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posted February 06, 2024

Chili Mac

When you’re craving that smooth and creamy goodness of mac and cheese, but you need the rich and hearty comfort only chili can provide, the only answer is my Chili Mac. You get 2 of my most popular recipes at once, and you can make it all in a single dish.

Chili mac on wooden spoon above serving dish. Text reads "Chili Mac".

Chili Mac

Sometimes you want a nice, hearty bowl of chili, and sometimes you’re craving that melty cheese coating your tummy you get with mac and cheese. With my Chili Mac, you don’t have to choose. This recipe combines the best of both worlds into a single dish that satisfies all who try it. It takes two of my favorite and most popular recipes and brings them together in a way that is so yummy, you’ll be making it all the time.

This recipe takes my Easy Homemade Chili to a whole new level by topping it with Smoked Mac and Cheese. Imagine the creamy, cheesy mac staying warm and melty the whole time you eat it because it’s mixed with rich, hearty chili. No matter what kind of comfort food your guests are craving, this yummy entree will take care of it.

Peppers being dumped into cooking chili in cast iron pan. Peppers being poured onto tomatoes, onions, and ground beef in pan.

Homemade Chili for Mac and Cheese

To make a great mac and cheese chili, you have to start with the right chili. You want something that’s easy enough to fit into a larger recipe, but flavorful enough to stand on its own. I love to use my Easy Homemade Chili for this recipe for those exact reasons. It cooks in 30 minutes on its own, so it fits easily into the process. It’s also packed with flavor you can customize to your liking. It’s packed with rich ground beef, hearty veggies, and tons of spice and flavor.

Mac and cheese being stirred in pot.

Smoked Mac and Cheese for Chili

Just like you want to start with a strong chili, you have to top this recipe with a delicious mac and cheese to elevate it to an all-star level. I love to use my Smoked Mac and Cheese for this recipe. It’s got all the rich and creamy melted cheese you want, and it’s got a breadcrumb topping for a little crunch and texture. You can use any mac and cheese recipe you like as well. But this smoked option is going to give a depth of flavor your guests will love. The only difference between how you make a standard mac and this recipe, is you’re going to combine your ingredients and let them smoke together over a bed of hearty chili.

Macaroni and cheese on wooden spoon being added to chili pan.

How to Make Chili Mac

I’ll walk you through exactly how to make this incredible, 2-in-1 dinner favorite. In just a few simple steps, you’ll know how to make chili, mac and cheese, and the best of both worlds.

  1. Make chili. I use my rich and hearty Easy Homemade Chili for this recipe, but you can use any chili you love. The important thing to remember when making your chili is to brown your beef before adding anything else. You want a thick chili for the base of this flavor-packed dish.
  2. Cook noodles. I like to cook my macaroni al dente for this recipe. That way it’s cooked all the way through, but maintains a little bit of bite to it. Follow the directions on the package your pasta came in, but this usually takes 8-10 minutes, and around 9 for al dente.
  3. Make cheese sauce. This is where all the ooey-gooey, creamy goodness comes from. You start with a roux, then add half and half and cream cheese. Finally, you finish this indulgent sauce off with both cheddar and gouda cheeses.
  4. Combine it all. It’s the moment of truth, time to put it all together. Add your drained pasta directly onto your chili in its pot, and spread it out in a nice, even layer. Then, go ahead and pour your hot cheese sauce directly onto your noodles. Once that has settled into an even layer, sprinkle on your breadcrumb topping for a crunch your guests will love.
  5. Cook, serve, enjoy. Your chili will still need another 10-15 minutes to cook, and this will give your cheese a chance to coat the macaroni. You’ll know it’s time to dig in when the breadcrumb topping starts to look deliciously crispy and golden brown.

Macaroni and cheese being spooned from pot into pan.

Storing Leftover Chili

If you have leftover chili mac, don’t stress. It stores easily in your refrigerator and tastes just as great the next day. Once your chili mac has cooled completely, transfer it to an airtight container, seal the lid, and store in your fridge. It will stay good 3 to 4 more days this way, and you can warm it up in your microwave or oven when you get the craving for more.

More Crave-able Mac and Cheese Creations

If you thought delicious homemade chili was the only way to kick up your mac and cheese, then I’ve got a surprise for you. I’m always looking for new ways to take my mac and cheese game up a notch. Here are a few of my personal favorite cheesy pasta recipes to try:

Breadcrumb topping being sprinkled on mac and cheese layer.

Easy Chili Mac Recipe

Follow the recipe card to make this killer chili mac, and tell us about your experience in the comments. If you had fun making this recipe, then be sure to rate it 5 stars. You can find hundreds more awesome BBQ recipes just like this one in the Hey Grill Hey app.

If you can’t get enough Hey Grill Hey in your life, make sure you follow us on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. You never know when you’ll catch Susie dropping some secret knowledge, or Taste Test Todd approving some new creation. Don’t miss out on any of the BBQ fun.

Peppers being dumped into cooking chili in cast iron pan.

Chili Mac

Susie Bulloch
Why decide between rich, hearty chili and smooth, creamy mac and cheese, when you can have both made in one dish with my killer Chili Mac.
Prep Time : 20 mins
Cook Time : 1 hr
Total Time : 1 hr 20 mins
Servings : 8 people
Calories : 1212kcal

Video

Ingredients
 

Chili

  • 2 pounds ground beef (85/15)
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion (diced)
  • 1 red bell pepper (seeded and diced)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (seeded and diced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 2 15.5 ounce cans red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup Hey Grill Hey Fiesta Rub
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar

Mac and Cheese

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni noodles
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 Tablespoon mustard powder
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • 3 cups cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups gouda cheese

Breadcrumb Topping

Instructions

  • Brown your beef. Preheat olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Add ground beef and break into smaller pieces, cooking until browned.
    2 pounds ground beef, 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Onions, peppers and garlic. Add onions and peppers and cook for 4-5 minutes until fragrant, stirring often. Add in minced garlic and cook 1-2 more minutes.
    1 medium yellow onion, 1 red bell pepper, 1 jalapeño pepper, 4 cloves garlic
  • All the rest. Add in your beef stock, drained kidney beans, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes, and stir together. Add in Fiesta Rub and brown sugar. Stir gently with wooden spoon.
    4 cups beef stock, 2 15.5 ounce cans red kidney beans, 1 6 ounce can tomato paste, 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce, 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes, 1/4 cup Hey Grill Hey Fiesta Rub, 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • Simmer and make pasta. Allow chili to simmer 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. In a separate pot over medium-high heat, boil your macaroni pasta noodles according to the packaging, until the noodles are al dente. Once done, drain all liquid from macaroni.
    1 pound elbow macaroni noodles
  • Make sauce. In a 12-inch cast iron skillet, melt butter and add flour, whisking into a roux. Next, whisk in mustard powder. Then, add in half and half and cream cheese. Finally, add the cheddar cheese and gouda cheese and stir until melted.
    1/2 cup unsalted butter, 4 Tablespoons flour, 1 Tablespoon mustard powder, 2 cups half and half, 3 ounces cream cheese, 3 cups cheddar cheese, 1 1/2 cups gouda cheese
  • Make crumb topping. In a small bowl, mix melted butter, Sweet Rub, and panko bread crumbs.
    1 cup panko breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup unsalted butter, 2 Tablespoons Hey Grill Hey Sweet Rub
  • Combine it all. Add your cooked macaroni noodles directly onto your simmering chili in a nice even layer. Next, pour your cheese sauce onto your noodles, spreading as needed. Finally, sprinkle on your breadcrumb topping.
  • Cook, serve, and enjoy. Cover your chili Mac and allow to cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese coats your macaroni and your breadcrumb topping is golden brown and crispy. Serve immediately.

Nutrition

Calories: 1212kcal | Carbohydrates: 69g | Protein: 53g | Fat: 82g | Saturated Fat: 43g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 26g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 251mg | Sodium: 1714mg | Potassium: 833mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 2842IU | Vitamin C: 27mg | Calcium: 784mg | Iron: 6mg
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