Your favorite noodles and a delicious chili come together and then get smothered with cheese. The result is a simple, comforting Chili Mac that the whole family will enjoy! Mash-up recipes are so fun! Another mash-up recipe we’ve been enjoying is this Bikini Bread, a mash-up of Banana Bread and Zucchini Bread.
Back in February, I was at a potluck and one of the dishes was Chili Mac. I couldn’t remember the last time I had had Chili Mac, but dang did it taste good to me. I decided right then and there I needed to create a Chili Mac recipe and get it on the blog. It’s a great weeknight meal, especially once school gets back in session…if school gets back in session.
Regardless of if you end up sending your kids to school, doing virtual school or home school, having a repertoire of dinners that are quick and also happen to be meals that the whole family (or at least 90%) of the family will eat without complaint, can be a real lifesaver. Here are some of our family favorites for weeknights.
Simple Dinners Kids Love
- Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
- Broccoli Chicken Casserole with Egg Noodles
- Easy Baked Chicken Taquitos
- Oven Baked Parmesan Pork Chops
- Easy Ham Fried Rice
- Chicken Taco and Rice Skillet Dinner
How to Make Chili Mac
In the step-by-step pictures, you can see a tool that I use to cook the ground beef. I love that thing. I don’t even know what to call it. I got it a few years ago from Pampered Chef, and I use it all.the.time. They sell many similar tools on Amazon, and they are called anything from a chop and stir to a ground beef masher. Whatever you want to call it…all I’m saying is you need one!
Frequently Asked Questions About Making Chili Mac
Can I use ground turkey in this recipe?
Yes, definitely. Make sure you still use the beef broth. It will help it keep a beefy-chili flavor.
Do I have to use meat?
No, you do not have to use meat in this recipe. If you choose to leave out the meat, I would suggest adding an extra can of beans.
Can I make this As a 9×13 Casserole?
Yes. After you add the noodles and chili together, you can pour the mixture into a casserole dish. (The amount may be a little too much for a 9×13…if needed, put some in a smaller dish, too). Once you have the Chili Mac in the casserole dish, top it with cheese and put it under the broiler in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbling.
Is it okay to use black beans instead of kidney beans?
Yes, black beans are fine as a substitution. Kidney beans are the more traditional bean for this recipe, but if you prefer black beans or it’s all you’ve got in the cupboard, by all means, use black beans.
What Can I serve with Chili Mac?
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 3 large segments of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp ground cumin powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground pepper
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika (optional)
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 15 ounce can petite diced tomatoes
- 1 15 ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup beef broth (I use one cup water and 1 tsp beef bullion)
- 1 tsp brown sugar (optional)
- 1 1 lb package pasta (shape of your choice, we prefer shells or elbow in this recipe), cook according to package instructions for al dente. Don't forget to salt the water when you cook them.
- 1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil, add salt, and once it is boiling add your noodles and cook them according to package directions. (I suggest starting the water when you start chopping your onion and pepper. This will help the noodles to be done at the same time as the chili, making this a quick dinner to throw together.
- While you are waiting for the water to boil start on your chili.
- In a large pot (Enamel Dutch Oven Pots are my favorite for recipes like this) add the olive oil and ground beef. Cook on high heat until the meat is partly browned and then add the chopped onion, chopped green pepper, and chopped garlic.
- Continue cooking until veggies are tender and onions are transparent. The beef should also be completely cooked at this point.
- Add the chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper...also add the smoked paprika if you are choosing to use some.
- Stir well and let those flavors cook together for a minute or so.
- Add the diced tomatoes, drained beans, beef broth, and tomato paste. This is also when you should add the brown sugar if you are choosing to add it.
- Stir well and bring to a boil. Once boiling turn down to a low simmer and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
- When noodles are done, drain them and add them to the finished chili.
- Stir well and top with the shredded cheese. Cover the pot with a lid or plate or tin foil for a few minutes to allow the cheese to melt.
- Garnish if desired with chopped jalapeno and cilantro.
- You may also serve this with sour cream and avocado if desired. Enjoy!
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