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This easy stovetop Chili Mac recipe will become one of your go-to meals when you need a hearty and comforting family dinner. Flavorful chili is spooned over pasta noodles and then topped with lots of cheese and toppings!
Amanda here from Old House to New Home, sharing an easy chili mac recipe that my family absolutely loves. Since my toddler loves beans, we eat chili at least once a month.
I have so many chili versions in my arsenal but one thing remains the same – we always eat our chili over pasta. My grandma started that when I was little and it stuck. She called it chili con carne, which I thought was a super fancy name. Now I’m a Spanish teacher and know that it just meant chili with meat. Nothing fancy at all!
What is Chili Mac?
Chili Mac is basically chili served over noodles. It’s a completely retro dish, the kind that your grandma took to church potlucks. Chili with beef and beans mixed with pasta and cheese. Total comfort food.
This is actually the only way we eat chili in our house. I love how the pasta catches the beans and meat and just makes for an even heartier and comforting dinner.
How to Make Chili Mac
Chili recipes can be so controversial and polarizing! It seems like every region of the US has their own version. While I am pretty set in my chili recipe, I do love trying chili from new regions, like beanless chili from Texas and Skyline Chili from Cincinnati.
There are just a few steps in this simple recipe.
- MAKE CHILI.The recipe here is just a basic chili recipe with beans, meat, veggies, and seasoning. The spice level is low, but you can substitute the green chiles for diced jalapeno peppers or add hot sauce when serving. If you have a favorite chili recipe, you could use that instead, or canned chili will even work in a pinch. The longer you let chili simmer, the better, but it is also good after one hour. If the chili thickens too much, add a few tablespoons of water and stir to break it up some. You can also add a little beef or chicken stock as it cooks.
- MAKE PASTA. This really is as simple as it sounds. Boil water. Cook noodles. Chili Mac is traditionally served as you would imagine from the name – with macaroni. Any short cut pasta works well, but we love elbow macaroni or shell noodles. I love how the beans and meat get stuck in the crevices of the shell noodles.
- ASSEMBLE AND SERVE. I have seen versions of Chili Mac where you make the chili in one pot and mac and cheese in another. This also works, but then you are essentially making two main courses and combining them. Instead, try making the pasta and chili separately, then layer them in your bowl with freshly grated cheddar. Trust me – this is easier and tastes better, too.
What to Do with Leftovers
- Fridge: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. It will remain fresh for about 3-4 days. Reheat Chili Mac on the stovetop or in the microwave, without the cheese. You can combine the chili and pasta, but I recommend reserving the cheese for adding after you reheat.
- Freezer: I recommend freezing the chili mixture by itself (without the pasta or cheese) after cooling, in an airtight container for 1-2 months. Defrost overnight and then reheat in a saucepan. When you are ready to eat, boil fresh pasta and top with the chili and toppings.
Chili Mac is a rich and hearty meal in itself with all the pasta, meat and beans. I usually serve up a simple green salad, like my copycat Olive Garden Salad, because it doesn’t need much else. You could add some garlic bread if you want to stretch this meal out to feed a few more guests. Make sure to have plenty of toppings available, like sliced green onions, sour cream or more cheese.
Looking for more chili recipes?
- Instant Pot Skyline Chili
- Healthy Turkey Chili
- Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Chili
- Pizza Chili
- White Chicken Chili
- Easy 3-Ingredient Chili Recipe
For the chili
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 15 ounce can kidney beans rinsed and drained
- 15 ounce can black beans rinsed and drained
- 1 medium green pepper seeded and diced
- 4 ounce can diced green chiles or diced jalapenos
- 24 ounce can tomato sauce
- 28 ounce can diced or whole tomatoes if using whole tomatoes, break up with a spoon
- 4 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoons Mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
For the Macaroni
- 12 ounces short cut pasta, like macaroni or shells approximately half of a box
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese or more as desired
- optional toppings: green onions, sour cream, crushed chips
- Add olive oil, onion, and ground beef to saucepan over high heat. Cook until browned. Reduce heat to low and stir in half the salt and chili powder.
- Add remaining chili ingredients. Let cook over low for a minimum of 1 hour, up to 4 hours, stirring frequently. Taste and add more seasoning as desired.
- When chili is almost finished cooking, start boiling water for the pasta. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
- To serve, scoop place a serving of pasta in a bowl and top with a serving of chili, then shredded cheese and any other optional toppings.