Southwestern Cheddar Chili Mac

Southwestern Chili Mac

Chili meets pasta in this hearty skillet meal with ground beef, cheddar cheese, green chiles and tomatoes. It’s seasoned with all my favorite Tex-mex spices including chile powder, cumin, smoked paprika and Mexican oregano. Aside from boiling the pasta it’s made entirely in one skillet making it a contender for a fast weeknight meal.

It starts out just the way I make my chili with browning the meat, then the onion, garlic and green pepper together. I like to add my spices to the aromatics so the flavors really pop. Ro-tel green chiles and tomatoes get mixed in then the entire hot mess is left to simmer for about 25 minutes. Cooked elbows and oodles of cheddar cheese go into the mix to finish.

This is super comforting and delicious eaten as is or you can build on it and add corn or another vegetable, top with sour cream or guacamole and a squeeze of lime, cilantro or green onions. You can even scoop it up with your favorite tortilla chips. It’s real versatile that way.

To some of you this is a reminder of that American classic called Hamburger Helper. {When you need a helping hand.} I guess my Mom didn’t need one because she never really made it. . . maybe once in a blue moon. . . and. . . the thing is I LOVED the stuff. I could have happily devoured it every single night.

Cheddar Chili Mac

Southwestern Cheddar Chili Mac

Rating: 51

Yield: 6 servings

Southwestern Cheddar Chili Mac

Chili meets pasta in this hearty skillet meal with ground beef, cheddar cheese, green chiles and tomatoes.


1 pound ground beef or turkey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 red or green bell pepper, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
coarse salt and fresh black pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon oregano, preferably Mexican
1/4 teaspoon cayenne or red pepper flakes, optional
1 (10-ounce) can Ro-tel tomatoes and green chiles
1 (14 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes with juices
6 ounces elbow macaroni
1 + 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, plus more for garnish
coarse salt and fresh black pepper


  1. Heat a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the ground beef and cook until browned all the way through breaking it apart as it cooks. Remove the beef to a bowl and drain off the grease.
  2. Heat the olive oil in the same pan and add the onion, pepper and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened about 6 minutes stirring often. Stir in the spices and cook 1 - 2 minutes
  3. Add the ground beef back in along with the Ro-tel and diced tomatoes. Season well with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook 25 minutes, stirring often. Taste and season as needed.
  4. After 25 minutes cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and add to the beef mixture, stir to combine then mix in the cheese. Serve with more cheese on top.


Adapted from The Kitchn

Copyright ©2013 Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice by Reeni Pisano All Rights Reserved

Did you grow up on Hamburger Helper?

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  1. says

    It does look like Hamburger Helper but I bet it’s WAY much better! Looks like comfort food kicked up a notch!

    Moon, hope your week is off to a great start! Purrs, Angel & Isabella

  2. says

    I’ve had hamburger helper once or twice, and trust me, this looks so much better! What a delicious and hearty meal! Curious, is that paper or fabric as your background? It is awesome! You always have the best backgrounds for food photos, Reeni!

    • says

      Thank-you Mary Frances! It’s fabric! I have 100’s of these inexpensive fabric squares that I use. I will e-mail you about them later tonight or tomorrow.

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