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!
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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- 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.
Mini pasta works best, and our favorite is Ditalini. Other good choices are:
- salt and pepper to taste
- chili seasoning packet: I use McCormick Mild Flavor, but use whatever chili seasoning blend your family likes best.
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!
Equal amounts of ground turkey or ground chicken can be substituted for the ground beef.
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.
For a milder tomato flavor, chicken broth or beef broth can be substituted for the tomato juice.
Tomato sauce is a good substitution for the tomato soup.
It would slightly change the taste, but egg noodles can be substituted for the pasta.
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!
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.
- 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.
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.
What to serve with chili mac?
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Chili Mac Recipe: A One Pot Meal
- 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
- 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.
If chili becomes too thick after pasta is fully cooked, add more tomato juice, followed by more chili seasoning.
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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