Southwest-Chipotle Chili Mac

Yum Yum Chipotle Chili Mac From Our Best BitesWhen I was a kid, one of our family’s favorite meals, and one of the first things I learned how to make by myself, was a creation we called “Cowboy Grub.”  Don’t ask me how we came up with that name, but my Mom would make a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and when it was all done, she’d crack open a can of chili and stir them together and top it with some shredded cheddar cheese.  I have vivid memories of eating hot bowls of the cheesy-chili pasta; it’s definitely a taste of my childhood.  Looking back now, I can see that it was a go-to meal when the cupboards were bare and also when we were short on time.  It was one of the rare meals that all of the kids in my family liked, and now that I’m a Mom myself, with kids of differing palates, I realize why my Mom turned to this meal so much!  When I saw that Kraft introduced a Cheesy Southwest Chipotle variety of their classic Macaroni and Cheese, I  knew I wanted to use it to re-create an updated version of my beloved Cowboy Grub.

Chipotle Chili Mac Graphic Image

Besides the Southwest Chipotle, Kraft has introduced 3 other varieties of the classic Mac and Cheese.  There’s a Creamy Garlic and Herb Alfredo, a Three Cheese Jalapeno, and even a Buffalo Cheddar.  As we’ve stated many times before, we only partner with products that we’ve tried and enjoyed in our own homes, and believe it or not- even food bloggers eat boxed Mac n’ Cheese!  We tried all of these new variates and we both thought that these updated versions were like the Blue Box’s sophisticated, hipper, big sisters.  They’re yummy on their own, but they also provide a really great starting point that you can use to add other ingredients and create unique meals, and that’s just what we’re going to show you!  Kraft asked us to come up with some recipes featuring each of the new varieties and we had so much fun with it and we’ll be sharing them over the next month or so.  So first up:  My Cheesy Chipotle Chili Mac- super easy, super fast, and super filling dinner.

Start by preparing the Chipotle Macaroni and Cheese according to the package instructions.

Chipotle Mac and Cheese
While that’s cooking, brown a little lean ground beef and diced onion in a skillet.  We’ll season it with garlic, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper, and cook it until it’s nice and browned.

Ground Beef Cooking
When it’s finished cooking, add in a can of canned, diced tomatoes that have been drained, and some tender canned kidney beans.  This can all be done in the time it takes the pasta to cook, so this is a seriously quick-fix meal.

Ground beef with tomatoes and beans

When the Mac and Cheese is finished, add all of that creamy, cheesy goodness into the skillet

Chipotle Mac Finished
And combine everything together.

Chili Mac Mixed

Serve in bowls with your favorite southwest toppings.  I think sliced green onions are a must, and a little shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream are the perfect finishing touch.

Chili Mac Toppings
As a true testament to the history of this dish- ALL THREE of my boys licked their bowls clean and asked for seconds.  (At that point I looked out the window to scout for flying pigs.) Score one for Mom!

Chipotle Chili Mac From Our Best Bites



Before you leave, make sure you check out one new feature!  If you’re reading this post via email, make sure to click here so you can see what I’m talking about!  On the right-hand side of our page, there’s a link right under the pink box with our social media icons.  (Looks like this!)

Click there and you’ll find some major dinner inspiration!  We’ve featured a whole bunch of our favorite dinner recipes from here on Our Best Bites, and what’s even better is that on that page you’ll find bonus recipes that we’re posting exclusively to that page for a while!  The first one us up today and it’s one of my favorite things to make for my 3 kiddos.  Let me know what you think!

bestbites+kraftBrought to you by Kraft Macaroni and Cheese



  1. Oh man, this would be such a delicious meal for camping. I can smell it now. I love chili. I love mac n’cheese. Yes I do! haha. And of course, so do my kids. I am so going to make this.

  2. What a perfect, quick and easy meal for busy evenings! With 3 kids in soccer right now, most of my evenings seems to be rushed. This will make me feel a LOT better about pulling out that little blue box occasionally (as you know we ALL do). Can’t wait to try it with my kids and report back!! Thanks for keeping it real OBB!

  3. Love this idea! My favorite part about you guys is that you don’t pretend at all. You realize we are busy and know that most of the people who read your blog are busy moms and appreciate a fast easy meal every now and then. Thanks girls!

  4. Question: how spicy is this? We are wusses for spice in my house. Like, big huge wusses. If it’s not spicy, I think this would make an awesome quick and easy meal to add to my rotation. I love having those kinds of meals to fall back on when I’m short on time!

    1. Good question Nat- the Chipotle has more of a smoky flavor than a spicy flavor, so it doesn’t pack a lot of heat. We’re total wimps at my house too and all 3 of my kids gobbled this up.

  5. Mmm. Growing up in Wisconsin, people made chili with macaroni. This reminds me of my childhood! Kids yum. I think some “dressing up” of things like boxed Mac h cheese can be super helpful on chaotic evenings that we all have.

  6. This is great! It’s always nice to have simple, good meals (aka, not always from scratch every single step) to fall back on. Love this! It looks super delicious!

  7. I think someone **cough, Sherri, cough*** needs to get off her high horse. I LOVE making my family delicious food from scratch as much as the next gal but sometimes I love to see a quick, easy recipe that’s almost from scratch. I am a full time employee and a mother and heavily involved in our church as a volunteer and serving this would make me feel much better than chicken nuggets from a fast food join any day! Thanks ladies!

  8. I think this is a fantastic meal idea! For those who can’t believe you’d start with a box of Mac and Cheese, I’m sure you can find a from scratch recipe to make things more difficult. 😉

  9. Really? Mac n’ cheese in a box? I come to your site for inspiration on homemade versions of classics, not upscale Hungry Helper! I expect more from my OBB ladies! I understand sponsorships and growing the site, but I hope this is not going to be a regular thing…
    I love your food!

    1. Sherri, if you’re a fan of our site, you know we make a variety of meals for a variety of cooking levels and situations. This has nothing to do with sponsorship; Kate and I regularly teach how to use a ready-made product and fancy it up into a fun meal idea. Just because it’s not something you might like doesn’t mean it doesn’t appeal to many other people out there (including me!). It’s a misconception that food bloggers make everything from scratch; we like short-cuts as much as the next person! If today’s recipe doesn’t appeal to you, we have nearly 800 recipes in our index you can check out today. Hope you find something fun and new!

    2. Honestly, I’m with Sherri. Mac n’ cheese is so easy to make from scratch that I have no idea why you would use a box full of unhealthy preservatives. I’m really surprised by this! Don’t get me wrong–I love your site, as well as most of your recipes. I’m not trying to be a complainer here; I’m just bummed about this recipe. That’s probably how Sherri feels too. That said, you have every right to post whatever kind of recipe you like, and I’m thankful you’re willing to share so many of your wonderful ideas with us 🙂

    3. I get really irritated when people complain about certain recipes. There are certain recipes that don’t sound appealing to me sometimes, but it doesn’t mean we need to write a complaint. If its not your cup of tea, move on. They aren’t only catering to you.

    4. I was a little surprised to see this kind of recipe, especially considering all the usual “anti-cream of anything” attitudes. I’d feed my kids cream of mystery casserole over Crap Mac n Cheese anyday! That said – I REALLY don’t want you to think I’m asking for cream of soup stuff recipes…get plenty of those from the in-laws 🙂 And not every recipe is going to appeal to everyone, but so often, every recipe does, that I think some people were a little taken back to come to the blog and finally see the one that didn’t.

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