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Slow-Cooker Chili Mac

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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! 

A pottery bowl filled with slow cooker chili mac topped with shredded 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. 


Closeup vertical image of slow cooker chili mac on a fork with corn.

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.

Hearty Slow Cooker Chili Mac close-up image | Kudos Kitchen by Renee

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

Kitchen tools and equipment needed:

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.
How to make Slow Cooker Chili Mac
  • 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.
How to make slow cooker chili mac
How to make slow cooker chili mac
How to make slow cooker chili mac
  • Uncover and stir again.
  • Top with the shredded cheese.
  • Cover until the cheese is melted.
  • Serve hot and enjoy!
How to make slow cooker chili mac

Collage image of budget-friendly slow cooker chili mac recipe with ground beef, elbow macaroni, corn, and cheese.

Delicious dishes to serve alongside slow cooker chili mac:

*Sensational Salads Recipe Roundup

*Cornmeal Yeast Bread

*Frozen Mango Strawberry Margaritas (pictured below)

Frozen Mango Strawberry Margaritas Recipe

Can ground turkey or chicken be substituted for ground beef in this recipe?

Yes! It will all work! Go for it!

A title text image of budget-friendly slow cooker chili mac dinner recipe with corn, ground beef, and cheddar cheese.

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 with Cheddar Cheese

Slow Cooker Chili Mac

Renee - Kudos Kitchen
This Hearty Slow Cooker Chili Mac will please the entire family with its big bold flavors, and lots and lots of melted cheese!
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 5 hrs
Total Time 5 hrs 10 mins
Course Slow Cooker - Main Course
Cuisine American Comfort Food
Servings 8 servings
Calories 491 kcal


  • 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
  • cups prepared salsa
  • 2 cups beef broth or stock
  • 3 cups elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 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.


Tools and equipment:
Large skillet, wooden spoon or spatula, chefs knife and cutting board, large slow cooker, measuring cups, measuring spoons, serving spoon


Serving: 1servingCalories: 491kcalCarbohydrates: 45gProtein: 32gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 84mgSodium: 1418mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4g
Keyword chili mac, slow cooker chili mac
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Closeup photo of slow cooker chili mac on a fork.

I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed today’s easy budget family, pantry staple friendly recipe for slow cooker chili mac as much as I’ve enjoyed bringing it to you!

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Recipe Rating


Tuesday 31st of March 2020

Yummy! I'm always up for a good chili variation. This is delicious.

Kelly Anthony

Tuesday 31st of March 2020

Chili mac is seriously one of the most COMFORTING dishes ever! Exactly what we could all use these days :)


Friday 20th of March 2020

This is so good! One of my family's favorite meals!


Friday 20th of March 2020

This looks so good! Can't wait to try it.

Kathleen Leverett

Friday 20th of March 2020

Hi there! I love this kind of recipe and happen to have all the ingredients. This will serve us well during our days at home here. I’ll probably make on stovetop, as I have all the time I need now! I like the multiples of pictures, great for cooks at all levels, but especially those starting out,, and kids.


Friday 20th of March 2020

I'm so glad you like this recipe, Kathleen! Making it on the stovetop will work equally as well as in the slow cooker. I like to do both depending on the amount of time I have. I appreciate you taking the time to leave a friendly comment! Please enjoy the chili mac, and take good care of yourself! Renee