Skillet Chili Mac & Cheese


Ground beef, pasta, and chili-inspired spices make Skillet Chili Mac & Cheese, that’s made completely in one skillet!

Greetings, peeps – hope you had a nice weekend!

What with Ben and I being super cool and everything, I had no idea this was the weekend for Halloween parties until I opened Instagram on Sunday morning to see wizards, zombies, mermaids, and everything in between flooding my feed. FUN!

The last time Ben and I went to a Halloween party was four years ago when I dressed up like Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson, and Ben was forced to dress as went as her coach Bela Karolyi. It was HIGH-larious, I tell ya’. Did you dress up this weekend?

Anyways, in lieu of getting down to the Monster Mash, my Mom and I attended the last Farmers’ Market of the season Saturday morning. It wasn’t as cold as I thought it was going to be, but perhaps that’s because I was rocking 4 layers. Ok…it was still pretty cold!

Although the crowds and booths were nothing compared to their former summer splendor, there was still a festive feeling in the air as everyone scrambled to make one final stop at their favorite spot before the market shut down for the all-too-long winter hiatus.

The only thing sweeter than the mini pumpkin and gourd displays, were the puppies roaming the market. We saw at least a dozen of them (who knew fall was such a popular time to get a pooch?) but the cutest was definitely this miniature bulldog, which Ben would have fainted over. He could barely control his limbs, it was SO ADORABLE!

Yesterday we spent the afternoon with the fam, as my niece Evie was baptized! Ben and I are her Godparents, which we couldn’t be more thrilled about. :)

I forgot my memory card at home, but my Mom got the most hilarious shot of Evie and my brother Justin afterwards. I can’t get over the exact same expression on their faces. Like father, like daughter! ;)

After all the hullabaloo died down, Ben and I retreated home to enjoy a warm & cozy skillet-supper for…supper. Skillet Chili Mac & Cheese.

I featured this recipe on a Friday Favorites post almost exactly 1 year ago and have had the best intentions of making it nearly every week since. Does that ever happen to you?

Well, with the 50s and lower set firmly in our sights for the next 5 months (or longer – SOB!) I thought now would be the perfect time to post the hearty supper recipe featuring ground beef, tomatoes, kidney beans, zesty spices, and elbow macaroni cooked together in one skillet. Quick, comforting, and, most important – easy to clean up!

Somewhere between spaghetti, macaroni & cheese, and chili, this dish is a total crowd pleaser.

Start the Skillet Chili Mac & Cheese by browning 1lb ground beef in a huge skillet – we’re talkin’ the biggest one you own – with 1/2 chopped onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, and a little salt & pepper. Cook until the beef is no longer pink, then drain and return everything to the skillet.

Next add 1-15oz can petite diced tomatoes that’s been slightly drained of its juices, and 6oz tomato paste, followed by 4 cups beef broth and 1 can kidney beans that has been drained & rinsed.

The tomato juices and broth will cook the pasta right in the skillet, instead of having to use a separate one to cook it in. Yet another reason why I absolutely adore these 1-skillet dishes!

Finally, add zee spices: 1 Tablespoon chili powder, 2 teaspoons cumin, 1 teaspoon each paprika and dried cilantro, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and dried oregano.

Bring the liquid to a boil, then stir in 2 cups large elbow macaroni.

Place a lid on top of the skillet then simmer for 5-7 minutes, or until the pasta is just barely al dente. It’s ok if it still has a little bite, as it will continue to cook a bit in the piping hot liquid.

Finally, stir in 2 cups shredded 2% milk reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, which is about 7oz, until smooth. I was hesitant to try this low-fat cheese, but it melted like a dream. I would have never known it wasn’t full-fat!

Let the skillet sit and thicken for 10 minutes, then scoop and serve with extra shredded cheese, if desired (I did,) crushed tortilla chips, or chopped green onions for a fresh bite.

Skillet Chili Mac & Cheese

Print this recipe!

Serves 6-8

Adapted from

1lb lean ground beef
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper
1-15oz can petite diced tomatoes, slightly drained
1-6oz can tomato paste
1–15oz can kidney beans, drained & rinsed
4 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 Tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano flakes
2 cups large elbow macaroni, dry
2 cups shredded 2% milk reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
Toppings; shredded cheese, green onions, parsley, crushed tortilla chips, hot sauce


  1. Add ground beef, onion, and garlic to a very large skillet over medium-high heat. Season with salt & pepper then cook beef until no longer pink. Drain then return to the skillet.
  2. Add petite diced tomatoes, tomato paste, kidney beans, beef broth, and spices to the skillet. Bring to a boil then add macaroni noodles and place a lid on top. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until noodles are just barely al dente (do not overcook,) stirring once. Add cheese then stir until smooth. Let dish sit off the heat and thicken for 10 minutes before serving.

Skillet Chili Mac & Cheese is PURE comfort food! I loved topping my bowlful with extra shredded cheese and chopped green onions, but a few crushed tortilla chips would have been divine on here too.

FYI – this recipe feeds an ARMY, so halve it if you’re only feeding a small crowd. :)

In other news…

Demo at Iowa’s Premier Beer, Wine & Food Expo

With massive amounts of butterflies in my stomach, I wanted to tell you that I’ll be leading a 1 hour demo at Iowa’s Premier Beer, Wine & Food Expo in Des Moines on Friday, November 9th from 6:15-7:15pm - ahhh! AHHHH!

The 2-day expo features tons of other demos, as well as food, wine, cheese, and beer, which I will most definitely be sampling and slamming sipping immediately following the demo. :)

Click this link to purchase discounted admission tickets for either night with code: IAGIRLEATS. The “Iowa Girl Eats” ticket is a general admission ticket, which includes food and admission to the demo area, while the “Wine/Beer Tasting” ticket includes the food and demo area, plus wine and beer. Which I hear is plentiful. I hope to see some of your shining faces there (please!)

Des Moines Junior League Gift Mart Giveaway

Congrats to the winners of the Gift Mart Ticket Giveaway! Email your name and phone number to and I’ll get you your ticket info:

Thursday night:
Heather E.: Love the Gift Mart! Thursday would be awesome!

Friday or Saturday:
Kristin: It would be so much fun to take my Mom on Friday! We normally travel to Kansas City to a similar event, but weren’t able to go this year. This would be such a neat surprise to get some holiday shipping done! Thanks!!
Lindsey Scheibe: The gift mart looks like so much fun! I’d like to go on Friday or Saturday. I’d probably choose Saturday, just so I would be able to spend more time browsing!
Emily R: Local Des Moines girl here! I would love to attend Saturday 17th! Also, why is it that we love talking weather in the Midwest? That’s my go-to small talk. haha

Have a great night!

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