This chicken chili cheese mac combines two favorite comfort food dishes into one hearty dinner. Make the easy mac and cheese while the chili is simmering and serve them up together for the ultimate comfort food dinner.
Updated from the archives. First posted in October 2009.
Chili and creamy macaroni and cheese, two of my all-time favorite comfort food dishes, are perfectly acceptable all on their own, but when they share the same plate? Heaven. I first shared this chicken chili cheese mac recipe way back in 2009 after I spent a weekend in Telluride, CO. Inspired by a dish at Poacher’s Pub, a warm and cozy retreat one ski lift ride up the mountain, it took me all of a minute to recreate it at home once the trip was over.
What seems like high-maintenance kitchen work really isn’t thanks to quick-cooking chicken chili and an easy stovetop cheddar macaroni and cheese that you can make while the chicken chili is simmering. With the right game plan, the time required is only around an hour, an investment that pays back ten-fold after the first bite.
Make the chili first and while it’s simmering the easy macaroni and cheese comes together in about 15 minutes.
How to Make the Chicken Chili
- Olive oil
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Red bell pepper
- Chicken stock
- Tomato sauce
- Diced tomatoes
- Chili powder, cumin, salt
- Brown boneless skinless chicken breasts in a little olive oil. This creates all kinds of delicious browned bits on the bottom of the pan that add more flavor to the chili. You don’t need to cook it through at this point, so take it out once it’s browned.
- Add the onion, pepper, and garlic to the pan after the chicken so they can cook in all the flavor..
- Add the stock, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and all of the dry spices. Place the chicken back in the pan and simmer it for 15 minutes. Remove it, cut it into cubes and place it back in the pan. Simmer the chili while you make the mac and cheese.
How to Make the Mac and Cheese
- Gemelli pasta or other short pasta like penne or cavatappi
- 2% milk
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Boil the pasta following package directions, drain it and return it back to the pot.
- Add the butter and stir until it’s melted. Add the cream, milk and cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted and the sauce is creamy.
To serve, spoon some mac and cheese in a bowl. Top with the chicken chili, garnish with chopped cilantro and enjoy!
More Comfort Food Dinners
Cold weather requires cozy and comforting dinners. Here are some more of my favorite comfort food dinner recipes!
- Ground Beef Stroganoff
- Winter Minestrone
- Braised Short Rib Mushroom Sauce with Pappardelle
- Double Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese
Chicken chili meets mac & cheese in this warm and hearty dish!
For the Chicken Chili
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts, seasoned with salt and pepper
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 (14.5-ounce)can tomato sauce
- 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
For the Macaroni and Cheese
- 10 ounces gemilli pasta
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup cream
- 3/4 cup 2% milk
- 16 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
Make the Chili
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook them on both sides until a golden brown crust starts to form, about 5 minutes each side. Remove the chicken from the pan.
- In the same pan, cook the onion, bell pepper, and garlic until softened. Add the chicken stock and scrape all of the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
- Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, and salt and stir to combine. Place the whole chicken breasts in the pan. Bring the pan to a simmer and simmer it for about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken, cut it into bite-sized pieces, and return it back to the pot to simmer for another 15 minutes.
Make the Macaroni and Cheese
- While the chili is simmering, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
- Drain the pasta and return it to the pot over low heat. Add the butter and stir it through the pasta until melted. Add the cream and milk. Stir the in the cheese, in batches, until it’s melted. Once the cheese is melted, keep stirring the pasta until the cheese sauce starts to thicken.
- To serve: scoop some macaroni and cheese on to each plate. Top each with some of the chicken chili. Garnish with additional chopped cilantro (optional)
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stove
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 1/6 of recipe
- Calories: 735
- Sugar: 10.2g
- Fat: 42.5g
- Carbohydrates: 53.1g
- Fiber: 4.8g
- Protein: 36.8g
Keywords: chicken chili mac and cheese, chili cheese mac