Chili Mac

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This one-pot chili mac is comforting, quick, and kid-friendly.

This one-pot chili mac is an updated version of the retro stovetop casserole of your childhood. It’s a comforting, kid-friendly dish that you can have on the table in 45 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips for dipping or crushing over top.

What You’ll Need To Make Chili Mac

ingredients for chili mac

How To Make Chili Mac

cooking onions for chili mac

Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Then add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt.

adding spices and garlic

Cook, stirring often, about 1 minute more.

onions. spices, and garlic

Add the beef.

adding ground beef

Cook, stirring and breaking apart the meat, until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes.

cooked ground beef mixture

Stir in the broth, tomato sauce, oregano, sugar and pasta.

adding broth, tomato sauce, pasta to beef mixture

Bring to a boil.

bringing the chili mac to a simmer

Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring every so often and adjusting the heat to maintain a vigorous simmer, until the pasta is tender, 9 to 12 minutes. Use a soup spoon to skim any grease off the top, if necessary.

pasta cooked al dente

Off the heat, add the evaporated milk and cheese and stir until the cheese is melted.

adding the cheese and evaporated milk to the chili mac

Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

chili mac ready to serve

Ladle the chili mac into bowls and sprinkle with scallions. Serve with more cheese and tortilla chips.

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Kids Love It Beef Chili Mac

This one-pot chili mac is comforting, quick, and kid-friendly.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 45 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Ancho chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional; omit for less heat)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 pound 85 or 90% lean ground beef
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 8 ounces (about 2 cups) elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup (8 oz) evaporated milk
  • 2 cups (one 6-oz package) shredded Mexican cheese blend, plus more for serving
  • 3 medium scallions, dark green parts only, thinly sliced
  • Tortilla chips, for serving

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper (if using), and salt and cook, stirring often, about 1 minute more. Add the beef and cook, stirring and breaking apart the meat, until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the broth, tomato sauce, oregano, sugar, and macaroni and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring every so often so the macaroni doesn't stick to the bottom, until the pasta is al dente, 9 to 12 minutes. Use a soup spoon to skim any grease off the top, if necessary.
  3. Off the heat, add the evaporated milk and cheese and stir until the cheese is melted. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Ladle the chili mac into bowls and sprinkle with the scallions. Serve with more shredded cheese and tortilla chips.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Calories: 918
  • Fat: 46 g
  • Saturated fat: 20 g
  • Carbohydrates: 70 g
  • Sugar: 18 g
  • Fiber: 6 g
  • Protein: 55 g
  • Sodium: 1489 mg
  • Cholesterol: 155 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Reviews & Comments

  • Another wonderful recipe. I swapped 1/2 n 1/2 cream and a little sour cream in place of the evaporated milk (since that is what I had on hand…. and avoid grocery trips when possible. Fortunately I had all the other ingredients and followed the recipe accordingly. I loved this one pot recipe for an easy quick to the table dish, and minimal clean up… Thanks Jenn! Your a celebrity that’s like a friend, and I so appreciate you sharing your recipes with easy to follow pics and directions. We’ll be finishing up the leftovers today 🙂
    EVERY single recipe of yours has been top notch…

    • — Jeannie on August 1, 2020
    • Reply
    • ❤️

      • — Jenn on August 2, 2020
      • Reply
  • I substituted ground turkey & used beef bouillon paste. This was the best chili mac I’ve eaten. My 7 year old devoured it. Thanks Jenn!

    • — Amber Y Lizarraga on July 16, 2020
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  • I substituted turkey for the beef and used half & half and 15oz of tomato sauce. It turned out great. Also, I used more elbow macaroni, probably 1/2 of a box. Perfect for a Saturday lunch!

    • — Carrie on June 28, 2020
    • Reply
  • Long time blog follower here- I love this recipe! So easy and my 4 year old loves it. I have made this as written several times and just wanted to note that tonight I was out of condensed milk so I used 2% instead. It was a bit watery with the 2% so I added a slice of american cheese which gave it back that creaminess that was lacking without the condensed milk. So in a bind I think 2% milk plus american cheese works well!

    • — Caitlin on June 1, 2020
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  • Thank you Jenn, this recipe was quick and easy and very delicious.

    • — Sandy on May 25, 2020
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  • Hi Jenn, I have a question. Do you think this would freeze well?

    • — Heather on May 5, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Heather, I think the ground beef mixture will freeze nicely but not sure about the whole dish. If you want to partially make it, you could prepre it up to the step right before you add the broth and other ingredients. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on May 6, 2020
      • Reply
  • Easy excellent meal.

    Due to my son’s request, I did not add the milk and cheese to the finished dish…cheese was served on the side. My son discovered the joy of dipping multi-grain tortilla chips into this delicious pasta chili.

    • — TC on April 30, 2020
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  • Made twice in a row! Delicious and economical. Only change was using a whole Box of pasta instead of half. Thanks again for another excellent meal!

    • — Ria on April 24, 2020
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    • Hi I would like to use whole milk instead of evaporated milk. Will that work? Does milk curdle, and evaporated milk not?

      • — Victoria Gimbel on April 27, 2020
      • Reply
      • Hi Victoria, Whole milk should work without curdling. Hope you enjoy! 🙂

        • — Jenn on April 27, 2020
        • Reply
  • This was easy, inexpensive and delicious. Plenty for leftovers too! I didn’t have evaporated milk so I had to use half and half and only used 3/4 cup. Will definitely make again.

    • — Dana on April 21, 2020
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  • Excellent!!!! Huge hit with everyone including my youngest who had 3 bowls. The only bad thing about this meal is there are no leftovers!

    • — Diana on April 16, 2020
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  • Excellent. Such great comfort food to have on a cold day.

    • — Pat S in Brewster MA on April 15, 2020
    • Reply
  • Can I use beef broth instead of chicken broth? I have extra beef broth to use , although I do have homemade chicken broth in the freezeer. Would it make a big difference to the flavor either way? Thank you Your blog has been my go to for the last couple years and every day since quarantine!

    • — Michelle on April 14, 2020
    • Reply
    • Beef broth should be fine here. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 14, 2020
      • Reply
    • Hi Jenn, thanks. I wound up making homemade evaporated milk. It was a little goopy but I strained it. It was thick and sweet. I love the recipe.

      • — Victoria Gimbel on April 27, 2020
      • Reply
      • So glad it worked out! 🙂

        • — Jenn on April 28, 2020
        • Reply
  • Hi Jen, I don’t have tomato sauce, but I do have tomato paste. Can I just dilute that with some water?

    • — Carolyn on April 13, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Carolyn, I haven’t tried it, but in a pinch, I think it should work. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on April 14, 2020
      • Reply
    • I had to do that tonight, Easy-peasy – use equal parts water and tomato paste. Tasted just fine.

      • — Pat S in Brewster MA on April 15, 2020
      • Reply
  • I was only able to find lowfat Evaporated milk. Will that work or is half and half a better substitute if I can find the regular type?
    Can’t wait to try this.
    Thanks!

    • — Dana Smith on April 11, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Dana, I think you could get away with either one here. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 14, 2020
      • Reply
  • Great recipe – a good example of the sum being greater than the parts. As suggested by Jenn, I added mushrooms and tomatoes as extra veggies. I added the mushrooms right after the onions, but boiled down the tomatoes in a separate pot and added it to the pot at the same time as the broth. Not sure if that was the right timing, but it worked.

    • — Val on April 9, 2020
    • Reply
  • This was excellent!!! My 3 year old had three full bowls!
    Can this be made with turkey meat? Any modifications if so?
    Thanks! Love your recipes!!

    • — Alana on April 8, 2020
    • Reply
    • So glad it was a hit! Sure, ground turkey will work, but don’t use the extra lean variety.

      • — Jenn on April 8, 2020
      • Reply
  • Why the use of evaporated milk? Can I substitute it with something else.

    • — Mark Raabe on April 6, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Mark, the evaporated milk contains less water than cream or milk and helps to keep the sauce from “breaking.” If you don’t have evaported milk, you could get away with half & half (that would be my first choice as a substitute), heavy cream, or whole milk. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on April 6, 2020
      • Reply
  • Jenn: can this be completely made and saved for the next day or should i wait to put in the milk and cheese until then?

    • — Pat on April 3, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Pat, I wouldn’t recommend it as I think the pasta will get really mushy. It’s not much of a timesaver, but you could brown the ground beef with the spices ahead and then finish with the remainder of the recipe when you’re ready to serve it. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on April 3, 2020
      • Reply
  • This was perfection. From the level of spice to the ratio of pasta to beef, you made a humble dish swoon-worthy. Truly, you’re one of the best food bloggers out there. Please keep doing what you do! It is so deeply appreciated. 🙂

    • — Kaime on April 2, 2020
    • Reply
    • So glad you enjoyed it! ❤️

      • — Jenn on April 3, 2020
      • Reply
  • Jenn, you are there for us in good times and in bad. After a painful day of homeschooling, this came together quickly with all of the ingredients I already had on hand. I followed it exactly (as everyone should with your recipes) & it was perfect for the whole family!

    • — Jamie from Chicago (and Lake Noquebay) on April 2, 2020
    • Reply
    • 😘

      • — Jenn on April 2, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I am getting ready to make this dish but I only have 80/20 ground beef. I see that it is not necessary to drain the meat per your recipe with lean ground beef. So should I cook the ground beef separately so I can drain it ahead of time and then incorporate it with everything else? You have the most amazing recipes and I don’t want to mess this up! Thanks

    • — Vanessa K on April 1, 2020
    • Reply
    • Yes, I would drain the meat as the 80/20 will have a lot more fat. Hope you enjoy (and glad you like the recipes)!

      • — Jenn on April 3, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen
    I made this recipe for the first time the other day and it was a huge hit with my friends! I added a can of beans to make it more “Chili-like”. It was easy to make in one pot and reheats well for lunches or leftovers.

    • — Fay on March 31, 2020
    • Reply
  • I made this last night with just a minor change as I didn’t have any fresh garlic on hand. My husband said, “This is a keeper!” I will definitely be making this again. Thanks so much for a quick and yummy recipe.

    • — Debbie on March 27, 2020
    • Reply
  • This was soooo delicious and easy. Everyone in my house said make sure you make this again. Winner for sure!

    • — Ellen on March 26, 2020
    • Reply
  • Made for the first time today. The family was very pleased. Tasty and easy to prepare. Thanks Jen. Your recipes are helping my family get through these trying times of sheltering in place.

    • — DonnaB on March 26, 2020
    • Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed it — stay healthy and safe! ❤️

      • — Jenn on March 26, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hey Jenn-this was awesome. Perfect comfort food during these tough times. I didn’t have evaporated milk, so I used half & half which other reviewers suggested. Another hit!
    Xo

    • — Ashley on March 25, 2020
    • Reply
  • Our family loved this dish! Quick & easy to prepare. My only substitutions were regular chili powder instead of Ancho & 2 cups of a shredded jalapeño Colby mix found in Australia. Whole family ate it with out a complaint-that’s a winner in my book!!! Thanks again Jenn – you continue to make me look like a star in the kitchen!!!

    • — TracyV on March 25, 2020
    • Reply
  • I have never heard of chili mac so was keen to try this. Delicious. Not being spicey food lovers, I only used half the chilli powder and no cayenne. The evaporated milk gives a nice flavour. Veg stock worked well. I will make again.

    • — Susan on March 24, 2020
    • Reply
  • We need comfort food during this scary time and this was perfect! I didn’t want to go to the store so I used whole wheat macaroni, which took a few minutes more but turned out great. And we didn’t have scallions so I cut up an avocado and garnished with that. This hit the spot and will definitely be one we make again. Thanks!

    • — Heather on March 24, 2020
    • Reply
  • This Chili Mac is the best. My family scarfed it up fast! Another winner recipe Jenn. Thank you so much!!

    • — Nancy on March 24, 2020
    • Reply
  • The Lunch Lady at my kids new school made this for them today, they absolutely loved it!

    • — Sara on March 23, 2020
    • Reply
    • 😀

      • — Jenn on March 25, 2020
      • Reply
  • Made this for dinner today, I used beef broth as chicken broth is difficult to find these days. A few substitutions, used 50/50 instead of evap. So good, thanks, Jen.

    • — Kristen on March 23, 2020
    • Reply
  • Wow!!! We all loved it. I wish I doubled the recipe. Your recipes are always a hit in my house.

    • — Kim on March 23, 2020
    • Reply
  • Delicious comfort meal. Thank you for sharing!

    • — Glinda on March 22, 2020
    • Reply
  • I had never heard of chili mac but made this recipe tonight. I followed the recipe as written except that as I had no evaporated milk, I substituted coffee cream, which is 18% butterfat. I used lean ground beef, and it was not at all greasy. We enjoyed it very much and the crunch of the tortilla chips was a great addition. I will definitely make it again. Thank you for another delicious dinner, Jenn.

    • — Bonnie on March 22, 2020
    • Reply
  • I made two batches at the same time, one vegan and one not. I used 2 cups of pinto beans instead of the hamburger and used vegetable broth. I omitted the cheese and evaporated milk in both versions. Instead I made a vegan cheese sauce. I served the pasta, poured on cheese sauce and topped with chopped green peppers. Everyone was happy! Next time, I would add more vegetables to the vegan version and possibly to the meat version too.
    Thanks for a great recipe that was fast, delicious and could be modified to suit our various food issues.

    • — Ty on March 22, 2020
    • Reply
  • I just made the Chili MAC recipe. I doubled the whole recipe. It is absolutely delicious. Very easy recipe and enjoyed by all adults. Bravo yet again Jen! I love your cookbook too!

    • — Olga on March 22, 2020
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  • I waited until I could get the evaporated milk. We both enjoyed the dish even though we prefer different levels of spiciness in our food. It was exactly what I was looking for in a chili mac recipe. Thanks for adding some spiciness to our sheltering down experience!

    • — Elizabeth on March 22, 2020
    • Reply
    • I don’t have evaporated milk in the house-can I use regular milk?

      • — Catherine on March 24, 2020
      • Reply
      • Hi Catherine, if it’s full-fat milk, it should work. If you happen to have it on hand, half & half would be my first choice as a substitute. Hope that helps!

        • — Jenn on March 24, 2020
        • Reply
  • Delicious! My three year old kept giving me the thumbs up and chanting “keep the recipe!” Thanks for another winner.

    • — Chris on March 21, 2020
    • Reply
  • I’ve never had Chili Mac before. I know! I need to get out more, LOLOL. *Wonderful* discovery. Just made it, tasted it (comforting is an understatement). So I had to serve up a “chef’s” treat to myself. :0). Can’t wait for my kids to sit down to this one! I can always count on you Jenn. Thanks so much!

    • — Nicole on March 21, 2020
    • Reply
  • Made this last night and my family loved it!!!! Easy to make with ingredients on hand and comes together quickly. The only substitutions I made was I used onion powder because I didn’t have any fresh onions left & heavy cream instead of the evaporated milk because it was what I had. Thanks Jen for another flavorful recipe!!

    • — vikki longo on March 21, 2020
    • Reply
  • made this recipe tonight. super easy… ONE POT!!!!! so delicious! the whole family loved it! thanks for such an easy quick meal. this is one of many of your recipes that i have made and i love what you do!

    • — kathie on March 21, 2020
    • Reply
  • I made this last night and because we are trying to not have to go out unless absolutely necessary I made a couple of substitutions. I used ground chicken, half and half and Snowdonia Red Devil cheese which is a red Leicester with chilis. This was delicious and is definitely a keeper. Thank you for the recipe. I will be making this again but when I do, I will use a non-stick pot. Using a stainless steel pot, as I did, meant I had to constantly stir it to scrape the macaroni from the bottom of the pot.

    • — Elsie on March 20, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I am a vegetarian so do you suggest any substitute for beef? Can this be made with any vegetables?

    Thanks,
    SK

    • — SK on March 19, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi SK, I think you could get away with substituting the beef with your favorite beans. A couple nice vegetable additions that come to mind — diced bell peppers, fresh tomatoes and/or mushrooms. Hope that helps and that you enjoy. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it this way!

      • — Jenn on March 20, 2020
      • Reply
      • Thanks Jenn. Will try and let you know.

        • — SK on March 20, 2020
        • Reply
  • The ingredients were simple, and it didn’t take long to cook. I didn’t have evaporated milk, so I added a tablespoon of sour cream. It was very tasty! Thank you so much 🙂

    • — Kim on March 19, 2020
    • Reply
    • That’s a great idea (to substitute sour cream for evaporated milk)! I don’t have evaporated milk nor whole milk and am trying to avoid going out unnecessarily. Thanks.

      • — Mary on April 2, 2020
      • Reply
  • I like that this recipe uses herbs and spices from the cupboard rather than a packet of chili or taco seasoning. I add a chopped up green pepper when I saute’ the onion for flavor and to incorporate more veg.

    • — MJ on March 19, 2020
    • Reply
    • Had to make ingredient adjustments to fit what I had so substituted jimmy dean hot sausage for hamburger, sweet paprika for smoked paprika, sharp cheddar cheese and 3/4c half n half for 1c evaporated milk. We loved it.

      • — Kathy A. on March 19, 2020
      • Reply
      • I cooked this tonight for the family. My kids and husband enjoyed it very much. We added multigrain tortilla chips on top. I liked the reviewer’s idea of adding green pepper. Overall, another tasty recipe. Thanks.

        • — Renee on March 20, 2020
        • Reply
    • What’s a good substitution for Mexican Cheese blend?

      • — Susan on March 22, 2020
      • Reply
      • Hi Susan, you can use Cheddar or Monterey Jack (or a combination of the two). Enjoy!

        • — Jenn on March 22, 2020
        • Reply
  • I may try this tonight looks like a delicious and quick supper. Thanks

    • — Barbarella on March 19, 2020
    • Reply
  • This actually looks good, even though I’ve never had it. Can I use something besides evaporated milk for this? Regular milk, half and half or heavy cream?

    • — Alisa Z on March 19, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure, Alisa. I’d go with half and half.

      • — Jenn on March 19, 2020
      • Reply
  • Can’t wait to try! How well will this double if using the same pot? Thanks and take care!

    • — Chad on March 19, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Chad, I think you could double this in the same pot w/o any issues. Please LMK how it turns out. 🙂

      • — Jenn on March 19, 2020
      • Reply
      • Can you tell me how much onion powder to Substitute for the fresh onion. I don’t have any onions. Thank you

        • — Vikki Longo on March 20, 2020
        • Reply
        • Hi Vikki, I don’t have much experience with onion powder but I’m guessing you’ll need about 2 teaspoons. Please LMK how it turns out with this!

          • — Jenn on March 20, 2020
          • Reply
          • This turned out delicious. I went with your suggestion on the amount but doubled it since I was doubling the recipe. My kids asked why this was the first time I was making this dish! Good pantry pull recipe. Thank you!

            • — Vikki Longo on March 26, 2020
  • Hi, have been looking for a good chilli Mac recipe and I am sure your recipe will be amazing. My only question is can I substitute evaporated milk with 2% or cream?
    Thanks, I am in Ontario Canada and looking to try some new recipes during this unsettling time.

    • — Elizabeth on March 19, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Elizabeth, if you don’t have evaporated milk, you could get away with half & half (that would be my first choice as a substitute), heavy cream, or whole milk. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on March 19, 2020
      • Reply

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