Perfect for the whole family, this ultimate one pot chili mac feeds a crowd, and is easy enough for a weeknight meal. Customize it with added veggies, or roasted squash for fall!

The cold weather is here, and the need for easy comfort meals is upon us. We are also fighting the first colds of the season. All the more reason to have a GIANT pot of the ultimate one pot chili mac in the fridge for easy leftovers. And like any leftovers, it gets better the next day. And even with a head cold, I can still taste all of these wonderful spices.

Bonus points for the kid liking it, too!

I’ve made this a few different times through the years, and for some reason never put it on the blog. It was finally time to do that! For this recipe, you can customize it to anything that suits you. Whether you want to add in more veggies, or make it creamy by adding in sour cream to the mix, do it! The chili powder and cumin is warm and comforting, but I understand (having a toddler and all…) that some kids might not be down for something like that. Adding sour cream tones down the spice flavors, but doesn’t make it flavorless. It really is a family friendly meal.

With fall upon us, try adding in roasted cubed squash! It was silly I didn’t think about it before – but I blame it on the cold meds. Next time for sure!

Need more comforting family friendly meals?

Sausage Kale and Gnocchi Soup – My toddler ate BOWLS of this!

Roasted Red Pepper and Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

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chili pasta in a yellow cast iron pot on a wire trivet

Ultimate One Pot Chili Mac

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  • Author: Country Cleaver
  • Prep Time: 30 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 Hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Cast Iron
  • Cuisine: Mexican


Perfect for the whole family, this ultimate one pot chili mac feeds a crowd, and is easy enough for a weeknight meal. Customize it with added veggies, or roasted squash for fall!


  • 8 ounces Rotini or Elbow Noodles, I used Barilla Protein Plus (not a plug, just what I like)
  • 2 Tbsp Olive or Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Sweet Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 5 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 1/2 pounds Ground Beef (I used 85/15)
  • 1 can (28 oz) Tomato Sauce
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) Diced Tomato, lightly drained
  • 2 1/2 cups Colby Jack Cheese, shredded
  • 1/21 cup Sour Cream, optional – see notes.
  • Cilantro, optional
  • Queso Fresco, optional


  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a dutch oven, bring salted water to a boil, and cook pasta according to directions to get al dente noodles. Reserve 3/4 cup of the pasta water for later.
  3. In the same dutch oven, heat the oil, and saute the onion, bell pepper, and pinch of salt until they are softened. About 10 minutes.
  4. Once softened, stir in garlic, chili powder, and cumin, stirring until fragrant. Stir in the ground beef, and break apart, cooking until no longer pink. About 8 minutes.
  5. Stir in the tomato sauce, and the diced tomatoes, along with the reserved 3/4 cup pasta water. Cover the dutch oven and allow it all to simmer, stirring every few minutes, for about 20 minutes.
  6. Turn off the heat, and stir in the cooked pasta, and half of the cheese. If you want a more mild chili mac, stir in sour cream at this stage. Or add roasted veggies! Top with remaining cheese.
  7. Place in the oven for about 15 minutes to melt the cheese. Cool 5-10 minutes before serving.
  8. Top with cilantro, and queso fresco if you want!


  • Add in 1/2 pound roasted cubed roasted squash, if you want a more fall feel to this comforting dish!
  • Add in sour cream to make the chili flavor more mild. Especially if you have sensitive kiddos. It’s not “hot”, but some might not like the chili flavor.
  • Adapted from ATK’s Ultimate Chili Mac