chili mac topped with shredded cheese and ready to eat

Chili Mac

What can you do with leftover chili?  There are many possible answers to that question, but a hearty and delicious option is to turn it into Chili Mac.  This recipe requires only three ingredients–chili, pasta, and shredded cheese.   There are canned version of chili mac available, but there’s no substitute for the homemade version, and it’s not difficult to make at all.

All you need to do is heat up some leftover chili while you cook a pound of pasta.  For this dish, I generally use large elbow noodles, but I have been known to use penne or rotini in a pinch.Tossing elbow macaroni with chili makes a delicious dish.

Once the pasta has been cooked to a perfect al dente, toss it with the chili.  Once it’s well coated, you have two options.  You can eat it as is, or cover the entire pot with a layer of shredded cheese of your choice.

Shredded Cheese is Sprinkled on top of the pan of chili macAfter you add the shredded cheese, cover the pot for a few minutes to allow the cheese to melt and then serve.  It’s that simple.

chili mac topped with shredded cheese and ready to eatThis dish is also great when made ahead.  The only difference is that the mixture of chili and macaroni is placed in an oven safe pan, topped with cheese,  and then refrigerated for up to 3 days.  It makes getting dinner on the table as simple as sticking the pan into the oven.   I’ve even frozen this recipe for three months before reheating it.  I’ve also been known to use leftover taco bean soup in place of the chili when I make this.  It just makes a final product that contains more liquid.

Sue Chef says that this recipe makes up for one of the days that I didn’t post a recipe during 30 days of beans even though it’s using one of the recipes I previously posted as an ingredient.  I’m relieved.  She’s been so strict about following the rules that I thought I would still be posting about beans for months.

Here’s the recipe.  Give it a try and let us know what you think.

Thanks for visiting Patty Cake’s Pantry.

Chili Mac
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
The combination of leftover chili and macaroni topped with cheese is always a crowd pleaser in our house. For a time saver on a busy weeknight, you can make the recipe through step 4 and then pour it into a casserole dish and top it with the cheese. Cover the dish and store in the refrigerator before reheating in a 350 degree oven for 20 - 25 minutes or until heated through.
  • 1 pound, uncooked, large sized elbow macaroni
  • 3 cups leftover chili
  • 1 cup shredded chedder-jack cheese.
  1. Begin cooking pasta in salted water.
  2. Reheat chili to the boiling point
  3. Once pasta is cooked to al dente, drain pasta and return to the cooking pan.
  4. Immediately add the re-heated chili and mix well coating pasta with chili.
  5. Sprinkle the top with shredded cheese.
  6. Cover pot for 2-3 minutes to allow the heat from the pasta and chili to melt the cheese.
  7. Serve immediately.
  9. To turn this into a make ahead dish, follow directions through step 4.
  10. Pour the combination of chili and macaroni into an oven and freezer safe dish.
  11. Sprinkle cheese evenly over the top
  12. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and freeze for up to 3 months.
  13. Remove the dish from freezer and bake, covered, in a 350 degree oven for 60 minutes, removing cover for the last 5 - 10 minutes to allow the top to brown slightly.


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