This Chili Mac and Cheese is loaded with flavour and all made in one pot!
Two of the comfiest comfort foods colliding together. Yes, heaven truly is a place on earth. Follow me…
Chili Mac and Cheese
Firstly, yes I am English and using ‘Chili’ with one ‘L’. This dish is way more American than it is British, so I’m respecting the single L 😁
Chili Mac and Cheese is exactly what it says on the tin – Chili with Macaroni and Cheese. Typically you’d cook a chili fairly low and slow, but this is a much quicker, carbier version. Perfect for a midweek dinner!
I typically go for 10% fat. You want a little bit of fat for flavour, but not so much it turns the dish greasy. You’ll also want to make sure you break it up really well with your wooden spoon as it fries. Because it doesn’t get a huge amount of time to simmer and tenderize, you don’t want long, tough strands of beef. Here we’re just going to fry off some onion, garlic and red pepper before adding in the beef.
One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese
The awesome thing about this recipe is that it’s all made in one pot, meaning you don’t have to simmer the pasta separately – it cooks in the sauce! This not only reduces the washing up, but it’s also a great opportunity for the pasta to soak in all those gorgeous flavours as it cooks.
The base of the sauce consists of two ingredients:
- Beef stock – This is mainly what will get soaked up by the pasta. I highly recommend using beef stock over chicken or veg, just because it stays consistent with the ground beef in the recipe.
- Passata – Tomato passata is great because it’s nice & thick and offers a deep tomatoey flavour. I find that unless you simmer canned tomatoes for a long time, they can sometimes end up giving the chilli a watery consistency.
We really want to pack the flavour into this dish. The main seasonings are paprika, cumin, chilli powder, ground coriander and oregano. Alongside these and the ingredients already discussed, I love adding in some Worcestershire sauce, just to really deepen the flavour.
I recommend using a medium-strength Cheddar. I have used sharp/extra mature cheddar in the past, but I find it doesn’t melt as well and tends to throw off the flavour a little. You could alternatively use Monterey Jack or a Mexican Cheese Blend if you’d prefer! I like to stir half of the cheese through the chili mac, then sprinkle the rest on top.
Process shots: add tomato puree, passata, stock and seasoning (photo 5), add drained kidney beans and macaroni (photo 6), stir then simmer (photo 7), stir through cheese then top with more (photo 8).
Serving Chili Mac
Once you’ve topped the chili mac with cheese, I recommend popping the lid back on to allow the residual heat to melt it. You could alternatively place the pot under the grill to melt the cheese. From there, I like to garnish with sliced fresh jalapeños and finely diced coriander/cilantro (totally optional though).
How do I store leftovers?
Allow to completely cool then tightly store in the fridge. From there, I recommend microwaving until piping hot, or you can reheat on the stove over low heat (adding a splash of water to loosen up the sauce if needed). You can also freeze, just thaw in the fridge then reheat.
Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for this chili mac shall we?!
How to make Chili Mac and Cheese (Full Recipe & Video)
One Pot Chili Mac (so easy!)
- Large Deep Pot & Wooden Spoon (preferably with a heavy lid)
- Jug (for stock)
- Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
- Cheese Grater
- Serving Spoon
Ingredients (check list):
- 1lb / 500g Ground Beef (preferably 10-12% fat)
- 9oz / 250g Dried Macaroni (see notes)
- 3 1/4 cups / 800ml Beef Stock, or as needed (see notes)
- 2 cups / 500g Tomato Passata (Pureed tomatoes in US)
- 1x 14oz/400g can of Kidney Beans, drained
- 2 cups / 200g Cheddar, grated (or more to cover the top!)
- 1 medium Onion, finely diced
- 1 medium Red Pepper, finely diced
- 2 cloves of Garlic, finely diced
- 1.5 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 heaped tbsp Tomato Puree (Tomato Paste in US)
- 1 tbsp EACH: Paprika, Cumin, Hot Chilli Powder (see notes)
- 1/2 tsp EACH: Ground Coriander, Oregano, Sugar, Salt, Black Pepper, plus more salt as needed (see notes)
- Olive Oil, as needed
- finely diced Coriander/Cilantro, to serve (optional, but recommended if you like it)
- thinly sliced Fresh Jalapeños, to serve (optional)
- In a small pot or bowl combine paprika, cumin, hot chilli powder, ground coriander, oregano, sugar, salt and black pepper.
- In a large deep pot over medium-high heat add a drizzle of olive oil. Add onion & red pepper and fry until soft and just starting to pick up colour. Add garlic and fry for another 1-2mins.
- Add beef and break up with your wooden spoon until well crumbled and brown all the way through. Stir in 1 heaped tbsp tomato puree and fry for a couple of mins, then pour in the passata, beef stock, Worcestershire sauce and spice mix. Give it a stir, then stir in the kidney beans and dried macaroni.
- Bring to a steady simmer and stir occasionally until the macaroni is about 90% cooked through and the sauce has mostly thickened, but still fairly saucy. If the sauce begins to thicken too much before the macaroni cooks, just gradually add in water or stock as needed until the macaroni is al dente.
- Turn off the heat and stir in 1 cup/100g cheese, check for seasoning/spice and adjust if needed, then sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Pop the lid on (if you have one) and allow the residual heat to melt the cheese. You can also melt it under the grill. Sprinkle over coriander/cilantro and jalapeños (optional) then serve up and enjoy!
Quick 1 min demo!
Your Private Notes:
If you plan on making the Chili Mac recipe then be sure to Pin it for later! Already made it or got a burning question? Give me a shout in the comments below and pick up your free ecookbook along the way!