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Easy Chili Mac Casserole recipe: Cheesy homemade mac

Introducing Your New Comfort Food Obsession: Chili Mac Casserole

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Picture this: a steaming hot casserole dish, brimming with tender macaroni, bathed in a rich, zesty chili sauce, and crowned with a bubbling blanket of golden, melted cheddar cheese. Each mouthful is an explosion of comfort, a symphony of flavors that dance on your taste buds. That’s just what this chili mac recipe is. We’re talking a family favorite cooked pasta chili recipe – a cheesy chili mac casserole for the whole family! Made with simple ingredients this easy recipe is everyones favorite vegetarian chili Mac. (plus, we’ve included a vegan option).

Chili Mac Casserole is the ultimate comfort food creation that marries the best of two worlds—chili and macaroni and cheese—into one mouthwatering masterpiece. It’s a dish that encapsulates all things cozy and heartwarming, a hug in edible form. There’s a reason this hearty chili has earned its reputation as one of the best pasta dishes ever. We’re talking the ultimate vegetarian pasta recipe full of soooo much flavor, plenty of cheese and tender cooked pasta. 

But What Does It Taste Like?

Imagine the comforting creaminess of classic mac and cheese, harmonizing flawlessly with the bold, spicy kick of a well-seasoned chili. The macaroni soaks up the flavors of the chili, transforming into a tender, flavor-infused pasta that’s nothing short of irresistible. The chili itself, with its medley of aromatic spices, brings layers of savory depth and a hint of smokiness, all perfectly complemented by the ooey-gooey goodness of melted cheddar cheese.

Each bite delivers a rollercoaster of sensations—creamy, spicy, cheesy, and oh-so-satisfying. It’s a dish that leaves you craving just one more bite, then another, until you’re happily indulging in seconds (or thirds!).

Why You Absolutely Need to Make It

First and foremost, it’s a flavor-packed sensation that will have your taste buds singing in delight. It’s the kind of favorite meals dish that’s perfect for cozy family dinners, impressive potlucks, or those nights when you crave a hearty, no-fuss meal that’s bursting with flavor.

What’s more, making Chili Mac Casserole at home allows you to customize one of the most popular recipes to your heart’s content. Add extra beans for protein, throw in some veggies for a wholesome twist, or crank up the spice level if you’re feeling adventurous. It’s the perfect way to make this flavorful homemade chili your own culinary canvas!

Whether you’re a fan of comfort food classics, a chili enthusiast, or just someone who appreciates a good ol’ cheesy, saucy delight, Chili Mac Casserole is the dish you need in your life. So, roll up your sleeves, gather your ingredients, and embark on a journey to chili-mac nirvana—you won’t regret it! 

What is chili Mac casserole

Chili Mac casserole is a delicious and comforting complete meal dish that combines elements of chili and macaroni and cheese into a single, hearty meal. It typically consists of the following key components:

1. Macaroni: Cooked elbow macaroni or pasta serves as the base of the casserole, providing a soft and comforting texture.

2. Chili: A flavorful chili sauce is prepared with ingredients like diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, various spices (such as chili powder, cumin, and paprika), and often beans (like kidney beans and black beans). The chili sauce adds a rich, spicy, and savory element to the dish.

3. Cheese: Shredded cheese, often cheddar cheese, is sprinkled on top of the casserole. As it bakes, the cheese melts and forms a gooey, golden crust.

The preparation involves combining cooked macaroni with the chili sauce and then baking the mixture in the oven until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned. The result is a satisfying, one-dish meal that combines the creamy and cheesy qualities of mac and cheese with the savory and spicy flavors of chili.

Chili Mac casserole can be customized with various ingredients and spices to suit individual preferences, making it a versatile and beloved comfort food. It’s often garnished with toppings like chopped green onions, sour cream, or jalapeño slices for added flavor and texture.

Equipment needed to make Chili Mac and cheese 

To make this delicious Vegetarian Chili Mac Casserole using the different cooking methods, you’ll need the following equipment:

For All Methods:

1. Large skillet or frying pan

2. Cooking utensils (spatula, stirring spoon, etc.)

3. Large pot for cooking macaroni

4. Baking dish or casserole dish (for oven method)

5. Air fryer-safe dish (for air fryer method)

6. Slow cooker or crockpot (for crockpot method)

7. Instant Pot or pressure cooker (for Instant Pot method)

8. Oven (for oven method)

With the right equipment and these detailed instructions, you’ll be on your way to enjoying a fantastic Vegetarian Chili Mac Casserole prepared in your preferred cooking method. Bon appétit! 

Chili Mac and cheese ingredients

1. Elbow Macaroni (2 cups / 400g):

These delightful pasta curls are the heart of our casserole, providing a satisfying and comforting base. Use gluten free elbow pasta for a gluten-free Mac and cheese. 

2. Olive Oil (1 tablespoon):

Our trusty olive oil adds a touch of richness while preventing sticking and infusing that extra layer of flavor.

3. Diced Onion (1 onion):

The diced onion lends a sweet and aromatic undertone, creating a flavorful foundation for our chili mac.

4. Diced Bell Pepper (1 bell pepper):

Vibrant and crunchy, the bell pepper brings color and a hint of sweetness, balancing the dish’s flavors. You can use red peppers, green pepper, yellow pepper, or a mix of colors as you prefer. Everything goes well in this tasty chili macaroni casserole.

5. Minced Garlic (3-4 cloves):

Garlic is our flavor booster, elevating the dish with its aromatic essence and savory notes.

6. Kidney Beans (1 can – 15 oz / 425g):

The nutrient-packed dark red kidney bean offer a hearty, protein-rich element to our chili mac, making it both satisfying and nutritious hearty casserole.

7. Black Beans (1 can – 15 oz / 425g):

Black beans bring a creamy texture and earthy flavor that pairs wonderfully with the spices in our chili macaroni casserole recipe.

8. Diced Tomatoes (1 can – 14 oz / 400g):

These diced tomatoes provide juiciness and a refreshing contrast, brightening up the dish. Alternatively, you can substitute with canned crushed tomatoes.

9. Tomato Sauce (1 can – 8 oz / 225g):

Tomato sauce enhances the chili’s consistency and adds that essential tomatoey goodness to the baked chili mac casserole.

10. Chili Powder (2 teaspoons):

– Chili powder is our flavor powerhouse, infusing the casserole with that beloved chili kick.

11. Cumin (1 teaspoon):

– Cumin lends depth and warmth, intensifying the overall flavor profile of our chili mac.

12. Paprika (2 teaspoons):

– Paprika contributes a subtle smokiness and beautiful color to our casserole.

13. Salt and Pepper (to taste):

– These trusty seasonings are our culinary companions, ensuring the perfect balance of flavors.

14. Shredded Cheddar Cheese (2 cups / 200g):

– Last but certainly not least, our creamy cheddar cheese blankets the casserole, melting into golden perfection and delivering that irresistible cheesy goodness we all crave. Alternatively, you can use pepper jack cheese or a Mexican cheese blend. For a vegan version, use a vegan cheese with a good melting quality like Violife mozzarella or cheddar, and add a couple of tablespoons nutritional yeast to the casserole to bring out the cheesy flavors of the baked chili mac casserole. 

With these carefully selected ingredients, you’re in for a delightful culinary journey to Chili Mac Casserole heaven! 

Chili Mac casserole recipe

Here’s a delicious Vegetarian Chili Mac Casserole recipe. It’s cheesy, loaded with flavor, and irresistibly cozy and comforting. And with measurements in cups and grams, along with cooking instructions for the oven, air fryer, crockpot, and Instant Pot there’s an easy cooking option for everyone:

Chili Mac casserole recipe Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (400g) elbow macaroni
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (15 oz / 425g) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz / 425g) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (14 oz / 400g) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (8 oz / 225g) tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups (200g) shredded cheddar cheese

How to make spicy southern Mac and cheese casserole Instructions:

Chili Mac casserole recipe – Oven Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).

2. Cook the elbow macaroni according to package instructions until al dente, then drain and set aside.

3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add diced onion, bell pepper, and minced garlic. Sauté until they become soft and translucent.

4. Stir in kidney beans, black beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper. Let it simmer for 5-7 minutes.

5. Combine the cooked macaroni with the chili mixture. Transfer everything to a greased casserole dish.

6. Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese evenly on top.

7. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.

Air fryer Mac and cheese – Air Fryer Method:

1. Follow steps 1-4 from the oven method.

2. Preheat your air fryer to 375°F (190°C).

3. Transfer the chili mac mixture to an air fryer-safe dish.

4. Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top.

5. Air fry for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the top is crispy.

Southern Crock pot Mac and cheese – Crockpot Method:

1. Cook the elbow macaroni according to package instructions until al dente, then drain and set aside.

2. In a skillet, sauté onion, bell pepper, and garlic as in step 3 from the oven method.

3. In a slow cooker, combine sautéed vegetables, kidney beans, black beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir in the cooked macaroni.

4. Cook on low for 2-3 hours.

5. Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top before serving.

Instant pot Mac and cheese – Instant Pot Method:

1. Set your Instant Pot to Sauté mode. Heat olive oil, then sauté onion, bell pepper, and garlic until soft.

2. Stir in kidney beans, black beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, and macaroni.

3. Close the Instant Pot lid, set it to Manual/Pressure Cook mode, and cook for 5 minutes.

4. Perform a quick release of pressure.

5. Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top and serve.

Enjoy your delicious Vegetarian Chili Mac Casserole prepared in your preferred cooking method! Top it with a drizzle of authentic Mexican red chili sauce for extra spicy deliciousness. 

Authentic mexican red chili sauce recipe

Here’s a recipe for authentic Mexican red sauce that is perfect for drizzling on top of Mac and cheese to give it extra spice:

Authentic Mexican red chili sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 dried guajillo chili peppers (about 20g)
  • 2 dried ancho chili peppers (about 20g)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (about 2g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (about 1g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (about 2.5g)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (about 1g)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (about 15g)
  • 2 cups (475ml) water

How to make Authentic Mexican red chili sauce recipe Instructions:

1. Start by removing the stems and seeds from the dried guajillo and ancho chili peppers. You can do this by cutting them open and shaking out the seeds.

2. Heat a skillet or pan over medium-high heat and toast the dried chili peppers for a minute or two on each side until they become fragrant. Be careful not to burn them.

3. Place the toasted chili peppers in a bowl and cover them with hot water. Let them soak for about 15-20 minutes or until they become soft.

4. While the chili peppers are soaking, heat the vegetable oil in a separate skillet over medium heat.

5. Add minced garlic and chopped onion to the skillet and sauté until the onion becomes translucent.

6. Once the chili peppers are soft, drain them but save the soaking liquid.

7. Place the soaked chili peppers, sautéed garlic and onion, ground cumin, dried oregano, salt, and black pepper in a blender or food processor.

8. Begin blending the mixture, adding the 2 cups (475ml) of the reserved soaking liquid gradually until you achieve your desired sauce consistency. You may not need all the liquid, so add it incrementally.

9. Blend until the sauce is smooth and has a vibrant red color.

10. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt or spices if needed.

Your authentic Mexican red chili sauce is now ready to use in your favorite Mexican recipes, such as enchiladas, tamales, or as a condiment for tacos. Enjoy!

Tips and Tricks for making the best chili Mac casserole

Here are some tips and tricks to help you make the best chili mac casserole:

1. Choose Quality Ingredients:

    •    Use high-quality pasta, fresh vegetables, and good-quality canned beans and tomatoes for the best flavor.

2. Balance the Flavors:

    •    Taste as you go and adjust the seasonings to your liking. You can add extra spices, herbs, or even a touch of sugar to balance the flavors.

3. Layer the Flavors:

    •    Sautéing the onions, peppers, and garlic before adding them to the casserole can enhance their flavor.

4. Don’t Overcook Pasta:

    •    Cook the pasta slightly underdone (al dente) since it will continue cooking in the oven. This prevents it from becoming mushy.

5. Use Cheese Wisely:

    •    Choose a good melting cheese like cheddar, and sprinkle it on top for a nice cheesy crust. You can also mix some into the casserole for a creamier texture.

6. Add Fresh Herbs:

    •    Fresh cilantro or parsley added at the end can provide a burst of fresh flavor.

7. Customize with Toppings:

    •    Serve with optional toppings like sour cream, chopped green onions, or sliced jalapeños for extra flavor and texture.

8. Let It Rest:

    •    After baking, let the casserole rest for a few minutes before serving. This helps the flavors meld and makes it easier to serve.

9. Experiment with Heat:

    •    Adjust the spiciness to your liking by using different chili powders or adding hot sauce or crushed red pepper flakes.

10. Make It Ahead:

    •    You can prepare parts of the casserole in advance, like cooking the pasta or sautéing the veggies, to save time on busy days.

11. Freeze Leftovers:

    •    Chili mac casserole freezes well. Portion it into freezer-safe containers, and you’ll have a convenient meal for later.

12. Try Different Proteins:

    •    While this recipe is vegetarian, you can add cooked ground meat or meat substitutes like crumbled tofu or TVP for added protein.

13. Experiment with Vegetables:

    •    Feel free to add other vegetables like corn, diced zucchini, or mushrooms for extra flavor and nutrition.

14. Use a Variety of Beans:

    •    You can mix and match different types of beans for added texture and flavor complexity.

15. Grease the Casserole Dish:

    •    To prevent sticking, grease the casserole dish lightly with oil or cooking spray before assembling the dish.

Remember, chili mac casserole is a versatile dish, so don’t be afraid to get creative and tailor it to your taste preferences. Enjoy your delicious homemade meal!

Delicious chili Mac casserole variations

Here are some vegetarian and vegan variations of chili mac casserole that you can try:

Vegetarian Variations:

1. Vegetarian Chili Mac: Follow the recipe on the recipe card below, which is already vegetarian. You can customize it by adding extra vegetables like corn, bell peppers, or diced zucchini.

2. Three-Bean Chili Mac: Use a combination of kidney beans, black beans, and pinto beans in your chili for added protein and flavor.

3. Mushroom Chili Mac: Sautéed mushrooms can add a rich, umami flavor to your chili mac. Slice or chop them and add them when sautéing the onions and peppers.

4. Spinach and Cheese: Stir in fresh spinach leaves or frozen spinach to add a boost of greens to your casserole. Mix in some extra cheese for a creamy finish.

5. Greek-Style Chili Mac: Add Mediterranean flair by incorporating ingredients like Kalamata olives, crumbled feta cheese, and fresh oregano or basil.

Vegan Variations:

1. Vegan Chili Mac: Use plant-based ingredients to create a vegan version. Replace the cheese with dairy-free alternatives or nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor. Use vegan pasta and ensure your canned goods, like beans and tomatoes, are vegan-friendly.

2. Tofu or Tempeh Crumbles: Crumble and season tofu or tempeh to mimic ground meat in your chili. Sauté it with spices for a protein-packed, vegan-friendly option.

3. Cashew Cream Sauce: Make a creamy vegan cheese sauce using soaked and blended cashews, nutritional yeast, and spices. Pour it over your chili mac before baking for a cheesy and dairy-free topping.

4. Veggie-Loaded: Load up on veggies like diced carrots, celery, and bell peppers to add extra nutrients and flavor to your vegan chili mac.

5. Avocado Topping: Top your vegan chili mac with sliced avocado and a squeeze of lime for a fresh and creamy contrast.

6. Vegan Sour Cream: Serve with a dollop of vegan sour cream made from cashews or coconut yogurt mixed with a bit of lemon juice.

7. Vegan Crispy Topping: Instead of cheese, create a crispy topping by mixing breadcrumbs or crushed tortilla chips with nutritional yeast and a bit of oil. Sprinkle this mixture on top before baking.

Dietary notes:

Remember to check ingredient labels to ensure they are vegan-friendly, as some products may contain hidden animal-derived ingredients. These variations allow you to enjoy a delicious chili mac casserole while adhering to a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Best pasta for gluten free Mac and cheese

There are several excellent gluten-free pasta options that work well for making Mac and Cheese. These pasta varieties are made from gluten-free grains or legumes and provide a similar texture to traditional wheat pasta. Here are some popular choices:

1. Brown Rice Pasta: Brown rice pasta is made from brown rice flour and has a mild flavor that works nicely with creamy cheese sauces. It’s available in various shapes, including elbows, penne, and spaghetti.

2. Quinoa Pasta: Quinoa pasta is crafted from quinoa flour, providing a slightly nutty flavor and a good dose of protein. It’s known for its pleasant texture and is available in various shapes and sizes.

3. Corn Pasta: Corn pasta is made from corn flour and often has a slightly sweet taste. It’s a great option for those who prefer a sweeter pasta to complement the cheese sauce.

4. Chickpea Pasta: Chickpea pasta is an excellent gluten-free, high-protein option. It’s made from chickpea flour and offers a subtle nutty flavor. It’s available in various shapes and often has a slightly firmer texture.

5. Lentil Pasta: Lentil pasta is crafted from lentil flour and is another protein-rich option. It has a slightly earthy taste and pairs well with creamy cheese sauces.

More great gluten-free pastas for mac and cheese

6. Sorghum Pasta: Sorghum pasta is made from sorghum flour, which has a mild, neutral flavor. It’s known for its versatility and works well in Mac and Cheese recipes.

7. Buckwheat Pasta: Despite the name, buckwheat is gluten-free and makes a hearty pasta. Buckwheat pasta has a nutty, earthy flavor that complements cheesy dishes.

8. Gluten-Free Blends: Some brands offer gluten-free pasta blends that combine various gluten-free flours to achieve a texture and flavor similar to traditional pasta.

When using gluten-free pasta in Mac and Cheese recipes, it’s essential to follow the cooking instructions on the pasta package, as gluten-free pasta can become overcooked and mushy if not cooked properly. Additionally, some gluten-free pastas may need a slightly shorter cooking time than regular wheat pasta, so keep an eye on them as they cook.

Choose the gluten-free pasta variety that suits your taste preferences and dietary needs, and enjoy your homemade gluten-free Mac and Cheese!

How to store and reheat Mac and cheese

Storing chili mac casserole and reheating it properly will help maintain its flavor and texture. Here’s how to do it:

Storing Chili Mac Casserole:

1. Cool Down: Allow the chili mac casserole to cool to room temperature before storing it.

2. Portion It: If you have a large batch, consider dividing it into smaller portions for easier storage and reheating.

3. Refrigeration: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Make sure the container is sealed tightly to prevent moisture loss and the absorption of other odors.

4. Use Within: Consume refrigerated chili mac casserole within 3-4 days to ensure freshness and food safety.

Best way to reheat Mac and cheese

Reheating Chili Mac Casserole:

You can reheat chili mac casserole using several methods, depending on your preference:

1. Microwave: This is the quickest method.

   – Place a portion of chili mac casserole in a microwave-safe dish.

   – Cover it with a microwave-safe lid or microwave-safe plastic wrap, leaving a small vent for steam to escape.

   – Reheat in 1-2 minute intervals, stirring between each interval, until it’s heated evenly. Cooking times vary based on portion size and microwave power.

2. Oven:

   – Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).

   – Transfer the chili mac casserole to an oven-safe dish if it’s not already in one.

   – Cover the dish with foil to prevent excessive drying.

   – Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until it’s heated through, stirring once or twice during baking for even heating.

3. Stovetop:

   – Reheating on the stovetop can help maintain the creamy texture.

   – Place the chili mac casserole in a saucepan or skillet.

   – Heat it over low to medium-low heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking or burning. Add a splash of water or milk if it’s too dry.

4. Air Fryer (for a crispy top):

   – For a crispy top, preheat your air fryer to 350°F (175°C).

   – Transfer a portion of chili mac casserole to an air fryer-safe dish or basket.

   – Air fry for 5-10 minutes, checking regularly until it’s heated through and the top is crispy.

Remember to use your best judgment when reheating, as times may vary based on portion size and equipment. Be cautious not to overheat, as this can lead to drying out the casserole. Enjoy your reheated chili mac casserole!

What to eat with Mac and cheese

Mac and cheese is a versatile dish that pairs well with a variety of vegetarian options. Here are some delicious vegetarian side dishes and accompaniments to enjoy with mac and cheese:

1. Green Salad: A simple green salad with fresh lettuce, spinach, arugula, or mixed greens can provide a refreshing contrast to the richness of mac and cheese. Top it with a light vinaigrette or creamy dressing.

2. Roasted Vegetables: Roasted vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, or asparagus complement mac and cheese beautifully. Drizzle them with olive oil, season with salt, pepper, and your favorite herbs before roasting.

3. Garlic Bread: A side of warm garlic bread or garlic knots can add a delightful garlicky flavor and crunch to your meal.

4. Fruit Salad: A bowl of fresh fruit salad, featuring a mix of seasonal fruits like berries, melon, and citrus, provides a sweet and refreshing contrast.

5. Sautéed Spinach: Quickly sauté spinach in garlic and olive oil for a nutritious and easy side dish that pairs well with mac and cheese.

6. Grilled Cheese Sandwich: Create a comforting combination by serving mac and cheese alongside a grilled cheese sandwich. You can dip the sandwich into the mac and cheese for an extra cheesy experience.

7. Tomato Soup: A classic tomato soup served alongside mac and cheese is a comforting and satisfying pairing.

More delicious sides to serve with chili mac

8. Coleslaw: Creamy coleslaw made with shredded cabbage and carrots adds a cool and tangy component to balance the richness of mac and cheese.

9. Stuffed Bell Peppers: Roasted or grilled bell peppers stuffed with a mixture of rice, beans, and vegetables make for a hearty and flavorful side dish.

10. Avocado Slices: Fresh avocado slices seasoned with a sprinkle of salt and a drizzle of olive oil can provide a creamy, healthy side to mac and cheese.

11. Pickles or Pickled Vegetables: The acidity and crunch of pickles or pickled vegetables can cut through the richness of mac and cheese, offering a pleasant contrast.

12. Corn on the Cob: Grilled or boiled corn on the cob with a pat of butter and some seasoning is a classic and comforting side dish.

Feel free to mix and match these vegetarian options to create a well-rounded and satisfying meal alongside your mac and cheese.

Dried chili vs fresh

Dried chili peppers and fresh chili peppers each have their own unique characteristics and uses in cooking. Here’s a comparison of dried chili vs. fresh chili:

Dried Chili Peppers:

1. Flavor Concentration: Drying chili peppers removes moisture, intensifying their flavor. Dried chilies often have a more concentrated, smoky, or earthy flavor compared to their fresh counterparts.

2. Long Shelf Life: Dried chilies have a longer shelf life and can be stored for months or even years when kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

3. Versatility: Dried chilies are versatile and can be used in various forms, such as whole, crushed, or ground into chili powder. They are commonly used in soups, stews, sauces, and spice blends.

4. Rehydration: To use dried chilies in recipes, they often need to be rehydrated by soaking in hot water before cooking. This softens them and allows them to release their flavors into the dish.

5. Heat Levels: Dried chili peppers can vary widely in heat levels, from mild to extremely hot. It’s important to know the specific chili variety and its Scoville Heat Scale rating before using them.

Fresh Chili Peppers:

1. Immediate Use: Fresh chili peppers are ready to use right away without the need for rehydration. They add a bright and vibrant flavor to dishes.

2. Texture and Freshness: Fresh chilies contribute a crisp texture and a fresh, slightly grassy flavor that can complement various dishes, from salads to salsas.

3. Heat Control: When using fresh chili peppers, you have more control over the heat level. You can adjust the spiciness by removing the seeds and inner membranes for milder heat or keeping them for more heat.

4. Quick Cooking: Fresh chilies are great for dishes that require minimal cooking time, like stir-fries, omelets, and garnishes.

5. Variety: There’s a wide variety of fresh chili peppers available, each with its unique flavor profile, heat level, and appearance. Common examples include jalapeños, serranos, habaneros, and bell peppers.

In summary, the choice between dried and fresh chili peppers depends on the specific recipe and the flavor and heat intensity you want to achieve. Both forms of chili peppers have their place in the kitchen, and experimenting with both can lead to exciting and diverse culinary experiences.

FAQs

What is chili mac and cheese?

Chili mac and cheese is a comforting dish that combines two popular comfort foods: chili and macaroni and cheese. It typically consists of cooked macaroni pasta mixed with a flavorful chili sauce and topped with melted cheese.

Can I make chili mac and cheese with vegetarian or vegan ingredients?

Yes, you can make vegetarian or vegan chili mac and cheese by using plant-based ingredients such as dairy-free cheese, vegan pasta, and meat substitutes like tofu or tempeh.

How can I make my chili mac and cheese spicier?

To add more heat to your chili mac and cheese, you can use spicier chili peppers or add hot sauce, crushed red pepper flakes, or cayenne pepper to the chili sauce.

Can I prepare chili mac and cheese in advance?

Yes, you can prepare chili mac and cheese in advance. You can assemble the casserole and refrigerate it before baking. When ready to serve, bake it according to the recipe instructions.

No Meat Chili Mac And Cheese storage FAQs

How should I store leftover chili mac and cheese?

Leftover chili mac and cheese should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It can typically be stored for 3-4 days.

Can I freeze chili mac and cheese?

Yes, chili mac and cheese can be frozen for longer storage. Divide it into portions, place them in freezer-safe containers, and store them for up to 2-3 months. Thaw and reheat as needed.

What can I serve with chili mac and cheese as side dishes?

Popular side dishes to serve with chili mac and cheese include green salads, roasted vegetables, garlic bread, coleslaw, or even a side of pickles.

How do I reheat leftover chili mac and cheese?

You can reheat leftover chili mac and cheese in the microwave, oven, stovetop, or air fryer. Reheat gently to avoid drying it out, and add a splash of liquid if needed.

Can I make chili mac and cheese less spicy?

To reduce the spiciness of chili mac and cheese, use milder chili peppers or chili powder. You can also add dairy products like sour cream or shredded cheese to mellow the heat.

What variations can I try with chili mac and cheese?

You can experiment with different types of beans, vegetables, and cheese varieties. Add extra herbs like cilantro and use different seasonings to change the flavors.

Mac And Cheese storage life

How long does mac and cheese last

The shelf life of mac and cheese depends on whether it’s homemade, store-bought, or prepared from a mix. Here are some general guidelines:

1. Homemade Mac and Cheese:
   – If stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, homemade mac and cheese typically remains safe to eat for about 3-5 days.

2. Store-Bought Packaged Mac and Cheese (Unopened):
   – Unopened store-bought mac and cheese, whether it’s in a box or a sealed pouch, can last for several months to a year or more past the “best by” or “use by” date. Check the packaging for specific guidance.

3. Store-Bought Packaged Mac and Cheese (Opened):
   – Once opened, store-bought mac and cheese should be resealed and stored in an airtight container. It can remain safe for about 3-5 days in the refrigerator.

4. Prepared Mac and Cheese from a Restaurant or Deli:
   – Leftover mac and cheese from a restaurant or deli should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within 3-4 days.

5. Frozen Mac and Cheese:
   – If properly stored in an airtight container or freezer bag, homemade or store-bought mac and cheese can be frozen for 2-3 months. It’s important to label the container with the date to keep track of its freshness.

Keep in mind that these are general guidelines, and the actual shelf life may vary depending on factors like temperature and storage conditions. Always use your best judgment, and if there are any signs of spoilage such as an off smell, mold, or unusual texture, it’s best to discard the mac and cheese to ensure food safety.

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Chili Mac casserole recipe

Picture this: a steaming hot casserole dish, brimming with tender macaroni, bathed in a rich, zesty chili sauce, and crowned with a bubbling blanket of golden, melted cheddar cheese. Each mouthful is an explosion of comfort, a symphony of flavors that dance on your taste buds. That's just what this chili mac recipe is. We're talking a family favorite cooked pasta chili recipe – a cheesy chili mac casserole for the whole family! Made with simple ingredients this easy recipe is everyone’s favorite vegetarian chili mac. 
With easy cooking instructions for the oven, air fryer, crockpot, and Instant Pot:
Course Dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword dinner
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 520kcal
Author Simone – Munchyesta.com

Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (400g) elbow macaroni pasta use gluten free elbow pasta if needed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 bell pepper diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 can (15oz/425g) Kidney Beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15oz/425g) Black Beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (14oz/400g) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (8oz/225g) tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt more to taste if needed
  • 1/3 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper more to taste if needed
  • 2 cups (200g) shredded cheddar cheese regular or vegan cheese

Instructions

How to make spicy southern Mac and cheese casserole Instructions:

    Chili Mac casserole recipe – Oven Method:

    • Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
    • Cook the elbow macaroni according to package instructions until al dente, then drain and set aside.
    • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add diced onion, bell pepper, and minced garlic. Sauté until they become soft and translucent.
    • Stir in kidney beans, black beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper. Let it simmer for 5-7 minutes.
    • Combine the cooked macaroni with the chili mixture. Transfer everything to a greased casserole dish.
    • Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese evenly on top.
    • Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.

    Air fryer Mac and cheese – Air Fryer Method:

    • Follow steps 1-4 from the oven method.
    • Preheat your air fryer to 375°F (190°C).
    • Transfer the chili mac mixture to an air fryer-safe dish.
    • Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top.
    • Air fry for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the top is crispy.

    Southern Crock pot Mac and cheese – Crockpot Method:

    • Cook the elbow macaroni according to package instructions until al dente, then drain and set aside.
    • In a skillet, sauté onion, bell pepper, and garlic as in step 3 from the oven method.
    • In a slow cooker, combine sautéed vegetables, kidney beans, black beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir in the cooked macaroni.
    • Cook on low for 2-3 hours.
    • Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top before serving.

    Instant pot Mac and cheese – Instant Pot Method:

    • Set your Instant Pot to Sauté mode. Heat olive oil, then sauté onion, bell pepper, and garlic until soft.
    • Stir in kidney beans, black beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, and macaroni.
    • Close the Instant Pot lid, set it to Manual/Pressure Cook mode, and cook for 5 minutes.
    • Perform a quick release of pressure.
    • Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top and serve.
    • Enjoy your delicious Vegetarian Chili Mac Casserole prepared in your preferred cooking method! Top it with a drizzle of authentic Mexican red chili sauce for extra spicy deliciousness.

    Notes

    Authentic mexican red chili sauce recipe

    Here’s a recipe for authentic Mexican red sauce that is perfect for drizzling on top of Mac and cheese to give it extra spice:

    Authentic Mexican red chili sauce Ingredients:

    – 2 dried guajillo chili peppers (about 20g)
    – 2 dried ancho chili peppers (about 20g)
    – 2 cloves garlic, minced
    – 1/2 onion, chopped
    – 1 teaspoon ground cumin (about 2g)
    – 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (about 1g)
    – 1/2 teaspoon salt (about 2.5g)
    – 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (about 1g)
    – 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (about 15g)
    – 2 cups (475ml) water

    How to make Authentic Mexican red chili sauce recipe Instructions:

    1. Start by removing the stems and seeds from the dried guajillo and ancho chili peppers. You can do this by cutting them open and shaking out the seeds.
    2. Heat a skillet or pan over medium-high heat and toast the dried chili peppers for a minute or two on each side until they become fragrant. Be careful not to burn them.
    3. Place the toasted chili peppers in a bowl and cover them with hot water. Let them soak for about 15-20 minutes or until they become soft.
    4. While the chili peppers are soaking, heat the vegetable oil in a separate skillet over medium heat.
    5. Add minced garlic and chopped onion to the skillet and sauté until the onion becomes translucent.
    6. Once the chili peppers are soft, drain them but save the soaking liquid.
    7. Place the soaked chili peppers, sautéed garlic and onion, ground cumin, dried oregano, salt, and black pepper in a blender or food processor.
    8. Begin blending the mixture, adding the 2 cups (475ml) of the reserved soaking liquid gradually until you achieve your desired sauce consistency. You may not need all the liquid, so add it incrementally.
    9. Blend until the sauce is smooth and has a vibrant red color.
    10. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt or spices if needed.
    Your authentic Mexican red chili sauce is now ready to use in your favorite Mexican recipes, such as enchiladas, tamales, or as a condiment for tacos. Enjoy!

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