Slow Cooker Chili Mac

Slow Cooker Chili Mac and Cheese

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen, this Slow Cooker Chili Mac is pure comfort food to warm up a cold winter’s day.

Serves 8

Slow Cooker Chili Mac

You’ll Need

  • Olive oil or cooking spray
  • 1 slice sandwich bread
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small onions, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • 4 tsp cumin
  • 1 (540 ml) can of pinto or black beans
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 lb macaroni or similar pasta
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • Extra cheese and sour cream (to serve)

Prep and Cook

  • Plug in the slow cooker and make an aluminum foil collar by stacking three sheets of aluminum foil (about 16" long) on top of each other and folding the top 1/3 down and the bottom 1/3 up.
    Spray it lightly with cooking spray (or brush it with olive oil) and press the collar into the back of the slow cooker.
    This will prevent the pasta from burning, as it's hottest at the back of the cooker.
  • In a large bowl, mash the bread and milk into a paste using a fork (this is called a panade).
    Mix in the ground beef and ¼ tsp each salt and pepper and mix well using your hands.
  • In a Dutch oven set over medium heat, warm the olive oil until it shimmers.
    Add the onion, garlic, chili powder and cumin and cook until the onions are soft and lightly browned, about 6–8 minutes.
  • Stir in the beef mixture and cook until no longer pink, about 3 minutes.
    Break up the meat with a wooden spoon as it cooks in order to avoid large chunks.
  • Stir in the beans, tomatoes, tomato paste and brown sugar, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pot (big flavour!) and simmer until slightly thickened, about 4 minutes.
  • Stir in the pasta, 2 ½ cups water, the cheese and 1 tsp of salt; transfer to the prepared slow cooker.
    Cook until the pasta is tender, about 2 hours on high.
  • Remove the foil collar from the pot. Stir well and add additional hot water to loosen the sauce if desired. Season with salt and pepper, if needed, and serve with sour cream or additional cheese.


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