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Chili mac topped with cheese, scallions and sour cream in a white bowl.

Chili Mac

There's nothing a bowl of Chili Mac can't fix. This easy pasta, beef, and bean recipe lives to please; it's fast, filling, and usually makes the cares of the day vanish into thin air. Plus when it's time to clean up, you only have one pot to wash.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 576kcal


  • 1 pound ground beef (see note 1)
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans undrained (see note 2)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes undrained (see note 3)
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chiles undrained (see note 4)
  • 1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni uncooked (see note 5)
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups shredded cheese for serving
  • Sour cream, sliced scallions, or hot sauce for serving, optional


  • In a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat, add beef and onion. Cook until beef is browned, about 5 minutes. Drain well.
  • Stir in garlic, chili powder, and cumin until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in kidney beans, diced tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, green chiles with juice, macaroni, water, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.
  • Cover and simmer until macaroni is almost cooked, about 10 minutes. Uncover and cook until macaroni is tender and sauce has thickened slightly, about 3 to 5 minutes longer, then season to taste with salt and pepper (I like an additional 1/4 teaspoon salt). Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, scallions, and/or hot sauce if desired.


  1. Ground beef: Any fat percentage you're happy with. Of course, you can make turkey mac, chicken mac, or bison mac if that's what you got.
  2. Kidney beans: But other beans are a-ok too, so feel free to use pintos, black beans, or white beans.
  3. Diced tomatoes and tomato paste: Diced for texture, paste for flavor.
  4. Green chilies: Canned green chilies add so much delicious taste. Pick your preferred heat level.
  5. Macaroni: Or use any small pasta. 
  6. Make ahead: Go ahead, but I should remind you that this little beauty comes together in about 25 minutes. It's that quick. Leftovers heat up beautifully, so there may be enough for several meals if there's just a couple of you at home.
  7. Don't forget the toppings: Chopped jalapeño peppers, cilantro, extra cheese, onions, diced tomatoes, did I say extra cheese?
  8. Freezing: Portion the chili Mac (without toppings) out into freezer ware, date, label, and freeze. When ready to eat, thaw out the night before and reheat. Great for meal prep.


Calories: 576kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 604mg | Potassium: 1081mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 890IU | Vitamin C: 22mg | Calcium: 276mg | Iron: 6mg