Slow cooker chili mac delivers a mouthwatering combination of hearty chili and gooey macaroni and cheese, all rolled into one sensational dish. It’s a big bowl of comfort food that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside, bringing the whole family to the dinner table.
Plus, it’s the perfect weeknight dinner when you want a delicious meal but don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen. This dish is a lifesaver on those hectic days when you’re juggling work, kids, and everything in between!
The ingredients are simple, the method is easy, and the result? Every spoonful is a delightful mix of rich tomatoey chili and cheesy pasta – a match made in food heaven. Even picky kids will enjoy this recipe.
In this post, we’ll dive into the slow cooker chili mac world, discussing the ingredients, the process, and some tips for success. By the end of this post, you’ll be dying to whip up this family-favorite chili and mac and cheese mashup.
For exact amounts needed see the recipe card below
- Ground beef
- Frozen peppers and onions: These are a great time-saver for busy families. Feel free to use fresh veggies if you prefer, but the frozen variety is just as good and much less work.
- Chili seasoning: You can use your favorite store-bought chili seasoning or make your own.
- Green chilis
- Tomatoes with green chilis
- Kidney beans
- Black beans
- Tomato paste
- Sugar: Just a little bit of sugar helps to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes.
- Macaroni noodles
- Shredded cheddar cheese: Substitute Monterey Jack or your favorite cheese.
🥣How to Make Slow Cooker Chili Mac
- Brown the beef: Brown the ground beef in a skillet. Once the meat is cooked, drain any excess grease and transfer it to the slow cooker.
- Add the ingredients: Add everything except for the elbow macaroni and shredded cheese to the Crock Pot. Give everything a good stir to mix it all together.
- Slow cook: Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours.
- Add the macaroni: About 20 minutes before you’re ready to serve, add the macaroni noodles to the slow cooker and stir. Cover.
- Add the cheese: About 5 minutes before serving, stir in half of the shredded cheese. Cover the chili mac with the remaining cheese, and let it melt into a gooey cheese layer.
🍴Serving Ideas for Crock Pot Chili Mac
Let’s Get Creative with Toppings
I’m all about customizing my meals, and chili mac is no exception. Here are some of my favorite chili toppings to try out:
- Chopped green onions: This is my go-to for adding a pop of color and a hint of fresh flavor.
- Sour cream: A dollop of sour cream can add a cool, creamy contrast to the spicy chili mac.
- Sliced avocado: I could eat avocado on just about anything. The creamy texture and mild taste make it perfect for chili mac!
- Hot sauce: For your family members who like it extra spicy!
- Crushed corn chips: Sprinkle a handful of crushed tortilla chips on top for added crunch.
Pair with Sides
Here are a few simple options that pair well with chili mac:
- Cornbread: Is there anything better than a warm, buttery slice of cornbread? I think not.
- Green salad: You can’t go wrong with a simple green salad to balance the hearty chili mac.
- Steamed or roasted veggies: Add a healthy touch with some steamed or roasted veggies like broccoli or green beans.
💭How to Store
Got leftovers? No problem! This is a big batch meal you can easily store and reheat later. Store leftover chili mac in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Or you can freeze it. Let any leftovers cool completely, then transfer to a freezer-safe container or freezer bag. Freeze it for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy your chili mac again, let it thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat on the stovetop or microwave.
Be sure to check out the step by step instructions
- This recipe is sized for a 6-quart slow cooker, allowing plenty of room for the ingredients and ensuring even cooking.
- I love time-saving shortcuts in the kitchen, but for this recipe, browning the ground beef before adding it to the slow cooker is a must. Using raw ground beef will make this greasy.
- Drain and rinse the beans to reduce the amount of sodium in the recipe.
- If you are making a big batch that you plan to freeze, I recommend cooking the macaroni separately and freezing the chili mac without the pasta. The texture of the macaroni will be better if you don’t freeze it.
Absolutely! While elbow noodles are the classic choice, you can switch things up with other pasta shapes like shells, rotini, or penne. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly, as different pasta shapes may require more or less cooking time.
No need to panic if you’re fresh out of chili powder. You can make your own blend using a combination of paprika, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. It’s a great way to customize the spice level to your family’s taste buds.
Of course! Swap the ground beef for a plant-based protein like crumbled tempeh or cooked lentils to make a vegetarian version of this slow cooker chili mac. You can also increase the beans in the recipe for an extra protein boost.
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Slow Cooker Chili Mac Recipe
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 2 cups frozen peppers and onions
- 1 envelope chili seasoning 1 ounce
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 can diced green chiles 4-ounce can
- 1 can tomatoes with green chiles 10-ounce can
- 1 can red kidney beans, drained 15-ounce can
- 1 can black beans, drained 15-ounce can
- 1 can tomato paste 6-ounce can
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 cups water Or beef broth or chicken broth
- 8 ounces macaroni noodles
- 2 cups cheddar cheese shredded, divided
- Scallions for topping
- Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Brown and drain your ground beef.1 pound lean ground beef
- Add the ground beef, chili seasoning, onion and bell peppers, garlic, green chilies, tomatoes, tomato paste, red kidney beans, black beans, sugar, and beef broth to the slow cooker. This is all the ingredients except for the macaroni and shredded cheese. Stir to combine.2 cups frozen peppers and onions, 1 envelope chili seasoning, 3 cloves garlic, 1 can diced green chiles, 1 can tomatoes with green chiles, 1 can red kidney beans, drained, 1 can black beans, drained, 1 can tomato paste, 1 tablespoon sugar, 2 cups water
- Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.
- 20-30 minutes before serving, add the elbow macaroni, stir to mix, and turn the heat high.8 ounces macaroni noodles
- 5 minutes before serving, stir in half of the shredded cheese. Top the chili with the remaining cheese and put the lid back on the slow cooker.2 cups cheddar cheese
- The cheese should melt into a gooey layer on top.
- Add green onions and your favorite toppings, and serve.Scallions for topping
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Nutrition facts are estimates.