Camping Meal: Dutch Oven Chili Mac Recipe

Fresh Off the Grid

1 reviews with an average rating of 4.0 out of 5 stars
Chili mac in bowl at campsite

Cheesy and filling? Spicy and hearty? This fall comfort food has got it all. Combining the best aspects of chili and mac & cheese, this one-pot chili mac is sure to be a favorite.

You can definitely enjoy mac & cheese or chili on their own, but when the two are combined, they become much more than the sum of their parts. Together, they are complementary yet hold one another in stark contrast—like the yin and yang of comfort food. The spicy heat of the chili is tempered by the creamy nature of the mac & cheese.

Noodles and kidney separated in dutch oven

While you could prepare mac & cheese and chili separately and then combine them together at the end to make chili mac, this recipe allows you to combine the cooking process so you only have to use one pot. The way this is achieved is by preparing the chili with a little extra liquid that gets used to cook the pasta. Cheese is then added at the very end to achieve that sublime cheesy spicy deliciousness.



Stirring together chili mac ingredients in dutch oven

But the fun doesn’t stop there, because what is chili mac without toppings? We opted for a few of the standard accouterments: more cheese, red onions, scallions, and jalapeños. Of course, you can personalize yours any way you like.

So when the weather turns brisk and you need a little pick me up, this spicy chili mac could just be just the ticket!

Dutch Oven Chili Mac Recipe

Makes 4 servings

Chili mac in bowl and ready to serve


  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz elbow noodles
  • 1 (14.5oz) can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • To serve: minced red onion, jalapeno, scallions


In a Dutch oven or other large pot with a lid, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, 3-5 minutes.

Add the ground beef, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, and salt. Using your spoon or spatula, break apart the meat and stir to coat with the tomato paste and spices. Once browned, add the garlic and saute for 30-60 seconds.

Add the noodles, kidney beans, and broth and stir. Cover with the lid and cook 5-6 minutes (unless the noodle packaging denotes a different cooking time).

Remove lid and stir in the cheese. Serve with your favorite chili toppings.