Beef/ Casseroles/ Pasta

Chili Mac and Cheese Casserole

This delicious chili mac and cheese casserole with ground beef, diced tomatoes, chili beans, pasta and cheese is the perfect comfort food for winter.

We’re starting the new year with a bang! Everyone loves a good chili and everyone loves mac and cheese. In the past, I’ve spiced up your classic mac and cheese with jalapenos and bacon. But today we’ll be combining these two family favorites in a recipe to make chili mac and cheese casserole, a comfort dish that will warm you up and give you all the cozy feelings this winter.

This delicious chili mac and cheese casserole with ground beef, diced tomatoes, chili beans, pasta and cheese is the perfect comfort food for winter.

I was lucky to taste this at a company potluck this Christmas and a good friend of mine passed on the recipe. It’s not so cheesy and rich that you can’t have it as a main dish but it’s versatile enough, that if you do want it that cheesy, you can (just toss in more cheese!). But for now, we’re treating this as a main dish to pass around the family table. So let’s begin.

This delicious chili mac and cheese casserole with ground beef, diced tomatoes, chili beans, pasta and cheese is the perfect comfort food for winter.

Start by cooking your pasta. While that’s busy simmering, we’ll make the chili. Brown your ground beef in a dutch oven until cooked then remove it and drain the fat. I used super lean ground beef but it still rendered some fat. Drain the fat then remove the beef and set aside. If you have a baster this’ll work even better than the tilt and spoon method.

Then we saute the onions and garlic until that wonderful aroma fills the kitchen. Add the beef back into the pot along with your tomatoes, chili beans and seasoning. Make sure you drain the tomatoes so we spend less time thickening the chili. If you’re not a fan of beans, you can skip them. If you have your own chili mix and like making it yourself, feel free to substitute the packet mixes. Two packets came up to half a cup of seasoning.

Mix it all up! Be gentle though, so you don’t mangle the beans. Then we simmer for awhile. I did it for about 5 minutes to get a quick dinner on the table but you can do it for as long as you like to marry the flavors. Season it with salt and pepper or more chili powder and cumin if you need more flavor.

This delicious chili mac and cheese casserole with ground beef, diced tomatoes, chili beans, pasta and cheese is the perfect comfort food for winter.

Once it’s done, add the cooked and drained pasta to the pot along with a cup of cheddar cheese. Mix, mix, mix! Now here’s the part where you decide if one cup of cheese is enough. Keep in mind, you’ll have a hearty topping of cheese on the casserole a bit later. But if you want it cheesier, add more cheese to the pasta. You can make it as cheesy as you like. The residual heat should melt it all down in the pot.

You can either go straight to eating the super cheesy version sans cheese topping or if you want to go the casserole method, transfer the pasta mix to a deep dish 9×13 casserole dish and top it with the remaining one cup of cheese. We’ll be melting the cheese in the oven for 10 minutes.

And that’s all there is to it. It’s easy but a little time consuming like most casseroles, but it makes up for it with sheer quantity. Serve with some sour cream if you like or skip it if you’re not a fan. I added some hot sauce 😉 Enjoy!

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This delicious chili mac and cheese casserole with ground beef, diced tomatoes, chili beans, pasta and cheese is the perfect comfort food for winter.

Chili Mac and Cheese Casserole


  • Author: The Cooking Jar
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 40 mins
  • Yield: 8-10

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. ground beef
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 (16 oz.) cans kidney chili beans in mild sauce
  • 2 packets chili seasoning
  • 1 lb. elbows pasta
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded and divided

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside
  2. While the pasta is cooking, start making the chili. Over medium high heat in a dutch oven, brown the ground beef until cooked, about 5 minutes. Break up any clumps
  3. Remove beef and set aside. Drain any excess fat
  4. In the same pot, saute onions and garlic in some oil until fragrant, about 2 minutes
  5. Add in cooked beef, tomatoes, chili beans and chili seasoning. If needed, season with salt and pepper to taste
  6. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes
  7. Add cooked pasta and 1 cup cheddar cheese to the chili and stir to mix well
  8. Transfer to a 9×13 casserole dish and top with remaining 1 cup cheese
  9. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes or until cheese has melted
  10. Dish and serve hot

Notes

Adapted from Dianna B (thanks!)

This delicious chili mac and cheese casserole with ground beef, diced tomatoes, chili beans, pasta and cheese is the perfect comfort food for winter.

This delicious chili mac and cheese casserole with ground beef, diced tomatoes, chili beans, pasta and cheese is the perfect comfort food for winter.

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    Cristina Drake
    January 1, 2016 at 10:58 AM

    So simple and a favorite at our house!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      January 3, 2016 at 2:29 PM

      We’re just about done finishing it off, just the two of us. Hubs had more of his fill than me, and he’s been pretty happy about it! Of course, he added extra cheese on top of his portions before heating it up 😉

  • Reply
    Mary
    January 1, 2016 at 12:48 PM

    Oh gosh! This looks so good. Pinned. I will be making this casserole soon. Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      January 3, 2016 at 2:30 PM

      You’re welcome and good luck making it, Mary! Hoping you enjoy it.

  • Reply
    Elizabeth
    July 8, 2016 at 7:07 PM

    Making this for dinner tonight…looks yummy!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      July 12, 2016 at 1:47 PM

      It is! I hope it turned out okay for you, Elizabeth.

  • Reply
    Jamie
    August 1, 2016 at 8:07 AM

    Can this be made ahead and reheated as a casserole in the oven?

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      August 9, 2016 at 5:24 PM

      Yes it can! When reheating in a casserole dish, make sure it’s heated all the way through is all. And like most casseroles, you can top it with a layer of cheese too!

  • Reply
    Becky E.
    October 3, 2016 at 11:33 PM

    I’m in love with this recipe! It is such a hearty meal and it yields so much!! I changed it up just a tad though. If you are a cheese lover, you can never have too much cheese. I was very liberal with my shredded cheddar and it turned out beautifully. Also if you like a little heat in your chili, I recommend a few shakes of cayenne pepper. It really takes it to the next level! Great recipe and idea! Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      October 8, 2016 at 2:59 PM

      Absolutely, Becky! Spicing it up with cayenne is a great idea. Or make it slightly smoky with smoked paprika (one of my favorite spices).

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