Chili Mac in the Slow Cooker

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Chili Mac in the Slow Cooker is an easy comforting dish made right in your crockpot! Use simple ingredients from your pantry to create a hearty and comforting dish you’ll love!

overhead of chili mac in a slow cooker

Chili Mac in the Slow Cooker

I love a good one-pot meal that doesn’t require fancy ingredients! This slow cooker chili mac is just that, and it’s a long-time reader favorite!

Comfort food is the best kind of food in my opinion. You know, that stick-to-your-ribs sort of dish. Especially in times when everything is crazy and I’m super busy.

Lately, the last thing I want to do is have a sink full of dishes from trying to make a 15-step dinner. No, thanks! That’s why I love this chili mac recipe so much. Simply load up the crockpot, and let it do its thing.

A few other meals that use easy-to-find pantry staples are Mexican Casserole, Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet, or just check out this post for Recipes Using Pantry Staples.

Why You’ll Love This Chili Mac Recipe

  • Simple to make with pantry ingredients
  • Family-friendly and kid-approved
  • Wonderfully hearty and comforting
  • Cleanup is easy
  • Perfect for weeknight dinner
bowl of chili mac topped with cheese and sour cream

Key Ingredients to Make Crockpot Chili Mac

  • GROUND BEEF – I like using lean ground beef for this chili mac recipe, but use what you have at home. Just be sure to brown and drain off the grease before adding to the crockpot.
  • ONION AND GARLIC – A savory dish wouldn’t be the same without these yummy aromatics!
  • CHILI BEANS IN CHILI SAUCE – You can find this in the canned bean aisle. There are different brands and some use different beans. Use what you like. My favorite is Bush’s.
  • CRUSHED TOMATOES – To add flavor and color to the slow cooker chili mac sauce.
  • DICED TOMATOES – For even more flavor and texture.
  • BEEF BROTH – I like to use a low-sodium broth. You can also use stock.
  • CHILI POWDER AND CUMIN – Spicy, warm, and earthy, these seasonings are a must.
  • MACARONI – It wouldn’t be crockpot chili mac without macaroni! You can use another short pasta too if you prefer.

Instructions to Make Chili Mac

PREPARE THE GROUND BEEF: Brown the ground beef in a large frying pan before adding it to the slow cooker for maximum flavor.

LOAD UP THE CROCKPOT: Once the beef has been browned, transfer it along with the other ingredients (except for the noodles) to a 6-quart or larger slow cooker.

COOK: Allow your crockpot chili mac to cook on High for 4 hours, or Low for 8 hours. Stir in the uncooked pasta in the last 15 minutes of cooking.

SERVE: Plate your chili with noodles and garnish with a bit of extra cheese, sour cream, green onion, corn chips, or your favorite toppings!

bowl of chili mac topped with sour cream and cheddar

Variations for Chili with Noodles: Make it your own!

  • Change things up a bit by using ground turkey or Italian sausage instead. I love using a combo of ground beef and Italian sausage when I make chili. It adds so much flavor.
  • Add other veggies like bell peppers or even some corn.
  • Add all the toppings! We like shredded cheddar, corn chips, green onion, and sour cream.
  • Make it spicy by adding in some hot sauce or cayenne pepper.

What to serve with Slow Cooker Chili Mac

  • Simple side salad
  • All the toppings! Sour cream, shredded cheese, hot sauce, pico de gallo, corn chips, green onions.
top down view of Crockpot chili mac in a bowl.


Can you put raw ground beef in a slow cooker?

You can. That said, I definitely recommend browning it in a pan first, as this will bring out the natural flavors in the beef before you add it to the slow cooker. You’ll get the most flavorful results possible!

Is it possible to overcook chili in a slow cooker?

Yes, it is possible — make sure to follow the instructions on the recipe card below to determine how long to cook your chili with noodles. That said, if you decide to go for the low-and-slow cooking method, you can let it cook for up to 9 hours. This is the perfect dish to slow cook in a crockpot overnight!

How do you keep chili mac from getting watery in a slow cooker?

There are a few different solutions for watery chili mac. I suggest simmering it with the lid off to help any excess liquid evaporate. You could also introduce a bit of flour or cornstarch to the mix until you get the consistency you’re after.

Is it better to cook chili high or low?

Chef’s choice! Some folks swear by cooking on Low for 8-9 hours, while other recipes recommend cooking on High for up to 4 hours. You can choose whatever method works for you.

More Slow Cooker Recipies To Try

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Chili Mac in the Slow Cooker

Course: Main Dish, Slow Cooker
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chili mac
Chili Mac in the Slow Cooker is an easy comforting dish made right in your crockpot! Use simple ingredients from your pantry to create a hearty and comforting dish you'll love!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 220kcal
Author: Malinda Linnebur
Print Recipe Save Recipe


  • 1 pound (550g) very lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (30 oz) can chili beans in chili sauce or 2 (15-16 oz) cans chili beans in chili sauce
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • Desired toppings: cheddar,sour cream, green onions, corn chips….


  • Brown ground beef and drain grease. Add to a 6 qt slow cooker or larger and stir in remaining ingredients except for the pasta.
  • Cover and cook for 4 hours on HIGH or 8 hours on LOW. In the last 15 minutes of cooking stir in the uncooked pasta and cover. Stir and test to see if pasta is to your liking. However, even with the slow cooker off the pasta will continue to cook just from the heat of the chili and crock itself so unless your pasta is really chewy or crunchy I strongly suggest only cooking it for the last 15 minutes of cook time.
  • Serve immediately with desired toppings.


  1. If you wish not to brown the beef first place ground beef in the bottom of your slow cooker and break into smaller chunks.
  2. Nutrition facts: Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the information shown is just an estimate.


Calories: 220kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 37mg | Sodium: 168mg | Potassium: 411mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 297IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 2mg

187 thoughts on “Chili Mac in the Slow Cooker”

  1. I’d love to try this recipe but may I ask what are chili beans? I live in Europe and I’m afraid I probably won’t be able to find them here. Can I substitute with anything?

    • Great question. They are canned beans (usually pinto or kidney) in a sauce flavored with chili powder and other seasonings similar to what you would use in an American chili. I’m not sure what you have available over there but you could try regular canned beans and add a small can of tomato sauce and I would probably double the seasonings. Let me know if that helps and let me know how you adapted the recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    Just made this for my family tonight and it was a big hit!! Followed the recipe but instead of regular elbow, I used the large elbow.

  3. I am hosting approx 25 people. What would you suggest to accommodate this amount of people? Triple the recipe? How many lbs of ground beef, etc?

    • Hi Meg, Great question and so sorry I didn’t get back with you sooner!! I would triple the recipe and that should be plenty especially if you are planning to serve other foods along with this. So, if you tripled the recipe you will need 3 lbs of ground beef, 3 small onions, 12 cloves garlic, 3 (30oz) cans or 6 (15oz) cans chili beans in chili sauce, 3 (28oz) cans crushed tomatoes, 3 (15oz) cans diced tomatoes, 6 cups beef broth, 3 tablespoons chili powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin, 24 oz elbow macaroni. However, this will not all fit in 1 crockpot at the same time. Without tripling the recipe this dish fills a 6qt crockpot. Some solutions: borrow additional crockpots or make this on the stove top. Just brown the meat with the onion until no longer pink. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add remaining ingredients EXCEPT for pasta. Simmer covered on low for 1-2 hours stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add in pasta and cook until tender. Do not be alarmed at how soupy this is before you add the pasta. It needs that liquid to cook the pasta. Please let me know if you have any more questions!! 🙂

      • It seems to me if you add raw burger to the crockpot you’re going to end up with a much greasier version of your chili beans. This will affect the calorie count. Chefs should take that into consideration. Thank you for the recipe! I will be making this but I will be browning the hamburger first.

  4. 5 stars
    I came across this recipe on Pinterest the other day. Looks absolutely delicious. I can’t wait to make this for supper tomorrow night

  5. 5 stars
    I am a recent widower and find myself looking for recipes like this so I can freeze single portions for later use. It is really difficult to buy groceries for one. I hate fast food, TV dinners, and the like because my wife was an excellent cook. This is so far my favorite and I am making a second batch today. Thank you so much.
    PS. I like all the tomato in the recipe, but if I didn’t I would leave some out.

    • 4 stars
      Dennis – Condolences on your loss. Having lived alone for the last 45 years I can sympathize with your problem of cooking for one. Most crockpot meals are freezeable, be careful with anything with dairy in it (leave the dairy, i.e. sour cream or milk out and add when reheating). Also you can google “cooking for one” – the internet is a wonderful thing.

    • I am so sorry for your loss!! Your comment really touched me today and I can’t thank you enough for leaving it!! I lost my mom 3 years ago and now my dad is on the same journey of learning to cook for one. I am so glad you liked this meal!! Take care and thank you!! 🙂

  6. 1 star
    Took one bite and threw out the entire pot. Tasted like tomato soup. Did exactly as the recipe said & both my boyfriend and I absolutely could not stomach it.

  7. 5 stars
    Tried this recipe on the weekend and it was a HIT!!! Stayed true to the recipe and added on top of the garlic cloves … 2 tsp of garlic salt as my family love garlic
    I found that I left the uncooked macaroni for 30 mins opposed to 15 mins … it was perfection … will definitely be making this again … so easy to make on a busy schedule. Uncooked hamburger meat adds moisture and flavour to the meal …thanks for sharing!!!!

  8. Loved this recipe! It was flavorful enough for my husband, but not too spicy for my two year old…or my prego belly!

    It was still soupy after cooking the noddles for 20 minutes (on low), but thickened after we turned it off and ate our first bowls.

    • I am so glad you liked this! I have definitely learned from this recipe that different crockpots can cook very differently. Thanks for your comment! 🙂

  9. 5 stars
    Made this for dinner tonight and it was AMAZING! We had my mother in law and niece and nephew over and she asked for the recipe. My 9 year old asked to take the leftovers to school, which is a big deal around here. Great recipe, thanks!

    • It doesn’t have too. It just helps develop some flavor and it’s for convenience to be able to set it and forget it. Thanks for asking!

    • I have not tried freezing this meal so I can’t say for sure how it would turn out. However, I have frozen similar pasta dishes and they have turned out just fine.

  10. if I cook the noodles ahead of time, would I add less broth? I usually cook on Sunday and eat it later. I’m worried pasta will be mushy.

    • Yes add less broth. Start with 1/2 cup of broth and go from there. If you would like it a little soupier add more broth as needed. That is a good idea to keep the pasta out if you will be eating it later because it will become mushy. Thanks for asking and I hope you enjoy! 🙂


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