Chili Mac – Cooking Classy


Cozy Chili Mac! It’s classic beef chili that’s upgraded with macaroni pasta and rich cheese for a flavor mashup that doesn’t disappoint! It’s all cooked in one pot and a breeze to make.

Chili mac in a large pot with a wooden spoon scooping mixture.

One Pot Chili Mac

This is the perfect sweater weather recipe! It’s hearty, homemade comfort food that’s brimming with flavor and it’s just the dinner friends and family of all ages will love on a cold day.

One thing I think you’ll really appreciate about this recipe is that many of the ingredients are things you may likely already have on hand, especially if you keep a pack or two of ground beef stashed away in the freezer.

And just like regular chili it’s so versatile so you can swap in other ingredients you have on hand for those you don’t (see ideas below for substitutes). I’ve added carrots to chili before so really just about anything goes.

Then top it as you’d like with all your favorite toppings. You can’t go wrong with a sprinkle of green onions and more cheese!

Two servings of chili mac shown in serving bowls from overhead. Cornbread slices are shown to the side as a serving suggestion.Ingredients needed for chili mac.

Chili Mac Recipe Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • Ground beef 93% lean
  • Elbow macaroni pasta
  • Vegetables: Yellow onion, red bell pepper, green onions, garlic
  • Spices: Chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper
  • Canned ingredients: Crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, green chilies, kidney beans
  • Dairy: Half and half, sharp cheddar cheese

Sauteeing vegetables and browning beef in pot for chili mac.

How to Make Chili Mac

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Saute veggies: Add onion and bell pepper and saute 5 minutes. Scoot to one far side.
  3. Brown beef: Crumble in beef in chunks, let sear about 3 minutes then break up and toss beef and peppers. Add in garlic and cook until beef is nearly cooked through, about 2 minutes.
  4. Bloom spices: Add chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika and cook 1 minute.
  5. Pour in crushed tomatoes, chicken broth and green chilies. Stir in macaroni and kidney beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Simmer: Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to low. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender, about 12 to 15 minutes.
  7. Off heat stir in half and half and cheese. Thin with more chicken broth if desired. Serve with desired toppings.

Continued steps showing how to simmer chili mac ingredients in pot.

Possible Substitutes and Variations

  • Beans: Black beans or pinto beans will work well instead of kidney beans.
  • Onions: Red or white onion will work in place of the yellow onion.
  • Pepper: Poblano pepper is a great option, or if you want is nice and spicy just use 2 or 3 jalapeños instead.
  • Pasta: You could use another type of pasta here such as ditalini or mini bowties.
  • Cheese: Monterrey jack cheese is a great substitute for cheddar.
  • Tomatoes: If you have a can of whole tomatoes you could blitz those up in the food processor in place of crushed.
  • Vegetarian/Vegan option: Use Impossible plant based burger or Beyond Beef, then replace chicken broth with vegetable broth. If making vegan also use a vegan cheddar and canned coconut milk for half and half.
  • Healthier option: For a healthier alternative use ground turkey in place of ground beef, omit the half and half, and use whole wheat pasta.

Single serving of chili mac in a white bowl over a blue cloth.

What to Serve with Chili Mac

Close up photo of chili mac in a pot.

More Delicious Chili Recipes to Try

Chili mac in a large pot with a wooden spoon scooping mixture.

Chili Mac

Cozy Chili Mac! It’s classic beef chili that’s upgraded with macaroni pasta and rich cheese for a flavor mashup that doesn’t disappoint! It’s all cooked in one pot and a breeze to make.

Servings: 6

Prep15 minutes

Cook30 minutes

Ready in: 45 minutes

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 lb 93% lean ground beef
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 4 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can low-sodium chicken broth, plus 1/2 cup more to thin if desired
  • 1 (4 oz) can diced green chilies (mild or hot depending on your preference)
  • 8 oz. dry elbow macaroni (2 cups)
  • 1 (15 oz) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup half and half, or 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, plus more for serving if desired
  • Sliced green onions, sour cream, diced tomatoes or cayenne pepper, (optional, for serving)
  • Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.

  • Add onion and bell pepper and saute 5 minutes. Scoot mixture to one far side.

  • Crumble in beef in chunks, let sear about 3 minutes then break up and toss beef and peppers. Add in garlic and cook until beef is nearly cooked through, about 2 minutes.

  • Add chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika and cook 1 minute.

  • Pour in crushed tomatoes, chicken broth and green chilies. Stir in macaroni and kidney beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  • Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to low. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender, about 12 to 15 minutes.

  • Off heat stir in half and half and cheese. Thin with more chicken broth if desired. Serve with desired toppings.

Recipe makes about 10 cups.

Nutrition Facts

Chili Mac

Amount Per Serving

Calories 558
Calories from Fat 180

% Daily Value*

Fat 20g31%

Saturated Fat 9g56%

Trans Fat 0.3g

Polyunsaturated Fat 2g

Monounsaturated Fat 7g

Cholesterol 82mg27%

Sodium 737mg32%

Potassium 1278mg37%

Carbohydrates 60g20%

Fiber 10g42%

Sugar 13g14%

Protein 37g74%

Vitamin A 2103IU42%

Vitamin C 52mg63%

Calcium 352mg35%

Iron 7mg39%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.



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