This healthy chili mac recipe is made with ground turkey, whole wheat macaroni, and lots of flavorful spices. It’s the perfect weeknight meal everyone will love!
Easy Chili Mac Recipe
Hi guys! Nicole from Cooking for Keeps, so glad to be back here again this month bringing you this healthy one-pot chili mac recipe.
We all have those meals that evoke nostalgic memories of our childhood, don’t we? While some of those memories can be derived from life-changing gourmet meals at James Beard Award winning restaurants, I’m willing to bet that for the majority of us, the memories that stand out the most vividly are those that are quite the opposite. Pot Roast from Grandma’s kitchen. Spaghetti and Meatballs courtesy of Mom. Drippy ice cream cones on hot summer days. Pancakes, bacon and sausage on Sunday mornings. Cake on your wedding day.
Of course, the aforementioned dishes are a few of the foods that elicit fond memories of childhood and food for me, but for you, I’m sure they’re vastly different. For example, for my Mom, there are two foods I know of that she adored growing up, and two foods that she still loves to this day – fried chicken and chili mac.
While she might have had homemade chili mac at some point in her life, the chili mac I always find tucked away in their pantry, where prying eyes aren’t likely to see, is none other than good ol’ canned Chef Boyardee. And keep in mind guys, my Mom is a foodie, from-scratch kind of cook like myself (where do you think I got it from?), so for her to have something pre-packed in her pantry is pretty hysterical. But, like me, she has her vices when it comes to food — mine mortifyingly being Hamburger Helper and Kraft Mac and Cheese — so really I have no room to judge.
I know she’s probably pretty happy with her guilty pleasure, but since I made my first one-pot dish a few weeks ago, I’ve been waiting for the perfect time to reprise my inaugural try. Chili mac and cheese seemed like the perfect way to go about it.
What I’m absolutely head over heels about is that it not only comes together in one pot, but also in under 30 minutes AND is seriously healthy. I swapped out whole-wheat macaroni in place of regular, used ground turkey breast instead of ground beef, and used only one cup of shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese.
Perfect for a weeknight meal….or a little trip down memory lane.
Homemade Chili Mac Ingredients
This chili macaroni is packed with real, good for you ingredients and lots of spices. Here’s what I used to make this homemade chili mac:
- Olive oil
- Green bell pepper
- Ground turkey
- Stewed tomatoes
- Black beans
- Macaroni noodles
- Shredded cheese
How to Make Chili Mac
The steps for this chili mac recipe really couldn’t be any simpler! A little bit of onion, garlic, green pepper and just a touch of jalapeño are sautéed in olive oil. Ground turkey breast is browned. Spices, tomatoes, black beans, macaroni and water are stirred in.
The whole pot simmers until the pasta is cooked, a handful of shredded cheddar cheese is tossed in, and this one-pot wonder is done.
Can I Prep This in Advance?
Chili mac is best enjoyed right away, but leftovers will keep well in the fridge. Just keep in mind that the pasta will likely soften over time as it’ll soak up some of the sauce.
Can I Make Chili Mac Vegetarian?
I grew up eating chili mac made with ground beef, but you’re welcome to omit the meat altogether if you’re vegetarian. If you omit the meat, I recommend adding a second can of beans to bump up the protein in this dish and make it stretch a little farther.
Tips for Making Chili Mac
I used ground turkey in this chili mac recipe, but you can also use ground chicken, pork, or beef. Pick whichever is your favorite!
An easy way to change up this chili mac and cheese is to use different types of cheese or a cheese blend. I used shredded cheddar, but provolone, white cheddar, Colby Jack, or pepper jack cheese would also work well in this recipe.
If you have leftover chili macaroni, I recommend reheating it in a saucepan with a splash of water. You don’t want the pasta to dry out!
More MACARONI RECIPES You’re Going to Love:
- Instant Pot Southern Macaroni and Cheese
- Cheesy Chicken Bacon Ranch Macaroni and Cheese
- Ham and Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese
- Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe (with Sour Cream!)
- Sweet Pork Macaroni and Cheese
- Roasted Red Pepper Macaroni and Cheese
- Easy Southern English Pea Pasta Salad
- Easy Italian Pasta Salad
- Greek Pasta Salad
- Southwest Pasta Salad
- All our PASTA RECIPES here!
Here are some more CHILI RECIPES that you’ll love:
- Award Winning Healthy Turkey Instant Pot Chili
- Best Stove Top Chili
- Brisket Chili
- Cheesy Ground Beef Enchilada Chili
- Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chili
- Pumpkin Apple Cider Chili
- White Chicken Chili
- Surprise Chili
- White Bean Turkey Chili
- Dr Pepper and Chocolate Chili
- The BEST Instant Pot Chili
- All our Chili, Soup, and Stew Recipes here!
Looking for more easy healthy recipes?
Healthy One-Pot Chili Macaroni
Healthy One-Pot Chili Mac
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, , diced
- 1 green bell pepper, , diced
- 1 jalapeno, stems and seeds removed, minced
- 3 garlic cloves, , minced
- 1 pound ground turkey breast
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cans stewed tomatoes, 15 oz
- 1 can black beans, 15 oz, drained and rinsed
- 1 ½ cups macaroni noodles
- 2 ½ cups water
- 1 cup shredded cheese, , plus more for topping
- In a large pot heat olive oil over a medium heat.
- Add onion, pepper, jalapeno and garlic. Sauté until softened slightly, about three minutes.
- Add turkey and break up into small pieces. Cook until brown.
- Add chili powder, cumin, salt, tomatoes, beans, noodles and water. Stir to combine.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a medium-low heat.
- Cook until noodles are soft, about 12 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in grated cheese.
- Scoop into bowls and serve with more shredded cheese if desired.
Connect with Nicole:
I have made this about a hundred times. It is so delicious!! No changes necessary. So amazingly delicious! Thank you very much for this awesomeness!! 😁
You’re the best Dana! Thank you! So glad you enjoy this recipe!
One of my all time favorite recipes!! I just came back to the website to print out another copy of the recipe because my other one was worn out!! Kudos to a great meal!!
Thank you so much JoAnn!
What is the approximate serving size? I was thinking maybe 8 oz for 6 servings? Let me know!
Yes…it’s about 6-8 servings and each serving is about 1 cup.
Do you cover the pot to simmer?
This……..such deliciousness! No changes, perfect the way it is. Thank you so much for this comfort.
How many calories does this contain per cup?
Just made this tonight. It was delicious and so simple! My kind of recipe. I like my chili to have a little kick, and this delivered. Thank you, Carrian!
This was delicious!! I adapted it because we’re vegetarian, and we like it a bit spicier. Instead of turkey, I added soy crumbles, and bumped up the spices (and added some cayenne and oregano). We’re also on Weight Watchers, so we changed the pasta to whole wheat pasta, and we used fat free cheddar cheese. Thanks for a wonderful recipe!!!
That sounds wonderful!
I made this Chili Mac tonight and it was a big hit! The only thing I had to change in the recipe was the color of the pepper. It calls for a green one, I had an orange one! My macaroni cooked fast! So, the 12 minutes would have been too long for the type I bought! This recipe is great! It was 29 degrees outside and we were inside enjoying this hot dish! I will definitely make it again!
Yeash, 29!!! I guess I should feel good about 41!!
Just curious what size of can for the stewed tomatoes??
15 ounces each. THanks!
Amber @ Dessert Now, Dinner Later!
This sounds like a great fall dinner idea! Way to go Nicole!
Thalia @ butter and brioche
Yep I am definitely craving a bowlful of this macaroni right now.. despite it being a ‘healthy’ version it looks amazing and jam packed with delicious cheesy goodness.
This is my kind of dinner and I love the easy cleanup!
Love a one pot meal! This Chili Mac looks so delicious and comforting! 🙂
The pictures are gorgeous.