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Chili Mac and Cheese

This easy one pot Chili Mac and Cheese combines two beloved dishes, chili and macaroni and cheese, in one! Macaroni pasta and black beans are cooked in a thick and chunky chili loaded with gooey cheese.

Made in just on pot and ready under 30 minutes, Chili Mac and Cheese is a simple dinner that you and your family will surely love!

Chili mac and cheese topped with more cheese in a large pot with a wooden spoon

Easy One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese

Chili Mac and Cheese, or also lovingly known as Chili Mac, is a quintessential American meal.

I don’t know who invented the concept of Chili Mac and Cheese, but personally, I think it’s quite genius to combine macaroni and cheese with chili – two meals that everyone in America pretty much grew up eating.

The product is a rich and hearty, cozy and comforting bowl that combines macaroni, beans, tomatoes, chili spices, and yes lots of cheese.

It’s also flavorful and packed with bold southwestern flavors.

There are so many reasons why Chili Mac and Cheese is such a popular and well loved dinner option:

  • ready under 30 minutes
  • easy-to-find, pantry-friendly ingredients
  • made in one pot – no need to boil pasta separately!
  • easy to eat – serve in just one bowl!
  • flavorful and delicious – lots of textures and spices!
  • easy to make ahead and leftovers keep well

It’s quite simple. If I want to prepare dinner in record time, enjoy a tasty meal, and have little dishes to wash, I make my Chili Mac and Cheese recipe.

We have had this way too many times for dinner, save leftovers for lunches and more dinners, making a busy week much easier to manage.

A bowl of macaroni in chili cheese sauce topped with more cheese

Ingredient Notes

Here are the ingredients you will need to make this delicious Chili Mac and Cheese:

  • elbow macaroni pasta
  • cheese – use shredded cheese that melts easily such as cheddar, mozzarella, Colby jack, or a blend. Velveeta and sliced American cheese melts will and can work as well. Avoid hard cheese, they will be hard to melt in your Chili Mac.
  • lean ground beef
  • onion – white, yellow or sweet onions
  • garlic – minced fresh garlic is prefer, but garlic powder can be used as well
  • canned diced tomatoes – you can substitute with whole tomatoes if that’s what you have, make sure to break the tomatoes apart after adding to the pot
  • canned tomato sauce
  • beef broth
  • chili powder
  • smoked paprika
  • ground cumin

How to Make Chili Mac

Chili Mac and Cheese is a simple one pot meal that is truly one of the easiest dinners you will make from scratch!

So grab that pot or Dutch oven and let’s get cooking!

Start by sautéing the onions, garlic and ground beef.

Then add all the tomatoes (diced tomatoes, tomato sauce), beef broth, and the spices (chili powder, smoked paprika, and ground cumin).

Stir and bring everything to a boil.

Once it comes to a boil, add the macaroni pasta and let it cook for 9-10 minutes.

As the pasta cooks, the Chili Mac will slowly thickens.

Even if it’s a little watery at this point, don’t worry as we will be adding shredded cheese to it, and that should thicken it further.

Add black beans, but make sure to drain it if using canned. We don’t really want the extra liquid in there.

Then fold in the shredded cheese.

Adding macaroni and then shredded cheese to a pot of Chili Mac and CHeese

At this point your Chili Mac and Cheese should be nice and thick.

If you would like it thicker, add more shredded cheese. If you prefer it thinner, add a few tablespoons of water or beef broth.

If you prefer your Chili Mac and Cheese super cheesy, add more shredded cheese.

Lastly, I like to also top my Chili Mac with even more shredded cheese when serving.

I like to add other toppings to it when serving to give it some additional texture and flavors:

  • cilantro
  • jalapeno
  • tortilla chips
  • avocados

And that’s really all there is to the making of this delicious Chili Mac and Cheese…cook it all in one big pot, serve in one big bowl!

It really doesn’t get easier than this!

A large white pot of Chili Mac with shredded cheese on top and a wooden spoon

Dishes to serve with Chili Mac and Cheese

Here are some easy and yummy sides to go with Chili Mac:

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a different cheese in this?

Absolutely! I recommend using shredded cheese that melts easily, such as cheddar, mozzarella, Colby jack, or a cheese blend. You can also use slices of American cheese or Velveeta instead of or in addition to the shredded cheese. Personally, I say use whatever cheeses you have at hand!

How do I make this healthier?

When I want to make this ‘healthier’, I typically use whole wheat pasta, lean ground beef, and low fat cheeses. Or use less cheese.

Can I freeze this?

Yes! Chili Mac freezes and reheats really well. Freeze in an airtight container for up to 2 months. When ready to eat, defrost in refrigerator the overnight and reheat in the microwave.

Top down view of a bowl of Chili mac and cheese

More Easy Meals!

Looking for more yummy dinner ideas that are super simple to make? Check these out!

A white pot of chili mac and cheese

Chili Mac and Cheese

Chili Mac and Cheese combines two American classics, macaroni and cheese and chili, to form a thick and hearty one pot meal. Loaded with pasta, beans, tomatoes, chili powder, and cheese, this is 30-minute meal that is delicious and easy to make!
5 from 13 votes
Print Pin
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 507kcal
Author: MinShien


  • 1 white onion diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 lbs lean ground beef
  • 15 oz canned diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz canned tomato sauce
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 8 oz elbow macaroni
  • 15 oz black beans drained
  • 1 1/2 cup cheese shredded, plus more for toppings
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • cooking oil


  • In a large pot or Dutch oven, add cooking oil, and heat to medium high heat. Add onions and garlic, saute until they are soft.
  • Add ground beef, saute until they are no longer pink.
  • Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and beef broth. Then add chili powder, smoked paprika and ground cumin. Stir to combine and bring to boil.
  • Once it comes to a boil, add macaroni and cook for 9-10 minutes, or until macaroni is soft.
  • Add black beans, and cook for another 1-2 minutes, then fold in shredded cheese. Add salt to taste.
  • Serve with more shredded cheese on top. Enjoy!


Calories: 507kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 75mg | Sodium: 1179mg | Potassium: 1063mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1042IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 282mg | Iron: 6mg
Did you make this recipe?Take a pic and tag me at @joyous.apron, or hashtag #joyousapron on Instagram!

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5 from 13 votes (12 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. Michael White says:

    5 stars
    This food satisfied my soul. Make this for your family ASAP. It’s a family favorite with everyone returning for 2nds and 3rds.

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Thank you so much, Michael!!!