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 One Pot 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.
Lest you accuse me of being sexist with my pasta categorization, I’d like to note that Ben out-ate me on the sun dried 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.
About This Tasty Chili Mac and Cheese
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.
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.
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.
More Cozy and Comforting Pasta Recipes
- Butternut Squash Pasta with Sausage and Kale
- Taco Pasta
- Cajun Shrimp Pasta
- Brussels Sprouts Mac and Cheese
- Spicy Shrimp Pasta
- Penne Alla Vodka with Chicken
- Instant Pot Beef Stroganoff
- Turkey Bolognese
Tools Used to Make This Recipe
- 5 1/2 quart Dutch oven
- 12-inch cast iron skillet (for serving and the photos—the whole meal cooks together in the one Dutch oven)
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!
One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Stir in the cheese until melted and creamy. Serve warm, topped with additional shredded cheese and green onions.
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