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Ground Beef Chili is a fun variation to classic chili! Loaded with beef, seasonings, tomatoes, pinto beans, and tender pasta. Best part is the homemade queso sauce in the ground beef chili!


I always love when the nights become cooler. The first thing I do is make some chili! I have lots of different chili recipes on the blog, but todays version just might be our new favorite. 

It’s classic ground beef chili with a homemade queso sauce & spiral pasta noodles. 

Ground Beef Chili is a fun variation to classic chili! Loaded with beef, seasonings, tomatoes, pinto beans, and tender pasta. Best part is the homemade queso sauce in the ground beef chili!

Lean Ground Beef – I prefer using 93/7 ground beef or higher. I still drain the beef because I am fun like that, but you don’t have to because of the lower fat content. Any kind of ground beef will work! Just make sure to drain it if there is lots of grease because you don’t want all that grease in your chili. 

Onion – Any kind of onion will work for this chili. Sweet onion, yellow onion, or white onion are probably the best choices. 

Condensed Tomato Soup – There really is NO substitute for this so please just use it! It gives the chili a sweet tomato flavor and helps thicken the chili. 

Petite Diced Tomatoes – If you want some heat then use a can of Rotel (diced tomatoes w/ green chilies) or a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes. If serving little ones, follow the recipe as is, and it’s not spicy at all. Perfectly flavorful. 

Beef Broth – You need 2 cans of beef broth for this recipe. I always use 1 can regular beef broth + 1 can 50% reduced sodium beef broth. Depending on what broth you use (low-sodium vs regular) you may have to adjust the salt according to taste at the end. 

Pinto Beans – After trial & error, pinto beans are the preferred bean for this chili. If you really must, go ahead and substitute with any canned beans you prefer. 

Rotini Pasta – This is a spiral pasta that is perfect for this chili because it soaks up all the goodness, ground beef, and queso. Any small pasta will work but the rotini is the best!

Cheddar Cheese – This is the cheese you need for the homemade queso sauce. I have also used Colby-Jack cheese in the past with great results. And for best results, shred the cheese yourself. It will melt better and won’t have a gritty/chalky texture to the chili. 

Ground Beef Chili is a fun variation to classic chili! Loaded with beef, seasonings, tomatoes, pinto beans, and tender pasta. Best part is the homemade queso sauce in the ground beef chili!


Serve this queso chili with Fritos Corn Chips, shredded cheese, sour cream, and sliced green onions. 

Other topping suggestions:

  • sliced avocado
  • jalapeno peppers
  • tortilla chips
  • chopped cilantro

Ground Beef Chili is a fun variation to classic chili! Loaded with beef, seasonings, tomatoes, pinto beans, and tender pasta. Best part is the homemade queso sauce in the ground beef chili!


  • For the homemade queso it’s best to shred your own cheese. If you use pre-shredded cheese, it comes with a powder on it to prevent it from sticking together. Which also lends a chalky/gritty taste to whatever you add it to. So, please buy a block of cheddar cheese and shred it yourself. 
  • For more spice, add some ground cayenne pepper and/or use a can of Rotel or fire roasted diced tomatoes. The recipe as is, is not spicy. It’s perfectly flavored that’s great when feeding kids.
  • Make sure that the pasta is cooked through before adding the homemade queso sauce. The chili won’t cook after adding the queso so you want to make sure the pasta is cooked to where you want it.


Ground Beef Chili is a fun variation to classic chili! Loaded with beef, seasonings, tomatoes, pinto beans, and tender pasta. Best part is the homemade queso sauce in the ground beef chili!
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Ground Beef Queso Chili

Author Jessica
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 8 people
Ground Beef Queso Chili is a fun variation to classic chili! Loaded with beef, seasonings, tomatoes, pinto beans, and tender pasta. Best part is the homemade queso sauce in the ground beef chili!


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, finely diced (yellow or white onion)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cans (14.75 oz each) beef broth
  • 2 cans (15 oz each) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz) petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (10 oz) condensed tomato soup
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cups dry rotini pasta noodles

Queso Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

For Serving

  • Fritos corn chips
  • sour cream
  • shredded cheese
  • Green onions OR chopped cilantro


  • Heat olive oil in a large pot, over medium high heat, and add the ground beef, onion, salt, and pepper. Cook and crumble until beef is no longer pink. Drain.
  • Add the beef broth, pinto beans, diced tomatoes, tomato soup, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and oregano. Stir together and let it come to a boil.
  • Once boiling, add the dry rotini pasta and let cook for 10-12 minutes. You may have to turn down the heat slightly if it's boiling to hard/fast.
  • While pasta is cooking in the chili make the homemade queso sauce. In a saucepan, over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Once butter is melted, add the flour and salt. Stir with a whisk for 1 minute. Slowly add in the milk, while whisking, and let it come to a boil and thicken. Stirring frequently so it does not burn. It will take about 5-8 minutes to thicken.
  • Once thickened add the shredded cheese and stir until its combined. Pour the queso into the chili and let it all cook together for about 5-10 minutes. The chili will thicken as it sits off the heat.
  • Serve with desired toppings!



Calories: 406kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 78mg | Sodium: 1259mg | Potassium: 949mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 1020IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 314mg | Iron: 3mg

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Ground Beef Chili is a fun variation to classic chili! Loaded with beef, seasonings, tomatoes, pinto beans, and tender pasta. Best part is the homemade queso sauce in the ground beef chili!





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4.43 from 92 votes (77 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. I was just wondering if this queso chili could be done in the crockpot? Maybe just add the pasta and queso in when it’s almost done?

    1. Together As Family says:

      I’ve never tried it in the crockpot, but yes try adding the past later along with the queso mixture and cook the ground beef before you add it into the slow cooker. Enjoy.

  2. Michele Wolosyn says:

    5 stars
    I just made this tonight. It’s SO good! I love the flavor of the queso and it was definitely worth the time it took to make the queso from scratch. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    Didn’t have any block cheese on hand so I had to use shredded but luckily it still turned out amazing. Definitely adding this to my regular rotation for dinner.

  4. Pingback: Ground Beef Queso Chili | Real Mom Kitchen | soups
  5. 5 stars
    Was very good! I was a little hungry at the end and didn’t let it sit to thicken up, definitely should have because as leftovers it was even better! I only made a half a batch and it was still a lot of food! Will definitely make again!

  6. Looks great! Have you ever tried it with canned chili beans? Just wondering if that might be a flavorful substitution?

    1. Together As Family says:

      Yes! Chili beans are a great substitute for beans in chili.

  7. 5 stars
    Could you make this meatless? My daughter just became vegetarian and I wanted to do a different chili tonight and this sounds so good but was wondering if anyone has tried it without the meat.

    1. Together As Family says:

      I wish I could help. I am not super good with vegetarian stuff. You would have to use like a meat substitute like tofu possibly?? I am just not sure. You could also try adding an additional can of beans to replace the ground beef?? I’ve never done that, it’s just an idea.

      1. Emily Hess says:

        Sarah, feel free to add Gardein Beefless Ground or Beyond Crumbles to this recipe in place of the ground beef. I’m a new vegetarian as well, and I have loved these products…. can’t even tell the difference! Plus, no time wasted cooking/draining. Just add it in!

      2. this is so good! I will definitely make this again. I used Kraft creamy melt triple cheddar cheese. it melted well.thank you for sharing!

        1. Lucy Pulsipher says:

          Thank you for sharing! I love to hear when recipes turn out good people!

  8. 5 stars
    This is an amazing recipe! Made it per the recipe and wouldn’t change a thing! Took the suggestion to use block cheddar and I’m so glad that I did. Everyone had two bowls and asked that I make it again soon!

  9. 5 stars
    Made this for dinner, added extra chili powder and cumin, reduced salt, added extra garlic and onion powdered, added paprika and extra cheese to the sauce. it was delicious. Will be making this again

    1. Together As Family says:

      Thank you for the feedback and I am so happy it was a hit!

  10. Hi! I LOVE this recipe and its in my weekly dinners at this point! I was wondering if this recipe could be frozen and re-heated at a later time?

    1. Together As Family says:

      This is a tricky recipe to freeze because of the pasta. I am not too familiar with freezing as I don’t do it often… but you could try it and see how the texture of the pasta is once thawed. I have found that cooked pasta does not freeze well but I also don’t care to freeze (texture issues) anything so it’s probably just personal preference. You would probably have to add additional water or chicken broth when reheating it.

  11. 5 stars
    Awesome recipe & really nice flavor! Great twist on traditional chili! My fiancée doesn’t care for chili that much (he ate it a lot growing up) but he loved this recipe and went back for seconds. I loved it too 🙂

  12. 5 stars
    This was fantastic! I love chili but my husband is not a fan of it, he LOVED this! I am so excited I found a chili we can both enjoy!

    1. Together As Family says:

      This is so wonderful! So happy that you found one you both can eat. Thanks for coming to leave your comment and letting me know. I appreciate it 🙂

  13. 5 stars
    This is SO good! My husband and I both loved it. It’s awesome when you find easy recipes that taste delicious. Thanks!

  14. This made a lot more than anticipated, also first glance was way too little pasta but I’m guessing the liquid gets absorbed and balances out. Flavor is really good. Next time I’ll make half amount for just two Thanks

    1. Lucy Pulsipher says:

      Glad to great you liked the flavor! Thank you for your comment!

  15. Can’t wait to make this! Do you think shredded chicken would be good in this?

    1. Lucy Pulsipher says:

      I think that would be delicious! Let me know how it turns out.

  16. 4 stars
    I’m REALLY loving this recipe. however I do disagree with the comment that there is no substitute for the condensed soup. If you are gluten free you learn. Simply make your own condensed soup google it (recipe by real life dinner). I simmered tomato sauce, cornstarch, brown sugar and salt to make my own condensed soup. it adds another step to this recipe but it was well worth it for me. I also used cup4cup 1for1 gluten free flour for my queso sauce. and I used kraft GF mac and cheese noodles. it turned out perfectly just like the picture. yumm! thank you for the recipe 😊

    1. Together as Family says:

      Thank you for sharing how you adjust the recipe to be gluten free. I’m not very familiar with gluten free cooking so it’s so helpful when people can share how they do it!

  17. 5 stars
    Making it for Christmas!

    1. Together as Family says:

      Wonderful, I hope you love it!

  18. 5 stars
    This recipe was absolutely delicious. Such wonderful flavors. I used chickpea pasta and turned out perfect!!

    1. Together as Family says:

      Thank you! I love using chickpea pasta every once in awhile, glad to know it’s good in this recipe!

  19. 4 stars
    This was good. Our new stove is not hooked up yet so I made it in the instant pot and it was a success! I just followed the directions for another chili recipe that I make. I sauted the ground beef and onions. I then added the broth, beans, and seasonings and stirred together. Then added the tomatoes and tomato sauce (as that’s what I chose to use to avoid additives in the soup) but did not stir them in. I then placed the lid on the instant pot and set for ten minutes. It came to pressure without any issue. When done, I allowed the pressure to naturally release. I then removed the lid, stirred, and added the pasta. I turned on the saute button and adjusted to the lowest setting. I’d say it was between a simmer and a med boil. I made sure to stir often so the bottom wouldn’t scorch. It did take the whole 30 minutes for the pasta to get done to my preference. The pasta could always be cooked seperately as well. I had a packaged queso so I justed used that instead of making the one included with this recipe. It all worked very well!

    1. Together as Family says:

      Thanks for sharing how you made the recipe work with an instant pot! People often have questions about how to do that so it’s nice to have someone share their experience.

  20. 5 stars
    I made this using impossible ground “meat” and this was absolutely amazing. Will make this again very soon thank you!!

    1. Together as Family says:

      I’m so glad it worked out and you loved it! 🤗

  21. How much does the queso make? Thinking of using the queso from our local Mexican restaurant which is very good.

    1. Together as Family says:

      I think it makes about 4 cups. Love the idea of using a local queso!

  22. 5 stars
    This is the best chili mac I’ve ever made. Used macaroni instead because that’s what I had, and didn’t have diced tomatoes, which was fine because we don’t like them. it ended up being absolutely incredible!! Highly reccomend.

    1. Together as Family says:

      Thank you for your kind review! I’m so happy you liked it!