Easy Chili Mac Recipe - Only 6 Ingredients & 20 Minutes! (2024)

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This Chili Mac recipe is an incredible marriage of two classic comfort foods – macaroni and cheese and chili! This extra easy and flavor packed recipe is kid approved, only uses 6 ingredients, and is ready in under 20 minutes!

Easy Chili Mac Recipe - Only 6 Ingredients & 20 Minutes! (2)

Table of Contents

  • Why You’ll Love This Chili Mac Recipe
  • What You’ll Need
  • How to Make Chili Mac and Cheese
  • Tips and Variation Ideas
  • What to Serve With Chili Mac
  • How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
  • More Easy Pasta Recipes
  • Get the Recipe

    Why You’ll Love This Chili Mac Recipe

    Do you ever have one of those days? You know, when the one of the kids are teething, you got a flat tire, everyone was late to school, you stained your favorite shirt, and it’s cold outside?! Next time life treats you less than friendly, make it all better with a big warm and cozy bowl of chili mac! It’s the ultimate comfort food!

    • All That Flavor: Each cheesy bite of this delicious dinner is better than the last. Made with ingredients like chili seasoning and boxed mac and cheese, it’s impossible to resist this comforting dish! What elevates this entree from tasty to downright mouthwatering is that it isn’t just macaroni and meat. The chili seasoning, beans, and sauce make this meal better than you could ever imagine!
    • Kids Love It: Prepare for your kids to fall head over heels in love with this chili mac recipe! Even the pickiest eaters will be heading back into the kitchen for seconds. Or thirds. Who’s counting? Or if it’s just for adults and you like it spicy, use the hot version of Rotel and enjoy that chili burn!
    • So Easy: This fast and easy chili mac is seriously exploding with flavor, but comes together in 20 minutes from start to finish. It is a family favorite dinner that fills you up and doesn’t take much effort or planning!

    Craving more comfort food after a bowl of chili mac and cheese? You’re not alone! Check out our other easy comfort food recipes to help make your weeknight dinners more delicious. We’re big fans of our cheesy one pot pasta, creamy potato soup, and classic crockpot French onion chicken.

    Easy Chili Mac Recipe - Only 6 Ingredients & 20 Minutes! (3)

    What You’ll Need

    You only need 6 simple ingredients to whip up a big batch of your new go-to weeknight dinner. It doesn’t get much better than that! Scroll down to the recipe card for exact amounts.

    • Boxed Mac and Cheese: You’ll need the 24 oz family size.
    • Ground Meat: Ground turkey or beef works great.
    • Onion
    • Diced Rotel: We use mild for the kids, but original or hot is also delicious.
    • Chili Beans in Chili Sauce
    • Chili Seasoning Mix
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    How to Make Chili Mac and Cheese

    Chili mac and cheese recipes are meant to be easy and quick so you can dive into that first bite as soon as possible! Check out the recipe card for detailed instructions.

    • Pasta: Cook the pasta according to the box directions.
    Easy Chili Mac Recipe - Only 6 Ingredients & 20 Minutes! (5)
    Easy Chili Mac Recipe - Only 6 Ingredients & 20 Minutes! (6)
    • Saute: While the pasta is cooking, brown the ground meat and onion. You’ll know it’s done when you don’t see any more pink in the meat. We highly recommend draining any excess grease from the pan at this stage.
    Easy Chili Mac Recipe - Only 6 Ingredients & 20 Minutes! (7)
    Easy Chili Mac Recipe - Only 6 Ingredients & 20 Minutes! (8)
    • Mix: Add the cooked noodles and the remaining ingredients to the hot pan and cook for another few minutes. Add the cheese from the mac and cheese box and stir it all together. This is a great step to let your kids help! Serve and enjoy!

    Tips and Variation Ideas

    Here are a few tips from our kitchen and ideas to change things up a bit if you’d like.

    • Drain the Grease: If you are using ground beef, you will want to make sure and drain the excess grease out of your pan while cooking. Otherwise your final dish can wind up greasy.
    • 24 oz size Mac and Cheese: We tested this recipe with a couple of different boxed mac & cheeses. You want to make sure you have enough noodles and cheese, so make sure you grab the family sized box! We prefer the Kraft Deluxe 24ox Family Size (shown in the photo).
    • Chili Seasoning Packet: Don’t forget to add the seasoning! Without it, this dish tastes more like hamburger helper. The chili powder and chili beans are really what makes it chili mac!
    • Make It Spicy: We use the mild Rotel so our chili mac is kid friendly. However, if you like it spicy, try using medium or even hot Rotel! One single can of hot Rotel will crank up the heat by about 100%! It’s surprisingly hot! You can also sprinkle in some red chili flakes and cayenne powder for some extra heat if you happened to already grab a can of mild Rotel.
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    What to Serve With Chili Mac

    Contrary to what the Kindergartners in our lives think, the best way to eat this cheesy dinner isn’t directly out of the pot, with a fork, as quickly as possible. (Even if you’re like them and you don’t think anyone’s watching you.)

    If you’re looking for a good side dish to serve with this, we usually opt for a side salad. It’s quick, easy, and lightens things up a bit. The lettuce cancels out everything else… right? But honestly, we usually serve this chili mac in a big bowl all on its own. It really doesn’t need any other sides or toppings, it’s a full meal! You have meat, pasta and beans all in one big cheesy bowl!

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    How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

    This chili mac and cheese recipe makes a ton of food, which is great for those of us who love leftovers! Here’s how to handle them.

    • Refrigerate:You can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
    • Reheat: We usually just reheat chili mac in the microwave. But if you’re reheating a larger amount, the oven will work great as well.
    • Freeze:Feel free to make a double batch to freeze for meal prep! It’ll stay fresh in the freezer for up to 3 months.
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    More Easy Pasta Recipes

    • Cajun Chicken Pasta
    • Tuna Noodle Casserole
    • One Pot Italian Sausage Pasta

    Easy Chili Mac Recipe - Only 6 Ingredients & 20 Minutes! (12)

    4.6 from 85 votes

    Print Pin Recipe

    Yield: 6 to 8 servings

    Chili Mac

    This Chili Mac recipe is an incredible marriage of two classic comfort foods – macaroni and cheese and chili! This extra easy and flavor packed recipe is kid approved, only uses 6 ingredients, and is ready in under 20 minutes!

    Prep Time5 minutes minutes

    Cook Time15 minutes minutes

    Total Time20 minutes minutes


    • 1 box, 24 oz family size Mac and cheese
    • 1 lb lean ground meat*
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 1 10 oz can diced Rotel, do not drain
    • 1 16 oz can chili beans in chili sauce, do not drain
    • 1 1.25 oz package chili seasoning mix, **or our homemade chili seasoning


    • Boil pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.

    • While the pasta is boiling, brown the ground meat in a medium to large skillet, for 5 minutes. Add onion to ground meat continue cooking until meat is no longer pink and thoroughly cooked.

      Easy Chili Mac Recipe - Only 6 Ingredients & 20 Minutes! (13)

    • Make sure to separate meat while it’s cooking so that it is in small pieces. I use a potato masher to easily break apart meat. Drain any excess grease from pan, if needed.

    • Add the cooked pasta, rotel, chili beans and chili seasoning and stir well to combine.

      Easy Chili Mac Recipe - Only 6 Ingredients & 20 Minutes! (14)

    • Cook for 3 more minutes and then add the cheese from Mac & cheese box and stir well.

      Easy Chili Mac Recipe - Only 6 Ingredients & 20 Minutes! (15)

    • Serve immediately.

      Easy Chili Mac Recipe - Only 6 Ingredients & 20 Minutes! (16)



    Meat: Use any ground meat you prefer: beef, chicken or turkey. We like a leaner cut and used ground turkey, but if you use one with more fat, make sure you drain any excess grease!


    Serving: 1serving, Calories: 360kcal, Carbohydrates: 13g, Protein: 29g, Fat: 21g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 89mg, Sodium: 933mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g

    © Ellen

    Cuisine: American

    Category: 30 Minutes Or Less

    Easy Chili Mac Recipe - Only 6 Ingredients & 20 Minutes! (2024)


    What is the difference between goulash and chili mac? ›

    And while other components such as garlic, onions, broth, and tomato sauce are also common in American goulash, there is another key differentiator: evaporated milk. Combined with a greater volume of shredded cheese, chili mac typically takes on a creamier, thicker consistency.

    What is chili mac made of? ›

    On the table in just over 20 minutes, made with beef mince, pasta, beans, canned tomatoes, everyday spices, and some kind of cheese, it's sinfully scrumptious!

    What to serve with chili mac? ›

    Serving Suggestions

    This is a hearty meal on its own, but I love serving it with some cornbread. It would also go well with a side salad or even some biscuits! To make The Best One-Pot Chili Mac Recipe, start by browning your ground beef with the onion and garlic.

    What kind of beans are used in chili? ›

    The best beans for chili are pinto, kidney, and black beans, like in this easy and tasty recipe. This 3-bean chili freezes great for meals later in the week. If you prefer thinner chili, add an extra can of tomato sauce. The green chiles are not hot and add a wonderful flavor, so don't be afraid to use them.

    Which ground beef is better for chili? ›

    Use lean beef, but not super lean meat. The best ground beef for chili has some fat, so 85% lean is ideal. Don't be tempted to use extra-lean beef or drain off the fat after browning the meat. The fat bastes the meat during cooking, which adds richness to the sauce and keeps the meat moist.

    Does chili use beef or chicken broth? ›

    Chicken Broth: I like the depth of flavor from using chicken broth as it adds a nice contrast to the beef, but feel free to use beef broth or a combination of both. You'll want to drain the kidney beans, but rinsing them is optional. Doing so will reduce the amount of sodium that gets carried into the dish.

    What's good to add to chili? ›

    There are lots of ideas. You can add chili beans, kidney beans, diced tomatoes, onion, garlic, green pepper, jalapenos, habaneros, serranos, potatoes, hominy, corn, chili powder, cumin, tomato sauce, cayenne peppers, cheese, sour cream, banana pep...

    How long does chili mac last in the fridge? ›

    Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Leftovers can be frozen and do reheat well, be extra careful not to overcook the macaroni so that it's not mushy when reheated. (I always use a timer.)

    Is chili mac a northern thing? ›

    It is a common dish in the cuisine of the Midwestern United States, and is also popular in other areas of the United States. Several variations of the dish exist, and prepared canned and boxed versions also exist. It can be a relatively inexpensive dish to prepare, and has been described as a comfort food.

    Which onion is best for chili? ›

    Sweet onions are great for caramelizing due to their higher sugar content. You can cook them into your chili, serve them raw over top, or even elevate your chili with a sophisticated caramelized onion topping! Some of my favorite sweet onions are Walla, Walla, Maui, and Vidalia Onions.

    How many pounds of meat do I need for chili per person? ›

    Be careful when doing so, however, so that the meat does not dry out. Consider between ¼ and a ⅓ of a pound per person, supplemented perhaps with a few strips of bacon to help keep everything juicy. Or use chunks of dark meat from the richer, fattier thighs, or even duck.

    What is another name for a Chili Mac? ›

    American Chop Suey (Macaroni, Beef, and Cheese Skillet Casserole) Recipe. Beefaroni, chili mac, Johnny Marzetti: whatever you call it, this stuff is delicious.

    What are the two types of goulash? ›

    There are two kinds of goulash: Hungarian goulash, which calls for the slow-simmered beef to be served alongside egg noodles, and American goulash, which pulls in ground beef and cooks the noodles in the pot alongside the sauce.

    What exactly is goulash? ›

    Goulash (Hungarian: gulyás) is a soup or stew of meat and vegetables seasoned with paprika and other spices. Originating in Hungary, goulash is a common meal predominantly eaten in Central Europe but also in other parts of Europe. It is one of the national dishes of Hungary and a symbol of the country.

    What is goulash called in the South? ›

    American goulash, sometimes called slumgullion, American Chop Suey, or even Beef-a-Roni, is an American comfort-food dish popular in the Midwest and South.


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