This chili mac is a snap to make on the stovetop, and it's especially convenient because it's a one-pot meal. The easy mixture of macaroni, cheese, ground beef, and beans makes a tasty everyday family meal.
The dish is not only easy and convenient, it's versatile, too. Leave the beans out and add an undrained can of diced tomatoes. Mushrooms would make an excellent addition as well. See the tips and variations for more.
Serve this easy chili mac with crusty bread or cornbread and a simple tossed salad.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni
- 1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, undrained
- 1 large can (16 ounces) tomato sauce
- 1 cup water
- 2 teaspoons chili powder, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and ground beef. Cook, stirring to break the beef up. Continue cooking and stirring until the beef is no longer pink.
Add the macaroni to the ground beef mixture along with the undrained beans, tomato sauce, water, chili powder, and salt. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, or until the macaroni is tender.
Check occasionally and add more water or tomato sauce, if necessary.
Stir the macaroni and sprinkle the shredded cheddar cheese over the top; reduce the heat to low, cover, and continue to heat until cheese has melted.
Tips and Variations
- Saute 6 to 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms in 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter; add to the ground beef mixture along with the macaroni and beans. Or add a can or jar of sliced drained mushrooms.
- Replace the beans with one 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes (undrained).
- Use pinto beans or great northern beans instead of kidney beans.
- Add about 1/2 cup of chopped green, red, or multicolored bell peppers to the skillet with the onions and ground beef.
- Instead of cheddar cheese, use a cheddar jack blend or a Mexican blend of cheeses. Taco seasoned cheese or pepper jack cheese would be very good.
- Make Ahead: Prepare the ground beef and macaroni in advance without the cheese. Spoon the mixture into a 2 1/2-quart casserole dish. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350 F, covered, for about 25 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with the cheese. Continue baking for about 10 minutes, or until the casserole is hot and bubbly and the cheese has melted.
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