Chili Mac and Cheese Casserole

Here’s a delicious Chili Mac and Cheese Casserole recipe that perfectly combines savory chili and gooey mac and cheese. Simply the ultimate comfort food dinner! 

Originating from the creative minds looking to blend classic flavors, this dish has rapidly grown in popularity. Today, it’s beloved by families and food enthusiasts alike, earning a spot at dinner tables across the globe.

Its wide appeal comes from not only its irresistible taste but also its simplicity and versatility. Let’s make this meal!

Ingredients Breakdown and Substitutes

Gather these ingredients to whip up a delicious Chili Mac and Cheese Casserole that’s sure to impress:

  • 3 tbsp Butter: Vegan butter works great as a plant-based option.
  • 1 Cup Diced Yellow Onion (1 small onion): No substitutes needed, essential for flavor.
  • 1 Cup Diced Bell pepper
  • 2 Pounds Lean Ground Beef: For a vegetarian twist, lentils or a plant-based ground meat substitute can be used.
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, Minced: Garlic is key for taste; no substitutes recommended.
  • 15-ounce can Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes, Undrained: Regular diced tomatoes can also be used if fire-roasted are not available.
  • 1 15-ounce can Tomato Sauce & 1 6-ounce can Tomato Paste: No substitutes needed; these are staple ingredients.
  • 1 4-ounce can Chopped Green Chilis: For less spice, this can be omitted.
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt, 2 Tablespoons Chili Powder, 1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin, 1/4 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika: Keep as is for the best flavor profile. Adjust salt according to taste and dietary needs.
  • 1 7-ounce can corn, Drained: Fresh or frozen corn makes a great substitute.
  • 1 15-ounce can Black Beans, Drained and Rinsed: Any bean variety works if black beans aren’t your favorite or available.
  • 2 Cups Uncooked Large Elbow Macaroni: For a gluten-free version, choose gluten-free pasta instead.
  • 1 1/2 Cups Grated Mexican Cheese Blend: Dairy-free cheese can be used for a vegan version.

Remember, cooking is all about making it your own, so feel free to adjust these ingredients to match your dietary needs or personal preferences. Now we are ready to create a mouthwatering dish that’s both flexible and fantastically flavorful!

Step-by-Step Cooking Instructions

6 steps to make chili mac and cheese casserole

Get excited to put together your Chili Mac and Cheese Casserole with these simple steps. Trust me, you’re going to love how easy and fun it is to make this comforting dish. Follow along, and before you know it, you’ll have a casserole that’s bursting with flavor and ready to enjoy!

Cooking Chili Mac and Cheese Casserole

  1. Prep Time: First off, preheat your oven to 375°F because you want it nice and hot. Grab a 9×13 baking dish and give it a light coat of nonstick spray. This helps everything not stick and makes clean-up a breeze.
  2. Cook the Aromatics: In a large, deep skillet or a Dutch Oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add those onions and cook them until they’re soft, which should take about 5 minutes. It’s amazing how something so simple adds so much flavor.
  3. Brown the Beef: Crank the heat to medium-high and toss in the ground beef. Cook it until it’s no longer pink – we’re talking about real cooking now! After that, add the minced garlic and give it another 2 minutes to mingle and get fragrant.
  4. Mix in the Magic: Now for the fun part! Add the fire-roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, green chilis, and all the spices to the pan. Stir it all together. Then, bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer. Those aromas? That’s comfort in the making.

Add the Pasta

  1. Pasta Time: While the chili simmers, bring another pot of water to a boil. Cook the macaroni according to the package directions, then drain. Add the pasta to the chili mixture, stirring to make sure every piece gets coated in that delicious sauce.
  2. Bake It: Transfer everything to your prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top like a cheesy blanket. Bake for 25 minutes or until the cheese is beautifully melted and the casserole is bubbly.
  3. Serve and Enjoy: It’s time! Serve up this hearty dish immediately and watch as it disappears before your eyes.

There you have it, a step-by-step guide to creating a heartwarming Chili Mac and Cheese Casserole that’s perfect for any day of the year. Whether it’s a cozy night in or a gathering with friends, this dish is sure to bring smiles and satisfied bellies.

Serving Suggestions

These serving suggestions for your Chili Mac and Cheese Casserole are guaranteed to complement its rich flavors:

  • A Fresh Side Salad: Toss together mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and a simple vinaigrette for a refreshing contrast.
  • Garlic Bread: Who can resist a slice of warm, buttery garlic bread? It’s perfect for sopping up any sauce that might try to escape your fork.
  • Sour Cream and Chives: A dollop of sour cream on top of a serving adds creaminess, while a sprinkling of chopped chives introduces a hint of freshness and color.
  • Pickled Jalapeños or Banana Peppers: For those who crave an extra kick, offer a bowl of pickled jalapeños or banana peppers on the side.

Remember, the goal is to create a meal that delights all your senses, so mix and match these suggestions to suit your taste and make your Chili Mac and Cheese Casserole meal truly unforgettable!

Customizations and Variations

To keep your Chili Mac and Cheese Casserole exciting, consider these customizations and variations:

  • Protein Variations: Swap out the lean ground beef for ground turkey, chicken, or pork for a different flavor profile. Additionally, try adding cooked, crumbled bacon or chorizo for a smoky depth of flavor.
  • Vegetable Boost: Elevate the nutritional value and texture by incorporating additional vegetables. Bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, or spinach can be sautéed along with the onions for added color, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Heat Level Adjustments: Control the spice by varying the amount of chili powder or adding diced jalapeños to the mix. For those who prefer it mild, reduce the chili powder and omit the green chilis.
  • Cheese Varieties: While a Mexican cheese blend is recommended, don’t hesitate to experiment with other cheese types such as sharp cheddar, pepper jack, or a smoky gouda for an interesting twist.
  • Topping Options: Before baking, consider adding a layer of breadcrumbs mixed with melted butter on top of the cheese for a crispy, golden crust. Alternatively, a sprinkle of crushed tortilla chips can add a satisfying crunch.
  • Gluten-Free and Low-Carb: For a gluten-free version, ensure your pasta and all canned products are certified gluten-free. To make this dish low-carb, replace the macaroni with cauliflower florets or zucchini noodles, adjusting the cooking time as necessary.

These customizations and variations allow you to tailor the Chili Mac and Cheese Casserole to your taste preferences. This dish also ensures that this dish remains a cherished part of your cooking repertoire, adaptable for any season or reason.

Storing and Reheating Tips for Chili Cheese and Mac Casserole

To enjoy your Chili Mac and Cheese Casserole to its fullest, proper storage and reheating are key. Here’s how to keep it tasting fresh and delicious:

  • Cooling Down: Allow the casserole to cool to room temperature before you plan to store it. This prevents condensation from forming inside the container, which can make the casserole soggy.
  • Refrigerating: Transfer the cooled casserole into an airtight container. It will be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. You can also opt to store individual servings, making reheating more convenient.
  • Freezing: For longer storage, the casserole freezes well. Wrap it tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap, and then place it in a freezer bag or airtight container. It can be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
  • Reheating in the Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Cover the casserole with aluminum foil to prevent it from drying out, and heat for about 20-25 minutes or until thoroughly warmed through. If it’s frozen, extend the reheating time, checking periodically.
  • Reheating in the Microwave: For a quicker option, individual portions can be microwaved on a microwave-safe plate. Cover with a microwave-safe lid then heat on high for 2-3 minutes.

By following these tips, you can ensure your Chili Mac and Cheese Casserole remains as scrumptious as when it was first baked, making it a perfect make-ahead meal for busy days.

Conclusion

I’m sure this Chili Mac and Cheese Casserole recipe is one that you will want to make again and again. It truly is comfort food at its finest. Combining savory chili with creamy, gooey macaroni and cheese makes this dish special. It warms the soul as well as fills the belly.

Remember, the beauty of this casserole lies not just in its taste but also in the memories created around the table sharing it with friends and family.

So, gather your ingredients, and let the magic of cooking bring warmth and joy to your kitchen.

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Happy cooking and bon appétit!

chili mac and cheese casserole on a plate with sour cream

Chili Mac and Cheese Casserole

This Chili Mac and Cheese Casserole dish combines the spicy essence of chili with the creamy, cheesy goodness of macaroni and cheese.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6

Equipment

  • 1 9 x13 casserole dish

Ingredients
  

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion 1 small onion
  • 1 cup diced bell pepper
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 15- ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 15- ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 4- ounce can chopped green chilis
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 14 ounce black beans
  • 14 ounce corn
  • 2 cups uncooked large elbow macaroni
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Mexican cheese blend

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly coat a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  • In a large, deep skillet or Dutch Oven heat the butter over medium heat. Add the onions to the pan and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add in the ground beef. Cook until no longer pink. Add in the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Drain excess liquid in pan if necessary.
  • Add in the fire roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, green chilis, salt, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, corn, and black beans. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil and then turn heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally.
  • Bring a pot water to a boil and cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain and add the pasta to the chili mixture, stirring to combine.
  • Transfer mixture to your prepared baking dish and top with the grated cheese.
  • Bake for 25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and mixture is bubbly.
  • Serve immediately.

Notes

Nutrition Estimates

  • Calories: 361
  • Sugar: 7.5 g
  • Sodium: 1001.7 mg
  • Fat: 8.7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 39.2 g
  • Protein: 32.7 g
  • Cholesterol: 62.9 mg
Keyword chili mac and cheese casserole

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