Slow Cooker Chili Mac
If you love easy meals that have incredible amounts of flavor, then this slow cooker mac recipe is for you. There has never been an easier way to make a dinner that everyone will love.
One Pot Chili Mac
There is something bout using a slow cooker that just makes dinner so much better. Perhaps it is because slow cookers are so easy to use or maybe it is because clean up is so easy (you only have one dish to wash!) but it is probably due to the fact that making a recipe in a slow cooker allows the flavors in the recipe to develop, grow and combine all day! That means you will have a dinner that truly tastes amazing, with layers and layers of delicious taste cooked into every bite.
Our recipe for chili mac, slow cooker style creates a flavorful ground beef based chili that you can quickly throw together with just a few minutes of prep time. The meal cooks all day in the crock pot and is then ready to eat, just in time for dinner! It really is a complete meal in one pot.
How to Make Chili Mac
The slow cooker chili mac recipe is very easy to make and really only involves chopping a few veggies and putting everything together in the bowl of your slow cooker or crock pot. Take a look at how simple this recipe really is:
- Saute the ground beef quickly in a hot skillet to brown the beef.
- Place the browned ground beef in the slow cooker bowl.
- Chop the veggies.
- Add all the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker, (use fresh ground spices to be sure you add the most flavor to the dish. Investing in a good spice grinder, especially just for your salt and pepper, is a great idea!)
- Stir and set to low heat, cover and cook for 8 hours.
- Return 8 hours later to perfectly cooked slow cooker chili mac!
Pretty simple, right?! Well, we know how to make it even easier….
Easy Slow Cooker Chili Mac Recipe
There are a few ways that you can make this dish even more simple and fast. While it is already so quick, sometimes you do not have eight whole hours to wait! Here is what you can do when you are in a super rush but still want this amazing recipe for dinner:
- Skip browning the ground beef and simply put the beef into the bowl of the crock pot. While browning the beef adds a lot of flavor thanks to the caramelization of the meat, it is not totally necessary. Break up the beef as much as possible and, if you are around the slow cooker while the meal is cooking, break it up even more as it cooks to ensure that the pieces of ground beef are nice and small.
- Once all the ingredients are in the crock pot, cover and cook over high heat for 4-6 hours. Using a higher heat setting will cook the recipe faster and still give you that slow-cooked taste that you love.
- Look for pre-chopped veggies in your grocery store. You may be able to find zucchini and onions already cut for you.
Hearty Chili Mac Slow Cooker Recipe
Our slow cooker chili mac is already pretty hearty. It contains pasta, ground beef, and veggies that are sure to fill you up. However, if you want an even heartier chili, give these options a try:
- Add a can of beans to the mix. Brown beans or cannellini beans work well. Drain and rinse the beans before you add them to the slow cooker bowl with the other ingredients at the beginning of the recipe.
- Consider adding a few toppings to the chili after it has cooked. Some shredded cheese, sour cream, diced green onions, fresh cilantro, and fresh chopped tomatoes all make for great additions.
- Add some extra veggies to the chili. Diced green bell pepper, extra zucchini, an addition can of diced tomatoes and chopped carrots are all great vegetable options (and more veggies are always a great way to make this meal healthier!).
As you can see, this recipe really is a complete meal and a delicious comfort food. It is a good thing too since smelling the ingredients cooking in the crockpot all day is definitely going to make you hungry!
Chili Mac n Cheese
One thing that I have found truly takes this recipe to the next level is cheese. While the recipe is written without the addition of cheese (making it dairy-free!), I love to add about two cups of shredded cheddar cheese to the crockpot near the end of the cooking time (about 30 minutes before the cook time is complete).
When you stir the cheese into the chili, not only do you add a lot of yummy goodness but you also create a whole new dish- chilli mac and cheese! It is as if you combined two favorite recipes to make one amazing dish.
You can choose to just sprinkle some cheese over the top of the chili once it is in your bowl but give the chili mac and cheese recipe a try sometime (just 2 cups extra shredded cheese!). I think you and your family will really love it.
If this recipe for slow cooker chili mac looks amazing or you have already tried it and loved it, be sure to sign up for our email or just take a look at the other great recipes we have on our site. Some take just one or two minutes of prep time, making for very easy meals, just like this chili mac slow cooker recipe.Print
The perfect combination of chili and macaroni and cheese- two classics that make for a perfect dinner.
- 1 ½ lbs. ground beef (or chicken/turkey)
- 1 box (16oz) macaroni shells (we used gluten free)
- 3 cups organic tomato juice or tomato sauce
- 2 cups peeled and chopped onion
- 2 cups peeled and chopped zucchini
- 4 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add ground beef and onion. Cook until browned, about 5-7 minutes, making sure to crumble the beef as it cooks. Drain excess fat.
- Place cooked ground beef and onion into a slow cooker. Add macaroni, tomato sauce, zucchini, chili powder, onion powder, and salt/pepper, to taste.
- Cover and cook on low-medium heat for about 8 hours. Stir well and serve immediately.
- Adjust the spices based on your preferences. If you like a nice spicy chili, add extra chili powder, cumin or even a touch of cayenne. Of course, salt and pepper should be added at the end of the cooking process to adjust the seasonings. Keep your spice rack close by and use it wisely!
- Slow cooker chili mac can be made even better when you use great toppings. Grated cheese, sour cream and salt and pepper are necessary!
- If you want to add a little bit of a different taste, try replacing half the tomato juice in the recipe with beef broth. Beef broth will make the chili a little bit more rich and not so overloaded with tomato flavor. However, keep in mind that switching to beef broth will make the chili a little more juicy and less thick.
- If you want to cut calories or saturated fat, consider using ground turkey or ground chicken in place of ground beef. These leaner meats will still give your slow cooker chili mac a great taste while being a little more health-friendly. The cook time for the slow cooker chili mac will remain the same despite which meat you choose so be sure to get everything going a few hours before you would like to eat!