Chili Mac is a super easy casserole to make, and it’s delicious comfort food that the whole family will ask for!
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This chili mac is a blend of macaroni, chili, tomato sauce, cheese, fried onions, and spices. It’s the perfect comfort food option that will please even the pickiest eater. And, you may have seen it in my cookbook, Cupboard Cooking.
This hearty combination of chili and pasta with cheese has been filling empty bellies for decades. It’s great for using up leftover chili, or simply use a can of your favorite chili.
I’ve been making this recipe for many years, and it’s always a hit with my family. I even get requests all the time for it.
Use what you have
I’ve changed it up several times based on what I have in the cupboards. The recipe is nice and flexible.
I like the small elbow macaroni best for this recipe. It’s classic, and the small size allows you to get all the goodies in one spoonful.
However, if you find yourself without elbow macaroni, simply use whatever you have. Penne works, small shells, rigatoni, etc…
What kind of chili to use
This week I’m using leftover homemade Crock Pot Vegetarian Chili. But often I simply use a can of my favorite veggie chili. Use your favorite here. Beans, no beans, meat, veggies, it’s all good.
What kind of tomatoes?
When I fist started making this recipe it called for a can of condensed tomato soup. It’s great with that, maybe a bit salty for my taste now. Since I stopped using canned soups due to the sodium, I’ve swapped the soup for canned tomato sauce. I’ve also used crushed tomatoes and jarred spaghetti sauce in a pinch. I will say that the jarred spaghetti sauce is my least favorite way to make it. Heck, you could even try a can of diced tomatoes, leave the juice in, for a chunky chili mac.
The canned fried onions are so good. But, yes, I have left them out on occasion. I do think it’s better with them; I mean, they’re so tasty! I just have to make sure I don’t snack on the whole can while I wait for the casserole to bake. And, no, they aren’t the healthiest ingredient ever, but everything in moderation, including moderation.
I have also left out the cheese when I’m watching my cheese intake. Um, of course, it’s better with the cheese. Just saying. But it is possible to leave it out if you need to. You can also feel free to use any cheese you like, pepper jack, mozzarella, gouda, whatever.
More great casseroles
Looking for more delicious and easy to make casseroles? Here’s a few ideas:
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Chili Mac Recipe
- 2 cups small elbow macaroni uncooked
- 1 can chili 15 ounce or 2 cups homemade chili
- 1 can tomato sauce crushed tomatoes, condensed tomato soup, or jarred spaghetti sauce (from 11-15 ounces)
- 6 ounces canned fried onions
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasonings or a mix of basil and oregano
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
- In a casserole dish, combine all ingredients, except ½ of the can of fried onions. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes or until heated through. Top with remaining fried onions, and bake, uncovered, for an additional 5 minutes, or until onions are golden.