Chili Mac Recipe

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This healthy chili mac recipe is a great family meal. One the whole family will love without any complaints. Can’t go wrong with this one!

Chili mac is not a dish I grew up with. In fact, it’s not a dish I had ever experienced before this. I was kind of shooting in the dark on this one, but I have to say, I think my aim was pretty good.

A white plate filled with Chili Mac.

This may not be the more traditional version you’re thinking of, but it’s close enough to get the job done, and it definitely qualifies as comfort food.

What Is Chili Mac?

As the name indicates, it’s a combination of chili and macaroni and cheese. It’s a delicious, heady combination that really satisfies.

What Make This Version Healthier?

For starters, it uses much less cheese, so the fat content is lower. That said, you can certainly pile on some grated cheese if you wish.

Also, while most folks will use ground beef, this one uses lean ground turkey.

And lastly, the pasta used is whole-grain pasta.

What To Serve With Turkey Chili Mac

Chili mac is truly a stand-alone dish. But if you want sides, a salad is a great option, as are other cooked veggies. You could actually mix them in if you prefer or keep them separate on the side. Some homemade, whole-grain, crusty garlic bread would be good too, or even cornbread if that’s your preference! Pretty much anything that pairs well with either chili or macaroni and cheese will pair well with the combination of them both.

A white plate sits in front of a serving bowl. Both are filled with chili mac.

Want Creamier Chili Mac?

You can stir in a cup or more of either sour cream or Greek yogurt.

Want Cheesier Chili Mac?

Feel free to stir in some grated cheddar cheese while everything is hot. Sharp cheddar tastes wonderful.

Does Your Chili Mac Seem Dry?

It shouldn’t, but if you feel it needs more liquid, feel free to add a little bit of chicken broth (or beef broth if you are using beef) as needed to get things to the right consistency.

A spoon lifts a spoonful of chili mac up out of a white bowl filled with it.

What To Add Veggies?

Good veggies to add here would be:

  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Peppers

Other Additions

  1. If you want to make this dairy-free, simply use nutritional yeast instead of cheese.
  2. Some freshly ground black pepper is wonderful in this.
  3. You can spice this up by adding some hot sauce.
  4. Add extra fiber by stirring in some cooked kidney beans
  5. Need it gluten-free? Use gluten-free pasta, and make sure your spices are all gluten-free.
A partial view of a white plate filled with Chili Mac.

About The Ingredients

Whole grain macaroni noodles – cooked separately to package directions.

Coconut oil – I used virgin coconut oil. But you can use any oil you normally cook with.

Lean ground turkey – You can also use lean ground beef if you prefer that.

Sauce

Dehydrated onions – You can also use 1½ cups of raw, chopped, purple onion instead. Simply cook them with the meat.

Garlic powder – Or garlic granules.

Chili powder

Ground cumin

Ground cinnamon

Ground coriander

Canned tomato sauce – no sugar added, low sodium is best.

Water – Use good, filtered drinking water.

Garnish

Parmesan cheese – For garnish

Salt – to taste at serving

How To Make Healthy Chili Mac

Chili Mac Recipe ingredients in individual bowls gathered on a white surface.

Gather all your ingredients.

A white bowl filled with cooked macaroni noodles.

Cook your pasta separately to package directions.

Meat added to cooked noodles in a white mixing bowl.

In a medium to large soup pot or Dutch oven, cook the turkey in the oil. When the meat is about halfway cooked, stir in all the spices. When the meat is finished cooking, stir it into the pasta.

Marinara added to pasta and ground turkey in a white mixing bowl.

Mix together all the sauce ingredients and add that to the bowl.

An overhead view of a white plate holding a serving of Chili Mac.

Stir well and served topped with parmesan cheese.

Storage

Store this in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container.

Can You Freeze Healthy Chili Mac?

Absolutely! I find the best way to freeze it is in individual portions so it’s easy to access when you want it. But it’s not necessary. You can make a big batch and freeze it for a family meal. I would limit freezing time to about 2 months max, however. Beyond that, the pasta will take on an odd texture.

Recipe Supplies

For this recipe, you’ll want a pasta pot, a large skillet, and a metal spatula. You can click any of these images to be taken to that product on Amazon. (Affiliate links)

Pasta pot sold on Amazon. (Affiliate link)
Cast iron skillet sold on Amazon. (Affiliate link)
Spatula sold on Amazon. (Affiliate link)

More Pasta Dinner Ideas

Healthy Chili Mac Recipe Card

Copyright Information For The Gracious Pantry
A white plate filled with Chili Mac.

Chili Mac Recipe

A family friendly meal everyone will enjoy for dinner!
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 9 servings
Calories: 293kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. whole grain macaroni pasta (cooked separately to package directions)
  • 2 tsp. coconut oil
  • lb. lean ground turkey

Sauce

  • ¼ cup dehydrated onions
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 15 oz. can tomato sauce (no sugar added, low sodium is best)
  • 1 cup water

Garnish

  • parmesan cheese for garnish
  • salt to taste at serving

Instructions

  • Gather all your ingredients.
    Chili Mac Recipe ingredients in individual bowls gathered on a white surface.
  • Cook your pasta separately to package directions.
    A white bowl filled with cooked macaroni noodles.
  • In a medium to large soup pot or Dutch oven, cook the turkey in the oil. When the meat is about halfway cooked, stir in all the spices. When the meat is finished cooking, stir it into the pasta.
    Meat added to cooked noodles in a white mixing bowl.
  • Mix together all the sauce ingredients and add that to the bowl.
    Marinara added to pasta and ground turkey in a white mixing bowl.
  • Stir well and serve topped with parmesan cheese.
    An overhead view of a white plate holding a serving of Chili Mac.

Notes

Please note that the nutrition data given here is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 293kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 42mg | Sodium: 308mg | Potassium: 553mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 496IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 4mg

This recipe from the Gracious Pantry® archives, originally posted on 9/20/12.

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32 Comments

  1. Funny this should come in my email today! Last night, after cooking my father stroganoff using hamburger, I saved a quarter cup of the burger for my supper. After rinsing in, I added tomatoe sauce (low sodium), some of my own salsa, and salt and pepper. Mixed it with ww macaroni, Don’t really know if it was “clean” (I’m just learning!), but I certainly knew the stroganoff wasn’t!!

    1. graciouspantry says:

      If the salsa was clean, then the meal was clean. Great job!

  2. Did you measure how much macaroni you used? From the picture it looks like a good ratio of mac to the turkey. Looking forward to trying it. Thanks!

    1. graciouspantry says:

      It was about a 50/50 ratio.

    1. graciouspantry says:

      Awesome! Hope you enjoy it!

  3. I just happen to have all of the ingredients, and no idea of what to make for dinner! Perfect timing! ๐Ÿ™‚ Can’t wait to try it!

    1. graciouspantry says:

      Awesome! I hope you enjoy it!

  4. graciouspantry says:

    Any oil you have on had will work fine.

  5. Pingback: Why Can’t Starbucks be Clean? | In a Nutshell…
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  7. Bethany Fuqua says:

    It was a unique taste! It is worth making to experience something different. I added vegetables as well.

    1. graciouspantry says:

      Awesome! Glad you enjoyed it.

  8. Curious about the Nutrional Values, and whether you accounted for the pasta, and if so how much?

  9. Nevermind… should read more closely : )

  10. Can you leave the cinnamon out?

  11. 5 stars
    I made this tonight and really enjoyed the blend of the spices. I am going to add this to my meal rotation.

  12. Jackie Burris says:

    When do you add the tomato sauce and water?

  13. Just made this tonight. Didn’t have any Parmesan so we just did without it. My boys (who have been in a picky spell lately) cleaned their plates! I have to be honest & say that I didn’t expect this to be near as tasty as it truly was. Chili Mac has never been a dish I cared for until now. And it’s an easy, fast, clean meal to boot! Definitely going to be a go-to dish from now on!

  14. i’ve made something similar except i add some fresh red pepper, hungarian hot peeper and/or jalapeno (heat to your taste). Also some beans… usually black but pinto or red would be more “Chili” like.

  15. Made this tonight and my kids loved it! Used Bison instead of turkey and quinoa pasta! Delish it will become a staple in my house.

  16. 5 stars
    Just made this for dinner tonight, it was my first clean meal and my son who is a very picky eater Loved it!!! I’m so glad I found your website! ๐Ÿ˜€

  17. 5 stars
    Just want to say thank you for this recipe! It has become a staple on our weekly dinner menu because the kids request it so often.

  18. Made this tonight except I added more water and cooked pasta in the sauce (2 cups Mac & 5 cups water). Excellent! 4 and 6 year old devoured it and so did my husband and I! Had a very Cincinnati-style taste to it. Thanks for a great recipe! ๐Ÿ™‚