Nov 22, 2015

Chili Macaroni and Cheese - Cheesy Chili Mac

Chili Macaroni and Cheese - Cheesy Chili Mac

Chili Macaroni and Cheese combines the best of two comfort food worlds, chili and macaroni and cheese.

My favorite chilis are prepared on the stove top or in a slow cooker. My favorite macaroni and cheese is baked in the oven with a sauce loaded with onions and thyme.

Chili Macaroni and Cheese - Cheesy Chili Mac

How do you marry them? You make chili mac! I had no idea! Evidently I am tardy to the chili mac party.

Chili Macaroni and Cheese is so easy to make, and will make believers out of all of your doubting family members (or at least my family members who hesitated....).

This dish comes together so easily, and is the perfect weeknight dinner for a busy family. You can pretty much have this on the table within 45 minutes, less if you pre chop the onions and garlic. You can also make this in advance and reheat it. It's a perfect make-ahead meal.

One of the secret ingredients of this dish is Rotel tomatoes and green chiles. If you can't find them, just use about 10 ounces of canned diced tomatoes with juice and add some canned green chiles to taste.

Chili Macaroni and Cheese - Cheesy Chili Mac

I found this recipe while exploring my Secret Recipe Club assigned blog, Lynsey Lou. If you're not familiar with Secret Recipe Club, it's a group of bloggers who secretly make each other's recipes every month and then reveal to whom we were assigned.

Hi Lynsey Lou! I had you this month! Love your blog!!

Lynsey Lou enjoys trying new recipes and challenging herself in the kitchen, as do I. She's been blogging since 2008. She's got me beat by 4 years!

I had a hard time narrowing down the recipe I would make for this month's Secret Recipe Club. Among my choices were her Steakhouse Steaks, Blackberry Mojito, and Potato Rolls. Definitely check them out!

I followed the recipe as written with one exception. Lynsey's recipe is finished in the skillet in which it is prepared, which is super easy. I transferred my chili mac to a casserole and melted the cheese topping in the oven. I don't think this makes a bit of difference in the flavor. I just wanted to make sure I got a cheesy melty topping on my chili mac in a dish I could bring to the table. If you're serving from the pan, don't bother transferring the dish to a casserole. Either way, when you lift your serving of the chili mac out of the dish, you will see melty strands of cheesy deliciousness.

After the recipe, check out all of the links for Secret Recipe Club deliciousness.

Chili Macaroni and Cheese - Cheesy Chili Mac


1 tbsp vegetable or peanut oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp brown sugar, light or dark
1 pound of ground beef - I used 90 per cent lean ground sirloin
1 1/2 cups water
1 can of Rotel
2 cups mini penne, small elbow macaroni, or small shells
1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 14.5 ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
4 ounces cream cheese
2 cups (one package) Mexican style shredded cheese
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Garnishes such as sliced black olives, sour cream, and sliced green onions


  1. Place a 12 inch skillet over medium heat, and add the oil. Let heat for 30 seconds, and then add the onion, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and brown sugar and cook for one minute more. 
  3. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking it up in the pan, until cooked through. 
  4. Add the water, Rotel, and the pasta to the pan and stir. 
  5. Cover the pan and and increase the heat to medium. Cook for about 12 minutes, until the pasta is al dente. 
  6. Add the tomatoes and beans, and then stir. Add the cream cheese and stir until it is incorporated into the dish. 
  7. Add 1 cup of the Mexican style cheese to the pan and stir to combine.
  8. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the the pan, cover with the lid, and let melt for about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the cilantro. Alternatively, scoop the contents of the pan into a casserole and set aside. When you are ready to serve, sprinkle the top of the ingredients with the rest of the cheese and place it into a 350 degree oven. Bake until the cheese is melted and the food is heated through. Sprinkle with the cilantro.
  9. Serve with garnishes of your choice. 


  1. Even when I am in California, I cannot beat you to add the link, Karen...

    but I am THRILLED to say hello tonight and tell you that I was the lucky one who got your blog this month! ;-)

    1. OMG Sally! Your post is amazing! You gave me goosebumps =) xoxo and another xoxo... and maybe another xoxoxo

    2. I tell you, having your blog on the very month of my 4th anniversary with the SRC... that is simply TOO GREAT FOR WORDS.... best gift ever!

    3. Best gift for me too!! Your bread looks outstanding. Seriously! I can't believe you counted how many bread recipes I've posted =) and I'm so glad you enjoyed the meatloaf!

    4. yeap. 247... maybe more now, I think I counted before you added one more recent bread... hard to keep up with you, you know...

  2. I am also tardy when it comes to the chili mac train. It looks super yummy though! Great SRC pick!

  3. What a FABULOUS recipe Karen and such wonderful photos too! Karen

    1. That means a lot coming from you Karen!

  4. Mmmm... I do love chili mac on a cold day. Comfort food! :) Happy reveal day Karen!

  5. Just stopping in from group C to say this looks wonderful. I'm basically a mac and cheese purist, but I'd be willing to give this a shot. Wonderful SRC post.

  6. Looks good! Filling and delicious!

  7. Mmmm, I love chili mac -- it's one of my favorite comfort foods and this version looks awesome. Great choice for the SRC this month!

    1. Thanks Amy. I had no idea it even existed. Everyone loved it!

  8. Oh my. Oh. My. That looks brilliant! I think I know what we're having for dinner tonight. Is it 7 o'clock yet? Darn...

    1. You mean you aren't into the early bird special? You are so civilized! xoxo

  9. Well you beat me Karen because I have never made chili mac but it looks so delicious and the perfect comfort food for a cold winter's day.

  10. You are not the only one missing the Chili Mac party. I needed you to get the invite. Looks amazing!

  11. Combining two of my favorite things into one meal. Great SRC pick!


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