Party Food

Chili Mac and Cheese Recipe

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Fresh scents and delicious, wholesome recipes like this easy chili mac and cheese recipe are the way to my heart.

Oh, spring fever. I’ve had it in a big, bad kind of way lately.

We had a couple of warmer days, with lots of sunshine, and it just about made me stir crazy once the temps dropped again and we got more snow.

I did enjoy making a yummy, cheesy one pot chili mac and cheese when the snow came though. More on that in a minute.

Chili Mac Recipe

A special thanks to Febreze for sponsoring the post today as part of a series for Socialstars™ and helping make my home smell great!

After a couple months of snow, I’m ready to throw my windows open and hear birds chirping while I gulp in the fresh air.

While I wait for that to be a reality, it’s translated to me doing all sorts of projects around the house. I want things to be fresh and clean in my domain.

I’ve cleaned and purged the basement. I’ve done paint touch ups. I’ve cleaned out closets. I’ve organized cupboards. There is no safe corner in my house!

Chili Mac

There is something about this time of year — the in between of winter and spring. I’m still cooking up a storm of yummy comfort food from scratch, but  I’m also craving fresh smells and cleaned up spaces.

Febreze SMALL SPACES & Plug In

To help, I’ve been enjoying Febreze SMALL SPACES and Plug in the Meadows & Rain scent. I’ve got three boys, so smell control is a necessity in my house. The OdorClear technology to eliminate odors, not just cover them up.

Febreze Meadows & Rain

Meadows & Rain is a fresh, dewy scent of a rainy day, one of my all time favorite smells. It’s such a great way to bring spring inside while there is still snow on the ground!

In between spring cleaning projects, I’ve been enjoying lots of time in the kitchen. And I’ve had some great help from my favorite little sidekicks!

Homemade Chili Mac and Cheese Ingredients

One of the great things about this homemade chili mac is that I almost always have all the necessary ingredients on hand. It’s one of those staple meals in my house that I turn to on a busy night when I want something hearty and delicious for us to all enjoy.

I make my chili mac with ground beef. You could also make it with ground turkey.

You’ll need an onion and kidney beans too. You’ll also include tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. From the pantry, we’ll be including elbow macaroni.

How to Make Chili Mac

The spices are chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, salt and white pepper. You’ll also add in a dash of baking soda.

Grab some shredded sharp cheddar from the fridge before you get started, too!

Easy Chili Mac Cheese Recipe

My boys would happily eat pasta for every.single.meal if I let them. Spaghetti is often requested for breakfast even. I’m always look for new recipes to try out so that they don’t just eat pasta three meals a day.

This hearty, beefy chili mac and cheese recipe with beans is a new favorite. It’s ready in an easy half an hour and it’s packed with all our favorite flavors. And if you happen to have leftovers, they serve great again the next day.

Cheesy Chili Mac

How to Make Chili Mac

Did I mention how simple this comes together in only half an hour? Perfect for those busy nights.

I also love having my boys help with this… I do the chopping and they help stir everything together. And of course, they do a great job with taste testing as well! 😉

You start by sauteing your onion and then browning the ground beef. Next up, you’ll add in all your spices (except for the baking soda) and stir continuously for a couple of minutes.

After that, you’ll pour in all your tomato products and some water. Bring to a simmer over medium low heat and let it cook for about 10 minutes.

Add in the baking soda and watch the sauce bubble up for a moment. (The boys always love that part!) Continue stirring over the heat for a moment until the bubbles go away.

Finally, stir in the kidney beans and pasta. Simmer until the elbow macaroni is al dente.

Remove from heat and sprinkle cheese on top and let it melt.  Stir and serve — I suggest topping each bowl with more cheese as well. Because is there such a thing as enough cheese? No.

Chili Mac Recipe

Variations of Chili Mac

You can definitely get creative with this hearty mac n cheese chili meal.

Instead of just ground beef, you could use ground turkey or even mix in sausage or ground pork.

Sometimes I like to add peppers to my beef macaroni and cheese.

I’ve also experimented with different cheeses instead of just sharp cheddar. A dollop of sour cream on top is also delicious.

You could also make it strictly vegetarian by eliminating the ground beef (or other meat) and increasing the amount of kidney beans and noodles. That’s also a great way to stretch your budget!

Best Chili Mac Recipe

What Goes with Chili Mac

We’re all about the bread in our house, so chili mac gets served with a sweet cornbread topped with lots of butter.

We’re also partial to blueberry muffins. I love the sweetness balancing the beefy, cheesy, tomato sauce of chili mac and cheese.

I’m confident your family will love this delicious meal as much as we do. Try it this week — and of course, don’t forget to get ready for spring with help from Febreze Meadows & Rain.


Easy Chili Mac

  • Author: Spaceships and Laser Beams
  • Prep Time: :10
  • Cook Time: :25
  • Total Time: -50721355.5 minute
  • Yield: 8


  • 2 pounds ground beef/turkey
  • 1 small yellow onion (about 1.5 cups diced)
  • 2-15 ounce cans Hunts Diced Tomatoes
  • 1-15  ounce can Hunts Tomato Sauce
  • 1-6 ounce can Hunts Tomato Paste
  • 5-15 ounce cans water
  • 1-15 ounce cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 3 cups elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda


  1. In a large dutch oven, saute diced onions until translucent and they start to caramelize.
  2. Add ground meat and brown until just done. It’s okay if it still has some pink in it before you add the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Add seasonings (minus the baking soda) and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously.
  4. Pour in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, water and tomato paste.
  5. Bring to a simmer over medium low heat and cook for about 10 minutes.
  6. Stir in the baking soda. The sauce will start to bubble up.  Stir over medium heat until the bubbles have gone away.
  7. Stir in beans and pasta. Simmer until macaroni is al dente.  Remove from heat and sprinkle cheese on top and let it melt.  Stir and serve.
  8. Top bowls with more cheese.

Layne Henderson

Layne is a boy mom in love. Surrounded by three adventurous little men, she's in pursuit of an empty laundry basket, the perfect cup of coffee, and sleep. She blogs, parents, and manages social media while wearing her tiara.