If you're looking for a quick and delicious meal that combines the comforting flavors of chili and macaroni, then look no further. Chili Mac Casserole is a classic dish that has won the hearts of home cooks, busy parents, and food enthusiasts alike. Let's take a trip down memory lane and whip up this hearty casserole that's perfect for any weeknight dinner.

Chili Mac Casserole

Introduction to Chili Mac Casserole

Chili Mac Casserole has been a staple in American households for decades. Combining the rich, spicy flavors of chili with the cheesy goodness of macaroni, it's no wonder this dish remains popular. Whether you're new to cooking or a seasoned chef, this recipe is straightforward, delicious, and versatile enough to suit any palate.


To make this delightful casserole, you'll need:

  • 1 pound ground beef (or vegetarian meat substitute)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 can (15 oz) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Optional toppings like sour cream, chopped green onions, or jalapeños

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Prep the Ingredients

Before you start cooking, make sure all your ingredients are ready. Dice the onion and bell pepper, mince the garlic, and drain and rinse the kidney beans.

Step 2: Cook the Beef

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, brown the ground beef over medium heat until fully cooked. If you're using a vegetarian meat substitute, cook according to the package instructions. Drain any excess fat.

Step 3: Sauté the Vegetables

Add the diced onion, bell pepper, and minced garlic to the skillet. Cook until the vegetables are soft and the onions are translucent about 5-7 minutes.

Step 4: Add the Beans and Tomatoes

Stir in the kidney beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and chicken (or vegetable) broth. Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine everything well.

Step 5: Simmer

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. This allows the flavors to meld together.

Step 6: Add Macaroni

Stir in the uncooked elbow macaroni. Continue to simmer until the pasta is cooked al dente, about 10-12 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

Step 7: Finish with Cheese

Once the macaroni is cooked, remove the skillet from heat. Sprinkle the shredded cheddar cheese over the top and cover the skillet until the cheese melts.

Step 8: Bake (Optional)

For an extra crispy finish, you can transfer the mixture to a baking dish, top with additional cheese, and bake at 350°F (175°C) for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.

Customization Tips

  • Spicy: Add diced jalapeños or a dash of hot sauce to kick up the heat.
  • Vegetarian: Use a meatless ground beef substitute and vegetable broth.
  • Extra Veggies: Add corn, zucchini, or mushrooms for added nutrition and texture.

Serving Suggestions and Storage Tips

Serve your Chili Mac Casserole hot, topped with a dollop of sour cream, chopped green onions, or jalapeños for a spicy kick. Pair it with a simple green salad or cornbread for a complete meal.

For leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or oven until warmed through. You can also freeze portions for up to 3 months; just thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.


There you have it—a delicious and easy-to-make Chili Mac Casserole that’s sure to become a family favorite. We’d love to hear how your dish turned out! Share your experiences and photos in the comments below or tag us on social media.

Happy cooking!

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