One Pot Taco Chili Mac n Cheese
What do you get when you combine tacos, chili and mac n cheese in one pot? The greatest dinner to spice up your weeknight meals!
Build the Flavor Base
The base of this one pot meal starts off like most good dishes do, with onions, garlic and a pinch of salt. To a large pot over medium high heat, add a drizzle of oil and once hot, add diced onion, minced garlic and a pinch of salt. Stir well and cook until the onions become translucent and soft. Then make a little well in the center by scooting the garlic and onion to the edges of the pan and add in the ground beef with another big pinch of salt plus some pepper. Cook until the meat is mostly no longer pink.
Before we move onto the next step, we gotta get some real flavor in there in the form of spices! You could surely use a premade taco mix or you can add in cumin and chili powder.
Chili Mac n Cheese Time
Then add in the beef broth, dry pasta and tomato sauce. The beef broth is what’s gonna allow the pasta to cook, so it should look a little soupy. Don’t worry though, it’ll all be absorbed in the end. Cooking the pasta directly in the sauce is a pro-tip. Not only does it reduce the number of pots but the starchiness that’s released from the pasta creates a thick, creamy sauce with no dairy at all!
The tomato sauce adds to the base of the dish and adds a deep flavor. I choose to use canned tomato sauce in my one pot tomato dishes since it’s already pre-cooked. Usually with tomatoes or canned crushed tomatoes, you need to cook them for a while to get it to taste good and sweet and not bitter or tinny. That’s why a really good Sunday pasta sauce takes a whole Sunday on the stove. So using jarred tomato sauce or canned tomato sauce that’s a little pre-cooked is a little shortcut that helps keep this weeknight meal quick and manageable.
That being said, we like to work with what we’ve got here at Annie Tortellini. So, if you’ve got a jar of marinara sauce or pasta sauce, it’ll work. If you’ve got canned whole tomatoes, canned tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, they’ll all work. In a real pinch, even just 2-4 Tbs of tomato paste could work with a little extra beef broth.
Chili Extras for Topping
You can add really anything you want to this. Anything that screams taco/chili to you! Try corn, bell peppers, hot peppers, canned chipotles or poblanos, diced tomatoes, zucchini even if you’re trying to up your veggie intake.
Making this chili mac isn’t really the technical way of making mac n cheese, but it sure is delicious. All you gotta do is add in some cheddar or cheddar jack cheese towards the end and mix it all together. I’ll always recommend buying a block of cheese and grating it yourself since it’s usually cheaper and better, but use whatever works!
Serve with a squeeze of lime, some fresh cilantro, maybe a sliced avocado and plenty of tortilla chips.
Thanks so much for stopping by! If you make this recipe or have any questions, let me know! Leave a comment below or tag me @annietortellini on Instagram!
One Pot Taco Chili Mac n Cheese
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- ½ onion diced
- 1 lb ground beef or turkey or 2 cans of beans
- 1 taco seasoning mix 1 Tbs each cumin and chili powder, 1 tsp oregano, 1-2 tsp cayenne powder or chili flakes
- ½ lb pasta
- 28 oz beef broth
- 28 oz tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes or pasta sauce
- 1-2 peppers of your choice diced
- 14 oz corn canned or frozen (about 1½ C)
- 14 oz diced tomatoes (regular or fire roasted), optional
- ¼-½ C shredded cheddar cheese
- cilantro & lime optional for serving
- Heat a pot over medium heat, then add oil.Add onions, garlic and a pinch of salt and cook until the onions are soft and translucent. Add in the ground meat along with another big pinch of salt and taco seasoning mix. Break up with a spoon into tiny little pieces and cook until the meat is mostly not pink.
- Add in the pasta, beef broth, crushed tomatoes, peppers, corn and diced tomatoes if using. Stir and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the pasta is cooked.Stir in the cheese, then top with cilantro and lime to serve.