There are dinners where you try to combine flavors in an innovative and elevated way, and then there are dinners where you are trying to get something on the table quickly, something that you know the whole family will love. Chili Mac is more of the latter – it’s not the most creative cooking project, but it’s a surefire win time and time again. It’s hearty, it’s cheesy, it’s quick, and this version is the best way I know how to make it. This Chili Mac comes together in one pot (no need to boil the macaroni separately!) so it’s the perfect dish to turn to when you’re in need of comfort food in a hurry… or just a crowd-pleasing solution on any given weeknight.
A lot of Chili Mac recipes rely on a can of chili, but since I don’t tend to always have one in the pantry, I prefer recipes that use beef and beans that you season yourself. Such as this. Here, you brown some ground beef with some chopped onions and garlic that you spice up yourself with cumin and chili powder.
Diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and beef broth head into the pot where they’ll bubble away until the macaroni is perfectly tender.
As the noodles cook, they release some of their starch to thicken up the sauce but they also absorb plenty of that chili-kissed tomatoey flavor.
A blanket of cheese is the finishing touch – just cover the pot long enough for it to get nice and melty and ooey-gooey.
I’ve served this for dinner countless times and I’ve never heard a single complaint. It’s the kind of quick meal you and your family never get tired of – your family because it’s the ideal beefy, cheesy comfort food, and you because it’ll only take you about twenty minutes in the kitchen!
One-Pot Chili Mac
Serves 4; 5 minutes prep, 20 minutes cook time
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 small white onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 4 cups beef broth
- 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
- 1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 10 oz macaroni, uncooked
- 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
- Fresh cilantro or parsley, for serving
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Season ground beef with salt and pepper and brown in a large pot over medium-high heat.
- Add onion and cook until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Stir in chili powder, cumin, diced tomatoes, beef broth, tomato sauce, beans, and macaroni. Stir to combine.
- Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until pasta is tender, about 12 minutes. Uncover pot and let liquid reduce, about 3 minutes more.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper, sprinkle cheese over the top of the pasta and cover pot until cheese has melted.
- Serve hot and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Damn Delicious.