Chili Mac is the ultimate comfort food! This easy one pot recipe takes elbow macaroni to a whole new level with ground beef, tomatoes, cheeses, bold seasonings and more. It’s easy to make and it’s perfect for feeding the whole family on a busy weeknight!
There’s nothing more satisfying than a big, hearty bowl of chili mac! It checks every single box – it’s cheesy, beefy, flavorful, and loaded with protein packed ground beef. Plus, it’s easy to customize with a couple different variations. Scroll down to see some recommendations to try that best fit your personal tastes! For me, I always add a little extra cheese and garlic.
If you’ve ever tried Hamburger Helper and liked it, this recipe is for you. It’s just like the boxed stuff… only SO much better! This homemade chili mac recipe offers so much cheesy goodness and bold chili seasoning flavors that the pantry-stable options just can’t replicate. If you really want to double down on creating the best flavor ever, consider using my favorite homemade chili seasoning recipe.
One of the best things about this chili mac recipe is how easy it is to toss together. It’s a one pot recipe that comes together in about half an hour. Right at the end, you mix in some half and half to make everything nice and creamy before mixing in both cheeses. Cheddar and pepper jack make everything even better! Easy to make, easy to clean (just one pot), and cheesy as can be. I might be drooling.
How to Make Chili Mac
One pot chili mac is sure to be your new favorite family friendly dinner! Scroll to the bottom of this page to see more details about ingredients measurements and the process.
- Cook the beef. Preheat a dutch oven (or large pot) over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Transfer the cooked beef to a separate bowl with a slotted spoon, that way the rendered fat remains in the pot.
- Add more ingredients to the pot. Start off by adding the onions and bell peppers to the pot. Cook them until softened, then mix in the garlic and cook for just one more minute. Mix in the tomato paste and chili seasoning and cook for another minute or two. Then, mix in the tomatoes, beans, stock and worcestershire sauce.
- Add the macaroni and dairy. Bring the mixture in the pot to a boil. Once boiling, stir in the macaroni and half and half. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low.
- Simmer and stir. Simmer everything for about 15-20 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked and the liquid has almost been all absorbed. While you do want to keep the pot covered, you will need to give the mixture a stir once in a while to prevent the noodles from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- Make it cheesy. This is my favorite part! Take the lid off and stir in the cheese half a cup at a time until its gooey and melted. Once all the cheese is incorporated, it’s time to dig in!
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Variations to Try
Need to make some changes? I’ve got you covered! Here are just a few easy ways you can change things up while keeping it tasty:
- Add some spice. Sprinkle in some cayenne powder and/or crushed red chili flakes to create some heat. Or, simply serve your chili mac with a few splashes of your favorite hot sauce on top.
- Change up the cheese. Cheddar and pepper jack are my favorite combo, especially when they’re both freshly shaved right off the block! Feel free to change these cheeses with whatever your favorite is if you’d like.
- Swap the beef. You can definitely use ground turkey or chicken in place of the ground beef if that better fits your diet. It’ll still be tasty! Just note that ground turkey and chicken tend to render less fat than ground beef, so you may need to add a little olive oil or butter to the pot before sautéing the veggies.
Fill your menu with more comforting dinner recipes!
- Crockpot Chicken Pot Pie Soup
- Beef Bourguignon
- Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni
- Instant Pot Chili
- The Best Sweet and Spicy Chili
Get the Recipe: Chili Mac Recipe
- 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
- 1 1/2 cups diced onion
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 packet chili seasoning
- 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes with green Chili
- 1 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 1/2 cups beef stock
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
- dutch oven or deep pot
- In a large dutch oven over medium high heat, brown the ground beef until no longer pink.
- Transfer the beef to a bowl using a slotted spoon.
- Add the onion and bell pepper to the pot and cook until softened. Stir in the garlic and cook for minute.
- Add the tomato paste and seasoning stirring to coat the onion mixture. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes, black beans, beef stock and worcesterirshire sauce.
- Bring the mixture to a boil then add the macaroni and the half and half.
- Cover and reduct the heat to low. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the pasta is tender and the liquid has been almost all absorbed. (Stir occasionally to keep the pasta from sticking to the borrow of the pan.
- Remove the lid and stir in the cheese 1/2 a cup at a time until melted.
- Serve with sliced jalapeños, crumbled cojita cheese and cilantro.