Skip to Content

Easy Cheesy Chili Mac (One Pot!)

This Easy Cheesy Chili Mac combines two classic comfort foods in a super flavorful one-pot meal that’s ready to eat in just 30 minutes and is sure to become a favorite!

If you like chili and are also a fan of macaroni and cheese, this dish is for you. Filled with ground beef, onions, tomatoes, macaroni, cheddar cheese, chili spices, and more, it’s hearty, delicious, and perfect for a busy weeknight dinner!

So even though spring has sprung and we’ve had a few gorgeous warm and sunny days, it’s still pretty chilly here most of the time (especially in the evenings). That means I’m still cooking up some of our favorite colder weather foods for dinner…and loving it!

Besides, I don’t necessarily cook summery food all spring and summer long. Do you? There are always nights when I turn to those tried-and-true reliable recipes like this one that I think are awesome any day of the year.

If you keep all of these basic ingredients on hand, you can cook up a batch of this chili mac and cheese pretty much whenever you want. Think busy nights when you don’t have a lot of time but still want to feed your family a satisfying meal that they’ll love.

You’ll be glad to have this recipe in your collection!

It tastes just like you took some creamy macaroni and cheese and it mixed together with some super tasty and perfectly spiced ground beef chili. But it’s so much easier and faster than making both of those separately and then combining them.

And let’s not forget that you only need to pull out one pot to make this chili mac…which means the after-dinner clean-up will be faster and easier too!

easy cheesy chili mac in a pot with a ladle and small bowls of cheese and green onions next to it

Ingredients You Need

Note: Ingredient amounts are in the recipe card at the end of the post.

  • Ground beef (I use 80/20, but you can use any kind you’d like)
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Beef broth (I use a roasted beef base mixed with water)
  • Fire-roasted diced tomatoes (canned; or regular diced tomatoes)
  • Diced green chiles (canned; I use mild)
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Oregano (dried)
  • Macaroni
  • Evaporated milk
  • Cheddar cheese (I use a medium cheddar; use what you like)
  • Sour cream
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Green onions (for sprinkling on top; optional but recommended)

Note: The above video is just a brief overview of the steps. Scroll down to the recipe card at the end of the post for the full printable recipe with ingredient amounts and detailed instructions.

For those of you who would rather pictures instead of a video, here’s a quick look at the steps:

3 numbered images, number 1 is of ground beef and onions being cooked in a pot, number 2 is of a spoonful of garlic being added to the pot, and number 3 is of the broth, tomatoes, chiles, spices, and macaroni added to the pot

Step 1: Cook the ground beef and onions in a large pot over medium-high heat until the beef is no longer pink and the onions have softened. Drain off any excess grease.

Step 2: Add the garlic; cook, stirring, for another minute.

Step 3: Add the beef broth, fire-roasted diced tomatoes, diced green chiles, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and macaroni to the pot.

3 numbered images, number 4 is of the beef and macaroni mixture being stirred with a wooden spoon, number 5 is of the wooden spoon pushing the macaroni under the liquid in the pot, and number 6 is of the covered pot on the stove and then the uncovered pot showing the finished beef and macaroni mixture

Step 4: Stir to combine.

Step 5: Press down the macaroni with a wooden spoon so it is submerged in the liquid.

Step 6: Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the macaroni is al dente and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

3 numbered images, number 7 is of the evaporated milk, cheese and sour cream added to the pot, number 8 is of the mixture being stirred with a wooden spoon, and number 9 is of a serving of the finished dish in a white bowl with a fork and topped with cheese and green onions

Step 7: Add the evaporated milk, shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream.

Step 8: Stir until well combined.

Step 9: Serve immediately and sprinkle each serving with additional cheese and sliced green onions, if desired. Enjoy!

Recipe Tips & Tidbits

  • Use the cooking time shown on your box of macaroni as a general guideline for how long it will take to cook the macaroni in this recipe. Since we are simmering the mixture rather than having it at a full rolling boil, it may take a few minutes longer than the time shown on the box.
  • Be careful not to overcook the pasta, as it can easily become mushy. It will continue to cook slightly while you are stirring in the evaporated milk, cheese and sour cream, so I recommend cooking it to al dente (tender but still slightly firm and chewy) to make it come out perfect.
  • Different brands of chili powder can have different intensities and heat levels. I often need to use 3 tablespoons of the one I use to get the bolder flavor that I like. Feel free to use the amount that suits your tastes (same goes for the cumin and oregano).
  • I recommend freshly grating the cheddar cheese yourself. It will melt up much better and creamier. Pre-shredded cheese often contains anti-clumping agents that can sometimes cause the cheese to have an unpleasant grainy texture.
  • This recipe makes 4 very generous servings. You could easily stretch this out to 6 smaller servings, especially if you are having side dishes.
a ladle full of cheesy chili mac being lifted out of the pot

Substitutions & Variations

  • I use 80/20 ground beef, but you can use a leaner version if you’d rather or even ground turkey. If you do, I recommend adding a little oil to the pot before cooking (about 1 tablespoon).
  • For more heat, use hot diced green chiles instead of mild.
  • Black beans, pinto beans or kidney beans would be a nice addition to this chili mac and would also help stretch the dish a little further. You could add one 15 to 16-ounce can (drained and rinsed).
  • For a meatless version, replace the beef with beans (I would use 2 to 3 cans, drained and rinsed).
    • Start by sautéing the onions in 1 tablespoon of oil until softened, then add the garlic and cook for another minute. Proceed with the recipe as written, adding the beans along with the macaroni and other ingredients.
  • Want some extra veggies? Add some chopped bell peppers along with the onions and/or add some corn when you add the other ingredients.
  • You can use other pasta shapes besides macaroni. I would recommend shorter shapes like shells, rotini, bowties, penne, etc.
  • Try other cheeses or a combination of cheeses. Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack would be delicious.
two bowls of cheesy chili mac topped with cheese and green onions with 2 forks and small bowls of cheese and green onions on the side

Storing Leftovers, Freezing & Reheating

Storing Leftovers

Store leftover chili mac in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days. The macaroni will soak up some of the sauce while in the fridge.

Freezing

Because of the milk and sour cream in this recipe, I don’t recommend freezing it. Dishes containing dairy can often become separated and look curdled/grainy after freezing and thawing.

Reheating

Place the amount of leftovers you want to reheat in a pot on the stove and cook over low to medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until heated through.

Only reheat the amount you plan to eat so you don’t have leftovers that will have to be reheated again. The more you keep cooking it, the mushier those macaroni will get.

You can also reheat it in the microwave.

If the mixture looks a little dry after it has heated up a good bit, stir in a little broth, milk or water to loosen it up.

a forkful of cheesy chili mac being lifted out of the bowl

What to Serve with Cheesy Chili Mac

Since this is a one-pot meal that is very filling, you don’t really even need side dishes (although having a side or two can definitely help you stretch it out for more servings).

I like to keep it simple and serve it with a tossed green salad to get in some more veggies and either some cornbread muffins, garlic bread or dinner rolls.

I hope you try this Easy Cheesy Chili Mac recipe and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

michelle signature

More 30-Minute Dinner Recipes to Try

If you make this recipe, I’d love to know how it went! Please leave a star rating and comment below. Thanks!

easy cheesy chili mac in a white bowl with a fork and topped with cheese and green onions

Easy Cheesy Chili Mac (One Pot!)

This Easy Cheesy Chili Mac combines two classic comfort foods in a super flavorful one-pot meal that's ready to eat in just 30 minutes and is sure to become a favorite!
Print Pin Save Rate & Comment
Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6
Estimated Calories: 951

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef, I use 80/20 (See Notes below)
  • 2 cups chopped onions, about ¼-inch pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 3 cups beef broth, I use a roasted beef base mixed with water
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, or regular diced tomatoes
  • 1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles, I use mild
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chili powder, see Notes below
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 8 ounces macaroni, uncooked
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 cups freshly shredded cheddar cheese, I use a medium cheddar
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced, for topping (optional but recommended)
  • extra shredded cheddar cheese, for topping (optional)

Instructions

  • In a medium to large pot (I use a 5-quart pot), cook the ground beef and onions (season lightly with salt and pepper) over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally and breaking up the meat as you go, until the beef is no longer pink and the onions have softened, about 5 to 6 minutes. Drain off any excess grease.
  • Add the garlic; continue cooking, stirring constantly, for another minute.
  • Add the beef broth, fire-roasted tomatoes, diced green chiles, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and macaroni to the pot; stir to combine.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover the pot and simmer until the pasta is al dente (tender but still slightly firm and chewy) and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 8 to 10 minutes. Don't stir during this time.
    The cooking time can vary depending on the brand of macaroni. Use the time on the box as a general guideline, keeping in mind that, since we are simmering the mixture rather than having it at a full boil, it may take a little longer.
    Be careful not to overcook the pasta, as it can easily become mushy. It will continue to cook a bit while you are stirring in the evaporated milk, cheese and sour cream in the next step.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and add the evaporated milk, shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream. Stir until the cheese has completely melted and everything is well-combined.
  • Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed.
  • Serve immediately. Top each serving with green onions and additional shredded cheddar cheese, if desired.

Notes

  • If you want to use a leaner ground beef or ground turkey, I would suggest adding a little oil to the pot (about 1 tablespoon) before you begin cooking.
  • Different brands of chili powder can have different intensities and heat levels. I often need to use 3 tablespoons to get the bolder flavor that I like. Feel free to use the amount that suits your tastes (same goes for the cumin and oregano).
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days.
    • Reheat in a pot on the stove over low to medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until heated through. If it seems a little dry after it has heated a bit, add a little broth, milk or water to loosen it up.
  • Estimated calories shown are based on 4 very generous servings and don’t include any extra cheese added as a topping. For 6 smaller servings, the estimated calories per serving would be 634.
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see it!Share it on Instagram, tag @nowcookthis and use the hashtag #nowcookthisrecipes. Thanks!
Recipe Rating