The absolute BEST Sweet and Spicy Chili Mac ready in about 40 minutes! This winning flavor combo makes this a family dinner favorite or tailgating go-to.
Growing up in the Midwest chili was a cold weather staple in my home. One of the most requested meals from my brother and I growing up was my mom's chili mac. This Sweet and Spicy Chili Mac is based on her recipe and is always a hit among family and friends.
This chili is ready in about 40 minutes, or you can let it simmer all day to develop even more flavor. This recipe has stood the test of time and is still a winter family dinner favorite in our house.
- Ground Beef and Ground Sausage- I love using both to develop an incredible flavor. If you wish you could just use ground beef for this sweet and spicy chili recipe, but I highly suggest using the combination.
- A Large White Onion- You could use a yellow or red onion as well.
- Chili Sauce- This is similar to ketchup or burger sauce. It has a bit more kick to it and adds great flavor to the chili.
- Shredded Cheese- I use whatever I have on hard and you do not need any specific type of cheese. I usually use a combination of cheddar, mozzarella or Colby jack cheese.
Why You'll LOVE This Chili!
The Perfect Sweet and Spicy Flavor Combination
Ready in About 40 Minutes
Comfort Food Classic
- In a large pot add diced onion and olive oil and saute for 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Add the ground beef, ground sausage, salt and pepper and minced garlic to the pot.
- Cook the meat until no pink remains, about 7-10 minutes. Once the meat is cooked through, drain the excess liquid from the pot.
- Add all of you dried spices to the large pot and stir until meat is coated.
- Next, add in all the remaining ingredients (except the macaroni and cheese) to the pot and give the chili a good stir to combine all the ingredients.
- Bring the sweet and spicy chili to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover letting the chili simmer for a minimum of 20 minutes to let the flavors develop. Taste chili and adjust spices as needed while it is simmering.
- While the chili is simmering, prepare the dried macaroni per package instructions.
- Once the chili is finished simmering and the macaroni is cooked it is time to prepare the chili mac.
- In your personal chili bowl add a large scoop of macaroni, then top with sweet and spicy chili, cheese, then sour cream. Stir everything together for the perfect sweet and spicy chili mac and cheese!
Storing Leftover Chili
Store leftover chili mac and cheese in an airtight storage container in the fridge for up to 4 days. I recommend storing the chili and cooked macaroni separately then adding together once you are ready to rewarm and enjoy.
Slow Cooker Instructions
If you want to make this chili mac in a crockpot instead of on the stove top you absolutely can. Letting the chili simmer in the crockpot all day helps it build a ton of flavor. I love the crockpot option for game days or tailgating where this chili would be served at a party or gathering. Please note, that you will still need to make the macaroni on the stove top. DO NOT add it to the crockpot with the chili.
- Combine all ingredients (except the macaroni and shredded cheese) to a large crockpot (brown the meat first) and stir to combine everything.
- Cover and cook on HIGH for 4-5 hours or LOW for 6-7 hours.
- When you are ready to eat the chili, prepare the dried macaroni per package instructions.
- Give the sweet and spicy chili a good stir before serving with cooked macaroni, shredded cheese, and sour cream.
Mix up the Meat
Most chili recipes only use ground beef. This will work fine, but the ground pork adds more fat and flavor to the chili and I recommend using the 50/50 combination if possible.
Try and let the sweet and spicy chili simmer and come to a boil multiple times. During this time I taste and adjust the spices multiple times throughout. While it is not always realistic to simmer the chili all afternoon, I always let it go AT LEAST 20 minutes. Ideally at least an hour.
I taste my chili as it simmers and often times adjust the spices. I use the spices below as a base and go from there. It is very easy to customize the sweetness and heat as the chili simmers. Just add a small amount of spices at a time and slowly adjust the flavor.
Make Ahead Tips
Yes, you can make the chili and macaroni up to a day ahead of time and store them in separate containers in the fridge. The chili is even better the next day once the flavors have blended together, so if you need to make everything ahead of time even better.
To freeze leftover chili place in a large freezer bag and store flat. Personally, I like to double bag the chili to be sure it won't leak. When you are ready to serve the chili defrost the chili in the fridge overnight and re-heat in the microwave, on the stove top, or in a slow cooker.
Some good additions to chili to deepen the flavor even more would be unsweetened cocoa powdered, smoked paprika, soy sauce, liquid smoke, or a little coffee. These are some fun ones to experiment with in an chili recipe and I incorporate some in my Vegetarian Chili.
Raw meat. When making chili you should always cook or brown your meat before adding in your other ingredients.
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Sweet and Spicy Chili Mac and Cheese
- 1 Medium White Onion Diced
- ½ Pound Ground Beef
- ½ Pound Ground Pork Sausage
- 1 tablespoon Chili Seasoning Optional-See Notes
- 3 teaspoon Minced Garlic
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
- 2 tablespoon Chili Powder
- 1 tablespoon Paprika
- ½ tablespoon Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Oregano
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
- ½ tablespoon Red Pepper Flakes
- ¾ Cup Brown Sugar
- 1 Can Mild Chili Beans
- 1 Can Kidney Beans Rinsed
- 1 Can Diced Tomatoes Don't Drain
- 6 Oz Tomato Paste
- ⅓ Cup Chili Sauce
- 1 Cup Water
- 16 Oz Dried Macaroni
- 2 Cups Cheddar Cheese Shredded
- Additional Cheese
- Sour Cream (or Plain Greek Yogurt)
- Green Onions
- Avocado Diced
- Oyster Crackers
- In a large pot add olive oil and bring to medium heat. Once oil is warm add in the diced white onion, ground beef and ground pork sausage and break into small chunks. Add in the minced garlic, salt, and pepper to the meat and cook until no more pink remains, about 7-10 minutes. You can also add some chili seasoning to the meat if you wish. Once meat is cooked through drain the excess fat.
- Once meat is drained add in the chili powder, paprika, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, and the brown sugar and stir the combine.
- Once combined, add the chili beans, kidney beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, chili sauce, and water and stir until combined. Once combined bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer covered for at least 20 minutes* Stir occasionally and adjust spices as needed.
- Right before serving, follow macaroni package instructions and cook until al dente. To serve combine macaroni, chili, sour cream and cheese in a personal sized bowl and mix everything together*. Enjoy!
I like to add some additional chili seasoning to the meats while cooking. I think this adds a lot more flavor. This is optional and you can just stick with the spice blend if you wish. Simmer Notes
like to let my chili simmer for at least 20 minutes, but it is better the longer you can let it simmer. I adjust my spices usually once or twice adding in more brown sugar if it is too spicy, or more cayenne if it is too sweet. Add small amounts at a time so you do not over spice the chili. Serving Note
I like letting everyone put together their own chili mac in their own bowl. This lets everyone customize it to their own liking. Alternatively, you could combine together the cheese, chili, and macaroni in a large bowl and serve it that way.