One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese is the ground beef dinner recipe you can make in one pot in under 30 minutes! Cheesy elbow pasta, kidney beans, canned tomatoes, lots of chili seasoning take this homemade mac and cheese recipe to a whole new level!
Mac and Cheese is great however it’s prepared, but this Chili Mac and Cheese is at the top of my list! Because it’s such a versatile and delicious comfort food, it shines as a main dish and can also be successfully served with Homemade Corn Bread (hello more carbs!) or a delicious Cucumber Tomato Salad with Avocado. It’s hearty and filling due to the protein from beef and just the right amount of carbs from elbow macaroni and beans!
How to make Chili Mac and Cheese
One pot Chili Mac and Cheese is super simple to make despite the number of the ingredients. The real key to making the BEST Chili Mac and cheese is to get the flavor combination right.
- Cook garlic, onions and pepper. Cook the onions in olive oil for only a couple of minutes until they are tender and then add chopped bell pepper.
- Next add ground beef. Cook until browned.
- Add remaining ingredients and bring to simmer. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for at least an hour, to allow the flavors to blend. Serve with a spoonful of sour cream and shredded cheese.
Here are a few tips to make sure you are serving the best Mac and Cheese:
- Spices are Your Friends. There are places you can skimp on spices and chili Mac and cheese is not one of them. I like to use chili, paprika and cumin, and lots of it (but you can use only store bought chilly powder easily). Cumin and paprika help your Mac and cheese get a nice… well, a great flavor.
- Cook Your Macaroni in the Broth. Yes! You don’t have to cook them separately from chili, but simply add your elbow pasta in the same pot you are cooking the chili. This keeps the entire preparation super simple!
How Long To Cook the Macaroni
The length of time you need to boil the elbow pasta is generally about 12 minutes. It’s important to turn the stove OFF as soon as the pasta is just cooked because it will keep cooking when you put the lid on to melt the cheese.
Can I use different protein?
You sure can! One pot chili Mac and cheese does pretty well with many other kinds of ground protein. It will work with ground chicken, pork, and turkey!
Can I freeze this Chili Mac and Cheese?
So, we just made this huge pot of chili Mac and cheese, which is way too much to consume in one seating. What should you do with leftovers? I prefer freezing to refrigerating because it gives you more time to enjoy the chili!
To freeze it, make sure that Mac and cheese is cooled off and then scoop it into several plastic freezer bags. Press on the bags to squeeze the air out of them. I usually freeze these bags full of chili in a single layer on a sheet pan so they’ll stack neatly. This helps to make sure that the Mac and cheese defrosts and reheats evenly! It also makes it easier to store it like that when there is not much room in the freezer.
One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper or pure chilli powder
- 2 tsp paprika powder
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 28 oz crushed canned tomato
- 14 oz can red kidney beans drained
- 2 cups beef broth
- 8 oz elbow macaroni pasta uncooked
- 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
- Parsley (for garnish)
- Heat oil in large pot over high heat and add garlic and onion, cook for a couple of minutes. Then add bell pepper and cook until onion is translucent.
- Add beef and cook, breaking it up as you go. Once the beef is browned, add remaining ingredients (including elbow pasta, but except cheese and parsley). Stir, bring to simmer, then turn the heat down to medium.
- Cover and cook for about 12 minutes and remove pot from the burner.
- Stir through half the cheese. Taste it and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Top with remaining cheese, put the lid back on and leave until the cheese melts - about 2 minutes.
- Garnish with parsley, and serve immediately.