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+ servings
A spoonful of easy chili mac

Chili Mac

One Skillet Cheesy Chili Mac! Delicious, cheesy and gooey. Perfectly cooked pasta, meaty chili loaded with cheese all made together in ONE PAN!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword chili mac and cheese, chili recipes, macaroni recipes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 Servings
Calories 495kcal
Author Kathleen


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • salt
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 8 ounces about 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 1-8 ounce package shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped


  •  In a 12 inch nonstick skillet, add oil (1 tablespoon) and heat until it's shimmering.  Add onion (1), chili powder (1 tablespoon), cumin (1 tablespoon), and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook over medium heat until onion is soft, stirring often so spices don't burn, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Add the garlic (4) and brown sugar (1 tablespoon) and cook, continuing to stir, so garlic doesn't burn, for about 30 seconds. Add the ground beef (1 pound) and brown lightly, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon as it cooks, until there is no pink in the meat.
  • Add the water (2 cups), 3/4 teaspoon salt, and tomato sauce (1 (15-ounce) can) to the skillet and stir to mix. Stir in the pasta (8 ounces) and cover, increasing the heat to medium-high. Cook the mixture, stirring often and adjusting the heat to maintain a vigorous simmer (not a boil). Continue to cook until the pasta is tender, about 9-12 minutes.
  • Take the skillet off the heat and add 1 cup of the cheese mixture. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Top the skillet with the remaining cheese and rest the mixture off the heat for a few minutes or until cheese melts.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley (2 tablespoons). Serve.


  1. Noodles: We use elbow macaroni because the hollow shape allows the sauce to nestle inside each noodle. Any short pasta with ridges will work, though. Be sure to keep the same ratio of noodles to the sauce if you’re adjusting the recipe. You want to be sure the pasta has enough liquid to cook properly.
  2. Tomato Sauce: When choosing a tomato sauce for this recipe, be sure to check the label. Many varieties have added salt, so you may want to decrease the amount of salt you add. Adjust the seasoning after you’ve tasted it. Some types of tomato sauce also have added herbs like basil. We recommend the plain sauce so you can control which flavors go into the dish.
  3. Cheese: If you don’t have a Mexican cheese blend on hand, shredded cheddar cheese, or Colby cheese are great substitutes. If your family likes spicier chili, pepper jack cheese would be a fun addition too.
  4. Meat: Because this dish is so flavorful, ground turkey or a plant-based substitute will be just as delicious as ground beef.
  5. Onion: Yellow onions have a mild flavor that most kids don’t mind. If you like a more pronounced onion flavor, red or white varieties will work nicely here.
  6. Chili Powder: Most pre-mixed chili powders have added salt as one of the first ingredients. However, there are a few brands on the market that don’t contain any salt. Be sure to check the label so you can adjust your added salt accordingly.
  7. Toasting the Spices: Don’t forget to add the spices while you’re cooking the onion. Doing it at this point enhances the flavors of the spices and mellows any harshness in the chili powder.


Serving: 1/4 of the recipe | Calories: 495kcal | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 77mg | Sodium: 890mg | Potassium: 928mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 825IU | Vitamin C: 5.6mg | Calcium: 108mg | Iron: 5mg