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

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    • Reeni says

      Hi Maureen! Have you cooked pasta in the crockpot before? I have and it turned out very soft and too mushy. If you’ve had good luck with pasta and similar recipes like this then I would say go for it. :-)

  1. Alice says

    We made this tonight, and LOVED it! This recipe will go into our regular rotation.
    Thanks for the recipe!

  2. alice says

    We made this last night, and it was delicious! I was afraid it would be too spicy, but it was just right!
    Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Emily says

    You didn’t mention so I’m assuming you don’t, but did you drain the juices from the cans of rotel and tomatoes?

  4. Linda says

    I made this last night. It looked wonderful so I couldn’t wait to make it. My 3 yr old granddaughter was coming over the next day for lunch so I knew I’d have plenty leftover for her since I live alone. Man, was this stuff ever spicy! I had to put some sugar in it to eat it. I can usually eat spicy foods. I think next time I will cut the spices in half. I didn’t try feeding it to my granddaughter but I’m sure enjoying it! Yes, I was a big fan of Hamburger Helper & this is much better!Thanks!

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