One Pot Chili Mac (so easy!)

This Chili Mac and Cheese is loaded with flavour and all made in one pot!

Two of the comfiest comfort foods colliding together. Yes, heaven truly is a place on earth. Follow me…

overhead close up shot of black serving spoon digging into pot of chili mac

Chili Mac and Cheese

Firstly, yes I am English and using ‘Chili’ with one ‘L’. This dish is way more American than it is British, so I’m respecting the single L 😁

Chili Mac and Cheese is exactly what it says on the tin – Chili with Macaroni and Cheese. Typically you’d cook a chili fairly low and slow, but this is a much quicker, carbier version. Perfect for a midweek dinner!

The Beef

I typically go for 10% fat. You want a little bit of fat for flavour, but not so much it turns the dish greasy. You’ll also want to make sure you break it up really well with your wooden spoon as it fries. Because it doesn’t get a huge amount of time to simmer and tenderize, you don’t want long, tough strands of beef. Here we’re just going to fry off some onion, garlic and red pepper before adding in the beef.

4 step by step photos showing how to make chili mac

One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese

The awesome thing about this recipe is that it’s all made in one pot, meaning you don’t have to simmer the pasta separately – it cooks in the sauce! This not only reduces the washing up, but it’s also a great opportunity for the pasta to soak in all those gorgeous flavours as it cooks.

The Sauce

The base of the sauce consists of two ingredients:

  • Beef stock – This is mainly what will get soaked up by the pasta. I highly recommend using beef stock over chicken or veg, just because it stays consistent with the ground beef in the recipe.
  • Passata – Tomato passata is great because it’s nice & thick and offers a deep tomatoey flavour. I find that unless you simmer canned tomatoes for a long time, they can sometimes end up giving the chilli a watery consistency.

The Flavour

We really want to pack the flavour into this dish. The main seasonings are paprika, cumin, chilli powder, ground coriander and oregano. Alongside these and the ingredients already discussed, I love adding in some Worcestershire sauce, just to really deepen the flavour.

The Cheese

I recommend using a medium-strength Cheddar. I have used sharp/extra mature cheddar in the past, but I find it doesn’t melt as well and tends to throw off the flavour a little. You could alternatively use Monterey Jack or a Mexican Cheese Blend if you’d prefer! I like to stir half of the cheese through the chili mac, then sprinkle the rest on top.

Process shots: add tomato puree, passata, stock and seasoning (photo 5), add drained kidney beans and macaroni (photo 6), stir then simmer (photo 7), stir through cheese then top with more (photo 8).

4 step by step photos showing how to make chili mac in one pot

Serving Chili Mac

Once you’ve topped the chili mac with cheese, I recommend popping the lid back on to allow the residual heat to melt it. You could alternatively place the pot under the grill to melt the cheese. From there, I like to garnish with sliced fresh jalapeños and finely diced coriander/cilantro (totally optional though).

How do I store leftovers?

Allow to completely cool then tightly store in the fridge. From there, I recommend microwaving until piping hot, or you can reheat on the stove over low heat (adding a splash of water to loosen up the sauce if needed). You can also freeze, just thaw in the fridge then reheat.

Looking for more chili recipes? Check out my Slow Cooker Turkey Chili, Chilli Con Carne and Veggie Chilli!

Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for this chili mac shall we?!

close up overhead shot of chili mac and cheese served in grey bowl on marble backdrop

How to make Chili Mac and Cheese (Full Recipe & Video)

overhead close up shot of black serving spoon digging into pot of chili mac


One Pot Chili Mac (so easy!)

This Chili Mac and Cheese is loaded with flavour and all made in one pot!
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, Tex Mex
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 573kcal
Cost £2.50 / $3


  • Large Deep Pot & Wooden Spoon (preferably with a heavy lid)
  • Jug (for stock)
  • Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
  • Cheese Grater
  • Serving Spoon


  • 1lb / 500g Ground Beef (preferably 10-12% fat)
  • 9oz / 250g Dried Macaroni (see notes)
  • 3 1/4 cups / 800ml Beef Stock, or as needed (see notes)
  • 2 cups / 500g Tomato Passata (Pureed tomatoes in US)
  • 1x 14oz/400g can of Kidney Beans, drained
  • 2 cups / 200g Cheddar, grated (or more to cover the top!)
  • 1 medium Onion, finely diced
  • 1 medium Red Pepper, finely diced
  • 2 cloves of Garlic, finely diced
  • 1.5 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 heaped tbsp Tomato Puree (Tomato Paste in US)
  • 1 tbsp EACH: Paprika, Cumin, Hot Chilli Powder (see notes)
  • 1/2 tsp EACH: Ground Coriander, Oregano, Sugar, Salt, Black Pepper, plus more salt as needed (see notes)
  • Olive Oil, as needed
  • finely diced Coriander/Cilantro, to serve (optional, but recommended if you like it)
  • thinly sliced Fresh Jalapeños, to serve (optional)


  • In a small pot or bowl combine paprika, cumin, hot chilli powder, ground coriander, oregano, sugar, salt and black pepper.
  • In a large deep pot over medium-high heat add a drizzle of olive oil. Add onion & red pepper and fry until soft and just starting to pick up colour. Add garlic and fry for another 1-2mins.
  • Add beef and break up with your wooden spoon until well crumbled and brown all the way through. Stir in 1 heaped tbsp tomato puree and fry for a couple of mins, then pour in the passata, beef stock, Worcestershire sauce and spice mix. Give it a stir, then stir in the kidney beans and dried macaroni.
  • Bring to a steady simmer and stir occasionally until the macaroni is about 90% cooked through and the sauce has mostly thickened, but still fairly saucy. If the sauce begins to thicken too much before the macaroni cooks, just gradually add in water or stock as needed until the macaroni is al dente.
  • Turn off the heat and stir in 1 cup/100g cheese, check for seasoning/spice and adjust if needed, then sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Pop the lid on (if you have one) and allow the residual heat to melt the cheese. You can also melt it under the grill. Sprinkle over coriander/cilantro and jalapeños (optional) then serve up and enjoy!



a) Salt – Different stocks will have different salt levels, so 1/2 tsp salt in the chili likely won’t be suitable for everyone. It certainly won’t be too salty, but just adjust after stirring through the cheese. I usually end up with around 3/4 tsp.

b) Spice – 1 tbsp hot chilli powder gives you a good kick of heat, but nothing too overbearing. The added jalapeños will obviously take things up a few notices, but they are optional. You can sub mild chilli powder if you’re really not good with spice.

c) Cheese – I prefer cheddar, but something like Monterey Jack or a Mexican cheese blend would work. If you’re going for cheddar, I recommend a Medium strength. I usually love a strong/sharp cheddar, but you’ll find it doesn’t melt as well and the strength usually throws the flavour off a little.

d) Liquid/Timings – Different brands of macaroni will have different thicknesses, meaning they’ll differ in the amount of liquid they need to cook and how long it’ll take. You certainly won’t find it too saucy with the amount of liquid in the recipe (it thickens up quite a lot as it rests) but if the sauce dries up before the macaroni cooks, just add in more liquid (stock or water) a splash at a time until it’s al dente.

e) Storage – Allow to completely cool then tightly store leftovers in the fridge. Microwave until piping hot, or reheat on the stove over low heat, adding a splash of water to loosen up the sauce if needed. You can also freeze, just thaw in the fridge then reheat.

f) Calories – Whole recipe divided by 6 assuming 1 tbsp olive oil for frying and 10% beef.


Calories: 573kcal | Carbohydrates: 51.26g | Protein: 37.11g | Fat: 24.43g | Saturated Fat: 10.886g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.529g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8.299g | Trans Fat: 0.853g | Cholesterol: 88mg | Sodium: 900mg | Potassium: 1066mg | Fiber: 5.3g | Sugar: 8.26g | Vitamin A: 1963IU | Vitamin C: 84.8mg | Calcium: 341mg | Iron: 4.97mg

If you plan on making the Chili Mac recipe then be sure to Pin it for later! Already made it or got a burning question? Give me a shout in the comments below and pick up your free ecookbook along the way!

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