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.
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4.47 from 13 votes

Chili Mac and Cheese Casserole

This stepped up Beefy Mac and Cheese Casserole goes a step further with a Mexican salsa addition to ground beef, extra cheese and crunchy breadcrumb topping
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Main
Cuisine: American, Tex Mex
Keyword: baked mac and cheese recipe, cheese casserole recipe, chili mac and cheese, mac and cheese recipe
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 842kcal
Author: Kevin Is Cooking


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 cups chunky salsa
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 lb elbow pasta
  • 1 tsp kosher 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 1)
  • 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 2
  • chopped cilantro


  • 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.


1. Monterey Jack cheese can be substituted for the Pepper Jack if the spicy cheese is not to your liking.
2. 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.


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