First posted in 2009, this chicken chili cheese mac is still as delicious as it was back then. Two favorite comfort food dishes combine to make one – hearty chicken chili and creamy, cheesy macaroni and cheese – making this a recipe to add to your Fall/Winter must-make list!
Updated from the archives. First posted October 2009.
Chicken Chili Cheese Mac
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 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.
That was seven years ago and since then I’ve made some photography improvements, so I thought it was time to give this recipe a photo make-over. Same great recipe, but now I can look at the photos and not cringe. Some of the early photos on this blog are like looking at photos from Junior High School – great memories, but, seriously, what was I thinking?
What seems like high-maintenance kitchen work really isn’t thanks to a quick-cooking chicken chili and an easy stove top cheddar macaroni and cheese. With the right game plan the time required is only around an hour, an investment that pays back ten-fold after the first bite of the cozy chicken chili and cheesy pasta goodness.
Make the chili first and while it’s simmering the stove top macaroni and cheese comes together in about 15 minutes.
Some Ingredients You’ll Need
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.
Onion, red bell pepper, and garlic are added to the pan after the chicken so they can soak up all the flavor left behind by the chicken.
The base of the chili is made with chicken stock and tomato sauce.
Chili powder, ground cumin, and kosher salt for seasoning.
Add some cilantro for freshness or, if you’re not a fan, substitute the same amount of parsley.
I used gemelli pasta for the mac and cheese, but any short pasta will work fine.
Cream, butter, and milk – the magical mac and cheese trifecta of decadence.
Lots of grated cheddar cheese! And be sure to buy a block and grate it yourself – the pre-grated stuff just won’t do.
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1/2 pound 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 let them cook 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 let it all cook 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)