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It’s hard to beat this One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese. Think spicy, saucy chili meets creamy, cheesy mac and cheese. It’s made entirely in one pot and comes together in less than an hour. Spicy chili-seasoned meat mixed with onions, peppers, tomatoes, and hot sauce for a spicy buffalo kick. Finish this chili off with a cheesy mix of cream cheese, Colby jack, and cheddar, kind of like queso! Then mix in elbow macaroni to create the most delicious chili cheese mac! Top each bowl off with fresh cilantro and green onions. It’s so simple and makes you want to say “YUM”!

One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese |

In my head, I intended to share a salad today, but mac and cheese was more what I was in the mood for. We’ve entered into that time of year between winter and spring when most days are pretty cold. And even though spring is top of mind, it’s still very much winter.

I have salads I’m excited to share. And while I still plan to post them soon, it was cold and snowy. So I made us a pot of chili mac and cheese!

One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese |

It’s shocking to me that this recipe doesn’t already live on this website. It’s a recipe I’ve thought about creating for years. But I steered away from it because it always felt a little too basic.

But this is nothing short of delicious. It really brings me back to my Midwest roots. One of the very first dishes I ever made was a Rachel Ray recipe that was very similar. To this day, my oldest brother raves about that Rachel Ray pasta. And now I have my own version here on the site.

I know you all will love this so much. It’s so easy to make!

One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese |

These are the details…

Step 1: cook the meat

For this chili, I used my queso beef chili recipe as a base. You can use ground beef or ground chicken. Use what you and your family will love most.

Cook the meat along with an onion and a poblano or bell pepper. Then add the spices: chili powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, cumin, and cayenne.

One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese |

Step 2: Mix in the tomatoes + broth

Add a can of fire-roasted tomatoes, tomato paste, and chopped green chilies. Then season with salt and pepper.

Add the broth, then a couple of cups of water. The water is important and will help the pasta cook in the chili. Cook everything together until the pasta is al dente.

It’s important to stir the pasta frequently to ensure nothing is sticking. But other than that, everything is EASY.

One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese |

Step 3: the cheese

Mix in the cream cheese and shredded cheese. I mix Colby jack, pepper jack, and cheddar cheese. This is the “queso” element of this chili cheese mac. It makes for the yummiest mac and cheese.

Finish the dish with extra cheese, then bake until it’s super melty.

One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese |

Step 4: finish up

Now, the toppings. Most chili is delicious as is. But what makes a chili mac recipe over-the-top good are fresh herbs on top.

Sprinkle on lots of fresh cilantro and some green onions. So delish!

One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese |

Looking for other easy family dinners? Here are a few ideas: 

One Pot Buffalo Chicken “Helper”

Healthier Homemade One Pot Hamburger Helper

Broccoli Cheddar Chicken and Rice Casserole

One Pan Autumn Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

Easy Southern Style Baked Mac and Cheese

Pumpkin Cheese Stuffed Pasta Bolognese Bake

One Skillet Cheesy Broccoli Cheddar Orzo Bake

Lastly, if you make this One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And, of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese.

Can you swap in ground turkey instead of ground beef or ground chicken?

Yes! For this chili, I used my queso beef chili recipe as the base, but you can swap in ground beef, ground chicken, or ground turkey and apply all of the same spices.

What do you do with leftover chili mac?

This is one of those meals that makes a great lunch the next day! Keep in an airtight glass container in the fridge for up to two days or in the freezer for up to a week or two – you can warm up this recipe for a great meal the next day.

Can you use other types of macaroni in this dish?

Yes! I used elbow macaroni, but you could also use macaroni shells, farfalle, fusille, ziti, rigatoni, or penne.

Could you use Mexican Cheese Blend as the cheese option?

Yes, absolutely – bagged shredded cheese of your choice or shred a cheese block. You can get creative with this recipe and the cheese you select will certainly impact the flavor.

What kitchen supplies do you need for this recipe?

A large braiser (12-14 inches), pot, or dutch over (one of the three), a wooden spoon, spoon rest and can opener!

One Pot Chili Cheese Mac

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories Per Serving: 676 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.



  • 1. Preheat the oven to 425° F. In a large pot set over medium-high heat, add the meat and onion. Season with salt and pepper. Brown the meat all over, breaking up the meat as you go.
    2. Add the poblanos, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, cumin, and cayenne. Cook for 5 minutes, until fragrant. Mix in the tomatoes, tomato paste, and diced chilies. Pour over the broth. Add 2 cups water and season with salt.
    3. Add the pasta. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer for 10 minutes until the pasta is al dente, stirring often. Stir in the hot sauce, cream cheese, and 1/2 the cheese. Cook another few minutes until very creamy. Remove from the heat and top with cheese. Bake for 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
    4. Divide the pasta and sauce among bowls and top with green onions and cilantro.
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  1. 5 stars
    Another delicious recipe!
    I used beef for both the meat and broth and increased the water to 3 cups. I couldn’t find crushed tomatoes so I used 2 cans of fire roasted tomatoes instead. Pasta used was shells and increased the pasta cooking time an additional 2-3 minutes. I did add one can of kidney beans because why not! Topped with green onions, cilantro and a squeeze of lime.
    Family loved it and our son asked for seconds within his first spoonful or two, asked if he could have it every day. Lol!!

    1. Hey Gayle,
      Wonderful!! Thanks a lot for trying this recipe and sharing what worked well for you! I’m so glad it was enjoyed! Have a great Sunday:) xx

    1. Thanks so much Patty!! I love to hear that this recipe turned out nicely for you, thanks for making it! xT

  2. Delicious! I made it with fun spiral noodles that I got from Trader Joe’s. I skipped the poblano peppers just because I wasn’t sure how spicy it would be and because we eat dinners with our baby while baby lead weaning so I want to make sure she’s able to eat what we have. Overall the dish was great!!

    1. Hey Sofia,
      Amazing!! Love to hear that this dish turned out well for you, thanks so much for making it! xT

    1. Hey Stacy,
      Sorry, I don’t think I would add red wine to this:) Please let me know if you have any other questions! xT

    1. Hey Carolyn,
      Happy Sunday! I appreciate you trying this recipe, so glad to hear it turned out well for you! Sure, you could freeze the leftovers! xT

  3. 5 stars
    Just made it for my fam jam! So good! I had to add more water to cook the pasta so it took a little longer but it was delicious! 😊

    1. Hey Crystal,
      Perfect!! I appreciate you making this recipe and your comment, so glad to hear that it turned out nicely for you! Xx

    1. Hey Sara,
      Fantastic!! I love to hear that this recipe turned out well for you and appreciate you making it! Xx

  4. 5 stars
    I made it, and it was so good. This is the second recipe for the blog that is an absolute winner. I skipped the hot sauce because I was making it with a toddler in mind and added a little bit more cumin just because I like cumin a lot, but other than that, I made it through to the recipe.

    1. Hey Ivonka,
      Fantastic!! I love to hear that this recipe turned out well for you and appreciate you making it! Xx

  5. 5 stars
    I love this recipe. I usually do not like anything too hot, but this was okay for me, and my husband loved it. I used Anaheim pepper instead of poblano, so it would not be too hot for me. I also did not put in the hot sauce. I will make it again!

    1. Hi Anita,
      So glad to hear this! Thanks so much for trying this recipe and your comment! Have a great Sunday! xT

  6. Do you think the flavor would change too much if I leave all the spicy ingredients out (poblano peppers, cayenne and got sauce)?

    1. Hi Gileanne,
      I would use some green peppers in place of the poblanos and then sure you can omit the cayenne and hot sauce. I hope you love this recipe! xT

  7. 1 star
    I was not taken with this recipe at all …. Would rate it mediocre at best, very ordinary. Your photo looks much more tomato red than mine and I followed the recipe exactly. I’m sorry.

    1. Hi Penny,
      Thanks for trying this recipe and sharing your feedback, so very sorry to hear it was not enjoyed. Please let me know if there is something that I can help with! xT

  8. 5 stars
    Such a great recipe! It’s quick, easy and relatively low cost-perfect for a quick weeknight dinner.

    1. Hi Naomi,
      Love this!! Thanks a lot for trying this recipe and your feedback! So glad it was enjoyed:) Xx