Granny's Chili Mac

April 25, 2016 By:
30 minutes
30 minutes
Making this dish took me straight back to my childhood, the smell and taste of comfort foods that linger through the years. My mother called her dish of seasoned beans, meat, and macaroni “chili mac” and served it right out of the skillet, adding shredded cheese or grated parmesan on the plate. Then my grandmother started adding cottage cheese, layering it in a casserole dish and calling it “Johnny Marzetti,” a name which I later found originated in a Columbus, Ohio, restaurant. I prefer this method now as baking allows the flavors to bloom. There are many possible variations, limited only by your imagination. Try adding a can of cream of mushroom soup or creamed corn, olives, celery, other kinds of cheese, or pasta other than the humble macaroni. Make plenty, as you’ll want to have some leftovers, which are even good cold.



  1. In a skillet over medium high heat, brown ground beef with garlic, onions and green peppers until beef is thoroughly cooked and onions are translucent. Drain.
  2. In the same skillet, begin heating tomatoes and beans, then add beef and sautéed vegetables.
  3. Add chili powder. Stir and simmer until the juice from the beans and tomatoes have thickened to the consistency of gravy.
  4. In lightly greased 2-quart casserole dish, add layer of drained, cooked macaroni.
  5. Spoon cottage cheese over top of noodles and gently spread.
  6. Gently cover with a layer of meat-beans-vegetable mixture.
  7. Top with shredded cheddar cheese.
  8. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, until casserole is bubbly and cheese is browned. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.