Chili Mac Casserole

Chili Mac Casserole

There’s something deeply comforting about a warm, hearty casserole, especially one that combines two beloved dishes into a single, mouth-watering delight. Growing up in the heart of America, my family often found comfort in simple, yet flavorful meals that could bring everyone to the table, no matter how hectic our schedules were. One of my all-time favorites is the Chili Mac Casserole, a dish that perfectly marries the robust flavors of chili with the creamy, cheesy goodness of mac and cheese.

The first time I encountered this delightful combination was during a family reunion in Texas. My aunt, known for her knack for creating delicious, crowd-pleasing dishes, brought out a steaming tray of Chili Mac Casserole. The aroma alone had everyone gathering around the table, eagerly awaiting their turn. Each bite was a nostalgic reminder of the warmth and love that family gatherings bring, making this dish a staple in my kitchen ever since.

Over the years, I’ve tweaked the recipe to suit my family’s tastes. I found that adding a bit of hot sauce to the cheese sauce gives it an extra kick that complements the savory chili perfectly. Using a mix of cheddar and a touch of mustard powder creates a rich, flavorful cheese sauce that clings to every macaroni piece. Fresh parsley not only adds a pop of color but also a hint of freshness to this hearty casserole.

Whether you’re preparing for a potluck, a cozy family dinner, or just craving something indulgent, this Chili Mac Casserole is sure to hit the spot. The best part? It’s incredibly easy to make and can be adjusted to suit any preference. So, gather your ingredients, roll up your sleeves, and let’s bring a bit of comfort to your kitchen with this irresistible recipe.

How to Prepare Chili Mac Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground beef (80% lean)
  • 1 small onion (diced)
  • ½ cup bell pepper (diced)
  • 3 cloves garlic (diced)
  • 1.25 oz. packet chili seasoning mix
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 14.4 oz. can diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 15 oz. can kidney beans, drained
  • ½ teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 ½ cups cheddar cheese (shredded)
  • 2 cups macaroni (uncooked)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon mustard powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon each: salt/pepper
  • Fresh parsley (for garnish)

Directions

Preheat your oven to 400°F.

In a large pot, brown the ground beef over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes. Add the diced onions and cook for another 5 minutes until the beef is browned and the onions are soft. Drain the grease.

Add the diced bell peppers and garlic to the pot, cooking until the peppers soften, around 4 minutes. Stir in the chili seasoning and tomato paste, mixing for 1 minute.

Pour in the tomato sauce, undrained diced tomatoes, and chicken broth. Stir everything together and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer, partially cover, and let it cook while you prepare the mac and cheese. Add the kidney beans during the last 10 minutes of simmering.

Boil salted water for the macaroni. Once boiling, add the macaroni and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Drain when done.

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat until it foams slightly. Whisk in the flour, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Gradually add the heavy cream while stirring, then do the same with the milk.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Stir in the hot sauce, mustard powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Lower the heat and slowly mix in the shredded cheese until smooth.

Stir in the drained macaroni. For a cheesier dish, add slightly less pasta as it will absorb more of the sauce.

Gently mix the chili into the macaroni with a silicone spatula. Add as much chili as you prefer; any extra can be frozen.

Top with 1 ½ cups of cheddar cheese and bake uncovered for 5 minutes or until the cheese melts. Garnish with parsley if you like and serve!

FAQs:

Can I use a different type of pasta for the Chili Mac Casserole?

Yes, you can substitute macaroni with other types of pasta such as penne, fusilli, or shells. However, make sure to cook the pasta al dente according to the package instructions to ensure it holds up well in the casserole.

How can I make this Chili Mac Casserole spicier?

To increase the spiciness, you can add more hot sauce or include diced jalapeños when cooking the bell peppers and garlic. Additionally, using a spicier chili seasoning mix or adding a pinch of cayenne pepper can also elevate the heat.

Can I make the Chili Mac Casserole ahead of time?

Yes, you can prepare the chili and macaroni separately ahead of time. Combine them just before baking. Store the prepared chili and macaroni in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. When ready to bake, combine, top with cheese, and bake as directed.

Is it possible to make this recipe vegetarian?

Absolutely! Substitute the ground beef with a plant-based ground meat alternative or use more beans such as black beans or pinto beans. Additionally, use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth to maintain the flavor.

What sides go well with Chili Mac Casserole?

This hearty casserole pairs well with a fresh green salad, garlic bread, or steamed vegetables. Moreover, serving it with a dollop of sour cream or a side of avocado can add a refreshing contrast to the dish.

Chili Mac Casserole

Chili Mac Casserole

Discover the heartwarming flavors of Chili Mac Casserole. This easy-to-follow recipe combines savory chili with rich, cheesy pasta for the perfect meal.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 14
...

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups macaroni uncooked
  • 1 lb. ground beef 80% lean
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 15 oz. can kidney beans drained
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 14.4 oz. can diced tomatoes undrained
  • 3 cloves garlic diced
  • 1.25 oz. packet chili seasoning mix
  • ½ cup bell pepper diced
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • ½ teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 ½ cups cheddar cheese shredded
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon mustard powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon each: salt/pepper
  • Fresh parsley for garnish

Instructions
 

Make the Chili:

  • Brown the ground beef in a large pot over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes. Toss in the diced onions and cook for another 5 minutes until the beef is browned and the onions are soft. Drain the grease.
  • Add the diced bell peppers and garlic, cooking until the peppers soften, around 4 minutes. Mix in the chili seasoning and tomato paste, stirring for 1 minute.
  • Pour in the tomato sauce, undrained diced tomatoes, and chicken broth. Stir everything together and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer, partially cover, and let it cook while you prepare the mac and cheese. Toss in the kidney beans during the last 10 minutes of simmering.

Make the Mac and Cheese:

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F.
  • Boil salted water for the macaroni. While waiting, start on the cheese sauce. Once boiling, add the macaroni and cook as per package instructions until al dente. Drain when done.
  • In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat until it foams slightly. Whisk in the flour, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Gradually add the heavy cream while stirring, then do the same with the milk.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Stir in the hot sauce and seasonings. Lower the heat and slowly mix in the shredded cheese until smooth.
  • Stir in the drained macaroni. For a cheesier dish, add slightly less pasta as it will absorb more of the sauce.

Combine the Chili & Macaroni:

  • Gently mix the chili into the macaroni with a silicone spatula. Add as much chili as you prefer; any extra can be frozen.

Bake:

  • Top with 1 ½ cups of cheddar cheese and bake uncovered for 5 minutes or until the cheese melts. Garnish with parsley if you like and serve!
Keyword Casserole
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