Homemade Chili Mac

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You guys! I’m back at it with another old-fashioned one-pot meal today. Homemade chili mac. Each spoonful of this nostalgic meal is a delicious blend of savory beef, bold spices, and gooey cheese.

Paired with garlic bread or cornbread, it’s a meal full of comfort and cheesy indulgence that you’ll want to make over-and-over, all winter long.

Two bowls of chili mac topped with fresh parsley sitting with a blue napkin.

Dutch Oven Magic

First things first, let’s talk about the Dutch oven. It’s really the unsung hero of this recipe, providing even heat distribution and allowing flavors to blend together beautifully. If you don’t own one, consider it a worthy investment. The Dutch oven is a game-changer in the kitchen, and you’ll find yourself using it for a variety of dishes well beyond this chili mac – I know I sure do.

Want to make this in the Instant Pot instead? Try this Instant Pot Homemade Hamburger Helper, it’s delicious!

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Cooked chili mack in a red Dutch oven with a blue napkin sitting next to it.

The Ingredients

Now, let’s get to the good stuff – the ingredients. You’ll want to grab a pound of lean ground beef, a yellow onion, minced garlic, tomato paste, chili powder, sea salt, pepper, beef broth, elbow macaroni, fresh cheddar cheese, and some Italian parsley for that finishing touch.

How to Make Chili Mac

  1. Start by heating your Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, throw in the ground beef and onions. Cook them up, breaking the meat apart as you go. I find there’s just something therapeutic about the sizzle and aroma that fills the kitchen as the meat and onion cook. Mmm!
Hamburger and onions in a red Dutch oven.
Cooked ground beef and onions with tomato paste and seasonings on top.
  1. When your beef and onions are the perfect golden brown color, add the minced garlic. Let it sauté for a minute or two until it becomes fragrant.
  1. Then, it’s time to add the tomato paste, chili powder, sea salt, and pepper. Give it a good stir, and watch the colors and aromas intensify.
Cooked beef and onions with beef broth in a red Dutch oven.
Cooked beef and onions with macaroni noodles added.
  1. Slowly pour in the beef broth and crank up the heat. Once it starts to bubble, toss in the uncooked elbow macaroni. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and let it simmer away for about 15 minutes, until the macaroni reaches that perfect al dente texture.
  1. The grand finale involves the cheese OF COURSE – the gooey, melty glue that holds everything together. Once the macaroni is tender, remove the pot from the heat and fold in the freshly grated cheddar. Stir until every noodle is coated in that luscious orange goodness.
Cheese added to the top of cooked beef and onions in a red Dutch oven.
A wooden spoon in a red Dutch oven with cooked chili mac.
  1. Then, spoon the chili mac into bowls, and sprinkle some freshly chopped parsley on top for a burst of freshness and a pop of color. It’s like the finishing touch on a masterpiece. 🤌🏻

Why This Chili Mac Is so Good

Now, let’s talk about why this homemade chili mac is so darn good. It’s not just a meal; it’s a cheesy experience. The beef is savory, the spices are bold but not overpowering, and the cheese – oh, the cheese – the gooeyness takes it to a whole new level. It’s like a grown up version macaroni and cheese (but kids love it too!).

If you need an idea for the leftover elbow pasta, try this Bacon Mac and Cheese – it’s to-die-for!

  • Be sure to check out the full ingredient list and recipe instructions below.
A bowl of chili mac sitting on a wooden table with a blue napkin.

What Goes Well With Homemade Chili Mac?

Now that your homemade chili mac is ready, what do you pair it with? Personally, I love serving it with a side of warm garlic bread or fluffy cornbread. The buttery, garlicky notes complement the richness of the chili mac, creating a match that’s hard to resist.

For a lighter option, consider a crisp green salad with a tangy vinaigrette. The freshness of the salad provides a crunchy contrast to the heartiness of the chili mac, making it a perfectly well-rounded meal.

Chili mac in a bowl with a fork with a bite on it.

Variations to Spice Things Up

Now, if you’re feeling adventurous, there are countless ways to put your spin on this homemade chili mac. Consider adding a can of black beans for extra protein and a touch of earthiness. Want some heat? Throw in diced jalapeños or a dash of hot sauce. The beauty of this recipe lies in its adaptability, so don’t be afraid to experiment and have some fun with it.

Two bowls of chili mack sitting with two forks and a blue napkin.

Homemade chili mac is an old-fashioned one-pot wonder that combines simplicity with cheesy indulgence. It’s the kind of dish that’s filled with nostalgia and tends to bring people together. So, grab your Dutch oven, gather the ingredients, and let’s get cookin’ my friends.

A bowl of chili mack sitting with a blue napkin.

Homemade Chili Mac

By: Kristine Underwood
Each spoonful of this nostalgic homemade chili mac is a delicious blend of savory beef, bold spices, and gooey cheese.
4.78 from 9 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 5 bowls
Calories 545 kcal



  • 1 lb ground beef (lean)
  • 1 yellow onion (chopped)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (or 1 clove of garlic minced)
  • 2 TBS tomato paste (heaping)
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup elbow macaroni (uncooked)
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese (fresh grated)
  • fresh parsley (chopped, for garnish)


  • Heat Dutch oven over medium high heat. When hot, add the beff and onions and cook, breaking the meat up as you go.
    1 lb ground beef, 1 yellow onion
  • When meat is fully cooked and onions are translucent, add minced garlic and cook for an additional minute or two, until fragrant.
    1 tsp minced garlic
  • Add tomato paste, chili powder, sea salt and pepper and stir.
    2 TBS tomato paste, 1 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp sea salt, 1/2 tsp pepper
  • Slowly pour in beef broth and mix everything together. Increase the heat to high. Once it begins to boil, add the macaroni noodles.
    3 cups beef broth, 1 cup elbow macaroni
  • Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the macaroni noodles are tender.
  • Once the macaroni is done, remove the pot from heat and stir in the cheese until melted and well incorporated.
    2 cups cheddar cheese
  • Spoon chili mac into bowls and garnish with fresh parsley.
    fresh parsley


Serving: 1 bowlCalories: 545kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 32gFat: 34gSaturated Fat: 16gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 110mgSodium: 1417mgPotassium: 530mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 671IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 361mgIron: 3mg
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Recipe Rating


  1. We LOVED this chili mac! It’s the easiest dinner to make and it’s so tasty! We ate the whole thing in one night. My husband had three helpings! He said it reminded him of (a much better tasting) Hamburger Helper. LOL!5 stars

    1. OH MY GOSH, I LOVE THIS! He’s not wrong, actually. It’s very similar, or maybe even a copy-cat? I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Kara!

  2. I am obsessed with this recipe! There’s something about chili and noodles that brings me so much joy. Just delicious!5 stars

    1. LOL! I couldn’t agree more Ashley! It’s worthy of being obsessed over, that’s for sure! I’m thrilled you enjoyed it as much as I do!

  3. Great recipe! I switched out the cheddar for pepper jack cheese instead. Yum!! I’ll make this one again!5 stars

    1. Thank you so much, Rosemary! That’s a wonderful idea and a great way to add even more flavor! I’ll have to give the pepper jack a try. Thanks for the suggestion!

  4. I am loving this recipe for an easy weeknight meal. So quick to get on the table and everyone LOVES it. Great recipe, Kristine!5 stars

    1. Woo! I am LOVING this comment Nikki! So glad to hear it. It’s one of my favorites for those same reasons!

  5. I saw this and just had to make it. I absolutely loved this cheesy chili mac! Thank you – this is going into my bookmarks for sure.5 stars

    1. Yay, I’m happy to her it Bobby! Thank you so much for the kind words and 5 star review – I really appreciate it!

  6. This chili mac was easy and delicious and the kids loved it! 5 stars

    1. Thank you so much, Jen! I’m really glad to hear everyone enjoyed it!