Two classic comfort foods, macaroni and cheese and chili, come together to create this family favorite Chili Mac! This extra easy and flavor packed recipe is kid approved, only uses 6 ingredients, and is ready in under 20 minutes!
Do you ever have one of those days? You know, when the one of the kids are teething, you got a flat tire, everyone was late to school, you stained your favorite shirt, and it’s cold outside?! Next time life treats you less than friendly, make it all better with a big warm and cozy bowl of Chili Mac! It’s the ultimate comfort food!
Each cheesy bite of this delicious dinner is better than the last. Made with ingredients like chili seasoning and boxed mac and cheese, it’s impossible to resist this comforting dish! Every time either of us make a big pot of this indulgent Chili Mac, we know everyone at the table will be smiling.
Prepare for your kids to fall head over heels in love with this! Even the pickiest eaters will be heading back into the kitchen for seconds. Or thirds. Who’s counting? Or if it’s just for adults and you like it spicy, use the hot version of Rotel and enjoy that chili burn!
What elevates this entree from tasty to downright mouthwatering is that it isn’t just macaroni and meat. The chili seasoning, beans and sauce make this meal better than you could ever imagine!
How To Serve Chili Mac
Contrary to what the Kindergartners in our lives think, the best way to eat this cheesy dinner isn’t directly out of the pot, with a fork, as quickly as possible. (Even if you’re like them and you don’t think anyone’s watching you.)
If you’re looking for a good side dish to serve with this, we usually opt for a side salad! It’s quick, easy, and healthy. The lettuce cancels out everything else… right?
We usually serve this chili mac in a big bowl all on its own. It really doesn’t need any other sides or toppings, it’s a full meal! You have meat, pasta and beans all in one big cheesy bowl!
You only need 6 inexpensive simple ingredients to whip up a big batch of your new go-to weeknight dinner. It doesn’t get much better than that!
- Boxed Mac and Cheese: you will need the 24 oz family size.
- Ground Meat: you can use ground turkey or beef!
- Diced Rotel: we use mild for the kids. Original or Hot also work great!
- Chili Beans in Chili Sauce
- Chili Seasoning Mix
What kind of Mac and cheese should I use?
So we used the Kraft Deluxe 24 oz Family Size Mac and Cheese for this recipe (shown in photo above). We tried a couple of different brands and flavors and our family preferred this one.
We especially liked it more over the shell type of noodle because it held up better once all the ingredients were added.
How To Make Chili Mac
Step 1: Start by getting the pasta cooking. Boil the noodles according to the package instructions, then drain and set them aside.
Step 2: While the pasta is boiling, brown the ground meat in a medium to large skillet for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped onion to the ground meat, continuing to cook it until the meat is no longer pink and thoroughly cooked.
Tip: Make sure to separate the meat while it’s cooking so that it’s in small pieces. We like to use a potato masher to easily break apart the meat. Drain any excess grease from the pan, if needed.
Step 3: Once the meat is ready, add the cooked noodles, Rotel, chili beans and chili seasoning to the skillet. Stir well to fully combine all of the ingredients. Continue cooking for about 3 more minutes.
Step 4: Add the cheese from the mac and cheese box to the mixture. Stir everything well! We like to let the kids help with this step, they LOVE stirring.
Step 5: Now for the best part. Serve immediately, and enjoy! Dinner is done in just 20 minutes start to finish!
How can I make it spicy?
We use the mild Rotel so our Chili Mac is kid friendly. However, if you like it spicy, try using medium or even hot Rotel! One single can of hot Rotel will crank up the heat by about 100%! It’s surprisingly hot!
You can also sprinkle in some red chili flakes and cayenne powder for some extra heat if you happened to already grab a can of mild Rotel.
Tips for the best Chili Mac:
- Drain the grease! If you are using ground beef, you will want to make sure and drain the excess grease out of your pan while cooking. Otherwise your final dish can wind up greasy.
- Use a 24 oz size Mac and Cheese! We tested this recipe with a couple of different boxed Mac & Cheeses. You want to make sure you have enough noodles and cheese! So make sure you grab the family sized box!
- Don’t forget the chili seasoning packet. Without the chili seasoning, this tastes more like hamburger helper. The chili powder and chili beans really make this taste like a good Chili Mac and Cheese!
This fast and easy Chili Mac is seriously exploding with flavor, but comes together in 20 minutes from start to finish. It is a family favorite dinner that fills you up and doesn’t take much effort or planning!
Craving more comfort food? You’re not alone! Check out our other easy comfort food recipes to help make your weeknight dinners more delicious:
- 1 box, 24 oz family size Mac and cheese
- 1 lb lean ground meat*
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 10 oz can diced Rotel, do not drain
- 1 16 oz can chili beans in chili sauce, do not drain
- 1 1.25 oz package chili seasoning mix, **or our homemade chili seasoning
- Boil pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- While the pasta is boiling, brown the ground meat in a medium to large skillet, for 5 minutes. Add onion to ground meat continue cooking until meat is no longer pink and thoroughly cooked.
- Make sure to separate meat while it’s cooking so that it is in small pieces. I use a potato masher to easily break apart meat. Drain any excess grease from pan, if needed.
- Add the cooked pasta, rotel, chili beans and chili seasoning and stir well to combine.
- Cook for 3 more minutes and then add the cheese from Mac & cheese box and stir well.
- Serve immediately.