Chili Mac with cornbread crust is a quick and instant chili mac upgrade. It's easy to make, budget-friendly, delicious, and freezes beautifully too!
Chili Mac is a dish that my mom made many times while we were growing up. It's one that I always enjoyed, and always looked forward to.
That said, I felt like upping the ante on the plain old chili mac and topped it with a deliciously golden cornbread topping.
Be still my chili mac loving heart!!
- The ingredient list:
- Kitchen tools and equipment needed:
- Why this recipe works:
- Can this chili mac casserole be made in advance?
- How long can it remain in the refrigerator before baking?
- Can the topping be made in advance too?
- An important tip before baking:
- Can this casserole be frozen after baking?
- How to thaw and reheat after freezing:
- Want more budget-friendly and delicious casseroles?
- Printable Recipe Card
The ingredient list:
- ground beef
- 1 jar (12 ounces), fire-roasted red peppers
- 1 can, fire-roasted chiles
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 can sweet corn
- ground cumin
- chili powder
- salt and pepper
- dried pasta (I used cavatappi)
- beef stock
- shredded cheese
- 2 packages, cornbread mix (made according to package directions)
- scallions, optional
Kitchen tools and equipment needed:
- large stockpot or Dutch oven
- 13 x 9 baking dish
- large mixing bowl
- cooking spray
- cheese grater (optional)
- measuring cups and spoons
- chef's knife
- cutting board
- wooden spoons
- slotted spatula or spoon
- can opener
Why this recipe works:
There is something about the flavor of smoky ground beef when combined with cooked macaroni and a little crunch from corn that was always very pleasing to me and felt like home.
What's not to love? Smoky flavors, pasta, cheese, cornbread topping, and a few veggies. A complete meal that can be served either on a plate or in a bowl.
Can this chili mac casserole be made in advance?
YES! And you'll find that you'll enjoy making it in advance and leaving it in the refrigerator until it's time to bake.
While it's not difficult to put together, it does take approximately 20 of prep time before it's ready for the oven.
How long can it remain in the refrigerator before baking?
I wouldn't let it go longer than 4 hours in the refrigerator. Any longer than that and you risk the pasta getting soggy.
Can the topping be made in advance too?
I would suggest adding the cornbread topping to the casserole right before baking, and not adding that in advance.
Since the making of the cornbread topping only takes moments, make that while you're preheating the oven.
An important tip before baking:
IF you're cooking this chili mac casserole after making it in advance and it's been refrigerated, allow it to sit on the counter at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before baking.
This way the filling will be nice and hot, at the same rate, the cornbread topping is cooked through and golden.
Can this casserole be frozen after baking?
You can either freeze it entirely or portion it out into separate servings.
If you're freezing it entirely, make sure your casserole dish is freezer safe.
If freezing in portions, store in air-tight freezer containers.
Always allow a casserole to cool completely before covering and freezing.
Chili Mac with Cornbread Crust can remain in the freezer for up to 4 months.
How to thaw and reheat after freezing:
Allow the casserole to thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
To reheat, cover with foil and place in a 350-degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or until hot in the center.
Want more budget-friendly and delicious casseroles?
*Spaghetti Western Chili Casserole (pictured below) from (yours truly) Kudos Kitchen
This easy dinner recipe is quick to make (30 minutes or less) and can be made in advance, which is always a plus during the busy week.
*Chicken Cordon Blue Pasta Casserole from Snappy Gourmet
*Traditional Egg Noodle Casserole (Ukrainian Style) from Homemade and Yummy
*Tuna Noodle Casserole from Become a Coupon Queen
*Chow Mein Casserole (aka Minnesota Hot Dish) from Food Meanderings
*Chili Mac with Cornbread Crust Casserole (pictured below) THIS IS THE PLACE!!
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Printable Recipe Card
Chili Mac with Cornbread Crust Casserole
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 jar 14 ounces roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
- 1 can 4 ounces fire-roasted chiles
- 1 can 15 ounces diced tomatoes (with their liquid)
- 1 can 15 ounces whole kernel sweet corn, drained
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups dried pasta elbow mac or cavatappi
- 3 cups beef broth or stock
- 1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 boxes 8.5 ounces cornbread mix (made according to the package directions)
- ½ cup chopped scallions garnish if desired
- Preheat oven to 400-degrees.
- In large bowl, prepare the cornbread mix according to the package directions. Set aside.
- In a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef until no longer pink.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the chopped onion, red peppers, fire-roasted chiles, canned corn, tomatoes (with their juice), cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally for 3-5 minutes.
- Stir in the pasta and beef stock.
- Cook, stirring occasionally for 5-7 minutes.
- Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray.
- Carefully spoon the chili mac into the prepared baking dish and top evenly with the shredded cheese.
- Spoon the waiting cornbread mixture evenly over the chili mac and cheese.
- Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the cornbread crust is golden and when a toothpick inserted in the center of the crust comes out clean.
- Cool for 10 minutes before serving.
- Garnish with chopped scallions if desired.
I sincerely hope you've enjoyed today's budget-friendly, pantry staple casserole dish as much as I've enjoyed bringing it to you.
Thank you so much for visiting me today in my Kudos Kitchen. I hope you found something you'll love and that you will come back and visit me often. Please know that there is always room for you around my kitchen table!
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Until we eat again, I hope you have a delicious day!