Gluten Free Chili Mac – This gooey, cheesy classic is a great way to use up leftover chili! Just 3 ingredients and so easy to make! (Gluten free, dairy free & vegan options!)
Like most kids who grew up in the 90s, I had plenty of casseroles and one-pan dinners as a kid. We ate a lot of the classics (though my family never ate tuna noodle casserole), and one of my favorites was my mom’s Chili Mac recipe.
I. Loved. It.
Chili Mac is not one of those things I eat all the time, but when I get the craving, it’s gooey, cheesy, melty goodness just CALLS to me, and puts me right back in one of my many childhood kitchens, around the table with my parents and siblings. In a magical world where *I* wasn’t the one who had to plan, shop for, and prepare dinner. (Those were the days!)
I still make this about once a year or so. And the fact that it’s fast, cheap, easy, and contains just 3 ingredients sure doesn’t hurt anything either…
WHAT’S IN CHILI MAC?
This recipe is literally just 3 ingredients, baked to ooey, gooey perfection:
SMALL SHAPE PASTA. You’re looking for a small, bite-sized shape that can “catch” or hold onto the chili. Macaroni and shells both work really well. In a pinch, rotini/spirals will do the job. (These days, we make ours gluten free by using gluten-free pasta. See the FAQ for our favorite brands.
CHILI (HOMEMADE OR CANNED). Chili Mac is the perfect way to use up leftover homemade chili (see below for some of our favorite recipes to use!), but you can always use store-bought if that’s easier. 2 cans of chili or about 4 cups of homemade chili will do the trick!
A LITTLE (OR A LOTTLE!) CHEESE. A little melty, bubbly cheese finishes off this easy dish. You can use cheddar, Pepper Jack, or any favorite blend you fancy. If you’re dairy-free or vegan, our favorite dairy-free cheese is Daiya brand cutting board cheddar cheese shred or Pepper Jack shreds. Feel free to add as much or as little as you like. About 1 cup sprinkled over the whole thing tends to do the job for us.
SOME OF OUR FAVORITE CHILI RECIPES FOR CHILI MAC
You can make chili mac with just about any kind of chili you like–beef, turkey, no meat, no beans, vegetarian, etc. Some of our favorite recipes to use here are:
- The BEST EVER Pumpkin Chili
- Simple Slow Cooker Chili (our favorite right now!)
- Classic Chili (no beans)
- Vegan Chipotle and Black Bean Chili (Instant Pot or Slow Cooker)
And as for store-bought, we like Sprouts brand, Amy’s brand, and Trader Joe’s brands.
FAQ + TIPS FOR CHILI MAC.
CAN I USE HOMEMADE CHILI FOR CHILI MAC? You can ABSOLUTELY use leftover homemade chili. Heavens, yes. It’s amazing with homemade chili.
CAN I MAKE VEGETARIAN OR VEGAN CHILI MAC? Yes! You’ll just want to use a vegan chili and dairy-free cheese. Daiya is our favorite brand for dairy-free cheese. We like the cutting board cheddar and cutting board pepper jack.
CAN I MAKE GLUTEN-FREE CHILI MAC? Absolutely. Ours is always gluten-free chili mac these days! We like brown rice pasta the best. Jovial brand and Tinkyada brand are two that have great quality and an affordable price. Look for Jovial at Thrive, Amazon, or Walmart and Tinkyada at Sprouts, Target, Amazon, or Walmart.
WHAT SIZE PAN DO YOU USE FOR CHILI MAC? Our recipe serves about 6, and we typically cook it in a 2-quart baking dish. That’ll be an 8×8″ or 9×9″ square pan, or a round or oval pan with 2-quart capacity. You can also double the recipe and put it into a 9×13″ pan.
MORE MADE-OVER CHILDHOOD FAVORITES TO LOVE:
- The BEST EVER Vegan Chocolate Pudding
- Chili Bean Star Supremes (from my grandma!)
- Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
Completely updated August 2019. Originally posted September 2008.