This one pot chili mac is a blend of ground beef, macaroni, beans, tomatoes and spices, all topped off with plenty of melted cheese. An easy dinner option that’s family friendly and on the table in 30 minutes!

I love a good one pot meal on a busy day, my family’s favorites include jambalaya, pizza pasta and this cheesy chili mac. It’s the perfect comfort food option that will please any crowd.

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A skillet of chili mac topped with melted cheese, diced tomatoes and minced onion.

Doing dishes is my least favorite part about cooking, which is why I turn to one pot meals whenever possible. My kids request this chili mac constantly, and for good reason – it’s loaded with flavor, texture and of course, plenty of cheese!

How do you make chili mac?

This recipe starts with ground beef, which is browned in a skillet with onions and garlic. The cooked beef is mixed with canned tomatoes, kidney beans, spices, beef broth and macaroni. Everything simmers together until the pasta is tender. The final step is to add a layer of shredded cheese. Let the cheese melt, then add a few toppings and you’ll be ready to eat!

Ground beef, kidney beans, tomatoes and spices in a skillet.

Tips for chili mac

  • Make sure you use a large enough pan to contain all the ingredients, as the pasta will expand as it cooks.
  • You can use any type of short pasta, just be sure to adjust the cook time accordingly. You can check the cook time on your pasta box for guidance. If you’re using a large shape pasta that will absorb more liquid than traditional macaroni, you can add 1/2 cup more broth if needed.
  • I typically use cheddar cheese in this recipe, but pepper jack is great if you like a little more heat.
  • I recommend grating your own cheese if possible – store bought pre-shredded cheese is often coating with anti-caking agents and the cheese doesn’t melt as smoothly.
  • I use 90% lean ground beef – it’s got plenty of flavor without being overly greasy.
  • Instead of using the spices listed here, you can also make a batch of my chili seasoning recipe to use in your chili mac.

Uncooked macaroni in a skillet with ground beef and tomatoes.

Chili mac variations

There are so many different ways to customize this recipe to your tastes!

  • Meat: Instead of ground beef, try ground turkey, smoked sausage or even diced cooked chicken. You can also make this a meatless dish by adding a second can of beans.
  • Veggies: You can add more vegetables to this dish such as diced bell peppers or corn.
  • Toppings: I typically keep my toppings simple with a sprinkle of cilantro, diced tomato and red onion. Other great toppings include sour cream, sliced green onions, avocado, diced jalapeno, olives and tortilla strips.
  • Spice: If you’re into spicy food, try adding some hot sauce or crushed red pepper flakes to your pasta.

Chili mac made with beef, beans, tomatoes and spices.

I make this chili mac almost every week – my family happily devours it, the leftovers are fabulous the next day, and it’s just so easy! How can you go wrong?

A serving spoon in a pan of chili mac scooping up a portion.

More great pasta dishes

5 from 35 votes

Chili Mac

AuthorSara Welch
A skillet of chili mac topped with melted cheese, diced tomatoes and minced onion.
This one pot chili mac is a blend of ground beef, macaroni, beans, tomatoes and spices, all topped off with plenty of melted cheese. An easy dinner option that's family friendly and on the table in 30 minutes!
Time
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine American
Serves 6

Ingredients 

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef I use 90% lean
  • 1/2 cup onion finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes do not drain
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 15 ounce can dark red kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 10 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 1 1/4 cups cheddar cheese grated
  • Toppings such as chopped cilantro, diced tomato and minced red onion optional

Instructions 

  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the ground beef and cook for 5-6 minutes, breaking up the meat with a spatula.
  • Add the onion to the pot and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  • Add the chili powder, cumin, tomatoes, beef broth, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, kidney beans and macaroni to the pot. Stir to combine.
  • Bring to a simmer, then cover the pot and cook for 12-13 minutes or until pasta is tender. Uncover the pot and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the pasta. Let simmer for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted. You can cover the pot if needed to help the cheese melt.
  • Top with cilantro, tomatoes and onion if desired, then serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 511kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 712mg | Potassium: 1017mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 675IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 252mg | Iron: 6.2mg

Hello! I’m Sara!

Learn more about Sara

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5 from 35 votes (1 rating without comment)

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This was a hit in my house! I used Gardain crumbles instead of meat. We thought it was more like a taco pasta than a chili. Both of my kids (8 and 10) went back for seconds and the adults thought it hit the spot.

  2. 5 stars
    I made this as directions detailed accept:
    I used an ‘Alamo chili blend’ which consists of (powdered garlic, onion, Chipotle, smoked paprika, season salt, and Sazon goya, and a touch of kosher salt) on top of the spices you suggested. I also used a can of hunts fire roasted tomatoes with green chilies. And instead of a white or yellow onion I used diced red onion. Then I realized I didn’t have tradition elbow noodles so I used the dinosaur ones I had on hand. Served it with a side salad and crescent rolls. The kids loved the dinosaur 🦕 noodles. In all a tasty; simple dish. That cane together pretty easily. Thank you 😊

  3. 5 stars
    I cannot get over how good this is!! Hubby and my 2 yr old loved it. Easy and quick clean up. 5 start dish with AMAZING flavor.

  4. 5 stars
    I love the colours in this recipe. As well as how easy it looks to cook it all in the one pot. Pasta and mince, you can’t go wrong, add some spices and yummo. Can’t wait to try this. Cheers

  5. 5 stars
    By kids will love this. It takes all of my creativity to get meat into my youngest, but working it in with some macaroni does the trick every time. Thanks for the recipe.

  6. 5 stars
    Looks like I found a recipe for my husband to cook for the kids this week while I am working. Looks so simple and easy. He loves effortless meal recipes. I told him to follow it to the letter and not ad-lib so it comes out as it should. Cross your fingers he listens lol!

  7. 5 stars
    One pot meals are the best! I was trying to decide what to make for dinner next weekend when my son-in-law comes into town and this is perfect!! It comes out fantastic every time!

  8. 5 stars
    Looks extremely delicious! This is my ultimate comfort food, can’t wait to give this a try!

  9. 5 stars
    Bring on the comfort food! This looks absolutely mouthwatering and tasty! My family will love this!