Slow Cooker Chili Mac

5 from 9 votes
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Slow cooker chili mac is a comfort food dinner if there ever was one. Made with a perfectly seasoned combo of ground beef, macaroni, beans, and peppers in a zesty and cheesy tomato sauce It’s hearty, filling, and perfect for busy weeknights.

Slow cooker chili mac in a bowl topped with sour cream, shredded cheese, parsley, and tortilla chips.

When the weather gets chilly, this and my traditional crockpot chili recipe are my go-to, no-fuss hearty crockpot recipes for busy weeknights.

Give this crockpot chili mac recipe a try tonight for dinner – your entire family will love it. Even the little ones will gobble it up (like this tater tot casserole in the crockpot)!

Slow Cooker chili mac with cheese, beans, and garnished with chopped parsley.

If you love chili, be sure to try these delicious chili recipes as well: chili cheese dog casserole, easy 3-ingredient chili (stove top recipe), and homemade hot dog chili.

Ingredients for Crock Pot Chili Mac Recipe

This section includes ingredient notes and substitution options. Get all measurements, ingredients, and instructions in the printable recipe card at the end of this post.

Ingredients for Chili Mac: kidney beans, ground beef, rotel, chili seasoning, ranch seasoning, elbow macaroni, bell peppers, water, and a black of cheddar cheese.

This section includes ingredient notes and substitution options. Get all measurements, ingredients, and instructions in the printable recipe card at the end of this post.

  • Ground Beef – or sub with ground turkey, pork, or ground chicken.
  • Bell Peppers – I used some sweet baby peppers that I had on hand but regular-size peppers work just as well. You can also leave out the peppers if you would like.
  • Tomato Sauce – one 29-ounce can.
  • Rotel – one 10-ounce can Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies. We used the original variety since I find it adds the perfect amount of heat. If you prefer leas spice you can use a can of regular diced tomatoes instead.
  • Beans – You will need 2 cans. We like to use red kidney beans but you can swap them for black beans, pinto beans, seasoned chili beans, or any other style of bean you like. You could even use a can of each.
  • Chili Seasoning – Grab a bag from the store or, better yet, make your own. It is going to add a ton of flavor.
  • Ranch Seasoning – Adds a cool flavor to compliment the heat from the chili seasoning.
  • Water – or use beef broth to give it more flavor.
  • Pasta – We use elbow macaroni but feel free to swap out with any smaller pasta you may have in your pantry.
  • Cheddar Cheese– freshly shredded sharp cheddar is preferred but pre-shredded works too.

How to Make Chili Mac in Crock Pot

This section shows you how to make the recipe with step-by-step photos and instructions. For the full printable recipe, see the recipe card below. 

Step 1: Brown the raw ground beef and chopped peppers in a large skillet over medium heat. Drain any excess grease, if necessary

Browned ground beef and bell peppers in a skillet.

Step 2: Add the browned meat, tomato sauce, rotel, beans, water, and seasonings to the slow cooker. Give it a stir then cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours or on low for 2-4 hours.

Ground beef, peppers, beans, rotel tomatoes, water, tomato sauce, and seasonings in slow cooker.

Step 3: In the last 45 minutes, uncover and stir in the uncooked pasta. Recover and continue cooking.

Elbow macaroni noodles added to crock pot.

Step 4: When the macaroni noodles are cooked al dante, stir in half of the shredded cheese. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Cover for just a few minutes, until the cheese is melted.

Shredded cheddar cheese added to slow cooker.

Step 5: Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired, and serve.

Wooden spoon ground beef chili mac and cheese out of slow cooker.

Delicious Chili Mac Toppings

While a bowl of chili mac is great on its own, consider adding one of more of these tasty chili toppings.

  • shredded cheese
  • a dollop of sour cream
  • corn chips
  • sliced avocado
  • jalapenos
  • chopped onion
  • cilantro
  • green onions

Storage

Your slow cooker chili mac will keep for up to 3-4 days in the fridge. Just make sure to store it in an airtight container.

You can freeze leftover chili mac in a freezer-safe container for up to 2-3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating in the microwave.

Slow cooker chili mac with beans and ground beef being lifted from the bowl or a slow cooker.

Recipe Additions and Variations

In addition to switching up the meat or beans called for in the recipe consider these other recipe change-ups:

  • Onion: saute some chopped onion with the ground beef and peppers for added flavor.
  • Vinegar: add 2 teaspoons of this “secret ingredient” to enhance the flavor of your chili. Don’t worry, you won’t taste the vinegar!
  • Cheese: try the recipe with Colby jack, Monterey jack, or a Mexican cheese blend instead.
  • Sugar: add a teaspoon of sugar to help cut the acidity of the tomatoes.
  • Up the heat: add more heat with some chopped jalapenos or a pinch of red pepper flakes.

FAQs

What is chili mac?

You can think of chili mac as a delicious combination of traditional chili and macaroni and cheese. It is similar to American goulash, with the addition of beans and chili seasoning.

Can I make chili mac without meat?

Sure, for a slow cooker vegetarian chili mac simply replace the ground beef with ground meat substitute. You could also use an extra can of beans or add pasta in place of the beef.

How do you know when the chili mac is ready?

The pasta is the key to knowing when your chili mac is done. Simply remove a piece of pasta and test it to see if the pasta is done. If it is still a bit hard, just place the lid back on the slow cooker and finish cooking until the pasta is al dente.

More Hearty Crockpot Pot Favorites

Recipe
Slow cooker chili mac with ground beef, beans, and cheese.
Recipe
5 from 9 votes

Slow Cooker Chili Mac

Author: Jaclyn
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 4 hours
Total: 4 hours 15 minutes
Ground beef chili mac is a hearty and filling crockpot dinner that the whole family will love – perfect for busy days, game days, or any day!

Ingredients
 

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • ½ cup chopped bell peppers optional
  • 29 ounce canned tomato sauce
  • 10 ounce Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies
  • 30 ounces red kidney beans drained
  • 1 ounce chili seasoning 1 packet
  • 1 ounce ranch seasoning 1 packet
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 cups elbow macaroni uncooked
  • 16 ounces sharp cheddar cheese shredded
  • fresh chopped parsley optional garnish

Instructions

  • Brown ground beef and chopped peppers in a skillet over medium heat, using your spoon to stir and break up the ground beef as much as possible as it cooks. Drain grease, if necessary.
  • Add the browned meat, tomato sauce, rotel, beans, water, and seasonings to the slow cooker. Stir to combine.
  • Cover and cook on high for 2-4 hours or on low for 4-6 hours.
  •  In the last 45 minutes, uncover and stir in the dry pasta. Recover and finish cooking.
  • When the pasta is cooked al dante, stir in half of the shredded cheese. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Cover for just a few minutes, until the cheese is melted.
  • Garnished with fresh parsley if desired before serving.

Notes

  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. 
  • Feel free to use your favorite cheese in place of the cheddar. 
  • Ground turkey or ground chicken can be used instead of beef.
  • Other small pasta can be used such as fusilli, cavatappi, or small shells. 
  • Saute some chopped onion with the ground beef and peppers for added flavor.
  • Add a teaspoon of sugar to help cut the acidity of the tomatoes.
  • Up the heat with some chopped jalapenos or a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 952kcal | Carbohydrates: 102g | Protein: 57g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 125mg | Sodium: 1568mg | Potassium: 1658mg | Fiber: 17g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 4122IU | Vitamin C: 32mg | Calcium: 646mg | Iron: 10mg
Slow cooker chili mac with ground beef, beans, and cheese.

Did You Make This Recipe?

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Crockpot Chili Mac Pin.

Update note: This recipe was originally shared on October 29, 2021. Then it was updated on October 3, 2023 with an improved recipe and new photos. Below is one of the photos from the original post.

Crockpot chili mac with ground beef and shredded cheese on a white plate with fresh herbs, onion, and crockpot in background

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6 Comments

  1. Confused as to why you would cook on low 2 to 4 hours or high 4 to 6. Sounds backwards?

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