This Slow Cooker Chili Mac is a hearty, filling and wholesome meal that has the perfect savory, salty and spicy flavors.
Whether you’re looking for a comfort food to dig into or just a low effort meal that the entire family can enjoy, this is one recipe you can turn to.
Another plus is the fact that you can actually turn this recipe into a one pot version too! So even if you don’t have a crock pot, you can easily whip up a nice one pot chili mac and cheese using just a simple tweak.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
If there’s one single recipe my whole family loves and is obsessed with, it is this one!
My favorite part about it, apart from the fact that it is absolutely delicious, is that it is actually a very easy recipe.
All you need is 5-10 minutes of prep time to get everything together, and then it’s pretty much dump and go in your slow cooker or crockpot.
To make the slow cooker chili mac and cheese, here’s what you’ll need.
- Lean Ground Beef: Provides a rich and savory base for the chili, and the lean cut keeps the dish from becoming too heavy.
- Frozen Peppers and Onions: Add a sweet and slight crunch to the chili, plus they’re a convenient way to add veggies to the dish.
- Chili Seasoning: Blend of spices is key in creating the signature warm and smoky flavor of chili.
- Garlic (minced): Gives a slight pungent kick that balances out the sweetness of the peppers and onions.
- Diced Green Chiles: Add a mild heat and a pop of bright, tangy flavor to the chili.
- Tomatoes with Green Chiles: Provide a flavorful liquid base for the chili and contribute a nice balance of acidity and sweetness.
- Red Kidney Beans (undrained): Add heartiness and texture to the chili, and the liquid they’re canned in enhances the overall flavor.
- Black Beans (Rinsed And Drained): Add to the heartiness of the chili, and their earthy flavor complements the ground beef well.
- Tomato Paste: Helps thicken the chili and deepens the tomato flavor.
- Sugar: Balances out the acidity of the tomatoes and chiles for a well-rounded flavor.
- Water or Beef Broth: Is used to adjust the consistency of the chili and, if using broth, can add more savory depth.
- Macaroni Noodles: Makes this dish extra filling and soaks up all the wonderful flavors of the chili.
- Cheddar Cheese (Shredded And Divided): Adds creaminess and a bit of sharpness to the chili mac, making it even more comforting and delicious.
- Scallions (For Topping): Give a fresh, crunchy contrast to the hearty chili mac and add a pop of color for presentation.
How To Make Slow Cooker Chili Mac?
Once you have your ingredients ready, here’s what you’ll need to do to make the chili mac in your crock pot or slow cooker.
Step 1: Brown Ground Beef
In a medium skillet or Dutch oven, over medium high heat, brown and drain your ground beef.
Step 2: Add Ingredients to the Slow Cooker
To your slow cooker add the ground beef, onion and bell peppers, garlic, green chilies, tomatoes, tomato paste, red kidney beans, black beans, sugar and beef broth. Sprinkle on your chili seasoning. Stir to combine.
Step 3: Add Pasta and Cheese
Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours. 20 minutes before serving add the elbow macaroni. 5 minutes before serving stir in half of the shredded cheese.
Step 4: Top With More Shredded Cheese
Top with the remaining cheese. Cover and let the cheese melt. Top with your favorite toppings, serve!!
Tips & Tricks to Make the Slow Cooker Chili Mac Recipe
While making the slow cooker chili mac is super easy, having these little tips and tricks handy can help.
- You can use almost any shredded cheese you can get your hands on. I love using Monterey Jack and shredded sharp Cheddar cheese for their flavor.
- I’ve used kidney beans to make the Chili mac recipe, but you can also use pinto beans or chili beans if you want to.
- I also like to add a bit of chili powder and some tomato sauce to the pot to bring some extra flavor to the dish. Chili powder lends a nice bit of heat to the dish, and the tomato sauce balances it out with its sweetness.
- If you don’t have tomato paste needed for the recipe, you can use a combination of tomato sauce and diced tomatoes or crushed tomatoes.
- I also like to bring some variation to the dish and use ground turkey instead of ground beef. Remember though that ground turkey takes less time to cook than ground beef.
- You can also swap the beef broth that the slow cooker chili mac and cheese recipe calls for with chicken broth.
- I also like to add in other ingredients like ground cumin, cayenne pepper, hot sauce, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, chopped green peppers, chopped bell pepper, red peppers and green onion.
- You can also add some extra sour cream to the dish to bring in some more tanginess and creaminess in addition to the cheese.
- Make sure you add the pasta only towards the end and let it cook for about 15-20 minutes until the pasta is al dente- you wouldn’t want to end up overcooking it.
- Another great idea is to cook the pasta separately and add the cooked pasta into the crockpot later towards the end. Just adjust salt before you serve.
- You can also store leftover slow cooker chili mac in an airtight container and refrigerate them until you’re ready to serve again.
What To Serve With This Recipe?
- Garlic Breadsticks: Whip up some soft garlic-infused breadsticks for a perfect carb companion.
- Avocado Salad: A refreshing avocado salad with lime dressing adds a zesty contrast to the hearty chili mac.
- Cornbread Muffins: Serve golden cornbread muffins for a delightful blend of sweetness and savory.
- Roasted Vegetables: Oven-roasted veggies like bell peppers and zucchini provide a colorful and nutritious side.
- Mexican Street Corn (Elote): Elevate the meal with charred corn on the cob, coated in mayo, cheese, and spices.
- Coleslaw: A crunchy coleslaw with a tangy dressing complements the richness of the chili mac.
- Loaded Nachos: Create a nacho platter with all the fixings for a fun and shareable side.
- Cilantro-Lime Rice: A simple cilantro-lime rice adds a citrusy kick, balancing the flavors of your hearty chili mac.
Can I Make This in a Pot?
You sure can! It is actually pretty easy to make a one pot chili mac too!
It can be a great one pot meal to try your hands on.
To make the one pot chili mac, all you’ll need to do is cook the ground beef in a large soup pot, and then add all the ingredients together and cook on medium heat until it is all well done.
Can I Prep the Recipe in Advance?
You can! You can cook the ground beef up to 2 days in advance and refrigerate it until you’re ready to put the slow cooker chili mac and cheese recipe together.
Just remember to store it in an airtight container to keep it fresh.
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 2 cups frozen peppers and onions
- 1 (1 ounce) envelope chili seasoning
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (4 ounce) can of diced green chiles
- 1 (10 ounce) can tomatoes with green chiles
- 1 (15 ounce) can of red kidney beans, undrained
- 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (6 ounce) can of tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 cups water or beef broth
- 8 ounce macaroni noodles
- 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded, divided
- Scallions for topping
- In a medium skillet or Dutch oven, over medium high heat, brown and drain your ground beef.
- To your slow cooker add the ground beef, onion and bell peppers, garlic, green chilies, tomatoes, tomato paste, red kidney beans, black beans, sugar and beef broth. Sprinkle on your chili seasoning. Stir to combine.
- Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours. 20 minutes before serving add the elbow macaroni. 5 minutes before serving stir in half of the shredded cheese.
- Top with the remaining cheese. Cover and let the cheese melt. Top with your favorite toppings, serve!!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 458Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 91mgSodium: 908mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 5gSugar: 6gProtein: 34g
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