Delicious Chili Macaroni Recipe for a Hearty Meal

Nestled by the campfire, I love nothing more than enjoying a delicious and filling meal. And if that meal happens to have a little kick of spice? Even better. Enter: Chili Macaroni. This all-American classic is the perfect camping dish. It’s easy to make, hearty, and oh-so-satisfying.

With this recipe, you don’t need to worry about taking multiple pans or pots, all it takes is one dutch oven to make this beloved comfort food, making it an ideal one-pot meal for outdoor cooking. The blend of ground beef and pinto beans with macaroni pasta cooked in tangy tomato sauce is an irresistible combination that will leave your taste buds craving for more.

I promise you won’t be disappointed with its richness and savory aroma during your camping trips. Trust me; after you eat this chili mac once, it will become a staple on every camping trip you take!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

 Camping just got tastier with this hearty chili macaroni dish!
Camping just got tastier with this hearty chili macaroni dish!

This chili macaroni recipe is the perfect camping meal that will satisfy your hunger and taste buds while enjoying the great outdoors. What’s not to love about a filling, spicy, and hearty one-pot meal that can be easily prepared using a Dutch oven or cast-iron skillet over a campfire?

So why will you love this recipe? First, it’s incredibly easy to make. All you need is ground beef, elbow macaroni, tomato sauce, chili powder, and a few other pantry staples to make this delicious meal. You don’t need to be a Michelin-starred chef to cook up this tasty dish.

Second, it’s versatile. You can add any ingredients you want to tweak the recipe and make it your own. You can add beans like pinto or even corn if you like. And if you’re looking for a vegetarian option, just remove the beef and add more vegetables.

Third, this recipe is perfect for camping because it’s a one-pot meal, meaning less cleanup afterward. You can’t go wrong with just one pot that contains noodles, meat, and sauce all in one savory package!

Lastly, chili macaroni is a classic American dish that everyone loves. It reminds me of my childhood when my mom used to make American Goulash – it’s like an elevated version of it! The filling meal is perfect for cold evenings or anytime that you want something comforting and homey.

With all these things in mind, what’s there not to love about this chili macaroni recipe? Trust me when I say this – once you’ve tried it, you’ll keep coming back for more because it’s that good!

Ingredient List

 Don't sacrifice taste on your next camping trip with this delicious chili macaroni recipe.
Don’t sacrifice taste on your next camping trip with this delicious chili macaroni recipe.


Here are the ingredients that you will need to make this hearty and filling spicy Chili Macaroni. This recipe is perfect for camping, one-pot meal dutch oven cooking, or just an easy weeknight dinner. Gather up the following ingredients:

  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 can (15 oz.) of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz.) of tomato sauce
  • 1 can (10.5 oz.) of condensed chicken broth
  • 1 cup of elbow macaroni
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (for topping)

Most of these ingredients can be found in your local grocery store, and some could even be sourced from dried or dehydrated options if you’re looking for a campfire chili option.

The Recipe How-To

 Get ready to impress your fellow campers with this easy-to-make and delicious chili macaroni.
Get ready to impress your fellow campers with this easy-to-make and delicious chili macaroni.

Step 1: Prepare the Ingredients

For this oven chili mac recipe, you’ll need:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked

Step 2: Cook the Ground Beef and Onion

In a dutch oven or cast iron skillet, heat one tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and onion to the pot and cook until the beef is browned and the onion is translucent. Use a wooden spoon to break up any large chunks of beef.

Step 3: Add the Tomato Paste and Spices

Once the beef is cooked, add two tablespoons of tomato paste to the pot and stir well. Add in two tablespoons of cornstarch, one tablespoon of chili powder, one teaspoon of garlic powder, and one teaspoon of sugar. Stir until everything is well combined.

Step 4: Add the Tomatoes, Bell Pepper, Tomato Sauce and Pinto Beans

Next, add in two cups of tomato sauce along with your chopped dried tomatoes and green bell pepper. Also add in your drained and rinsed can of pinto beans. Give everything in the pot a good stir so that all ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

Step 5: Simmer

Bring your mixture to a simmer over low heat for about ten minutes or until it starts to thicken.

Step 6: Cook Macaroni

Add in your cooked elbow macaroni into your dutch oven or skillet once your mixture has thickened. Mix well so that everything is combined.

Step 7: Finish It Up

Cover your pot or skillet then place it in an oven preheated at around **350°F. Cook it for around thirty minutes until it’s bubbling hot all through out but ensuring you’re not cooking or baking it too long that will cause itto dry up on top.

And voila! You now have a hearty filling-spicy flavorful blend for food ready for consumption either by itself if you prefer filling spicy hearty main courses one-pot meal or serve as a side dishes for an afternoon barbecue on camping trips.

Substitutions and Variations

 Warm your bellies after a day of outdoor adventures with this comforting chili macaroni meal.
Warm your bellies after a day of outdoor adventures with this comforting chili macaroni meal.

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to switch things up, there are plenty of substitutions and variations you can make to this recipe. Here are a few ideas:

– Meat Substitutes: If you’re vegetarian or just want to skip the meat in this dish, try using a meat substitute like soy crumbles or tempeh instead.

– Different Pasta: While elbow macaroni is a classic choice for chili mac, you could also use other shapes of pasta like penne or rigatoni.

– Beans: Pinto beans work great in this recipe, but black beans or kidney beans would also be delicious.

– Spiciness: If you prefer your chili mac to be less spicy, reduce the amount of chili powder used. On the other hand, if you’re a spice addict, feel free to add more chili powder or even some diced jalapenos or habaneros for an extra kick.

– Cheese: Cheddar cheese is a classic choice for topping chili mac, but you could also use other types of cheese like Monterrey Jack or pepper jack.

– Dutch Oven vs. Cast Iron Skillet: While we suggest cooking this recipe in a dutch oven over an open flame, you could also make it on a campfire-safe cast iron skillet. The key is to ensure that your skillet has a lid so that your chili mac cooks evenly.

Overall, don’t be afraid to get creative with your substitutions and variations! Chili mac is meant to be a hearty and filling dish that can adapt to your personal tastes and preferences.

Serving and Pairing

 One pot is all you need for this flavorful chili macaroni perfect for camping.
One pot is all you need for this flavorful chili macaroni perfect for camping.

Once your chili macaroni is ready, you’ll want to dive right into the filling, spicy, and hearty dish. This comforting recipe is perfect for a one-pot campfire meal or for warming up on a cool evening at home.

To serve, sprinkle some fresh grated parmesan cheese on top of each portion for a creamy and savory touch. The cheese melts slightly from the heat of the chili, making every bite absolutely delicious.

Alternatively, you can top with a handful of shredded cheddar cheese for a classic mac and cheese flavor. You can even mix in some cooked bacon bits, jalapeño slices or chopped green onions for extra texture and flavor.

This meal is great on its own, but it also pairs well with other classic camping foods such as hot dogs or cornbread. A simple tossed side salad with vinaigrette dressing is also the perfect complement to this hearty dish.

If you’re looking for something to drink alongside your chili mac, consider a cold beer, a glass of red wine or lemonade. It’s also easy to make this dish vegetarian or vegan-friendly by swapping out the ground beef with plant-based alternatives.

With its incredible blend of flavors cooked together in one big pot, this recipe is perfect for sharing around a campfire or with family and friends gathered around the dinner table.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Dig into this hearty and satisfying chili macaroni after a long day of hiking and exploring.
Dig into this hearty and satisfying chili macaroni after a long day of hiking and exploring.

When preparing for a camping trip or other outdoor activities, it is important to plan ahead and minimize your time spent on cooking. This chili mac recipe can be made-ahead and stored for later use.

I recommend storing the chili mac in an airtight container or resealable bag that is freezer-safe. You can keep it in the fridge for 3-5 days, or freeze it for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to eat, simply thaw the chili mac then reheat over medium-low heat in a pot on the stove or directly on your camping grill. For camping, I recommend dehydrating the recipe beforehand so that it takes less space and weight.

To make things even easier, you can also prepare the dry ingredients ahead of time by measuring out and combining the macaroni, parmesan cheese, and milk powder in one bag and combining the chili powder, garlic powder, cornstarch, and dried tomatoes in another bag. This way, all you would need to do when you’re ready to cook is fry up beef and onion while cooking macaroni separately then mix everything together on your cooking vessel.

This make-ahead option is perfect for those who want to maximize their time outside with family and friends without compromising on a delicious meal. Whether you’re camping, hiking or just need an easy weeknight dinner option at home, this chili mac recipe is flexible enough to meet all of your needs.

Tips for Perfect Results

 Bring the comforts of home with you on your next camping trip with
Bring the comforts of home with you on your next camping trip with

Cooking chili mac for your camping trip can be a challenging task. However, with a few helpful tips, you’ll be able to create a hearty and delicious dish that is perfect for any outdoor excursion. Here are some tips that will help you get the perfect results every time.

Firstly, make sure to use the right ingredients. Use good quality ground beef, chili powder, beans, and tomato sauce for making the chili base. If you want a spicy and filling chili, use a variety of beans such as pinto beans. For the macaroni part, use elbow macaroni as they are easy to cook and perfect in size.

Next tip is to cook the ground beef thoroughly before mixing it with the tomato sauce and other ingredients. This will prevent the meat from being undercooked and ensure all bacteria are killed off.

Another essential tip is to keep the heat low and slow when cooking chili mac in a Dutch oven over a campfire. This will help the flavors meld together beautifully while also allowing for even cooking throughout.

Don’t forget to taste test frequently and add seasonings as necessary. It’s important to season chili mac up enough to avoid blandness but don’t go overboard either as you don’t want it too salty or overpowering.

Lastly, finish off your chili mac with Parmesan cheese or cheddar cheese for an extra cheesy flavor on top. Let the cheese melt all over your hot pot of chili for an added dimension of gooey goodness.

By following these simple tips, you can create a perfect camping meal that is both filling and satisfying without sacrificing taste.


As someone who has made this Chili Macaroni recipe countless times, I’ve been asked a lot of questions regarding the preparation and cooking process. Here are some frequently asked questions along with my answers that will hopefully help you achieve perfect results every time.

What is the most popular food for camping?

Breakfast is an essential meal and having the right ingredients on hand can make a huge difference in starting your day on a good note. Cereal is a classic breakfast option that works well at any time of day, especially when you need a quick snack to fuel you for a busy day ahead. Bread is another versatile food that can be used for breakfast, lunch, or dinner – making it a pantry staple. Rice is a versatile ingredient that can be the base of many meals, from stir-fries to casseroles, and is a great pantry ingredient to have on hand. Powdered milk is a useful ingredient for baking and cooking, and can be used in place of regular milk in a pinch. Crackers are another snackable pantry item that can be enjoyed on their own or used as a crunchy topping for soups and salads. Eggs are a protein-packed option that can be enjoyed at any meal, while beans and tuna are great sources of protein that have a long shelf life in the pantry.

Is chili mac the same as goulash?

Chili mac and American goulash share a lot of similarities as they both consist of pasta, ground beef, tomato sauce, and cheese. However, there are some key differences between the two dishes; chili mac typically has the addition of evaporated milk and beans, while American goulash does not.

Is chili mac a Midwest thing?

This dish is widely enjoyed in the Midwestern United States, as well as in other regions of the country. It comes in different variations and can be found in canned or boxed ready-made versions.

Is chili mac an Ohio thing?

An esteemed dish in the culinary world, known by the moniker “Johnny Marzetti,” holds a special place in Marzetti’s heart as it was named after her brother-in-law. However, there are those who debate that “chili-mac” has its origins tied to Cincinnati Chili which, despite hailing from Ohio, traces back to Greece instead of Italy. This debate has left food enthusiasts with a curious palate intrigued, prompting them to explore the origins of these two iconic dishes.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, if you are looking for an easy, delicious, and filling meal for your next camping trip or outdoor adventure, look no further than this chili macaroni recipe. With its simple ingredient list and easy instructions, you can enjoy the perfect combination of hearty chili and cheesy macaroni in one pot.

By using a dutch oven or cast iron pot and cooking over an open fire or on a camp stove, you can also get that authentic campfire taste that really adds to the experience.

Additionally, with the flexibility to make substitutions or variations based on your preferences or what ingredients you have on hand, this recipe is truly adaptable to any situation.

So whether you’re in the United States enjoying some classic American goulash or exploring other parts of the world, try making this chili mac recipe for the perfect one-pot meal. And don’t forget to sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top for some extra flavor!

Chili Macaroni for Camping

Chili Macaroni for Camping Recipe

From "The Back-Country Kitchen." This easy camping version is a one-pot vegetarian dish that combines the best of many styles. Cooked as directed, it makes a hearty main dish or side dish. If you prefer a soupy chili mac, simply add an additional 3/4 cup water. I am curious if this would work on the campfire as well; I will be doing just that in two weeks.
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Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Calories 309.1 kcal


  • 1 cup macaroni
  • 1/3 cup diced dried tomatoe
  • 1/4 cup pinto beans, dried canned
  • 3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder
  • 3 tablespoons freeze-dried corn (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons dried diced green bell peppers
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons chili powder, blend
  • 1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
  • 3/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • tomato sauce, 1/2 of the leather from an 8-ounce can
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese (optional)


  • Combine in a quart plastic zipper bag: all ingredients except the parmesan cheese (carry separately).
  • In a medium pot, combine mix with 2 1/2 cups cold water.
  • Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to reconstitute tomato leather.
  • Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until macaroni is almost cooked, about 10 minutes.
  • Cover and remove from heat; let stand 5 to 10 minutes, until macaroni is tender.
  • Stir in parmesan cheese just before serving, or sprinkle on individual servings.
  • Serving size is 4 or 5 side-dish servings; 2 or 3 main-dish servings.

Your Own Notes


Serving: 77gCalories: 309.1kcalCarbohydrates: 59.7gProtein: 14.7gFat: 1.9gSaturated Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 2.2mgSodium: 284.8mgFiber: 6.1gSugar: 11.5g
Keyword < 30 Mins, Beans, Camping, Egg-free, Free Of..., Inexpensive, Kid-Friendly, Vegetable
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