This One-Pot Chili Mac and Cheese is the perfect cheesy recipe for lazy Sundays or a weeknight dinner. It requires minimal prep and is ready in just 30 minutes and combines two of the BEST comfort foods around!
One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese
When it’s a weeknight, you never want to spend a bunch of time cooking after getting home from work or picking the kids up from school, and that’s where this One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese comes in!
This Chili Mac recipe combines the kick of chili with the creamy cheesiness of mac and cheese, what’s not to love, right?
It’s pretty much two of my favorite things in one pot!
You literally make it on ONE pot, the only other kitchen tool you need is a spatula!
Okay and a few measuring spoons and cups. But the best part, it’s ready in less than 30 minutes, talk about a winning dinner recipe!
Helpful Kitchen Tools:
How To Make Chili Mac and Cheese:
This is such a simple dish to make, especially since it all comes together in a single pot!
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottom pan or Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Add the ground beef to the pan and break it up with a spatula.
Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently until beef is browned and cooked through and then drain the juice from the beef.
Add the seasonings, beef broth, water, and diced tomatoes to the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add in uncooked elbow macaroni and cook covered for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until macaroni is al dente.
Add in the cream cheese, I like to use my spatula to break it into smaller pieces as I add it so it melts faster. You could also cube it up before adding.
Once the cream cheese has melted, add in the milk, lime juice, and shredded cheese and stir until the cheddar cheese has fully melted. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Remove from heat and serve hot. Garnish with parsley or cilantro.
This pasta dish definitely has a bit of a kick to it so I like to stir in a bit of sour cream to my bowl, but my husband prefers it without.
Chili Mac Variations:
I wanted this recipe to be as easy as possible without sacrificing flavor or taking a lot of time, but there are a few things you can change if you want.
Beans – It really depends on where you’re from, but to some people, beans are a chili staple and you can definitely add them in. Simply add a can of drained and rinsed red kidney beans or black beans to the dish during step 3.
Onion – I almost always add onion to my chili, but I didn’t want this recipe to include any real prep time, but if you want, feel free to dice up a yellow onion and toss it in with the beef in Step 1.
Pepper – You could also add in a diced bell pepper if that’s something you usually enjoy in your chili, add it in during Step 3.
Heat – The base for this recipe isn’t overly spicy so that kids will enjoy it too, but if you like things a little hotter, feel free to add in some fresh diced jalapeno peppers, a small can of green chili, extra chili powder, or even a touch of cayenne pepper to meet your tastes.
Pasta – I prefer to use elbow macaroni for this dish, but small or medium shells would work too and have a similar cook time.
Cheese – I usually use a sharp cheddar cheese, but you could use a three cheese or Mexican blend if you’d like. A Monterey Jack would also be delicious!
Turkey – If you want something a bit leaner than ground beef, you can swap it out for ground turkey.
So as you can see, there are a number of ways to make this chili mac and cheese recipe.
The recipe card calls for the easiest, minimal prep, version but you can use the recommendations above to make it your own given your tastes and time.
I guarantee that this easy one-pot pasta dish will be a hit with the family, and might even make it onto your regular meal plan since it takes just 30 minutes to prepare.
More Delicious Pasta Recipes:
One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese
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This recipe was originally published on March 15, 2015, and was updated in June 2018.
One-Pot Chili Mac and Cheese
- 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- 1 lb ground beef
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika*
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 cup water
- 28 oz. can Petite Diced Tomatoes with Green Chile, undrained
- 16 oz. elbow macaroni, uncooked
- 8 oz. cream cheese
- 1/2 cup whole milk*
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Heat the oil in a large deep pan or pot on medium-high heat. Add the ground beef to the pan and break it up with a spatula.
- Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently until beef is browned and cooked through and then drain the juice from the beef.
- Add the seasonings, beef broth, water, and tomatoes to the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add in uncooked elbow macaroni and cook covered for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until macaroni is tender.
- Add in the cream cheese, I like to use my spatula to break it into smaller pieces as I add it so it melts faster. You could also cube it up before adding.
- Once the cream cheese has melted, add in the milk, lime juice, and shredded cheese and stir until the cheddar cheese has fully melted.
- Remove from heat and serve hot. Garnish with parsley or cilantro.
- If using a Smoked Paprika, start with 1/2 teaspoon and work your way up from there as this can be a very potent seasoning.
- If you prefer your chili mac a little looser or you add additional ingredients and find that they have caused the pasta to dry out a bit, add an additional 1/2 cup of milk.