Chili Mac in a white cast iron pot, fresh off the stove ready to be served
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4.97 from 79 votes

One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese

Recipe video above. A homemade Chili with the addition of macaroni and cheese = Chili Mac ‘n Cheese! This is terrifically moorish and a fabulous one pot meal. Super quick too! The key with this recipe is to turn the stove off as soon as the pasta is just cooked - it will keep cooking in the residual heat. 
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Main
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Chili Mac
Servings: 5 - 6
Calories: 768kcal
Author: Nagi


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves , minced
  • 1 onion , finely chopped
  • 1 red capsicum / bell pepper , chopped
  • 500g / 1 lb ground beef (mince) , I use lean
  • 800g / 28 oz crushed canned tomato
  • 420g / 14 oz can red kidney beans , drained
  • 2 1/2 cups (625 ml) beef broth (chicken broth also ok)
  • 250g / 8 oz elbow macaroni pasta (elbow pasta), uncooked
  • 2 cups (200g) shredded cheese (cheddar, Monterey Jack, tasty cheese)
  • 1/4 cup coriander / cilantro finely chopped, for garnish

Spices (Homemade Chili Powder):

  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper or pure chilli powder (adjust spiciness to taste) (Note 1)
  • 2 tsp paprika powder
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder (can sub garlic powder)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt


  • Heat oil in large pot over high heat. Add garlic and onion, cook for 1 minute. Then add capsicum and cook until onion is translucent.
  • Add beef and cook, breaking it up as you go.
  • Once the beef turns from red to brown, add remaining ingredients except cheese. Stir, bring to simmer, then turn the heat down to medium.
  • Cover and cook for 12 minutes or until the macaroni is al dente, meaning just cooked, still a tiny bit on the firm side. It should be saucy but not tons of liquid (see video).
  • Turn the stove OFF but leave the pot on the stove. Stir through half the cheese – it should be a bit saucy. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Top with remaining cheese, put the lid back on and leave until the cheese melts - about 2 minutes (sauce will absorb further during this period).
  • Sprinkle with coriander, if desired, and serve immediately.


1. Chili Powder: The spice mix in this recipe is a home-made US Chili Powder.
In Australia, UK and most parts of the world, ground chilli (aka "chilli powder") is plain dried chillies that have been ground.
However, in the US, Chilli Powder has other things in it so it is nowhere near as hot as pure Chilli powder. This recipe calls for pure ground chilli for spiciness. Cayenne pepper is a perfect substitute, or any other HOT chilli powder. Chili is supposed to be spicy!!!
2. TIP: The key with this recipe is to turn the stove OFF as soon as the pasta is just cooked. The pasta will keep cooking when you put the lid on to melt the cheese. Don't worry if it's still saucy - saucey is GOOD!!! Plus sauce always gets sucked up by pasta so there will be less by the time you serve it.
3. OTHER PROTEINS: This recipe will also work other minced meat, including chicken, pork, turkey and even lamb!
4. FREEZING: Leftovers freeze fine, thaw then best reheated in microwave. For make ahead freezing, take it off the stove when the pasta is a tiny touch still firm. It should still be saucy. Let it cool, then top with cheese. Cover then freeze. Then to reheat, let it thaw overnight, then microwave is best to reheat (fastest so pasta won't bloat).
5. Nutrition per serving, assuming 5 servings. Very generous servings!


Serving: 524g | Calories: 768kcal | Carbohydrates: 75g | Protein: 44g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 103mg | Sodium: 1630mg | Potassium: 1902mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 2226IU | Vitamin C: 116mg | Calcium: 468mg | Iron: 12mg