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Warm up with a bowl of Turkey Chili Mac, a hearty and satisfying fusion of chili and macaroni. Ideal for a family meal or a cozy evening, this comfort food classic is sure to become a favorite for the whole family
Ever eat this as a kid? I didn’t, but I didn’t grow up in the US. It’s freaking delicious though, and I’m making up for my lacking childhood (sorry Mum) by making this for my family.
My husband loved this as a kid, and it’s one of his comfort food favorites.
With a 30 minute start to finish, this easy recipe is perfect for a weeknight. However, I typically make this ahead because the flavors are even better the next day. PLUS, it’s all made in one skillet, which is awesome for those of you that have to do the dishes.
Not everyone agrees with me that beans belong in chili, but I think they add a fabulous protein boost! It uses ground turkey, which is lower in fat than ground beef. Feel free to leave out the beans, or use ground beef instead of turkey – I won’t be mad at you!
If you’re into one pot meals, you’ll love my Skillet Mac & Cheese as well as this delicious Ham Tetrazzini.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- This Chili Mac Recipe has super simple ingredients, nothing fancy. You probably already have everything hanging out in your pantry/fridge already!
- It’s a budget friendly hearty meal, that will definitely fill bellies
- This is a great recipe to substitute items in or out, you really can make this your own. Keep the pasta and liquid ratios the same, and make it however you like!
Side dishes for Chili Mac
This recipe can be a complete meal, but you could enhance your dinner with a salad, a warm skillet of cornbread, or crunchy tortilla chips for a well-rounded meal.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, Chili Mac with Turkey can be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to serve. Simply reheat and enjoy!
Yes, you can substitute ground beef or chicken if you prefer. Just be aware that the flavor and fat content may vary slightly from the original recipe.
Elbow macaroni is the most commonly used pasta, but feel free to experiment with other shapes such as shells, rotini, or penne.
Control the heat by adjusting the amount of chili powder, opting for milder varieties, or incorporating additional cooling ingredients like sour cream or avocado.
Absolutely! Replace the ground turkey with plant-based proteins like lentils, tempeh, or a meat substitute to create a vegetarian version of the dish.
Incorporate veggies like bell peppers, zucchini, spinach, or even diced carrots into the chili for added nutrition and variety. You can also serve the dish with a side of steamed or roasted vegetables to boost the overall vegetable content of the meal.
- Chopping Board
- Wooden spoon for stirring.
What to do with leftovers
Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat Chili Mac with Turkey on the stovetop or in the microwave, ensuring it reaches a safe internal temperature before consuming.
Sub in lean ground beef for the turkey.
Change up the beans. I like black beans, kidney beans or cannellini beans in this. You can always leave them out if you’re not a fan of beans.
There’s always room for more garlic. Just saying.
Try using chicken broth or beef broth instead of water.
Try fire-roasted tomatoes instead of regular, for a yummy, smokey hit of flavor.
Test for seasoning – turkey needs a little more help than ground beef for flavor. I recommend some cayenne or chili flakes for a kick.
No time for spice measuring? Use taco seasoning!
Like it extra cheesy? I won’t judge if you double the cheese!
A little sour cream dolloped on top is awesome.
This recipe can also be frozen after cooking. Cover tightly with foil and wrap with plastic wrap. Freeze.
The full list of ingredients and quantities is found in the printable recipe card below.
- Turkey. Ground turkey is a lean protein source that imparts a subtle, savory flavor to the Chili Mac. Rich in essential amino acids and lower in fat than other meats, it’s an excellent choice for health-conscious foodies.
- Vegetables. Diced onion, red bell peppers and canned crushed tomatoes. Tomato sauce may also be used.
- Seasonings. I use garlic, chili powder cumin, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Taco seasoning can also be used.
- Pasta. Any short type pasta works. Shells, rotini, elbows, penne. Grab a whole grain type, or any kind of pasta alternative.
- Beans. Beans are a fiber-rich addition enhancing its heartiness and nutritional profile. Kidney beans, black beans or pinto beans are popular choices, but feel free to explore other varieties.
- Cheese. I like cheddar, but anything you have on hand will work.
- Optional: Garnish with cilantro, and add a dollop of sour cream and a little hot sauce.
How to make Chili Mac with Turkey
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The full list of ingredients, quantities and instructions can be found in the printable recipe card below.
In a large pot (or large skillet or Dutch oven), heat olive oil over medium-high heat, then add the turkey.
Cook the ground turkey until no longer pink.
Add the onion and red bell peppers, cook until vegetable soften.
Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper and cook for about 30 seconds.
Add the macaroni, diced tomatoes, beans and water. Gently mix to combine.
Cover the pan and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until pasta is al dente (about 10-15 mins), stirring occasionally.
Check for seasoning and add more if needed.
Remove from heat, and fold in the shredded cheese and sprinkle with cilantro.
Some of our favorite Comfort Food Recipes:
- Homemade Hamburger Helper: a VERY popular weeknight dinner. Simple. Homemade. Delicious!
- Tuna Noodle Casserole. Budget-friendly and easy to double for a crowd!
- One Pan Ham & Cheese Pasta. A weeknight winner ready in less than 30 minutes that makes EVERYONE need seconds. Change up the pasta, and the cheese, but make it over and over!
If you have tried this recipe or any other recipe on Kylee Cooks, leave a comment and rating – I truly love to hear from you!
Find me on Pinterest, Facebook & Instagram for more delicious recipes!
Chili Mac & Cheese with Turkey
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1 lb lean ground turkey
- 1 cup red onion (diced (about 1 medium onion))
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper (diced)
- 1 Tbs garlic (minced (about 3-4 cloves))
- 1 Tbs prepared chili powder
- 1 Tbs ground cumin
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cracked pepper
- 8 oz macaroni pasta
- 2 14.5oz diced tomatoes (canned)
- 15 oz kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
- 2 cups water
- 4 oz shredded cheese (any kind)
- 1 Tbs fresh cilantro (chopped)
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat.
- Add the ground turkey and cook until no longer pink
- Add the onion, bell peppers and cook until vegetable soften.
- Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes (if using), salt and pepper and cook for about 30 seconds, then add the macaroni, diced tomatoes, beans and water.
- Gently mix to combine.
- Cover and bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until pasta is tender (about 10-15 mins), stirring regularly.
- Check for seasoning and add more if needed.
- Remove from heat, and fold in the shredded cheese.
- Sprinkle with cilantro.
- Sub in lean ground beef for the turkey
- Change up the beans – I like black beans, kidney beans and even cannellini beans in this – leave them out if you’re not a fan
- There’s always room for more garlic. Just saying.
- Try fire-roasted tomatoes instead of regular, for a yummy, smokey hit of flavor.
- Test for seasoning – turkey needs a little more help than ground beef for flavor. I recommend some cayenne or chili flakes for a kick.
- No time for spice measuring? Use taco seasoning!
- Like it extra cheesy? I won’t judge if you double the cheese!
Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.
Update: This was originally posted in February of 2018, and has been updated to improve reader experience.
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