Chili mac and cheese in close up, with breadcrumbs and melted cheese.
Antonis Achilleos
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Chili Mac and Cheese

Chili mac. Short for chili mac and cheese. And yes, it’s exactly what you’re thinking. It’s also easy, make-ahead, good old American casserole awesomeness. And it’s going to rock your world. Here’s how to make it.
One chili bun and two slaw dogs on a rimmed baking sheet.
Johhny Autry
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Chili Buns

Chili buns are a traditional Appalachian meal made by slathering hot dog buns with mustard and chili and topping with diced onion.
A large rectangle casserole pan, filled with tater tot nachos topped with sour cream, tomatoes, sour cream, and jalapeños. A wooden serving spoon lays beside the dish.
Ren Fuller
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Tater Tot Nachos ~ Totchos

Tater Tot nachos takes one of the most loved, and easiest, dinners and gives it a crispy, crunchy, potato-filled boost. Topped with chili–vegetarian or filled with beef, it's up to you–and loads of tomatoes, sour cream, and jalapeños, Totchos might be everyone's perfect meal.
A chili cheddar burger on a bun half with cheese sauce being poured over it.
Joe Shymanski
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Chili-Cheddar Burger

This chili-Cheddar burger is the ultimate comfort food mash-up — a sirloin patty topped with thick chili and creamy cheese sauce.
Chili and grated cheddar on top of Fritos in open mini bags of Fritos.
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Frito Pie

Frito pie, essentially chili, cheese, and tortilla chips, is legendary in the midwest and southwest. And though the classic is made in a bag of Fritos that’s split open and smothered with chili, cheese, and your favorite chili toppings, you can easily make it a little more upscale.

Leftover Chili FAQs

How long can you keep leftover chili in the fridge?

If stored in a sealed container and refrigerated, your leftover chili should keep for up to 4 days.

Can you freeze leftover chili?

Absolutely. Chili can be stored in the freezer in airtight containers or sealed freezer bags for up to 6 months.

For the easiest freezing, storing, and thawing, scoop your chili into freezer bags, seal and lay flat in the freezer until frozen. Then you can stack them or stand them up side by side in the freezer. They’ll also thaw way quicker than chili frozen in a container.

My chili is too thick. How should I thin it?

You can thin it by adding beef broth, 1/4 cup at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. If you’re using turkey or chicken chili, use chicken broth.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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  1. Gosh, David! Talk about serendipitous happenstance. I had just decided I really WAS going to make chili with the defrosted ground beef in my fridge, instead of something else…and then I read today’s email from you.

    Now, I have to decide which ONE I’m going to make 🤯. And I only drooled on my phone, over 3 of the pics and recipes, so I guess that means they’re in the running – though I’ll have to grab a few more things from the store tomorrow.

    I do have a question, though. Why didn’t you include the recipe, with acknowledgement, or at least a link, to the recipe for Uncle D’s Chili? I searched your site 1st, of course, but ended up having to resort to doing a Google search.

    Thanks, as always, & I hope you and The One are having a great weekend!

    Oops! Almost forgot! As subscribers, why, after years, are we now being forced to confirm our email addresses, before our comments go into moderation? Unlike many, I am not a phone-in-hand 24/7 kinda person. I actually have a hardwired landline, so many hours may go by before I check my mail again (thus delaying my ‘Yes, this is my email” response). Thanks for listening, and hopefully indulging my curiosity!

    And…I just discovered that the “Save my name, email…” button STILL refuses to save me, though Lord knows, I could most often use it.

    1. Terry, I’m so glad you liked this! There is an error on the Uncle D’s Chili. It was removed by accident, but it will be added back tomorrow. All the credit is in the cili recipe itself.

      As to the sudden need to confirm your email, I’m confused. Noting has changed in the 25 years of having the site. All you need to do is put in you comment, name, and email address, and click “post comment.” There’s no confirmation process. No one else has mentioned this issue to me. Please see the video.

  2. Where did you get those muffin pans, David? They look like antiques. Brilliant, cornmeal in the bottom. I’ll be searching.

    1. Jo Ann, that’s something the prop stylist on the shoot came up with, I believe. I tried to do a reverse photo search, but to no avail….😢

      1. Same here. Look like antiques. Second best and not as interesting would be a muffin top pan. Thanks for the great recipes.

        1. Yeah, I think so, Jo Ann. I’ll keep an eye out. I scouted eBay and antique sites for you, but came up emptyhanded.

  3. Yumzers, David! We also like it on a thick-ish slice of toasty garlic bread, topped with scrambled eggs and some sort of avocado mash-up.