Turkey Chili Mac

I wanted to come up with a more creative title for this recipe but at the same time, this one seemed appropriate. “Chili Mac” is kind of a lazy way of saying chili macaroni or chili mac and cheese, and that’s what this meal is – simple and lazy, but oh so delicious. I know I just posted a pasta recipe last week, but oh well. Pasta fits in well to my work schedule.

To me, two of the most comforting meals are chili and pasta. They’re both filling, stick-to-your-ribs kind of food and I love that they’re also both one-pot meals where you get a bit of every ingredient in each bite. Those kind of meals are my favorite (along with stir-fry), rather than having your protein separated from your veggies which are separated from your carbs/starch.

Pasta is an easy, go-to meal when you’re busy or tired, and chili may take a bit longer but makes for great leftovers. So the combination of the two is simple, filling, and so satisfying. I wasn’t quite ready to post a soup recipe yet, but the weather is certainly starting to change, so this chili mac recipe seemed like the perfect way to ease into fall.

The idea for this recipe was inspired by Skillet Chili Mac on Deep South Dish. It instantly appealed to me, but I made a few minor adjustments to make it a little nicer on your waistline. I opted for ground turkey over ground beef, and eliminated the sausage. I also used slightly less cheese than the recipe calls for. To make this recipe even healthier, you could use low-fat cheese and whole wheat or whole grain pasta. Think of this Turkey Chili Mac as a combination of American Chop Suey and chili, or as chili with pasta shells added. It’s filled with flavorful ground turkey, pasta, tomatoes, beans, cheese, and notes of cumin and chili powder.

Turkey Chili Mac
adapted from Skillet Chili Mac on Deep South Dish


  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 a red bell pepper and 1/2 a green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 2 1/2 cups dry shell pasta (or macaroni)
  • 1 Tbsp each cumin and chili powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 15. oz can diced tomatoes (I like fire-roasted)
  • 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 4.25 oz. can diced green chiles
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced (or half a pepper for less heat)
  • 1 cup kidney or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • optional toppings: scallions, sour cream, avocado


  1. In a medium-large cooking pot, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil. Cook diced onion for 10-12 minutes, until softened, and add diced peppers. Cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic at the end, sauteing for another 2-3 minutes and then remove from heat.
  2. In a separate pot or pan, cook ground turkey. You can do this in the same pot as the veggies if you wish, but I wanted my turkey to get nice and browned. While turkey is browning, begin cooking your pasta.
  3. Once turkey is browned and cooked throughout, add to pot with veggies. Stir in spices and cook over low heat for a few minutes until spices become fragrant. Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, green chiles, and chopped jalapeno pepper. Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until extra liquid has been absorbed and chili has thickened. Add beans in the last 5 minutes of cooking.
  4. Stir cooked pasta into chili and remove from heat. Don’t forget to test-taste and adjust any spices as needed. Top off with cheese and serve with optional toppings and enjoy 🙂
Start by sauteing up your veggies and garlic
Brown your ground turkey and add to veggies, along with spices
Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and chiles. Simmer for 10 - 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans near the end.
Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and chiles. Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add beans near the end of cooking
Stir in pasta shells and cheese
Top with scallions and enjoy! 🙂


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