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Cheesy Chili Mac Recipe

Cheesy Chili Mac Recipe

Many of my favorite weeknight meals are one-pot recipes so I was instantly drawn to an issue of Cook’s Country magazine I found recently containing quick and easy meals made in just one skillet. This cheesy chili mac was the first recipe I tried, mainly because I had all of the ingredients on hand already. Well, technically I didn’t have ground beef as the recipe suggested, but that doesn’t really count since I always substitute ground turkey anyway. 

The recipe was a cinch to throw together though I did have a moment of “is this really going to work?” as I cooked the pasta. A combination of water and tomato sauce are added to the skillet and the elbow macaroni is cooked directly in that liquid. It absorbs the liquid, creating a thick sauce and Shane and I both agreed the texture of the pasta didn’t suffer as a result of this unusual method of preparation. I do want to note that the dish is barely spicy so if you like more heat you’ll probably want to think about adding red pepper flakes or hot sauce. We both enjoyed this meal, and in fact, Shane even raved after reheating the leftovers the next night.

Cheesy Chili Mac

By Tracey

Cheesy Chili Mac

adapted from Cook’s Country via Skillet Suppers


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • 8 oz (about 2 cups) elbow macaroni
  • 1 1/2 -2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend


Set a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Heat until shimmering. Add the onion, chili powder, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion has softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and brown sugar and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the ground turkey and cook until it is no longer pink.

Stir the water and tomato sauce into the ground turkey mixture in the pan. Add the pasta and stir to combine. Cover the pan and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook until the pasta is al dente, stirring frequently to prevent the pasta from sticking. Adjust the heat as necessary to maintain a vigorous simmer. (My pasta took about 12-13 minutes to cook through.  The sauce will be thick by the time your pasta finishes.)

Turn off the heat under the pan and add 1 cup of the cheese. Stir to incorporate/melt then season the dish to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle remaining cheese (1/2 – 1 cup depending on how cheesy you want your dish) over the top and cover the pan again. Let stand for about 2 minutes, or until the cheese melts.