Cincinnati Chili Mac

1 tablespoon canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 lb ground chicken (or sub in lean ground beef)
28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
15 oz canned dark red kidney beans, drained
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 oz hot, cooked, elbow macaroni

to serve:
shredded sharp cheddar cheese
chopped onion


Heat oil in a large skillet. Saute the onion and garlic until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken (or beef!). Brown, breaking up large chunks until nearly fully cooked, about 8-10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, spices, and beans. Simmer until warmed through and the liquid is nearly completely evaporated, about 5-10 minutes. Stir in the pasta, cook 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and onions. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:

I was planning to make chicken chili mac tonight for dinner as it is oddly chilly for May and was trying to think of a way to make it more exciting when it hit me, Cinncinati Chili is basically chili mac but layered rather than all mixed together. There are several ways to eat Cincinnati style chili:

3-way: Spaghetti topped with chili, covered with shredded cheddar cheese
4-way: Spaghetti topped with chili, cheese, onions
5-way: Spaghetti topped with beans, chili, cheese & onions

I just swapped out the spaghetti for macaroni noodles and stirred the kidney beans into the chili rather than layering them on top. The result was a super comforting dinner. I used ground chicken so it would be a bit lighter but feel free to use the more traditional beef.

Can’t get enough? Make traditional Cincinnati Chili, this slow cooker version, and even Cincinnati Chili Dogs and Cincinnati Chili-Inspired Sloppy Joes.

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