Chili Cheese Pasta Bake

My husband has started his job 2 hours away from us and once the kids are done with school we will be joining him. Till then, we get to see him on the weekends. I worry about what he would be eating during the week I’m not around. He can cook if he has to, but he’s not comfortable with it. I’ve spoiled him way too much.

So, I’ve been making dinners on the weekends with enough to give him extra for dinners throughout the week. I love finding recipes that are great make-ahead dinners. I doubled this recipe to make sure I had enough for dinner that night and for hubster to have dinner later in the week.  The kids and I really enjoyed it. It had the perfect chili flavor one would expect and the pasta and cheese made it even better. I ended up freezing the dish I set aside for my husband and sent it off with him that way. When he was finally able to get around eating it, he said he loved it. This makes a great make-ahead dinner as it froze really well and tasted even better doing it that way.

Chili Cheese Pasta Bake:

*I doubled this recipe with no issues

  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni or any other twisty shaped pasta
  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (85% lean)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 12 oz Colby Jack cheese, shredded (about 2 1/2 cups)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and add dry macaroni; cook until al dente. Reserve 3/4 cup pasta water and drain pasta. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Using the same large pot, wipe dry and heat over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and heat until shimmering. Add ground beef and break it up in pieces to brown. Once browned, remove from pot and discard drippings. Set beef aside.
  4. Add remaining oil to the same large pot and return to medium heat until shimmering. Add onions, garlic, red pepper, chili powder, and cumin; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and begin to brown.
  5. Add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, brown sugar, reserved 3/4 cup pasta water and beef to the pot. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until flavors have blended.
  6. Stir in the cooked pasta, 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer mixture to a 9×13 baking dish and smooth over with a spatula. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until the mixture is hot and bubbling.
  7. Remove from oven and sprinkle the top of the dish with the remaining shredded cheese. Return the dish once again in the oven and bake for 5-10 minutes until the cheese begins to melt and brown. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Source: Joelen Blog via Cook’s Illustrated

8 thoughts on “Chili Cheese Pasta Bake

  1. This is comfort food at its best. This is so nice of you. And if it makes you feel better, I fret about what my wife will eat if I’m out of town. I do most of the cooking, huge surprise there. While she’s capable, she gets home so much later and I don’t want her to have to spend all that time in the kitchen and not eat until 8!

  2. What a sweet wife you are! This really does look delicious and hearty. I’m definitely bookmarking this. I love recipes that are simple, but not lacking in flavor.

    • We miss him so much. Never been apart for this long of a time and I don’t ever want to do this again! Less than one month to go. 🙂 Hoping to close on the house next week.

    • I freeze before baking… After mixing everything together, put in freezer-safe casserole and let cool. Once cool wrap it and freeze it. The day before you want to bake it, take out of freezer and thaw in refrigerator. You’ll want to add about 15 extra minutes to the cooking time if putting in cool from the fridge.

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