Chili Mac and Cheese Casserole

5 from 5 votes

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Mac and Cheese is an American classic comfort food and in this Chili Mac and Cheese Casserole it goes a step further with a Mexican influenced salsa addition to ground beef and a crunchy breadcrumb topping. With a new video to show you step by step how to make, this could be dinner tonight!

Quick and easy, this homemade version gets lots of cheddar and pepper jack cheese to satisfy any cheese lover. No strange orange powdered packets, this is homemade with ingredients you know.

Mac and Cheese is an American classic comfort food and in this Beefy Mac and Cheese Casserole it goes a step further with a Mexican salsa addition to ground beef and a crunchy breadcrumb topping. www.keviniscooking.com

Hamburger Helper this is not. I remember eating those often as a kid and it brings back great comfort food memories, but this mac and cheese casserole is made from scratch and easier to make than you think.

I like to use both cheddar and pepper jack cheese in mine. I prefer not to breakdown the ground beef and keep the pieces chunky, all the better to get coated by the salsa and cheese sauce. Some Panko breadcrumbs with a little oregano tops this and in the oven it goes.

Who doesn’t love mac and cheese? This one is made with two kinds of cheeses and starts with a little butter and flour to make a roux, which is just a fancy French term for a classic thickener of soups and sauces. Milk is whisked in and basically you have what is termed a béchamel sauce. Whisk in the shredded cheeses and this becomes one incredible, thick cheese sauce.

Mac and Cheese is an American classic comfort food and in this Beefy Mac and Cheese Casserole it goes a step further with a Mexican salsa addition to ground beef and a crunchy breadcrumb topping. www.keviniscooking.com

Simply add the cooked pasta, and if too thick, a little of the pasta water and you are set. This is what sets it apart from the boxed version. I always add a bit of the cooked pasta water to pasta sauces as it helps emulsify the sauce the pasta is in due to the starches from the the cooked pasta in the water. Remember that tip for other pasta dishes. 🙂

When you break through the crunchy breadcrumb topping the cheesy goodness awaits. Chock full of big chunks of beef and stretchy, spicy cheese, this mac and cheese casserole is pure comfort food. Like this one, check out my Chicken Tortellini Dijon Alfredo.

Mac and Cheese is an American classic comfort food and in this Beefy Mac and Cheese Casserole it goes a step further with a Mexican salsa addition to ground beef and a crunchy breadcrumb topping. www.keviniscooking.com

This recipe was originally posted on November 4, 2016 and has been updated with a new video.

 

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Taco Mac and Cheese

5 from 5 votes
This Taco Mac and Cheese Casserole goes a step further with a Mexican salsa addition to ground beef, extra cheese and crunchy breadcrumb topping
Servings: 6 servings
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 40 mins

Ingredients 

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 cups chunky salsa
  • 1 tsp Homemade Taco Seasoning (See Note 1)
  • 1 lb elbow pasta
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1 cup Pepper Jack cheese shredded (See Note 2)
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • reserved pasta water
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp butter melted
  • 1/2 tsp dry oregano (See Note 3)
  • chopped cilantro

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large stock pot over high heat add ground beef and brown, breaking up meat into large chunks, about 4 minutes. Add chili powder, salsa and cook another 2 minutes. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl add the melted butter and toss with Panko breadcrumbs and dried oregano. Set aside.
  • In the same stock pot bring 4 quarts of water and kosher salt to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until the pasta is al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water and set aside.
  • In same stock pot add butter and melt over medium-high heat. Add flour and stir to cook a minute or two. Slowly whisk in the milk and cook on simmer until thickened. Add these cheeses and whisk until smooth. Add the dry mustard and pepper, stirring to combine.
  • Add the pasta to the cheese sauce and thin if too thick with reserved pasta water.
  • Fold in the beef salsa mixture with the cheese pasta and pour into greased 9x9” baking dish. Top with breadcrumb mixture and bake for 15 minutes and top is golden brown and crispy. Serve immediately with chopped cilantro as garnish.

Video

Notes

  1. You could also substitute with my or Homemade Chili Seasoning.
  2. Oaxaca or Monterey Jack cheese can be substituted for the Pepper Jack if the spicy cheese is not to your liking.
  3. I prefer to use Mexican oregano if you can find it. A different flavor that you would recognize in most Mexican dishes. This is optional.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 842kcal | Carbohydrates: 75.1g | Protein: 41.2g | Fat: 41.6g | Saturated Fat: 20.9g | Trans Fat: 1.6g | Cholesterol: 127.3mg | Sodium: 1223.9mg | Fiber: 4.5g | Sugar: 9.1g

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Main
Cuisine: American, Tex Mex
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!

Kevin

Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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33 Comments

    1. Stephen, thanks for reaching out and glad you’re trying this one. Here’s the low down:
      First 2 tbsp butter:
      Step 2 – In a small bowl add the melted butter and toss with Panko breadcrumbs and dried oregano. Set aside.

      Second 2 tbsp butter:
      Step 4 – In same stock pot add butter and melt over medium-high heat. Add flour and stir to cook a minute or two.

  1. 5 stars
    Hey Kevin 🙂 Just had to stop by and say that I fixed this recipe for dinner tonight, and we all LOVED it!! Thanks for a great recipe 🙂

    1. Oh, thanks so much for letting me know Amanda. Really appreciate it. Gotta love some tasty comfort food sometimes, right? Cheers!

  2. This looks outstanding Kevin. I’ve never really been a big mac & cheese fan. . . not even when I was a wee sprout (don’t ask me why). . .but this is definitely a mac & cheese that I could sink my fork into. Loving the beef and tex mex flavors. Comfort food at its finest.

    1. Thanks so much Lynn and with all the rain we’re having this week I might need to make another batch. 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    Keith just looked over my shoulder and said, I want to eat that! So it’s settled. Eat your heart out, Hamburger Helper! 😉

    1. Haha! Love it and thanks to Keith! It’s raining like mad here today so I might need another batch. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much for bringing that to my attention Jason. I recently had some big changes done to the site and a few things regarding the recipes glitched. I just updated this recipe plugin for the site and as you can see the recipe style has changed and also includes nutrition information now as well. You add that when browning the meat with the salsa. Thanks again! I’m sure I’ll find more, but hopefully not. Cheers!