This Chili Mac and Cheese recipe is unapologetically cheesy, super satisfying, and (believe it or not) healthy too! The best part? This dreamy meal comes together in ONE pot and in 30 minutes.

Easy Chili Mac and Cheese in a dutch oven with a spoon

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While a good classic mac and cheese recipe will forever have my heart, I will always find pleasure in coming up with fun macaroni and cheese twists. (As evident from the FOUR mac and cheese recipes featured in my cookbook).

From this Italian Mac and Cheese to Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese, transforming this kid-friendly favorite from a side dish to a complete meal will never get old.

Today, we’re pumping up classic cheddar mac with ground turkey, beans, and tomatoes to make transform it into a hearty, one-pot chili mac and cheese.

It’s filling, oh-so comforting for the soul (and belly), and did I mention cheesy (like this Homemade Hamburger Helper)?

If you love mac and cheese, love chili, or are in the market for some kid-friendly food that adults will enjoy too, then this 30-minute recipe is for you!

Healthy Chili Mac and Cheese recipe in a white dutch oven topped with green onions

5 Star Review

“The BEST chili mac recipe! I’ve been making this every other week for nearly 4 years now.”

— KJ —

How to Make Chili Mac and Cheese in One Pot

For all of my chili mac and cheese daydreaming, I am pleased to report that this chili recipe exceeded my every expectation (as does this Spinach Artichoke Mac and Cheese).

It’s gloriously rich and creamy and the ground turkey and beans make it especially hearty and filling. The best comfort food!


The Ingredients

  • Ground Turkey. My choice for a lean meat option that packs plenty of satisfying protein into every serving without the added fat. (It’s also my choice for this Healthy Turkey Chili.)

Substitution Tip

If you don’t enjoy ground turkey, you could swap for an equal amount of ground chicken or lean ground beef.

  • Onion. For a little zip and depth of flavor that gives this chili mac recipe that “cooked-all-day” taste.
  • Jalapeño. Turns up the heat on this hearty chili mac and cheese recipe.

Market Swap

Feel free to swap the jalapeno for your favorite spicy seasonal chili peppers from your garden or local market. For extra heat, opt for something with more heat like a serrano. For a milder chili, reduce or omit the jalapeños.

  • Spices. A classic blend of chili powder, cumin, coriander, black pepper, and garlic powder gives this dish that signature chili flavor (like in this Vegetarian Chili).
  • Chicken Stock. Our primary cooking liquid that provides seasoning too.
  • Black Beans + Kidney Beans. My favorite duo of protein and fiber-packed legumes for just about any chili recipe (like this Slow Cooker Turkey Chili with Sweet Potatoes).
  • Tomato Sauce. For additional moisture and robust tomato flavor.
  • Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilis. Adds plump pieces of tomato throughout the chili mac and cheese and another layer of southwest flare, thanks to the green chilis.
  • Macaroni. The real magic of this dish is that you don’t even have to boil the pasta separately. Just toss it right into the pot with the other ingredients and cook until al dente. (If you love one-pot pastas, be sure to check out Chicken Stroganoff.)

Dietary Note

To sneak in a little extra fiber and iron into every serving, I always opt for whole wheat pasta.

For a gluten free chili mac, choose your favorite lentil, chickpea, or other gluten free pasta. Be sure to check the labels of the other ingredients while at the store to ensure they’re certified gluten free too! NOTE: gluten free pasta cooking times vary from regular pasta, so adjust the recipe accordingly.

  • Cheddar Cheese. It’s not mac and cheese without plenty of cheese. I like to use a sharp-cheddar. It’s more potent flavor means you can get away with using less.
  • Green Onions. For a final flourish of color and fresh onion flavor that is the perfect garnish. Could use some fresh parsley as well.

Chili Mac and Cheese Toppings

Feel free to add more favorite chili fixin’s to your spread to finish off your bowl of chili mac and cheese to your liking.

Diced avocado, chopped cilantro, additional grated cheddar cheese, monterey jack cheese, pickled jalapeños, a dash of cayenne pepper for some more heat or minced red onion (or Pickled Onions) would all be fabulous.

One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese recipe with a spoon

The Directions

sautéed onions in a dutch oven
  1. Saute the onions in large saucepan like a dutch oven with olive oil (or butter).
browning ground turkey in a dutch oven for chili mac
  1. Brown the turkey with the jalapeno and spices, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon.
adding pasta, tomato sauce, and beans to a dutch oven full of onions and cooked ground turkey
  1. Stir in the tomatoes and sauce, stock, beans, and pasta. Simmer until the noodles are al dente.
a dutch oven full of cheesy chili mac and cheese with ground turkey
  1. Stir in the cheese until melted and creamy. Serve with toppings of your choice. ENJOY!

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Leftover chili mac and cheese can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
  • To Reheat. Warm gently in the microwave or on the stovetop in a large skillet sprinkled with a small amount of water or chicken broth to keep the pasta from drying out.
  • To Freeze. Chili mac and cheese may be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge before warming.

Storage Tips

If you make this chili mac and cheese with the intention to freeze all or a portion of it, I would slightly undercook the pasta so it is less mushy once thawed and reheated.

Kid friendly chili mac and cheese with beans and turkey

What to Serve with Chili Mac and Cheese

Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

  • Can Opener. You know a recipe is easy when the main piece of equipment needed is a can opener. Just push one button on this electric opener. No sharp edges!
  • Chef’s Knife. A high-quality steel and carbon everyday chef’s knife is a must for anyone who loves spending time in the kitchen.
  • Dutch Oven. Our one-way ticket to this one-pot masterpiece.

The Best Dutch Oven

This Le Creuset 5.5-quart Dutch oven made from long-lasting enameled cast iron has superior even heat distribution and retention. It’s oven-safe too.

Easy Chili Mac and Cheese in a dutch oven with a spoon

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought!

Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked the recipe.

a plate of easy Chili Mac and Cheese with ground turkey on a plate

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!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Make Chili Mac and Cheese Vegetarian?

If you’d like to make this a vegetarian chili mac and cheese you may omit the ground turkey from the recipe and swap the chicken stock for vegetable stock. You also could use vegan meat crumbles in place of the turkey.

What Beans are Good for Chili?

I like a combination of black beans and red kidney beans best. However, you could also use pinto beans, cannellini beans, or Great Northern beans.

What Cheese is Best for Chili Mac and Cheese?

Sharp cheddar is my favorite for chili mac and cheese because it brings that classic mac and cheese flavor and creaminess to the dish. However, you could also use other melting-style cheeses you enjoy. Fontina, pepper jack, or gouda would all work nicely.

Can You Make This In The Instant Pot?

Yes, you can make instant pot chili mac. NOTE: I have not yet tried this, so it would be an experiment! You could use my instant pot cauliflower mac and cheese as a rough guide on how to make it. If you decide to try it out, I’d love for you to let me know how it goes!

Easy Chili Mac and Cheese in a dutch oven with a spoon

Chili Mac and Cheese

5 from 19 votes
An easy chili mac and cheese recipe with ground turkey, beans, and plenty of melty cheddar cheese. Cooks in ONE pot and ready in 30 minutes.

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 30 mins

Servings: 6 servings

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 can low-sodium black beans (15 ounces) rinsed and drained
  • 1 can low-sodium red kidney beans (15 ounces) rinsed and drained
  • 1 can tomato sauce (15 ounces)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with green chilis (10 ounces) 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

Instructions
 

  • Heat the olive oil in a large, deep Dutch oven or pot over medium-high. Once hot, add the onion and sauté until beginning to soften; about 4 minutes.
  • 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.
  • Stir in the chicken stock, black beans, kidney beans, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes in their juices, and pasta. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Once simmering, cover the pot and cook until the noodles are al dente, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  • Stir in the cheese until melted and creamy. Serve warm, topped with additional shredded cheese and green onions.

Notes

  • TO STORE: Leftover chili mac and cheese can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Warm gently in the microwave, sprinkled with a small amount of water or chicken stock to keep the pasta from drying out.
  • TO FREEZE: Chili mac and cheese may be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge before warming. If you plan to freeze, I would slightly undercook the pasta so it is less mushy once reheated.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 6), about 2 cupsCalories: 504kcalCarbohydrates: 67gProtein: 37gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 60mgPotassium: 1142mgFiber: 11gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 889IUVitamin C: 16mgCalcium: 204mgIron: 7mg

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My love of mac and cheese and chili runs deep if you can’t tell from my extensive collection of easy chili and mac and cheese one-pot recipes.

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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38 Comments

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  1. 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!5 stars

    1. Deborah, I’m so excited to hear how much you enjoyed this and that the prep was quick and easy for you too. Thanks so much for trying out the recipe and taking time to leave this review!

  2. 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. 5 stars

    1. 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 :)

  3. This was SO good and easy to make- my husband already wants me to make it again this week! Thank you for the recipe and your quick response! :)5 stars

  4. 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!! 5 stars

    1. 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.

  5. 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.5 stars

    1. 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!

  6. Wonderful recipe! My husband, who 9/10 times will not eat ground turkey as a beef substitute, ate his whole plate. Thank you for another great healthy recipe! 5 stars

  7. Easy to follow and like the recipe said one pot. My husband said “Really, really, good” that was after moaning his approval. Definitely will make again.5 stars

  8. Must make recipe!!! It really is quick, easy and it freezes very well. I like crumbling up tortilla chips too for some added texture. I’ve made it with both ground turkey and beef, both are good. This last time around I used the red lentil pasta for the added protein. Some other modifications, I don’t do jalapeno and in a pinch I’ve used dehydrated onions vs fresh. Hope you get a chance to make it.5 stars

  9. I made this the night of the 2019 Super Bowl and it was exactly as easy and delicious as you’d described. It was a big hit with my family and we’ll definitely make it again. (Modifications: lean ground beef, because my local market was out of ground turkey, and not quite as much chili powder because I ran out.)5 stars

  10. Thee BEST chili mac recipe! I’ve been make this every other week for nearly 4 years now. I’m a single mom and quick/delicious dinners are a must at my house!5 stars

  11. So simple and unbelievably delicious. Kicking myself for not trying it sooner! Thank you for yet *another* go-to recipe, Erin!!5 stars

  12. Delicious! My husband is obsessed. Followed the recipe exactly. Will become a new staple recipe in our house!5 stars

  13. This was delicious! Came together quickly with a nice balance of chili flavor and macaroni and cheese. Even my kids liked it!5 stars

  14. This recipe is definitely a keeper. Only changes I made was regular pasta and halving the chili powder (I’m a wuss). We will definitely be making this again (and it’s so easy!!!).5 stars

  15. I made this for the first time last week. My husband and I both loved it. That speaks highly of this recipe because my husband is not fond of chili, kidney beans and similar foods. But he thought this was great.
    I always follow a recipe exactly or as close as possible the first time I make it. I did make the following changes due to what I had on hand. I used ground chicken instead of ground turkey, left out coriander, added some green pepper because I had some I wanted to use and used minced garlic instead of garlic powder. The only reason I did not use coriander is because I did not have any and did not want to buy it since it is a spice that I may not use again.
    Very good recipe. It was good leftover.
    At this again.
    Oh , and I should mention that this is a recipe that comes together very quickly.5 stars

  16. My husband loves Hamburger Helper chili Mac from his childhood but I refuse to let him eat such disgusting food (if you can even call it food) so this is the bomb! I used bison for more authentic taste and didn’t add beans. So good and so easy!5 stars