Cincinnati Chili Mac

Cincinnati Chili Mac is a slight twist on the typical 3-Way. Add beans and white onions for a 4-or-5-Way!

By now, my long-time readers know, when the Cincinnati Chili recipes start popping up, it means I’m battling homesickness once again. For someone who wouldn’t touch Cincinnati Chili while living there, I sure act like I’ve loved it since I was a child.

Cincinnati Chili Mac

And you would also think that having not lived in Cincinnati since 1997/98, I’d long be over the whole homesickness thing. But no. At least when I was living in Columbus, I could still pop down on weekends and see my parents–At least until my mom and younger sister moved up to Columbus, once my sister graduated high school. Currently, my dad still lives in Cincinnati, but not for much longer (we’re hoping).

My dad’s put his house on the market. It’s bittersweet. I feel silly for struggling to contain my emotions on this, because, again, I haven’t really lived in Cincinnati since my mom took a job in Columbus to be closer to her parents, who were starting to have some health problems. And since I went to college in Columbus, I really moved away in 1994, and only came back for summers. By the time I graduated in 1998, my dad was the only one still in Cincinnati.

Cincinnati Chili Mac

But my dad’s been having health problems himself, and rather than try and divide his time between my sisters and me, he’s looking at staying just in Columbus. I don’t blame him. That’s where he grew up, it’s home to him, and he told me once a long time ago, the only reason he remained in Cincinnati after he and my mom divorced was because my sister and I were there. My younger sister and her family are now in Columbus, so there will be  someone close to keep an eye on him. While I’d love it if he were to move out here, he jokes he’d never be able to handle the winters. No one seems to believe me when I tell them it only takes one for you to acclimate (though I can’t blame them with as much as I grip about the Season-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named!).

Cincinnati Chili Mac

So I’m sad, because it feels like my last connection to my hometown will soon be gone. It’s kind of daft on my part–I’ve got plenty of friends who still live there, and though my family will soon all be in Columbus, there are places and experiences in Cincinnati I still want to share with the bambino. He needs to attend a Reds game. He needs to have some Graeter’s Ice Cream, as well as UDF Ice Cream. He needs to visit Eden Park, the Cincinnati Zoo, and go to the top of the Carew Tower, and hang out at Fountain Square. And I know there’s a LOT more than I’m forgetting. Heck, there’s plenty of things I never visited when I lived there, and I can only imagine how it’s changed in the last 20+ years. And while I know it’ll never happen, I still occasionally try and talk Jay into moving there. I joke that he owes me–His family spent roughly ten years living outside of Detroit when he was a child before moving back to Brookings, and I’ve already been here twelve years!

When I went looking for something different to do with my batch of Cincinnati Chili this time around, I decided Chili Mac might be fun, though it’s not that different from a 3-way. It’s just different pasta, and slightly easier to eat. Plus, it makes for great leftovers!

Cincinnati Chili Mac

Yield: 8

Cincinnati Chili Mac

Cincinnati Chili Mac
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 6-oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 seasoning packet*
  • 6-8 C water
  • 1 lb. elbow macaroni pasta
  • 2 C shredded mild cheddar cheese


Prepare the Cincinnati chili by combining the ground beef, tomato paste, seasoning packet, and 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil. cover, and cook for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 35 minutes.

During the last 15 minutes of cooking, add in the macaroni. Cook for 15 minutes, or until the pasta is tender. If necessary, add the additional 2 cups of water.

Serve topped with 1/4 C shredded cheese.


*I use a Cincinnati chili seasoning packet in order to make my chili. If you have a from-scratch recipe, feel free to use that instead.

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4 Replies to “Cincinnati Chili Mac”

  1. I was born and raised in Cincinnati. Western Hills. I moved to AZ in 2005. My entire immediate family has since followed behind me. I ALWAYS have my Skyline packets at hand. When football season kicks off I have friends, neighbors and family knocking at my door!
    The smell of it cooking compares to nothing and smells like HOME! Who Dey!

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