Chili Mac Recipe: A Comforting One-Pot Meal for Busy Weeknights

Bowl of chili mac and cheese with melted strands of mozzarella on top.

Welcome to your new go-to comfort food haven! If you’re on a quest for a dish that wraps warmth, zest, and a touch of nostalgia into every forkful, you’ve just found your match. Chili Mac, a delightful fusion of hearty chili and comforting macaroni, is more than just a meal; it’s a hug in a bowl. Perfect for chilly evenings, busy weeknights, or whenever you crave something deeply satisfying, this recipe promises to be a crowd-pleaser.

Why You’ll Love This Chili Mac Recipe

Our Chili Mac recipe stands out for several reasons, making it a must-try for anyone who loves good food. Here’s why you’ll fall in love with it:

  • Ease of Preparation: With simple, straightforward steps, this recipe is accessible to cooks of all levels. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a kitchen novice, creating a delicious Chili Mac will be a breeze.
  • One-Pot Wonder: Say goodbye to piles of dishes! This entire meal comes together in just one pot, making both cooking and cleanup as easy as can be.
  • Customizable: Cater to your taste buds or dietary needs with ease. This recipe is wonderfully versatile, allowing for adjustments and substitutions to suit your preferences.
  • Comforting and Nutritious: Not only is this dish incredibly comforting, but it also packs a nutritional punch. With protein-rich beef, fiber-filled beans, and a variety of spices, you’re getting a well-rounded meal.
  • Family-Friendly: Kids and adults alike will be drawn to this cheesy, meaty, and utterly delicious dish. It’s a fantastic way to bring everyone to the table with smiles on their faces.

Nutritional Information

While specific nutritional values can vary based on the exact ingredients used, a serving of Chili Mac is approximately 390 kcal, with a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. It’s a fulfilling meal that can fit into a balanced diet. For a deeper dive into the calories and nutrients in Chili Mac, check out Carb Manager’s analysis of chili with beans, meat, and macaroni.

Full Recipe:


To whip up this comforting Chili Mac, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (15 oz) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

These simple yet flavorful components combine to create a dish that’s as nutritious as it is delicious, ensuring a meal that’s packed with protein, fiber, and a symphony of flavors.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Follow these steps to create a mouthwatering Chili Mac that’s sure to become a staple in your recipe collection:

  1. Brown the Beef: In a large pot, cook the ground beef over medium heat until it’s no longer pink. Make sure to break it apart with a spoon as it cooks. Once browned, drain any excess fat to keep the dish hearty yet not overly greasy.
  2. Sauté the Aromatics: Add the chopped onion and minced garlic to the pot with the beef. Sauté until the onion becomes translucent and fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. This step layers in those foundational flavors that are key to a great Chili Mac.
  3. Combine the Ingredients: Stir in the diced tomatoes (with their juice), kidney beans, tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. The spices should be adjusted to taste, but these measurements offer a good balance of warmth and depth.
  4. Add the Macaroni: Mix in the elbow macaroni, ensuring it’s well incorporated with the sauce and other ingredients. Then, pour in enough water to just cover the macaroni. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
  5. Simmer to Perfection: Cover the pot and let the Chili Mac simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the macaroni is tender. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and ensure even cooking.
  6. Cheese It Up: Once the macaroni is cooked through, sprinkle the shredded cheddar cheese over the top of the Chili Mac. Cover the pot again and let it sit off the heat for a few minutes, or until the cheese has melted into gooey perfection.
  7. Serve and Enjoy: Ladle the Chili Mac into bowls, and if desired, top with additional cheese, fresh chopped cilantro, or a dollop of sour cream. Serve hot for a meal that’s sure to warm hearts and bellies alike.

Tips for the Perfect Chili Mac

  • Meat Variations: While ground beef is traditional, feel free to use ground turkey or chicken for a lighter version.
  • Cheese Choices: Cheddar cheese adds a classic touch, but don’t hesitate to experiment with other types like Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, or a blend for different flavors and textures.
  • Spice It Up: For those who enjoy a kick, consider adding a pinch of cayenne pepper or diced jalapeños to the mix.

If you’re in the mood to explore more pasta delights, our Shrimp and Tomato Pasta recipe is a must-try! It’s a flavorful alternative that’s perfect for seafood lovers looking to mix up their pasta routine.