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Enjoy this quick & easy Chili Mac Recipe for dinner tonight with only 6 ingredients! Starts with a box of deluxe macaroni and cheese, ground beef, beans, and seasonings. This 30 minute meal is always a hit with my family. 

If you want a version of this recipe that doesn’t use a box of mac & cheese then try my One Pot Easy Chili Mac where everything cooks in one pan, including the pasta!

Overhead shot of pasta, ground beef, and cheese with a wooden spoon inside the skillet pan.

Easy Dinner Idea – Quick Chili Mac Recipe

I love having some stand-by dinner ideas that are simple to make and ones that I can store most of the ingredients in my pantry.

This chili mac is just that! It uses pantry staples like canned tomatoes, canned beans, a box of deluxe Mac & cheese (that is shelf stable for awhile) plus fresher ingredients like an onion and ground beef. 

The chili mac is cheesy, creamy, with a slight spice, and really good with a topping of sour cream, shredded cheese, and green onions. 

Horizontal photo of this recipe with some ingredients to the side of the pan.

Only 6 Ingredients Needed To Make It

You won’t believe how easy this dinner is to make! 6 simple ingredients and most of them are convenient, store-bought canned and boxed items. This is a great “shortcut” recipe when you want to get dinner on the table in a hurry. It certainly is not a completely homemade meal but it’s delicious and simple (which is a win in my book). We all have those crazy busy nights!

  • Ground Beef – I use lean ground beef (93/7 or 96/4) but the recipes calls for draining the excess grease from cooking so you’re probably fine using whatever you have. 
  • Finely Diced Onion – A yellow onion is what I use but you can also use a white onion too, or try a sweet onion. 
  • Family Size Kraft Deluxe Mac & Cheese – Make sure you are using the larger ‘family size’ box. The box comes with the dry pasta + a foil packet of the cheese sauce. We are using both items for the recipe. 
  • Chili Beans – Canned beans that are pinto beans in a mild chili sauce. They also have hot & spicy versions of chili beans that you can use to spice up this dish even more. 
  • Mild Rotel – If you don’t want any type of spice at all then I suggest using petite diced tomatoes or canned diced tomatoes with green chiles. 
  • Mild Chili Seasoning Packet – I recommend only using the mild version of chili seasoning in this recipe. The recipe has been tested with the regular chili seasoning packet and the spices and flavor was just too overwhelming when combined with the other ingredients. 

Labeled ingredients

Step-by-Step Instructions For How To Make Chili Mac

Learn how to make this recipe with these easy-to-follow steps. Be sure and read to the bottom of the post where there is a detailed recipe card, a printable recipe card, and a pin it button so you can save it for later. 

  • Macaroni Noodles : Cook the macaroni noodles (from inside the box of deluxe mac & cheese) according to the package instructions. Once done, drain the noodles but do not rinse them. Set aside for later. 
  • Cook Ground Beef + Onion : Cook and crumble the ground beef and onion, inside a skillet over medium-high heat, until no longer pink. Drain the excess grease. 
  • Chili Mac : Add the cooked pasta, rotel, chili beans (do not drain them), and chili seasoning into the ground beef. Stir to mix well. Let it cook for about 5-8 minutes. 
  • Make It Cheesy : Add the cheese sauce from the foil packet (from inside the box) and stir to combine well. Serve immediately. 

How to make this recipe with step by step process photos.

How to make this recipe with step by step process photos.

How to make this recipe with step by step process photos.

Chili Mac Recipe FAQ’s

  • Is Chili Mac Spicy?

    • This version of chili Mac is slightly spicy because of the mild rotel tomatoes. Even the mild rotel has some spice to it, but it was not so spicy that my kids wouldn’t eat it. It was a good flavorful spice. Chili beans are not spicy and the recipe calls for mild chili seasoning which pairs nicely with the big flavors of the cheese sauce and rotel. 
    • Can I Make It Spicier?
      • Yes! There are lots of ways to make this chili Mac recipe spicy if that’s what you want. Here are some ideas:
        • Use medium rotel or hot & spicy rotel tomatoes. 
        • Use a packet of hot or regular chili seasoning for a heavier spice and chili flavor. 
        • Add some cayenne pepper, chili powder, or red pepper fakes into the mixture or into the ground beef when cooking it. 
        • Garnish the chili mac with sliced jalapeños and/or shredded Pepper Jack cheese. 
    • Can I Make It Milder?
      • Yes, of course! There are just a couple ways to make this dish with very little to no spice at all 
        • Use a can of petite diced tomatoes instead of mild rotel OR use a can of diced tomatoes with green chilies. 
        • Try using a sweeter Vidalia onion.
        • I don’t think the chili beans are spicy at all but you can try using a can of regular pinto beans that have been drained & rinsed. I have never done this so I can’t say for sure if it will affect the creamy factor of the pasta mixture. 
  • How To Store Leftovers

    • Any leftovers will store well in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 3-4 days. 
    • I actually love these leftovers which is not normal for me. Warm it up in the microwave and it’s good as new. Still so much flavor!
  • Serving Suggestions

    • My family thinks this is best served with a dollop of sour cream, some shredded cheese, and sliced green onions. The sour cream is a nice cool complement to the mild spice of the rotel canned tomatoes. 
    • It’s just as good eaten as is with no toppings!
    • This chili mac is also best served immediately after making it. Leftovers are fabulous but for that creamy & cheesy texture, serve it right away. 

A serving of this recipe with sour cream, cheese, and green onions on top.

Recipe Tips & Variations

Here are a few of my helpful tips so that you can have success recreating this recipe for your own family 

  • Use a Ground Meat Chopper : I always recommend using a ground meat chopper when cooking and crumbling any ground meat on the stove top. It breaks up the meat into small pieces and just works really well! It’s probably one of my most used kitchen tools. 
  • Mild Chili Seasoning : I only recommend using the mild packet of chili seasoning mix. This recipe has been tested several times and the taste was much butter (not as intense) when mild chili seasoning was used. 
  • Rotel : Even the mild version has a slight spice to it which my family loved and it pairs nicely with the cheese and toppings. You can also use medium rotel or hot & spicy rotel if you want things really spicy!
  • Chili Beans : Use the correct chili beans. These are canned pinto beans in a mild chili sauce. No need to drain it, just dump in the contents from the can. The can will specifically say ‘chili beans’ on it and you’ll find it by the other canned beans in the grocery store. 
  • Use a Larger Pot : Because you mix everything together with the ground beef, make sure you are cooking the ground beef in a pot or pan big enough to hold everything. It’s not a ton of food so it doesn’t have to be huge, but it more than likely won’t fit inside a small skillet pan. 

A skillet pan overhead shot of this dinner recipe with a wooden spoon inside of it.

Overhead shot of a serving of this chili Mac with cheese, and green onions around the pan.

More Easy Family Friendly Dinner Ideas

Overhead shot of pasta, ground beef, and cheese with a wooden spoon inside the skillet pan.
Together As Family Logo

Chili Mac Recipe


Author Jessica - Together as Family
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 8
Enjoy this quick & easy Chili Mac Recipe for dinner tonight with only 6 ingredients! Starts with a box of deluxe macaroni and cheese, ground beef, beans, and seasonings. This 30 minute meal is always a hit with my family. 

Ingredients
  

  • 1 box (24 oz) Family Size Kraft Deluxe Mac & Cheese
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion finely diced
  • 1 can (16 oz) chili beans (do not drain)
  • 1 can (10 oz) mild rotel (do not drain)
  • 1 packet mild chili seasoning

Instructions

  • Cook the macaroni noodles (from the box of deluxe mac & cheese) according to package instructions. Save the foil pack of cheese sauce for later.
    Once done, drain the pasta but do not rinse it. Set aside for later.
    1 box (24 oz) Family Size Kraft Deluxe Mac & Cheese
  • Cook and crumble the ground beef and onion, in a large skillet pan over medium-high heat, until no longer pink. Drain the excess grease.
    * Make sure to use a large skillet pan (like 5 QT or bigger) so you can fit all the other ingredients into it.
    1 lb lean ground beef, 1 yellow onion
  • Add the cooked pasta, chili beans, rotel, and chili seasoning. Stir to combine and let cook for about 5-8 minutes.
    1 can (16 oz) chili beans, 1 can (10 oz) mild rotel, 1 packet mild chili seasoning
  • Add the cheese sauce from the foil packet into the pan and stir well to combine.
  • Serve immediately!
    * My family loves this served with a dollop of sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and thinly sliced green onions.

Notes

Recipe Tips -
  • Use a Ground Meat Chopper : I always recommend using a ground meat chopper when cooking and crumbling any ground meat on the stove top. It breaks up the meat into small pieces and just works really well! It's probably one of my most used kitchen tools. 
  • Mild Chili Seasoning : I only recommend using the mild packet of chili seasoning mix. This recipe has been tested several times and the taste was much butter (not as intense) when mild chili seasoning was used. 
  • Rotel : Even the mild version has a slight spice to it which my family loved and it pairs nicely with the cheese and toppings. You can also use medium rotel or hot & spicy rotel if you want things really spicy!
  • Chili Beans : Use the correct chili beans. These are canned pinto beans in a mild chili sauce. No need to drain it, just dump in the contents from the can. The can will specifically say 'chili beans' on it and you'll find it by the other canned beans in the grocery store. 
  • Use a Larger Pot : Because you mix everything together with the ground beef, make sure you are cooking the ground beef in a pot or pan big enough to hold everything. It's not a ton of food so it doesn't have to be huge, but it more than likely won't fit inside a small skillet pan. 
  • Spice Level!
    • This version of chili Mac is slightly spicy because of the mild rotel tomatoes. Even the mild rotel has some spice to it, but it was not so spicy that my kids wouldn't eat it. It was a good flavorful spice. Chili beans are not spicy and the recipe calls for mild chili seasoning which pairs nicely with the big flavors of the cheese sauce and rotel. 
    • Can I Make It Spicier?
      • Yes! There are lots of ways to make this chili Mac recipe spicy if that's what you want. Here are some ideas:
        • Use medium rotel or hot & spicy rotel tomatoes. 
        • Use a packet of hot or regular chili seasoning for a heavier spice and chili flavor. 
        • Add some cayenne pepper, chili powder, or red pepper fakes into the mixture or into the ground beef when cooking it. 
        • Garnish the chili mac with sliced jalapeños and/or shredded Pepper Jack cheese. 
    • Can I Make It Milder?
      • Yes, of course! There are just a couple ways to make this dish with very little to no spice at all 
        • Use a can of petite diced tomatoes instead of mild rotel OR use a can of diced tomatoes with green chilies. 
        • Try using a sweeter Vidalia onion.
        • I don't think the chili beans are spicy at all but you can try using a can of regular pinto beans that have been drained & rinsed. I have never done this so I can't say for sure if it will affect the creamy factor of the pasta mixture. 

Nutrition

Calories: 429kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 1104mg | Potassium: 708mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 110IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 160mg | Iron: 5mg

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