Stovetop Chili Mac Casserole

I think one of the greatest misconceptions about me being a food blogger is that I love to cook every single meal every single day. Don’t get me wrong, I love food, I love cooking, I love the connections that come with it, but really, just like anyone else, my motivation waxes and wanes and there are nights when Domino’s (or that box of Cheerios) is realllly appealing.

This is one of my favorite meals for those busy nights when I don’t feel like cooking and I don’t feel like fighting my kids. It’s super quick. I almost always have all the ingredients in my fridge/freezer/pantry. My kids and husband absolutely love it. It’s low in calories and high in protein (not-so-quick note about that–I entered this using the Weight Watchers recipe builder and the points were about what I thought they would be. Then I entered it on My Fitness Pal and the calories were VERY high; when I used those calories to calculate the points, it was about 3 times the original amount. Puzzled, I used a handful of other calorie calculators and they were all much lower. So. If you enter this into My Fitness Pal and you’re confused about why the information is so off, I ran into the same problem. While I’m not sure what’s going on over there, I’m confident the information I’m including is accurate.)

Stovetop Chili Mac Casserole from Our Best Bites

To get started, chop a medium onion, a medium bell pepper (any color), and 3-4 cloves of garlic.

stovetop chili mac casserole

Heat a 12″ skillet that has a lid over medium heat. Add 1 pound of extra-lean ground beef

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and cook, stirring frequently, until about halfway cooked. Add onions, garlic, and pepper as well chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper

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and cook until the meat is cooked through and the onions are tender.

Add 2 cups of V8 juice,

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8 ounces of tomato sauce, and 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Add 8 ounces of macaroni-ish pasta…

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and stir to combine and then cover, reduce heat, and cook for 15-ish minutes or until the pasta is al dente. Add a can of drained pinto beans…

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and heat through. Remove from heat, sprinkle with shredded cheese,

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and replace the lid for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Sprinkle with onions and chopped cilantro (if desired) and serve immediately.

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stovetop chili mac casserole

Stovetop Chili Mac Casserole

A quick and easy meal your whole family will love that's under 300 calories per serving, low in fat, and high in protein!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes


  • 1 lb. extra-lean 93% ground beef or turkey
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 bell pepper any color, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups V8 juice
  • 1 8- ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 ounces macaroni or other small pasta
  • 1 can pinto beans drained
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped green or red onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro optional


  • Heat a 12" skillet that has a lid over medium heat. Add ground beef and cook, stirring frequently, until about halfway cooked. Add onions, garlic, and pepper as well as the seasonings and cook until the meat is cooked through and the onions are tender.
  • Add the V8 juice, tomato sauce, and water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and stir to combine and then cover, reduce heat, and cook for 15-ish minutes or until the pasta is al dente. Add the beans and heat through. Remove from heat, sprinkle with cheese, and replace the lid for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Sprinkle with onions and serve immediately.


  • Calories: 282
  • Fat: 8.2
  • Saturated Fat: 4
  • Carbs: 26.3
  • Sugars: 3.5
  • Fiber: 2.3
  • Protein: 24.8
  • Weight Watchers Smart Points: 7


Serving: 8g
Author: Our Best Bites
Did You Make This Recipe?Snap a picture, and hashtag it #ourbestbites. We love to see your creations on our Instagram @ourbestbites!
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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. Just made this last night for dinner. Quick. Easy. Perfect! One question though…I know that it’s under 300 cal per serving, but how much is a serving?

  2. I just died it to MFP and it had the chili powder at almost 2000 calories! Plus keep in mind it defaults to only one serving so make sure you are adjusting it to the correct number of servings!

  3. I didn’t love this until I added a little heavy cream at the end. It just needed a little something extra. I’ve found that I don’t love a lot of one pot dinners where you cook the noodles with everything. But if you just add a drizzle of cream at the very end, they become magical.

  4. So I didn’t have V8 on hand, so I used condensed tomato soup, slightly watered down. Not my proudest moment, but it STILL turned out awesome. Also, I didn’t have pinto, so I used Great Northern – also still awesome 🙂

  5. So I didn’t have v8 juice and really wanted to make this recipe so I tried using my vitamix and making my modified v8 juice. Turned out ok but I thought you probably have a better way to make v8 juice

  6. Yep, totally having same problems on MFP. It is always the spices. Either garlic cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, onion powder, etc. I always double check when I enter my own recipes. Not sure why it does that. But this looks delish, I think it is calling my family’s name for tomorrow night, since we go to tumbling like a bajillion miles away (not really…but feels like that). Thanks for all these new fabulous healthy recipes, they have been so helpful with being able to stay on track with eating healthy.

  7. This was a great weeknight kid meal! My husband called it poor man food but he had seconds 🙂

  8. Made this tonight and totally messed up and used double the amount and all the seasonings and it ended up being seasoned perfectly. Thanks for the recipe!

  9. I tried to upload your weeknight chili recipe on My Fitness Pal last night and it came up with some outrageous amount for calories. When looking closer at the ingredients, it was showing that 4 cloves of garlic were over 1,700 calories!

  10. I used the recipe builder in MFP. It was going completely bonkers with the garlic. It calculated 1500 calories for the garlic cloves!!! I just searched for an alternative.

    I chose alternatives for the meat, macaroni, and a few other ingredients, and it was 326 calories per serving. I’m so going to cook this.

    Thanks for helping me feel empowered to cook by sharing recipes that are delicious and easy to follow successfully!

  11. Do you think this would be ok if I used plain tomato juice instead of the V8? Its what I have in the pantry. Looks delicious and easy. Cant wait to try it.

  12. This looks so good. My kiddo has been asking for Mac & cheese for weeks. I wonder if he will go for this.

    Whenever I enter a recipe in my fitness pal, it says there are 3000 calories in the garlic. Maybe that’s why you got a crazy number?

    1. I was going to say the same thing. Garlic and cinnamon are 2 things where the calorie count is WAY off…

  13. This looks so good! And it seems so indulgent for the amount of calories it actually is. Can’t wait to try. I was having calorie counting issues with your Hawaiian sloppy joes yesterday. Your cookbook says 319/serving but, using multiple calorie counters, I always ended up with just over 200 calories a serving. Weird! Those sloppy joes were amazing, by the way!

    1. I hope that didn’t sound accusatory or something. Totally not what I meant. Just thought it was funny we both had calculation issues with my fitness pal

      1. Oh, no, totally!! It’s super weird. Uh, I mean, stop accusing me of stuff, Carly! 😉

  14. I’ve had that issue on MFP a few times. Just go through the ingredient list that shows how many calories each are adding to the dish. You’ll find one that is abnormally high, for some reason and is throwing the whole recipe off. Just choose another version of the same ingredient and the problem should be resolved. On the whole, I LOVE their recipe builder!