cooked macaroni and season with salt and pepper if needed.
- Top with shredded cheese, place a lid on the chili mac to melt the cheese or place under the broiler for a few minutes, just until cheese is melted and bubbling.8 ounces shredded cheese
- Serve with desired toppings such as shredded cheese, jalapenos, tomatoes, sour cream, etc.