Chili Mac Recipe: A One Pot Dinner

This hearty, one pot chili mac recipe is the ultimate comfort food. Easy and quick to make, it’s a great weeknight meal choice for your family!

servings of chili mac in bowls

When my mom began cooking for two, after my brothers and I left home, she made several recipes that she never made for our family. One of those dishes was a pot of chili. She put her own spin on it by leaving out the beans (because my dad really didn’t like them) and she added pasta instead. So what she was actually making was chili mac. This is her version.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Uses basic, easy-to-find ingredients.
  • Quick to make…it’s on the table in an hour.
  • Very family-friendly (not too spicy!)
  • Filling and delicious.
  • Makes a great busy weeknight dinner.

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chili mac recipe ingredients

Ingredients

The Base

  • Ground beef: one pound is plenty, but if you like extra meaty chili, up the amount to 1 1/2 lbs. 
  • Sweet onion: definitely don’t skip the onion! It lends the best flavor. 
  • Campbell’s tomato soup: adds a unique tomato taste and helps thicken the chili. 
  • Diced tomatoes: a great way to add a chunky texture.
  • Tomato juice: very flavorful.

Pasta

Mini pasta works best, and our favorite is Ditalini. Other good choices are:

Seasoning

  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chili seasoning packet: I use McCormick Mild Flavor, but use whatever chili seasoning blend your family likes best.

Cheese

If time permits, freshly shredded colby jack is delicious as a topper on this chili mac. If you’re short on time, the bagged variety works too!

chili mac in blue dutch oven with basil

Substitutions

Meat
Equal amounts of ground turkey or ground chicken can be substituted for the ground beef.

Spices
You can substitute spices for the seasoning packet. Begin with 1 teaspoon of chili powder and 1 teaspoon of garlic powder. Add more to taste. Paprika or a small amount of cayenne pepper can also be added.

Tomato Juice
For a milder tomato flavor, chicken broth or beef broth can be substituted for the tomato juice.

Tomato Soup
Tomato sauce is a good substitution for the tomato soup.

Pasta
It would slightly change the taste, but egg noodles can be substituted for the pasta.

Cheese
Definitely use your favorite cheese. Good suggestions are Colby Jack, Sharp Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or bagged 4 cheese blend.

How to Make

This one-pot recipe is hearty and filling. It’s a simple meal that makes the perfect weeknight dinner, and it can be ready from start to finish in an hour. It’s kid friendly tooThis recipe is definitely at the beginner level. The only ingredient that needs chopped is the onions. It’s basically a dump and go dinner!

Instructions

Step 1: Add olive oil to a large dutch oven. On medium-high heat, add onion. Cook for 2 minutes. .

Step 2: Add ground chuck. Cook until done.

Step 3: Add salt and pepper to taste.

Step 4: Drain the excess fat from the pot.

Step 5: Add tomato soup, water, diced tomatoes, and tomato juice.

Step 6. Bring to a boil.

Step 7: Add pasta.

Step 8: Bring to a second boil, stirring constantly so pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Reduce to medium heat.

Step 9: Add 2 teaspoons chili seasoning. Add more until the chili has the taste you desire.

Step 10: Stir to combine everything well.

Step 11: Cover the pot and turn off the burner.

Step 12: Let the chili sit for 30 minutes on the stovetop.

Cooking + Serving Tips

  • After the 30 minute resting time, the pasta may take on a life of its own. If the chili mac gets too thick, add more tomato juice. If more tomato juice is added, taste again, and add more chili seasoning if necessary.
  • This one pot chili mac recipe can be easily doubled to feed a crowd. You will need quite a big pot though!
  • Serve in bowls, topped with freshly grated colby jack cheese.
  • Chopped cilantro or chopped parsley would work great as garnishes.
bowls of chili mac with shredded cheese

Variations

  • You can, of course, add beans! Good choices are pinto beans, kidney beans, or black beans.
  • Instead of serving chili mac as a soup, layer it. Traditional chili mac is served with the pasta on the bottom, topped by the tomato/hamburger mixture. It’s mixed up after it’s served.
bowl of chili mac with spoon

Frequently Asked Questions

Is chili mac a Midwest thing?

Yes, it is…but it’s popular in other regions of the United States as well. Chili mac actually originated in Ohio, which is where I live. There are a couple of different theories.

Who created chili mac?

It could have begun in the 1940’s with a restaurant in Columbus, OH run by Teresa Marzetti. She named a dish much like chili mac after her brother-in-law, Johnny Marzetti. Most of us grew up eating various versions of Johnny Marzetti.

Another possible source is that it originated in Cincinnati, OH and is associated with the Cincinnati Chili franchise. Cincinnati chili is pasta covered in chili, so it’s not exactly chili mac. No matter where it came from, it’s definitely a recipe that should be added to your rotation.

chili mac in pot on stove 2

What to serve with chili mac?

A thick slice of crusty bread is a great idea, or make a loaf of this easy beer bread. This apple and romaine salad would be delicious, as well as this Honeycrisp apple salad.

Shop + Source

 

chili mac in blue dutch oven with basil

Chili Mac Recipe: A One Pot Meal

This hearty, one pot chili mac recipe is the ultimate comfort food. Easy and quick to make, it's the weeknight meal choice for your family!
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5 from 1 vote
Servings: 6 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
resting time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • small sweet onion (chopped)
  • 1 lb. ground chuck
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cans Campbell's tomato soup (10.75 oz.)
  • 1 1/4 cups water (or one soup can)
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes (14.5 oz.)
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • 1 c. ditalini pasta
  • 1 package chili seasoning mix
  • shredded cheese

Instructions

  • Add olive oil to a large dutch oven. On medium-high heat, add onion. Cook for 2 minutes. .
  • Add ground chuck. Cook until done.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Drain the excess fat from the pot.
  • Add tomato soup, water, diced tomatoes, and tomato juice.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Add pasta.
  • Bring to a second boil, stirring constantly so pasta doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. Reduce to medium heat.
  • Add 2 teaspoons chili seasoning. Add more until the chili has the taste you desire.
  • Stir to combine everything well.
  • Cover the pot and turn off the burner.
  • Let the chili sit for 30 minutes on the stovetop.
  • Serve very hot, topped with shredded cheese.

Notes

Beans can be added if desired. 
If chili becomes too thick after pasta is fully cooked, add more tomato juice, followed by more chili seasoning. 

Nutrition

Calories: 480kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 524mg | Potassium: 1233mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 978IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 4mg
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If you make this recipe, and love it, please come back to leave a comment and a 5-star review. I would appreciate it so much, and it would truly help me. Thank you!

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Recipe Rating




17 Comments

  1. Cynthia D says:

    Does it freeze well? Since it’s just the two of us, I was hoping the leftovers would be great re-heated out of the freezer.

  2. 5 stars
    I made this today – it is absolutely delicious!!!

  3. Shirley Graham says:

    Going to try this as has all ingredients I love. Thanks!
    Love your blog & always look at yours first. Your style of decorating is something I like.

  4. Making it tonight! On the stove simmering now… looks 😋!

  5. Looks yummy and leftovers are the best.

  6. Oh, yum! This is what I call a “comfort food,” and it is certainly a dish that satisfies on a cold winter night! I think the leftovers taste even better when warmed the next day. Thanks Ann, for your version!

  7. This looks delicious and easy. I even ordered the pot!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Thank you so much…you will love the pot!

  8. Charmaine says:

    This recipe brings back memories from my childhood! My mom made a similar version when we were kids. Sometimes, though, she left out the meat and we just had the beans and at other times it was just the tomatoes and pasta. There were eight of us kids, all with different food preferences, not to mention a very tight budget since my mom did not work outside the home. I still make a version of mom’s recipe every now and then when my husband and I just want some plain and simple comfort food.

  9. Thanks for the recipe! I prefer to eat at home but struggle with dinner ideas. I think I shall try it tonight! It sounds delicious!!

  10. Lavender Dreams says:

    I love making a dish like this! It’s hearty but a nice change, too! Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  11. That sounds so delicious Ann!! I love pasta and this is such a great twist on chili. Can’t wait to try it! :-)
    Vanessa

  12. My Mom cooked everynight, and I cooked everynight when my kids were growing up,and when we had the Grandkids when they were little plus my Mother-in law.. Good memories of sharing ang laughing.. I still cook everynight for my husband and myself, but it is not the same as when you have your family at home. Love Thanksgiving and Christmas.

  13. What a great alternative to beans in the chili! Can’t wait to try this recipe! :)

    Thanks for sharing!

  14. Yur recipe sounds good and easy. Never heard of this recipe usiing tomato soup, interesting. Growing up, I always ate chili with my family, but never ate the beans. Now today, I have a liking for the beans!

  15. Adventuresindinner says:

    Oh! I love this type of chilli. So comforting C:

  16. Great memory, my mom also cooked every night. I was a kid that begged for a TV dinner. All my friends were having them, why didn’t our family? Now I look back and know why she wasn’t feeding us that stuff. I do the same and make dinner every night for my family, in hope some day they will look back and have treasured memories.
    By the way, I love that you make the recipes printable. Great idea.