Healthier Chili-Cheese Macaroni

by Amy on 29 September 2013

Healthier Chili-Cheese MacaroniToday, I’m participating in a fun blogger event — the Secret Recipe Club. How does it work? Every blogger is secretly assigned another blog + chooses a recipe from that blog to make. On reveal day (today!), all of our posts go up at the same time, + everyone gets to see who was assigned to their blog, which recipe they chose, + how it turned out. Fun, huh?

I was assigned the blog A Kitchen Hoor, full of tons of great recipes, many of which are lighter (which I love!). As y’all know, I’m a huge sucker for any sort of comfort food pasta meal, so when I saw her recipe for a healthier Chili-Cheese Mac, I knew I had to try it. And y’all, it turned out SO good! It’s a perfect combination of flavorful chili beef + a lower-fat cheddar sauce, all tossed with diced tomatoes, green chiles, + pasta. As a pasta lover, I thought it was fantastic, and my chili-loving husband also gave it two enthusiastic thumbs up. And with only 350 calories per good-sized dinner portion (+ a great 25 grams of protein), it’s waistline-friendly while still tasting amazing.

Thank you to Christine for introducing me to this wonderful Chili-Cheese Mac + to the Secret Recipe Club for connecting me, yet again, with fantastic bloggers + amazing recipes! For all my previous Secret Recipe Club recipes, click here – there are TONS of awesome ones!

Healthier Chili-Cheese Macaroni

Healthier Chili-Cheese Macaroni

serves 6, adapted from Cooking Light and A Kitchen Hoor


1/2 teaspoon canola oil
1 pound ground beef (I like to use 80% lean)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth
1 cup water
1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained (mild or spicy, depending on your preference)
8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni (or other short pasta)
1/2 cup fat-free milk
4 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
4 1/2 ounces finely shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese


Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil. Add beef + next 5 ingredients (onion powder, garlic powder, coriander, cumin, chili powder); cook until beef is no longer pink, about 8-10 minutes. Drain off any fat. Add broth, water, + tomatoes; bring to a boil. Stir in macaroni, reduce to a simmer, cover + cook 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until macaroni al dente.

Heat milk + cream cheese in a separate small saucepan over medium heat. Cook 4 minutes or until cream cheese melts, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in cheddar until completely melted. Add cheese sauce to macaroni mixture; toss well to coat. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, until sauce has thickened slightly. (Don’t fear if it looks liquidy at first – it thickens up beautifully!)

Serve hot with extra cheese, if desired.

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Beth September 30, 2013 at 5:15 am

What a delicious and healthy combination! I always love reading what people make for SRC.

2 Karen (Back Road Journal) September 30, 2013 at 6:21 am

This sounds like a perfect dish for fall…very comforting indeed.

3 SallyBR September 30, 2013 at 8:48 am

Hummmmm…. delicious looking mac and cheese, I love the spice kick and the reduction in calories!

Great choice, I hope you are enjoying your Reveal Day

4 danielle September 30, 2013 at 9:30 am

I’m with you – I love some comfort food! You combined two of my faves here, mac and cheese and chili sounds like a winning combo to me.

5 Traci September 30, 2013 at 10:41 am

Love that you reduced the calories in one of my most favorite recipes! This turned out so beautiful, great SRC pick!

6 Lynn H @ Turnips 2 Tangerines September 30, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Great choice for Reveal Day~ Looks delicious~ Lynn @ Turnips 2 Tangerines

7 Sarah E September 30, 2013 at 12:25 pm

YUM! I love chili cheese mac, but I’m awful at making it. My mom-in-law makes some amazing chili cheese mac and yours looks amazing too! Happy Reveal Day :)

8 Dorothy at Shockingly Delicious September 30, 2013 at 1:17 pm

That looks so good and comforting! Love this healthier version. Great SRC choice!

9 Nik@ABrownTable September 30, 2013 at 2:09 pm

How fun Amy, your secret recipe club sounds fantastic, y’all have some tasty dishes lined up. I love chili and it looks absolutely delicious in your recipe!

10 Tara September 30, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Looks amazing! I will definitely have to try this!

11 Christie September 30, 2013 at 3:34 pm


I am NOT kidding. I saw this on my Bloglovin this morning and thought it sounded like a good recipe. I OBVIOUSLY didn’t read the whole description (guilty of that ALL the time) or else I would have seen that it was one of mine. WOW. I am SO blonde sometimes.

This was a good recipe…and SUPAH tasty! We usualy make it for out game day lunches.

12 Choc Chip Uru September 30, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Mmmm chilli cheese my favourite! This looks fantastic!

Choc Chip Uru

13 SeattleDee September 30, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Who knew that healthier and chili/cheese/mac could title the same recipe?! LUV this comfort food!

14 Anne ~ Uni Homemaker September 30, 2013 at 4:44 pm

This looks amazing Amy! I love chili cheese macs. Looks so hearty and delicious. I can eat a big bowl of it! :) Pinning! Have a great week.

15 melissa September 30, 2013 at 7:25 pm

This reminds me of a favorite recipe from my childhood. Thanks so much for sharing!! :)

16 Asiya @ Chocolate and Chillies September 30, 2013 at 7:39 pm

I love mac and cheese and this looks like a great version! Love how it’s lightened up..great SRC pick!

17 Amy (Savory Moments) September 30, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Yum – this is a definite comfort dish. I know my husband would really enjoy this meal!

18 Ashley @ Kitchen Meets Girl September 30, 2013 at 10:16 pm

LOVE this recipe, Amy!! It’s now on my menu plan for next week, since this is something my picky eater will actually eat! :-)

19 angela @ another bite please October 1, 2013 at 8:35 am

this is the perfect kind of meal for fall…love trying different versions.

20 easyfoodsmith October 1, 2013 at 9:27 am

What a wonderful dish…has comfort written all over it.

21 Adri October 1, 2013 at 9:32 am

This sounds great to me. Easy to do, and full of flavor. Love it!

22 Balvinder October 1, 2013 at 6:03 pm

The indian version of this is called “keema macaroni” but this one look much better than what I make. Love it!

23 Blond Duck October 1, 2013 at 9:04 pm

Pass a bowl this way…

24 Luv What You Do October 1, 2013 at 9:30 pm

Yum! This looks perfect for fall!

25 Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen October 2, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Pinned this immediately Looks fantastic!! Great pick :)

26 Kirstin October 3, 2013 at 9:13 am

Yum. Looks really good! Love homemade mac and cheese

27 Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chef October 4, 2013 at 10:12 pm

great SRC pick! it looks fabulous :)

28 Gwen @simplyhealthyfamily October 5, 2013 at 9:12 am

Looks like a great weeknight meal to me!

29 The Wimpy Vegetarian October 6, 2013 at 10:06 am

I love to find healthy versions of favorite comfort dishes! Great pick this month!!

30 Blond Duck October 8, 2013 at 7:13 am

Chili tastes great on everything!

31 Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking October 8, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Oh yes! This is the kind of comfort food I can’t get enough of in the fall. Wonderful recipe, and I love that you lightened it up a bit. Thanks for sharing, Amy!

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