Chili Mac

Chili Mac

A quick, easy, inexpensive one-pot dinner. This makes great leftovers and transports well in a thermos for school lunch. It is reminiscent of hamburger helper, but from scratch and I can even pronounce all of the ingredients. 

This is a very flexible recipe that allows you to adapt to the ingredients you have on hand.  It works equally well with ground beef, turkey, or chicken.  I fluctuate based on what is on sale or what I have on hand.  You can also substitute some finely diced zucchini or Italian squash to sneak some extra vegetables in there. 

This recipe is a huge hit with the kids and I like how quickly it comes together for those nights when I just want something easy and quick. 

Chili Mac

A quick, easy, inexpensive one-pot dinner. This makes great leftovers and transports well in a thermos for school lunch.
Course Dinner, Main Dish, Pasta


  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1-2 lbs ground meat beef, chicken, or turkey*
  • 4 cups diced zucchini or yellow squash (optional) ** see note
  • 1 medium onion diced - a little over 1 cup
  • 3-4 cloves garlic minced
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour (34 g)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika aka regular paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 16 oz box dry pasta, any shape
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1-2 cups shredded cheese cheddar or Mexican blend work well


  • Heat the oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Brown the ground meat. Once the meat is browned, drain any accumulated fat.
  • Add the onion, garlic, and zucchini if using. Saute until the vegetables are soft and the onions are translucent.
  • Sprinkle the flour over the top of the meat and cook for one minute stirring constantly.
  • Add the tomato sauce, and beef broth and stir well to dissolve anything that is stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add the spices and pasta, stir well to combine. Allow the mixture to return to a simmer.
  • Reduce the heat to low, and cover the pot. Simmer for 15-18 minutes, stirring every 3-4 minutes to make sure the pasta is not sticking to the bottom of the pot. If it is beginning to get dry and the pasta is not soft, add a splash more of water.
  • Once the pasta is done cooking, turn off the heat and stir in the sour cream. Stir in 1 cup of the shredded cheese. Add more cheese to desired taste, or reserve that last cup to sprinkle on top of the pasta once it is served (my kids seem to want to sprinkle cheese on everything so I leave some out and let them sprinkle it on top).


*  The amount of meat varies depending on what you prefer/have on hand.  Like a lot of meat in your pasta, add the 2 lbs.  Only have 1 lb oh hand, no problem works great with 1 lb of meat.  No need to adjust the seasoning or water with the different meat amounts. 
** Want to sneak extra vegetables in there for the kids.... use 1 lb of ground meat and replace the second lb with 4 cups of finely diced zucchini, yellow squash, or a combination of both of those.