|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 8 to 10|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 22g||28%|
|Saturated Fat 10g||48%|
|Total Carbohydrate 22g||8%|
|Dietary Fiber 4g||14%|
|Total Sugars 5g|
|Vitamin C 26mg||131%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
Chili mac is a flavorful combination of two classic favorites: macaroni and cheese and beef and bean chili. Think of it as a fancy American chop suey with a Tex-Mex vibe. Chili mac is a versatile dish that you can alter to suit your taste with a little extra cayenne or chopped jalapeño peppers, a different kind of bean, or perhaps whole kernel corn for a sweet flavor and added texture. Although a bowl of our super hearty chili mac is filling enough to be a complete meal, you can round out the meal with a slice of skillet cornbread, a few biscuits, some steamed broccoli, a fresh garden salad or a few jalapeño poppers.
Even if not very common, the combination of chili with pasta is not new. Cincinnati chili, a layered chili and spaghetti dish created by a Macedonian immigrant in 1922, is an early example of the fusion. This might be a new favorite in your weekly menu, as it's easy to make, makes great leftovers, and is also great for freezing. Our version is especially convenient for busy cooks, as the whole meal cooks in just one pot—make sure the pot is at least 4-quart in size or larger—in under 45 minutes.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium bell pepper, green or red, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, regular or chili style
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or stock
8 ounces elbow macaroni, or any short pasta, uncooked
12 ounces shredded mild cheddar cheese, divided
Kosher salt, to taste
Chopped fresh cilantro, or parsley, for garnish
Jalapeño pepper rings, for garnish
Gather the ingredients.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion. Cook, while stirring, for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.
Add the bell pepper, garlic, and ground beef to the pan, breaking up the meat into smaller pieces. Cook the meat, turning occasionally, for about 6 to 9 minutes, or until the beef is no longer pink.
Stir in the chili powder, cumin, black pepper, cayenne pepper, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, beans, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the macaroni to the pot. Bring to a boil and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the macaroni is cooked. Reserve a few tablespoons of cheese and stir the remaining cheese into the chili mac. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt, as needed.
Transfer the chili mac to a serving bowl, or leave it in the Dutch oven, and sprinkle lightly with the reserved cheese. If desired, garnish with cilantro, parsley, or pepper rings.
How to Store, Freeze, and Reheat
Before placing the leftovers in containers, cool the mixture entirely, then:
- Refrigerate for up to four days.
- Or transfer to freezer bags or freezer containers and freeze for up to three months. Thaw the chili mac in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
- Reheat leftover chili mac in a foil-covered baking dish in a preheated 350 F oven for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until it is hot and registers at least 165 F.
For the Tastiest Chili Mac
Try these tips to make the best chili mac:
- Use organic canned tomatoes and beans. With no additives, you'll get the convenience of canned food without the added preservatives.
- Commercial grated cheeses often have anticaking ingredients added that prevent them from properly melting. If possible, use block cheese and grate it at home.
- If your ground beef has a high ratio of fat, drain off some of the fat before you add the spices, tomatoes, and broth.
This versatile dish can have a makeover with a few simple changes:
- Baked Chili Mac: Follow the recipe up until step 5, add the macaroni, and cook, adding just half of the cheese. Transfer the mixture to a large, shallow casserole and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Bake at 425 F for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the casserole is bubbling around the edges.
- No-Bean Chili Mac: Make the dish with 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of ground beef and omit the beans.
- Vegetarian Chili Mac: Skip the beef and add another can of drained and rinsed beans (kidney, pinto, or black beans) to the pot. Or replace the beef with any plant-based protein of your liking, such as tofu, seitan, or tempeh. Add about 1 to 2 cups of whole kernel corn to the pot along with the macaroni.