Cheesy Chili Mac

Cheesy Chili Mac. A homemade version of a childhood favorite with homemade mac n’cheese and a quick turkey chili. 

Watch two classics come together to make this childhood favorite!

No, I didn’t break out the box dinner today. Instead, I made a homemade version of my favorite box dinner as kid, Cheesy Chili Mac. My mom didn’t make a lot of box dinners but every once in awhile when she was particularly busy, out came the box. You’ve probably had it before, cheesy noodles tossed with a seasoned beef mixture. My sister and I loved it and eagerly watched as my mom scooped the cheesy mixture in to our bowls. This Cheesy Chili Mac is pretty much the same except I use homemade macaroni and cheese and a quick homemade turkey chili.

Cheesy Chili Mac. A homemade version of a childhood favorite with homemade mac n'cheese and a quick turkey chili. 

This is not meant to talk down box dinners, they are fine in a pinch. However, I rarely buy them for the simple fact that I like to make my own versions from scratch. I like the fact that when I make them at home I can add whatever flavors I want. I can control what is or what is not in my dinner. For instance, since I like things spicy, I’ve added jalapenos to this recipe as well as pepper jack cheese. If you’re not a fan of all things spicy, leave out the jalapenos. And then substitute monterey jack for the pepper jack. It will still be just as scrumptious, trust me.

Cheesy Chili Mac. A homemade version of a childhood favorite with homemade mac n'cheese and a quick turkey chili. 


Cheesy Chili Mac Recipe

Serves 4 Prep Time: Cook Time:
4 based on 1 reviews

Chili Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder, divided
  • 1 teaspoon cumin, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno chopped (optional)
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can fire roasted tomatoes, juice reserved
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can chili beans, juice reserved
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)

Macaroni and Cheese Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dried macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon seasoning salt



In a large skillet cook combine ground turkey, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, kosher salt and garlic powder. Cook until meat is browned. Strain.


In the same skillet heat olive oil over medium heat, add onions, garlic and jalapeno. Cook 5 minutes. Return meat to the pan, stir in tomatoes and chili beans. If mixture appears dry add in reserved tomato and bean juices. Season with remaining cumin, chili powder and hot sauce if using. Reduce heat to low and simmer while you prepare the macaroni and cheese.


To prepare the macaroni and cheese bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions. Strain.


In the same pan you cooked the noodles in, melt butter over medium heat. Once melted whisk in flour, cook 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk. Stir in cheeses and cook until melted. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt. Return noodles to pan and cook for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir and season to taste with seasoning salt.


Add the macaroni to the chili and mix well. Adjust seasoning if needed.





Leave a Comment

  • Reply
    Jackie Scott
    October 19, 2018 at 10:06 pm

    Looks easy and filling. Going to fix this soon.

    • Reply
      October 20, 2018 at 11:03 am

      Hope you enjoy it!

  • Reply
    May 22, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Great recipe for the family- the kids ate the noodles with the cheese sauce. Then I added the chili for my husband and myself. Rave reviews from all.

  • Reply
    Chi Chi
    February 26, 2010 at 10:45 am

    I never had the pleasure of boxed dinners…I know, I really missed out (seriously). But this looks DELICIOUS and I bet my two pumpkins will LOVE it! Thank you ; )

  • Reply
    February 24, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Hi Jackie- You could certainly leave the beans out of the recipe if you like. If you’re not a fan I don’t think you’ll miss the flavor too much.

  • Reply
    CuriousEats - Lissa
    February 24, 2010 at 10:14 am

    Looks like the perfect retro unprocessed dish!

  • Reply
    February 24, 2010 at 7:37 am

    Hi Des

    I was wondering is it ok to leave the beans out of the recipe. Will it affect the flavor of this dish.

  • Reply
    February 24, 2010 at 7:22 am

    Two classics in one dish. Nice!

  • A little bit about me...

    My name is Des. I’m a Mom to Kellan and Preston. Wife to Ryan. Dog mom to Pumpkin and lover of all things food. Whether it is cooking it, eating it, shopping for it or watching TV about it, food is one of my favorite things. Read more »

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