Get Your Taste Buds Dancing: Cheesy Chili Mac Recipe

You know what’s better than a classic chili recipe? Easy Cheesy Chili Mac Recipe! A one-pot meal that is easy to make and tastes absolutely delicious. This dish is perfect for those nights when you don’t feel like cooking anything fancy, but still want something hearty and satisfying.

Picture this: savory ground beef, combined with tender elbow macaroni pasta, all coated with creamy cheese sauce – can you taste it already? This recipe is not only easy to make but also packed with flavor that will make your taste buds dance.

You might be thinking, “Chili mac? That sounds like a weird combination.” But trust me on this one – chili and mac and cheese are two of America’s most loved comfort foods, and they complement each other perfectly. The best part about this recipe is that it takes less than 30 minutes to make from start to finish, which makes it perfect for busy weeknights.

So, get your dutch oven ready and preheat your oven because we’re about to make a dish that will have you hooked! Get ready to taste the deliciousness of Easy Cheesy Chili Mac Recipe – an ultimate comfort food that will never disappoint you.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Easy Cheesy Chili Mac
Easy Cheesy Chili Mac

Do you love comfort food that is delicious, quick, and easy to make? Then you’re in for a treat with my Easy Cheesy Chili Mac Recipe! Just imagine a steamy one-pot meal that combines the best of mac and cheese, chili, and a touch of spice. It’s like indulging in a warm embrace after a long day, or enjoying the taste of home during a cozy evening in.

This recipe is perfect for those busy weeknights when you don’t want to spend hours cooking but still want something satisfying. It only requires basic ingredients that are likely already in your pantry or fridge such as ground beef, elbow macaroni pasta, tomato sauce, bell pepper, and spices. Plus, it can be customized to your liking by adding more veggies, making it spicier, or using canned or homemade chili.

With this cheesy chili mac recipe, you’ll get an explosion of flavors in every bite – the juicy ground beef seasoned with garlic and onion, the smooth and creamy mac and cheese texture, and the kick from the chili powder. It’s comfort food at its finest!

And not only is this recipe delicious but it’s also budget-friendly. You can feed the whole family without breaking the bank! Moreover, since it’s a one-pot meal it’s super easy to clean up too!

In conclusion, give this easy cheesy chili mac recipe a try and indulge in this mouth-watering dish today! You’ll love how simple it is to make, how comforting it tastes and how economical it is on your wallet!

Ingredient List

 A creamy and cheesy bowl of comfort food
A creamy and cheesy bowl of comfort food

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 8 oz. elbow macaroni pasta
  • 3 cups water, divided
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Note that some of these ingredient quantities may be adjusted depending on your preferences. If you’re a vegetarian, feel free to substitute with canned or homemade chili without meat. Make sure to drain any excess liquid from the chili before adding it to the recipe.

The Recipe How-To

Now, it’s time to get cooking! This Easy Cheesy Chili Mac Recipe only requires one pot and a few steps.


  • 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 diced bell pepper
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 1 can (15 oz) of tomato sauce
  • 1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 lb of elbow macaroni pasta, cooked al dente and drained
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese

Step One:

In a Dutch oven or large pot on medium-high heat, add the olive oil and butter/margarine. Once heated through, add the chopped yellow onion and minced garlic until fragrant.

Step Two:

Add in the diced bell pepper and continue to cook until everything is tender. When everything is starting to reek like a savory dream, it’s time to introduce that ground beef baby! Brown off the ground beef until cooked through.

Step Three:

Drain any excess fat from the Dutch oven before adding in the chili powder – this will give your meaty mixture just that little kick it needs. Pour in that can of tomato sauce and rinsed kidney beans for extra flavor.

Step Four:

Add in the cooked elbow macaroni pasta to the mixture and stir well.

Step Five:

Now, pour in one cup of milk into your pot along with those sneaky melted cheddar cheese shreds: stir until it gets all blended up evenly throughout.

Step Six:

Put a lid on top and let it simmer on low heat for about five minutes until everything is gooey and melted like the cheesiest chili mac masterpiece. Serve hot!

This easy cheesy chili mac recipe can be made to fit anyone’s wants and needs – spices can be adjusted if you want a stronger kick or you can even substitute ground beef for beans if you’re feeling veggie-mode today!

Substitutions and Variations

 The ultimate one-pot meal for busy weeknights
The ultimate one-pot meal for busy weeknights

Are you looking for some ways to mix things up with this Easy Cheesy Chili Mac Recipe? If so, I’ve got some ideas for you! Here are a few substitutions and variations you can try to switch things up:

1. Change up the protein: Ground beef is used in this recipe, but you could substitute ground turkey or chicken if you prefer.

2. Use different types of cheese: While cheddar cheese is the traditional choice for mac and cheese, there are plenty of other options out there. Try using a blend of different cheeses – like Monterey Jack or Colby – to add some new flavors.

3. Adjust the spice level: This recipe has a mild spice level, but if you’re looking for something hotter, try adding more chili powder or red pepper flakes. Alternatively, if you’re serving this to kids or those who don’t like a lot of heat, dial back on the spices or omit them altogether.

4. Experiment with different types of chili: While this recipe calls for a basic beef chili, feel free to mix things up by using canned chili or even homemade vegetarian chili. You could also try adding some kidney beans or other legumes to add more texture and flavor.

5. Make it a casserole: One way to change up this recipe is by turning it into a casserole instead of a one-pot meal. To do so, simply layer cooked elbow macaroni, chili, and shredded cheese in a baking dish and bake in the oven until bubbly and golden brown.

Whether you make small adjustments to the recipe or completely change it up with one of these variations, remember that cooking is all about experimentation and making things your own!

Serving and Pairing

 Spicy and satisfying, this dish hits the spot
Spicy and satisfying, this dish hits the spot

Now that you’ve mastered the art of making a scrumptious dish of easy cheesy chili mac, it’s time to think about how to serve it. The beauty of this one-pot meal is that it can stand on its own as a complete meal or be paired with other dishes for a more robust and delicious experience.

A classic way to serve chili mac is to sprinkle some shredded cheddar cheese on top and garnish with chopped parsley. The cheese will add a comforting creaminess and the parsley will provide a fresh flavor to balance out the richness of the dish. However, feel free to experiment with different types of cheeses like Monterey Jack, Colby or even Parmesan, depending on your personal taste preferences.

If you’re looking for some extra crunch, consider serving your chili mac with some garlic bread, breadsticks, or tortilla chips. These crunchy additions will complement the soft texture of the pasta and beef beautifully.

On hot summer days, cold beers would make an excellent choice for pairing with your chili mac. While any type of beer could work nicely with this dish, chilled lagers or pilsners would fit right into the laid-back vibe that chili mac emanates.

If you are looking for something non-alcoholic, you can serve this dish with iced tea or soda, pick whichever pairs well with your menu. Sweet tea or Dr. Pepper would be perfect choices for a southern touch.

Overall, easy cheesy chili mac is a versatile dish that can complement an array of sides and beverages. Trying different side combinations can take this recipe from fabulous to extraordinary. So be adventurous and go ahead; customize them to match your mood and occasion!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

I don’t know what you are up to, ordering a “cheesy chili mac recipe” in the first place. But for whatever reason you need to make this easy cheesy chili mac in advance, or store leftovers, I’ve got your back.

I suggest making a big batch of this one-pot meal at the start of the week and storing it in the fridge for quick reheating during those busy weekdays. To make-ahead, allow the chili mac to cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container or a ziplock bag.

To reheat, simply bring out your dutch oven and heat it over medium-high heat (if using) and add a tablespoon of butter or margarine for richness. Stir occasionally until it’s heated through.

If you want to freeze this cheesy chili mac, let it cool first before transferring it to freezer-safe containers. Allow room for expansion as the liquid expands when frozen. It can stay in the freezer for up to three months.

When you’re ready to reheat the frozen chili mac, let it thaw completely in the fridge overnight. Then transfer it back into a dutch oven or microwave-safe container and reheat until hot.

Feel free to modify this recipe and experiment with additional toppings to enhance its flavor. This dish also pairs well with garlic bread or salad. Remember, reheating can sometimes cause the macaroni to become mushy, so be mindful of how many times you heat it up.

But trust me when I say that this easy cheesy chili mac is worth making extra!

Tips for Perfect Results

When it comes to creating a delicious and comforting one-pot meal like Cheesy Chili Mac, there are a few tips and tricks that can help you achieve the perfect results. Here are some of my favorite tips for making the best Cheesy Chili Mac:

1. Cook the Pasta Just Right

To make sure your Cheesy Chili Mac is cooked to perfection, it’s important to cook the pasta just right. Make sure to follow the package instructions for cooking time and test the pasta often to achieve that perfect al dente texture. Overcooked pasta will turn mushy and ruin the dish, while undercooked pasta will be tough and unappetizing.

2. Don’t Skimp on Seasoning

To create a flavorful Cheesy Chili Mac, don’t skimp on the seasonings. The chili powder, tomato sauce, and ground beef all contribute to the overall flavor of the meal. Make sure to taste the chili mac as you go along and adjust the seasoning as needed.

3. Use Quality Cheese

The cheese in Cheesy Chili Mac is an essential ingredient, so make sure to use high-quality cheese for best results. I recommend using cheddar cheese or a blend of cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese for maximum flavor and creaminess.

4. Let It Rest Before Serving

Once your Cheesy Chili Mac is done cooking, resist the temptation to dig in right away! Letting it rest for a few minutes will allow the flavors to meld together and make for a more cohesive dish.

5. Add Toppings for Texture

To add some extra texture and flavor to your Cheesy Chili Mac, consider adding toppings like diced avocado, green onions, or fresh cilantro on top before serving. This will not only make for a visually appealing dish but also add some pops of freshness.

By following these tips and tricks, you’ll be well on your way to creating unforgettable Cheesy Chili Mac every time!


As with any recipe, there may be questions or concerns that arise while making this Easy Cheesy Chili Mac Recipe. Fear not my foodie friends, I’ve got you covered! In this section, we’ll dive into some frequently asked questions about this dish and provide answers and tips to make your cooking experience a success. So let’s jump into the kitchen and get those pots simmering!

What is the difference between goulash and chili mac?

Chili Mac and Goulash might seem alike at first glance since they’re both one-pot meals consisting of ground beef, pasta, tomato sauce and cheese; but there are some differences between them. The elements that set these dishes apart are the absence of evaporated milk and beans in the American Goulash.

Is chili mac a midwest thing?

This dish hails from the Midwest region of the US, but it has gained popularity in other areas as well. There are numerous versions of the dish, and one can even find it in canned or boxed form.

Is chili mac an Ohio thing?

There is some debate over the origin and inspiration behind the beloved dish known as “Johnny Marzetti.” Some credit Marzetti’s brother-in-law as the dish’s namesake, while others speculate that its creation is tied to Cincinnati Chili, which has Greek origins rather than Italian. Regardless of its background, Johnny Marzetti has become a classic pasta dish enjoyed by many.

Should I put cheese in chili?

Adding cheese to chili is a fantastic way to elevate the flavor and texture of your dish. Not only does cheese provide a tangy taste, but it also adds a creamy component. Cheddar is the most commonly used cheese for chili, but there are other tasty options to consider like Monterey, parmesan, or pepper jack. Experiment with these different types to find what works best for you.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, this easy cheesy chili mac recipe is a game changer for weeknight dinners. It’s a classic American dish that combines the goodness of two favorite dishes into one pot meal. The ingredients are all readily available and can be easily substituted to your liking. With just a few simple steps, you can make a delicious and comforting chili mac cheese that everyone will love.

So next time you’re in need of a quick dinner idea that doesn’t sacrifice flavor, give this chili mac recipe a try. It’s perfect for busy weeknights or lazy Sundays when you want something hearty and satisfying. And if you have leftovers, they can easily be stored and reheated for another meal.

Trust me, once you make this cheesy chili mac recipe, it will become a staple in your household. So go ahead and get cooking – your taste buds will thank you!

Easy Cheesy Chili Mac

Easy Cheesy Chili Mac Recipe

This is so easy and it's made with everything you usually have in your pantry and fridge! The kids will love it!
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Calories 735 kcal


  • 2 (7 1/4 ounce) boxes Kraft macaroni and cheese
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans hormel chili
  • milk
  • butter or margarine
  • 4 -6 hot dogs, Cut up


  • Prepare Mac and Cheese as directed on box but do not add cheese packets yet (just the butter and milk).
  • While Mac and Cheese is cooking, put the 2 cans of chili into a microwave safe bowl and heat up in microwave for 3 minutes.
  • Add the mac and cheese (minus the cheese) into the bowl with the chili and mix.
  • Cut up the 4-6 hotdogs (smaller or bigger, depending on what your preference is) and heat them up in the microwave for about a minute or so.
  • Add the hotdogs to the macaroni and cheese (minus the cheese) and chili mixture.
  • Last but definitely NOT least, add the cheese packs to the chili mac mixture in the bowl. This way the cheese covers ALL the ingredients so everything is cheesy =) .

Your Own Notes


Serving: 240gCalories: 735kcalCarbohydrates: 100.6gProtein: 36gFat: 20.9gSaturated Fat: 8.7gCholesterol: 59.5mgSodium: 2338.8mgFiber: 9.4gSugar: 15.8g
Keyword < 15 Mins, Easy, Healthy, Lunch
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