Skillet Cheesy Chili Mac

Skillet Cheesy Chili Mac {Sweet Pea's Kitchen}

This time of year I’m all about comfort foods! Especially when they combine two of my favorites: macaroni and cheese and chili! For weeknight dinners I’m all about quick and easy one pot meals. This one skillet meal is on the dinner table in under 30 minutes and certain to please.
Skillet Cheesy Chili Mac {Sweet Pea's Kitchen}

If you’ve never had chili mac before, it’s exactly what it sounds like- a bowl of chili with macaroni mixed in. How can you go wrong? Meaty, cheesy, deliciousness that brings you right back to your childhood and those boxes of Hamburger Helper (except that this Chili Mac tastes way better than anything that comes from a box!) 🙂

Skillet Cheesy Chili Mac {Sweet Pea's Kitchen}

Skillet Cheesy Chili Mac

Quick and easy one pot meal that combines two comfort food favorites!

Yield: 4 servings


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 pound lean ground beef
2 cups water
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
8 oz (about 2 cups) elbow macaroni
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend


Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion has softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and brown sugar and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink.
Add the water and tomato sauce to the ground beef mixture and stir to combine. Add the pasta and stir to combine. Cover the pan and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook until the pasta is al dente, about 12-13 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the pasta from sticking.
Turn off the heat under the pan and add 1 cup of cheese. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top and cover the pan again. Let stand for about 2 minutes, or until the cheese melts.

Source: adapted from Tracey's Culinary Adventures, originally from Cook's Country Skillet Suppers

Skillet Cheesy Chili Mac {Sweet Pea's Kitchen}


Skillet Cheesy Chili Mac {Sweet Pea's Kitchen}

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29 Responses to “Skillet Cheesy Chili Mac”

  1. #
    Lin — February 26, 2014 @ 2:57 pm

    Sounds so yummy! I remember as a kid there was a boxed chili mac and it was cheesy and buttery and chili flavored. I loved it. And now you’ve come up with this amazing dish that I can’t wait to make! Thank you!

    • Christina replied: — February 27th, 2014 @ 2:03 pm

      I hope you enjoy it, Lin! I’ve made it quite a few times before I finally decided to post the recipe. It’s definitely a keeper! 🙂

  2. #
    Kloé @ Kloé's Kitchen — February 26, 2014 @ 3:02 pm

    This looks like a meal the fam would love! I think I will give this a try. Thanks for sharing!

  3. #
    wendy@chezchloe — February 26, 2014 @ 4:57 pm

    Damn that looks good. I’ve got fish out for tonight but your one pot macaroni dish will be making an appearance this weekend! We are still in crazy winter mode here in the pacific northwest and I need comforting!

  4. #
    Jenn — February 26, 2014 @ 7:22 pm

    Didn’t have dinner plans, so when this easy recipe ame to my inbox, I decided to make it for dinner. Huge hit! I have six kids so I Cooked it in a Dutch oven and doubled everything. All the kids (1-11) loved it. Thanks!!

    • Christina replied: — February 27th, 2014 @ 2:11 pm

      Awesome! I love that you doubled it in a Dutch Oven! Thanks so much for sharing how it turned out for you, Jenn! 🙂

  5. #
    Serena — February 27, 2014 @ 11:23 am

    Wow this looks awesome! I’m always looking for quick meals and this one looks absolutely delicious, definitely going to try this out!

  6. #
    Sue — February 27, 2014 @ 11:52 am

    What are the green things that are in the picture, That I don’t see in the ing list?

    • Christina replied: — March 2nd, 2014 @ 8:59 pm

      Hi Sue!

      I sprinkled the chili mac with a bit of parsley. I didn’t include it in the ingredients because I didn’t add that much of it, just enough for the picture. 🙂

  7. #
    Renee@Two in the Kitchen — February 27, 2014 @ 12:56 pm

    This meal looks fantastic Christina! i love quick weeknight meals and I agree, this looks WAY better than Hamburger Helper! I am pinning this to add to my meal plan for next week!! 🙂

  8. #
    Lindsay @ Life, Love and Sugar — February 27, 2014 @ 12:58 pm

    That is one jammin’ chili mac! Pass me a fork!

  9. #
    ChgoJohn — February 27, 2014 @ 4:45 pm

    Gosh, I love this kind of meal: one pan filled with cheesy goodness. If ever there was a time to prepare this dish, it has to be now, when temps are in the single digits.

  10. #
    Tina @ Tina's Chic Corner — February 28, 2014 @ 9:01 am

    I love mac & cheese (who doesn’t?)! Chili + mac and cheese = the my 2 favorite savory comfort foods. 🙂

  11. #
    Penny — February 28, 2014 @ 10:59 am

    I made this last night for dinner with a few changes. I added a can of tomatoes and only 1 cup of water. I only put a handful of pasta in it and added a can of beans. It was delicious. Thank you for the inspiration.

    • Christina replied: — March 2nd, 2014 @ 9:19 pm

      I bet the added can of beans tasted amazing…I’ll have to throw some in the next time I make it! 🙂

  12. #
    sarah k @ the pajama chef — March 1, 2014 @ 4:15 pm

    my husband adores chili mac! sounds like a great version.

  13. #
    Kris — March 10, 2014 @ 9:56 pm

    I love chili mac. One of my favorite go to meals!

  14. #
    Renee @ Awesome on $20 — March 12, 2014 @ 1:37 am

    This looks so much better than Hamburger Helper. I can’t wait to try it.

  15. #
    Jenny — March 31, 2014 @ 9:58 pm

    Made this tonight but replaced the water with beef broth and lightened up the salt to offset it. So yummy! I also threw a handful of shredded pepper jack in with the shredded cheeses and it added an extra touch of spice. Super easy and flavorful meal-thanks for the recipe!

  16. #
    andie ruppert — April 3, 2014 @ 9:09 pm

    Made this tonight and all 6 of us loved it!! Will definitely add this into the rotation of meals!! I have never been disappointed with a sweet pea recipe!

  17. #
    Paddy — June 18, 2014 @ 7:17 am

    I love this recipe! I recently featured it in a blog post of mine 🙂

  18. #
    Becky — September 7, 2014 @ 12:17 pm

    Just made this and it was so good. My kids had 3 helpings and I served it with green beans. Will make again and again.

    • Christina replied: — September 13th, 2014 @ 1:55 pm

      So happy to hear your family enjoyed the chili mac, Becky! 🙂 Thanks so much for letting me know how it turned out for you! 🙂

  19. #
    Kristel — October 4, 2014 @ 7:14 am

    Made this last night and its really good! It was a little spicy for my family’s tastes, but definitely worth making again. I think next time I’ll use less chili powder and red pepper flakes. Would love to know what kind of beans people added b/c that sounds delicious, but I didn’t know what kind to add.

    • Christina replied: — October 12th, 2014 @ 7:52 am

      Hi Kristel,

      You can leave out the red pepper flakes next time to cut down on the heat. You can always add them to your individual bowl if someone in the family likes it a bit spicy. If you want to try it with beans next time, just throw in a can of either kidney or pinto beans. 🙂

  20. #
    Stacy — October 7, 2014 @ 10:48 am

    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe! My kids absolutely devoured it. It is definitely on the “make again” list.

    • Christina replied: — October 12th, 2014 @ 7:38 am

      Yay!! So happy to hear that everyone enjoyed the chili mac, Stacy! Thanks so much for letting me know how it turned out for you! 🙂

  21. #
    Janie — September 19, 2015 @ 5:31 pm

    Made this tonight for the second time. Has become a staple in our house and my hubby loves it!! I use a can of beef broth instead of water and add in 1/2 tsp of Cayenne pepper because we love spicy! Comes out delicious 🙂 Thanks so much.

  22. #
    Janie — September 19, 2015 @ 5:33 pm

    Made this tonight for the second time and it has become a favorite of the hubby’s. I use beef broth rather than water and also add in 1/2 tsp of Cayenne pepper as we love spicy! Came out delicious as always. Thanks! 🙂

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