One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese

Since last week Ben shared that romantic, lady-killing recipe for Sun Dried Tomato Pasta, I felt it my duty to follow up with a man-bait recipe for Chili Mac and Cheese. Unapologetically cheesy, super satisfying, and even healthy (yes!), this dreamy meal comes together in ONE pot and 30 minutes. You don’t even need to cook the pasta separately. We all need more recipes like this chili mac in our lives.

Easy One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese. An easy, healthy recipe that's perfect busy weeknights!

Lest you accuse me of being sexist with my pasta categorization, I’d like to note that Ben out-ate me on the Sundried Tomato Pasta, and I embarrassed him (and myself) with the amount of the Chili Mac and Cheese that I housed between IPAs the weekend I made it. We are an equal opportunity household.

I’m often asked where I find inspiration for the recipes I share here. While I have an assortment of answers—visiting the farmers market; the Food Network; my favorite cookbooks— the best, most honest answer is this: I make the recipes that get stuck in my head.

One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese recipe. Lighted up and made in just one pot!

A few weeks ago, Beth posted a recipe for vegetarian chili mac, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I love coming up with twists on macaroni and cheese that transform it from side dish to complete meal (reference: Greek Mac and Cheese; Spinach Artichoke Mac and Cheese; Pumpkin Mac and Cheese), so the idea of pumping up a classic cheddar mac with beans and tomatoes to make it a hearty, all-in-one dinner grabbed my attention immediately.

For three weeks straight, whenever I sat down to plan my recipes, chili mac and cheese popped into my head. My subconscious prompted me to buy elbow macaroni pasta. Finally, I caught myself dreaming about chili mac and cheese in the shower. Clearly, the universe had willed for chili mac and cheese and I to be united.

One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese recipe

I made quite a few departures from Beth’s recipe, the most obvious being that I added ground turkey. The turkey makes the chili mac and cheese more filling, but it’s is still lean and mean, so this mac and cheese is quite healthy too.

Once the turkey is browned, the remaining recipe directions are to dump everything else in the pot, then stand back and let the heat works its magic. Even the pasta cooks in the same pot as the turkey and beans. Final steps: 1) Stir in the cheese; 2) Devour.

One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese. A family favorite that's perfect for busy weeknights!

For all of my chili mac and cheese daydreaming, I am pleased to report that this recipe exceeded my every expectation. It was gloriously rich and creamy, the chili spices paired beautifully with the gooey cheddar cheese, and the ground turkey and beans made it especially hearty and filling.

Chili Mac and Cheese. An easy one-pot recipe your entire family will love!

So much flavor, so much satisfaction, and there’s only one pot to wash at the end. I vote chili mac and cheese for dinner of the year!

Tools I used to make this recipe:

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One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese

An easy, delicious recipe for chili mac and cheese with ground turkey, beans and cheddar that is cooked entirely in just ONE pot. Your family will rave!

Yield: 6 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 pound extra lean ground turkey (use an additional can of beans to make vegetarian)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 (15 ounce) can low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can low sodium red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilis, undrained
  • 2 cups uncooked whole wheat elbow macaroni noodles, about 8 ounces
  • 1 cup freshly shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, plus additional for serving
  • Sliced green onions, for serving

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in large, deep Dutch oven or pot over medium high. Once hot, add the onion and sauté until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes, then add the turkey, jalapeno, chili powder, cumin, coriander, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently and breaking apart the turkey, until the meat is crumbled and cooked through, about 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in the chicken stock, black beans, kidney beans, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes in their juices, andpasta. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Once simmering, cover the pot and cook for until the noodles are al dente, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  3. Stir in the cheese until melted and creamy. Serve warm, topped with additional shredded cheese and green onions.

Leftover chili mac and cheese can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Reheat gently in the microwave, sprinkled with a small amount of water of chicken stock to keep the pasta from drying out.

All images and text ©/Well Plated.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 (of 6; about 2 cups)

  • Amount Per Serving:
  • Calories: 472
  • Total Fat: 10g
  • Saturated Fat: 3g
  • Cholesterol: 51mg
  • Sodium: 987mg
  • Carbohydrates: 62g
  • Fiber: 13g
  • Sugar: 8g
  • Protein: 40g

Did you try this recipe? I want to see! Follow Well Plated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!

About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…

23 comments

  1. I LOVE Chili Mac! I am absolutely going to try this recipe (which is a variation of my own) using GF pasta (I like Trader Joe’s Brown Rice & Quinoa blend for something like this) instead of the whole wheat. Probably this weekend!

  2. yummy! Now this is my kind of food!

  3. Wowie, this looks amazing!!  I just posted a Chipotle Mac and Cheese recipe on Oven hug (low fat!) but this looks even better.  Our family is sure to love your chili mac since it is a combo of 2 of their most favorite comfort foods – chili and mac ‘n cheese, genius!  Thanks so much for the inspiration..will definitely be trying this one 👌

  4. My kids will love to eat this. I will love the one-pot thingie. I get what you mean about getting a recipe stuck in your head! I’ve been dreaming about apple pie lately. Not really the season for it. But we’ll see where that goes! (:

  5. Alright , fess up, you’ve been watching me in my kitchen………LOL.
    I have been making this for yrs. and agree , SOOO GOOD , easy and filling.

  6. Would you believe I’ve never had chili mac? This looks unreal and I love how a serving comes in at under 500 calories :)

  7. OH I wish I was having this for dinner tonight! Sounds amazing!!

  8. Wow this looks so amazing!  Chili + Mac and cheese, a perfect combo of two of my favorite comfort foods!

  9. Mmm, so good. I made this tonight and it is delish. There is very little prep so it comes together fast.  I bet I could even premix the spices in little containers to make it even faster! I don’t usually cook with whole wheat pasta, but I like it here because it holds up in the cooking process without getting mushy and has almost a creamy bite to it. Thanks Erin!

  10. Hi Erin! Love your recipes!! I see garlic powder in the ingredients, but not in the directions… unless I missed it! Should that go in with the rest of the spices in step 1, or skip it? Making this now, looks delish so far! :) Thank you!

  11. I wanted to share that we enjoyed your healthy Chili Mac and Cheese for Valentine’s Day dinner Sunday evening at our house! My boyfriend was pleased and so was I, especially with comforting leftovers last night after a long day. Of course, I did not want to decide between the two recipes, so I also bought ingredients to make Sun Dried Tomato Pasta later this week! Tee hee. 

    • Amy, I’m so soooo happy to hear you guys loved this, and I’m honored it was your V-Day dinner! And the sun dried tomato pasta is such a winner too. You’ll have to tell me which one ends up being your favorite :)

  12. Is the Coriander the recipe calls for ground or coriander seeds.  I am assuming ground, but I have both and don’t want to over do it with ground if it is the seeds.

  13. This recipe was another winner! Made enough to have leftovers all week for my husband and I, and I’m not mad about it!  Your blog has become one of my faves!! 

    Rating: 5
    • Thank you so much, Nikki! I truly appreciate your kind words about my blog, and I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thanks for leaving this awesome review.

  14. So tasty, easy and inexpensive! Made this tonight for my husband and it was one of the most pleasing new recipes I’ve tried in a while. I made a number of adaptations: first, I swapped the turkey for extra lean ground beef. I omitted the oil and just used cooking spray and once the meat was done I mixed in the veggies. I added some diced celery and an orange pepper for extra nutrition and color. My pot wasn’t quite big enough so I only used kidney beans, which was plenty with an extra 2 oz of pasta. Lastly, we used freshly grated pepper jack. Topped with a squeeze of lime, a dollop of Greek yogurt and a little avocado.

    Rating: 5
    • Alison, I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you so much for taking the time to share all your tweaks—it sounds delicious!

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