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Chili’s Southwest Mac and Cheese

Are you a mac and cheese lover searching for the perfect comfort food recipe? Then look no further than this cheesy, savory and satisfying recipe for Chili’s Southwest Mac and Cheese! This popular recipe has been a favorite of many foodies for years, and now it can be yours to make at home in just a few easy steps.

First, cook the macaroni pasta in a large pot of salted water until it’s al dente, then drain it and set it aside. Meanwhile, melt some butter in a Dutch oven or large skillet over medium heat, and add in some diced red onion, green pepper, and garlic. Saute the vegetables until they’re softened, then add in some ground beef, chicken breast, or rotisserie chicken and cook until browned.

Chilis Southwest Mac and Cheese in a red bowl on a napkin

Next, stir in some tomato paste, tomato sauce, chicken broth, and a combination of spices like chili powder and cumin, then add in some small cans of green chiles and poblano chiles. Allow the mixture to cook until it’s heated through and fragrant, then add in the cooked macaroni, black beans, and corn, and stir to combine.

To make the cheesy sauce, combine milk, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese, and parmesan cheese in a separate pot, and stir until the cheese is melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni mixture and stir to combine, then transfer the entire mixture to a greased baking dish. Top the mac and cheese with a little bit more cheese, and bake it in the oven until it’s bubbly and golden brown on top.

Now you have a delicious, hearty one-pot meal that is perfect for any occasion, from a weeknight dinner to a weekend potluck. Serve it with tortilla chips, hot sauce, and sour cream, and watch as it disappears in no time at all! This Southwest Mac and Cheese is a great recipe to add to your collection of copycat recipes, and it’s sure to become a family favorite.

Chili's Southwest Mac and Cheese in a skillet with chives on top

Pro Tips:

For best results, cook the macaroni until it’s just al dente, and be sure to use a large pot of salted water to avoid the pasta sticking together. Also, be sure to let the mac and cheese cool for a few minutes before serving so that it has time to set.

Recommended Additional Courses

This Chili’s Southwest Mac and Cheese pairs well with a side salad, garlic bread, or roasted vegetables. For dessert, try serving some brownies or ice cream.

If you love this Southwest Mac and Cheese recipe, then you may also want to try making other popular recipes like Chili’s Southwest Chicken Soup or Bacon Mac and Cheese. These recipes use similar ingredients and flavors, making them the perfect complement to this dish. You can also check out some other comfort food recipes like lasagna, pot roast, or chicken and dumplings for even more delicious ideas.

A great other comfort copycat recipe if you don’t mind doubling up on the starches, is my Cracker Barrel Chiclen and Rice recipe.

Chili's Southwest Mac and Cheese with a lime on the side


If you’re looking for a healthier version of this recipe, you can make a few simple substitutions to reduce the calorie and fat content. For example, you could use lean ground beef or ground turkey instead of chicken or bacon, and use reduced-fat cheese or a dairy-free cheese alternative. You could also add more vegetables like diced tomatoes, zucchini, or spinach to add more nutrition and flavor.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to indulge a little, you can try topping the mac and cheese with crushed tortilla chips, crumbled bacon, or even more cheese! You can also serve it with a side of hot sauce, pickled jalapenos, or guacamole for added heat and flavor.

You can also add some bacon or diced ham for a meatier version of this recipe, or use different types of cheese like smoked gouda or monterey jack. You can also make a vegetarian version of this recipe by omitting the meat and using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

How to Store Leftovers

When it comes to storing leftovers, you can keep the mac and cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. To reheat, simply microwave it in a microwave-safe dish or reheat it in the oven. Keep in mind that the texture may change slightly upon reheating, but the flavor should still be delicious.

In conclusion, this Chili’s Southwest Mac and Cheese is a great recipe for any home cook looking for a comforting and flavorful meal that the whole family will love. It’s easy to make, and can be customized to fit any dietary needs or preferences. So, give it a try and let us know what you think!

Chilis Southwest Mac and Cheese in a red bowl on a napkin

Chili's Southwest Mac and Cheese

Yield: 6-8 Servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

If you're a fan of Chili's Southwest Mac and Cheese, then you're going to love this easy and delicious homemade version. The creamy and cheesy pasta is infused with a flavorful blend of spices and loaded with black beans, corn, and bell peppers for a southwest twist that's sure to please your taste buds.


  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  2. Cook the elbow macaroni in boiling salted water according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk constantly for about 1 minute.
  4. Slowly add the milk and heavy cream while whisking continuously. Add the salt, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper. Keep whisking until the mixture thickens, which should take about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Reduce the heat to low, then add the cheddar and pepper jack cheeses. Stir until the cheeses have melted and the sauce is smooth.
  6. Add the cooked macaroni, black beans, corn, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, and cilantro to the cheese sauce. Stir well to combine.
  7. Transfer the mac and cheese mixture to the prepared baking dish and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.
  8. Remove from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!


  • This recipe for Chili's Southwest Mac and Cheese is a flavorful twist on classic mac and cheese, combining creamy and cheesy pasta with southwestern spices and ingredients like black beans, corn, and bell peppers.
  • This recipe can be customized to fit different dietary needs, such as gluten-free, vegan, or reduced calorie, by making simple substitutions and adjustments.
  • The recipe yields about 6-8 servings and takes approximately 45-60 minutes to prepare and cook.
  • The dish is perfect for family dinners or gatherings with friends, and can be served as a main course or a side dish.
  • The recipe is relatively easy to follow, making it a great option for home cooks of all skill levels.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 312Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 50mgSodium: 310mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 12g

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