Chili Mac for Camping Recipe

Chili mac is a quick and easy recipe that's always a favorite at camp. It's pretty effortless to put together and that's always a bonus when it comes to cooking up a meal at the end of a long day on the trail. It's also one of those hearty, "stick to your gut" kind of meals that's a perfect accompaniment to sitting around a campfire on a chilly night (pun totally intended!). 

This dish also lends itself to a bit of culinary creativity so that you can satisfy the palates of all your traveling companions. While it's perfect just as it is, to paraphrase Mark Darcy ("Bridget Jones's Diary"), you can have some fun with it by adding some optional toppings. If you like a little spice in your life, toss on some jalapeños. If salty and crunchy is what makes you happy, throw some corn chips (or other chip of your choice) on top. Or give it a little zing by sprinkling on some cilantro. The possibilities are endless. 

Now, here's a camp cooking pro tip. If you happen to have a vacuum sealer at your disposal, serving up chili mac at camp can be even faster and easier than it already is. Just prepare it at home in advance, divide it into individual or double servings (this recipe makes 4 generous portions), vacuum seal it, and freeze until you're ready to hit the trail.  

When packing your fridge or cooler for your adventure, just toss in the vacuum sealed bag of chili mac and when you're ready to eat, just heat up the sealed bag in a pot of simmering water for about 5-10 minutes. (If already thawed out in your fridge, which is ideal, 5 minutes should work; otherwise, it should take about 10 minutes if it's still mostly frozen).  

Vacuum sealing is my new favorite way to serve delicious meals at camp without slaving away in my camp kitchen while everyone else is relaxing. Another bonus of vacuum sealing is that keeps your food fresh longer and it reduces bulky packaging and containers, saving space in your fridge (or cooler). Because, trust me, no matter how big you think your fridge's never big enough! 

If you need to stock up your camp kitchen, we've got everything you need on the website from portable fridges and coolers, to propane stoves, plates and bowls, utensils, and more. Just head on over to our "Camp Kitchen" section to find what you need!



  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil 
  • 1 small onion, diced 
  • 1 lb. ground beef 
  • 4 Tbsp. tomato paste 
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder 
  • 1/2 Tbsp. cumin 
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika 
  • 1 tsp. sea salt, more or less to taste 
  • 1 tsp. coarsely ground pepper, more or less to taste 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2 packages Ready Pasta elbow noodles 
  • 1 (14.5oz) can kidney beans, drained 
  • 1 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained 
  • 1/2 cup beef broth 
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese 
  • Toppings (optional): 
    • Extra cheese 
    • Jalapeños 
    • Green onions 
    • Cilantro 
    • Corn chips



  • In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat for about one minute, then add beef and cook until browned. 
  • Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 3-5 minutes. 
  • Add garlic and sauté for another minute. 
  • Add tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper, mixing to combine. 
  • Add kidney beans, diced tomatoes, and broth, stirring to combine. 
  • Let simmer for 10-15 minutes. 
  • Stir in noodles and cheese, and let simmer 5 minutes to soften noodles. 
  • Serve with your favorite toppings.
  • Enjoy!


(You can download a PDF to print by clicking on the image below.)

Chili Mac Recipe


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