Looking for the ultimate comfort food that combines the hearty richness of chili with the creamy, cheesy goodness of mac and cheese? Meet Chili Mac. This dish has long been a favorite among home cooks and comfort food enthusiasts alike. It's simple, satisfying, and perfect for a cozy night in.

chili mac

Ingredients Required

Before we get started, gather the following ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef or turkey
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (15 oz) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups beef or chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Optional toppings: sour cream, green onions, jalapeños

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Cook the Beef

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, cook the ground beef (or turkey) over medium heat until it's no longer pink. Break it apart with a spoon as it cooks. Once done, drain any excess fat.

Step 2: Add Vegetables

Add the diced onion, bell pepper, and minced garlic to the skillet. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.

Step 3: Incorporate the Liquids and Beans

Pour in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and broth. Stir to combine, then add the kidney beans and black beans. Mix well.

Step 4: Season the Mixture

Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, and black pepper to the skillet. Stir everything together until well combined.

Step 5: Cook the Pasta

Bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the elbow macaroni and stir to ensure it's evenly distributed. Cover the skillet and cook for about 10-12 minutes, or until the pasta is tender.

Step 6: Add Cheese

Once the pasta is cooked, remove the skillet from heat. Stir in the shredded cheddar cheese until it's melted and the mixture is creamy.

Tips for Perfect Chili Mac

  • Balance Flavors: Adjust the seasoning to your liking. If you prefer a spicier dish, add a pinch of cayenne pepper or some chopped jalapeños.
  • Texture Matters: Don't overcook the pasta. Make sure it's al dente to maintain the right texture.
  • One-Pot Wonder: Use a large skillet or Dutch oven to keep this a one-pot meal, making cleanup a breeze.

Serving Suggestions and Customizations

  • Toppings Galore: Top your Chili Mac with sour cream, green onions, or jalapeños for an extra kick.
  • Vegetarian Option: Skip the meat and add more beans or some roasted vegetables.
  • Mix and Match: Use different types of cheese or pasta shapes to suit your preference.


There you have it—the ultimate Chili Mac recipe. It's a quick, one-pot dish that combines the best of chili and mac and cheese into a comforting meal the whole family will love. Enjoy the simplicity and satisfaction of this classic comfort food.

Happy cooking!

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