This budget-friendly and hearty ground beef dinner recipe will please the entire family with its big bold flavors, and lots and lots of melted cheese!
This easy chili mac recipe is one I've been making for many years, but I've not always made it in the slow cooker.
This easy frugal dinner recipe is one I remember my mom making when I was a kid, but I don't recall hers having as much zippy flavor as this one does. We can thank the addition of the fire-roasted chiles for that!
**Please Note - The printable recipe card with detailed instructions, complete ingredient measurements, and nutritional information for making super cheesy slow cooker chili mac is available at the end of this post. OR you can hit the "jump to recipe" button (found above) to be taken directly to the recipe.
Why this recipe works:
The thing I love most about this recipe for slow cooker chili mac, besides the fact that it conjures up specific food memories from my childhood, is that it's a complete meal all in one dish.
It's got your protein from the ground beef and kidney beans. Your vegetables in the form of the corn, and the salsa. Your dairy from the cheddar cheese, and your starch in the form of the elbow macaroni.
It's a one-pot wonder and one I'll bet you'll rely heavily upon because if you have a well-stocked pantry, these are items you probably already have on hand.
The grocery list for slow cooker chili mac is relatively short, and most of what you'll need may already be in your pantry in the form of canned goods.
The ingredient list:
**Note - The following lists of ingredients plus kitchen tools and equipment contain affiliate links (highlighted in blue) for your consideration and shopping convenience. #CommissionsEarned
- ground beef
- canned corn
- kidney beans
- fire-roasted chiles
- prepared salsa
- beef broth
- elbow macaroni
- shredded cheddar cheese
- chili powder
- dried oregano
- ground cumin
- salt and pepper
Kitchen tools and equipment needed:
- 8-quart slow cooker
- large skillet
- wooden spoon or spatula
- measuring cups and spoons
- chef's knife
- cutting board
- cheese grater (optional)
- can opener
How long does this recipe take to make from start to finish?
It will take approximately 10 minutes to prepare everything for the cooker.
Once all the ingredients are in the cooker, cover, and set the time for 5 hours on low.
How many people will this ground beef dinner serve?
I calculated this dinner to be 8 servings, with each serving being two cups of chili mac.
That said if you're serving chili mac along with a side salad and maybe some biscuits you can most likely get away with one cup of chili mac per person.
Can this meal be frozen after cooking?
That's another reason this is a budget meal. Depending on how many people you're serving, you can most likely get at least two meals out of this one recipe.
Store the cooked chili mac in an air-tight freezer container when completely cooled and store in the freezer for up to 4 months.
How to make slow cooker chili mac:
- In a large skillet, brown the ground beef and onion until no longer pink.
- Stir in salt and pepper.
- Transfer the ground beef mixture to a slow cooker and add the corn, kidney beans, elbow macaroni, fire-roasted chiles, beef broth, garlic, and salsa.
- Stir well to combine.
- Cover and cook on low for 5 hours.
- Uncover and stir again.
- Top with the shredded cheese.
- Cover until the cheese is melted.
- Serve hot and enjoy!
Delicious dishes to serve alongside slow cooker chili mac:
*Frozen Mango Strawberry Margaritas (pictured below)
Can ground turkey or chicken be substituted for ground beef in this recipe?
Yes! It will all work! Go for it!
Below is the printable recipe card along with the exact ingredient measurements and nutritional information for making today's easy and economical ground beef dinner recipe.
Slow Cooker Chili Mac
- 1½ pounds ground beef
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 teaspoons salt divided
- 1 teaspoon pepper divided
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 15 ounce cans fiesta corn drained
- 1 15 ounce can kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 1 4 ounce can fire roasted chiles
- 1½ cups prepared salsa
- 2 cups beef broth or stock
- 3 cups elbow macaroni
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1½ teaspoons smoked cumin
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- In a large skillet brown the ground beef and onion.
- Stir in 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper.
- Add the browned beef mixture into a large slow cooker.
- Add the corn, garlic, kidney beans, fire roasted chiles, salsa, beef broth, macaroni, chili powder, oregano, smoked cumin, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper to the cooker.
- Mix well to combine.
- Cover and cook on low for 5 hours.
- Uncover and add the shredded cheese.
- Cover until the cheese is melted (approximately 5 minutes)
- Serve hot.
Thank you so much for visiting me today in my Kudos Kitchen. I hope you found something you'll love and that you'll come back and visit me often. There is always room for you around my table!
Should you have any questions or comments regarding anything you've seen here on my blog, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. It is always my distinct pleasure to respond to you just as soon as I possibly can.