Keto chili mac and cheese is a delicious comfort food dish made healthy. Swap chopped cauliflower for the pasta for a hearty low carb meal.
Oh the weather outside is frightful, but this keto chili mac is so delightful.
Seriously, it’s absolutely ghastly here in Portland, with driving rain and gusty winds, and it’s been like that for weeks. We see peeks of sun here and there for maybe 20 minutes at a time, and then the rain takes over again.
And they are predicting snow next week, which if you know anything about Portland, you know that even an inch will bring the whole city to a grinding halt. Because we simply don’t have the snow removal equipment and it often turns icy and treacherous quickly.
So if there are multiple snow days next week, I am going to armed with ridiculous amounts of keto comfort food, like this Cauliflower Chili Mac and Cheese.
Behold the versatile cauliflower
Let me first be clear that I labor under no illusions that cauliflower is really macaroni. I am not that crazy – not yet, anyway.
And some reader or other is surely going to take me to task for suggesting that cauliflower can replace macaroni in any way, shape, or form. But I thumb my nose at those naysayers because I am enjoying a big bowl of keto chili mac with non-macaroni and my mouth is too full to say anything.
The reality is that when you start on a keto diet, you have to make some compromises and accommodations. If you are constantly searching for replacements for old favourites that taste, feel, and behave exactly the same, you will surely be disappointed. And you will likely jump ship from your healthy new lifestyle early on.
It’s time to change your expectations, and embrace cauliflower for what it is. It’s delicious in its own right and exceptionally versatile at playing the role of some of your old standbys. Such as cauliflower “potato” salad, cauliflower risotto, and cauliflower shepherd’s pie.
Cauliflower can play the role of rice and potatoes, so why not pasta too? I already have a lovely cauliflower mac and cheese recipe, but I was drawn to some delicious looking Chili Mac on Pinterest, and decided that cauliflower could be good in that too. And oh it really is delicious!
How to make keto chili mac
There’s nothing earth-shattering about this recipe or the method. Just like regular chili mac, you whip yourself up a nice pot of chili, first and foremost.
Of course, keto chili is bean-free so that helps cut down the carb count. I also always keep my onion to a bare minimum for flavour, since onions have surprising amount of carbs.
Once the chili is nicely cooked and simmered through, you add chopped raw cauliflower. I cut mine even smaller than the natural florets, into 1 inch pieces, so they resembled macaroni a little bit more.
Unlike macaroni, however, cauliflower doesn’t absorb any liquid. In fact, it tends to release liquid, so there’s no need to add broth or water to the chili. And cauliflower cooks quickly as well, so you will only need 10 to 15 minutes for it to be tender.
Finally, grab a brick of your favorite cheddar (I used Cabot Colby Jack), grate it, and stir it in.
What do you end up with? Rich, hearty keto comfort food that won’t spike your blood sugar or add inches to your hips. Who needs macaroni when keto food is this good?
Want more keto comfort food recipes?
Keto Chili Mac and Cheese
- 1 tbsp bacon grease Sub any oil or fat
- 1 lb ground beef
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- 14 ounce can tomato puree
- 1 small head cauliflower cut into 1 inch pieces
- 8 ounces cheddar cheese grated
- Heat the bacon grease or other oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the beef and cook until mostly cooked through with a little pink remaining, breaking up any clumps with a wooden spoon.
- Add the onions, garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook until fragrant, one more minute. Stir in the tomatoes.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the cauliflower and continue to cook until tender, another 15 minutes or so.
- Add the cheese and stir in until melted. Serve with your favorite chili toppings such as sour cream and avocado.
Interesting note: you mention no additional water or broth needed however, the 2 times I’ve made this recipe, the consistency is very thick as it cooks down. The chili ends up more like a casserole consistency than the pictures show in the recipe.
That said, the flavor is excellent and it pairs well with just about any fresh green veggies you want to add as a side! I’ll add water or beef broth next time if needed.
This is on my regular rotation of recipes from your site. My wife and I enjoy several of them regularly!
I made this for lunch today. My husband and I both loved it! It will definitely get added to the regular rotation of favorite recipes. I’m always so impressed when I try one of your recipes for the first time. It always comes out perfect. Thank you for all you do to make consistently great and easy to follow recipes! Most of what I cook these days comes from your site.
OMGGGGG Carolyn! I made this for the first time tonight and it was freakin’ AHHHMAZING!!!!!!!
Probably THE BEST last minute what am I going to make for dinner tonight meal I’ve ever had!! Can’t thank you enough and can’t wait for leftovers tomorrow!!!! Lolol. It might even be breakfast! Hahahahaha
So glad you enjoyed it!
I made this for dinner last night. I ended up using ground pork sausage since that’s all I had and also used a can of diced tomatoes rather than puree. Ended up adding a couple tablespooons of tomato paste to help thicken it a bit. Worked beautifully! I added maybe a cup or a little less of chicken broth since the chili came out a little thicker than I wanted. But the flavors are delicious and I can’t wait for leftovers tonight! Next time I make it I’ll definitely use ground beef and the puree.
My entire family loved this! Even our daughter that doesn’t eat low carb. I highly recommend this for those chilly days/nights.
I made this tonight and wow! I didn’t measure (I’m bad about that), so my dish wasn’t liquidity but perfect consistency. I also used ground turkey just because of cost. It was so delicious! One of my new favorite dishes.
Do you think a package of frozen riced cauliflower would work?
It will work but not the same way. I’d just make the chili and then dump that in at the end and cook until heated through.
I made this today and it was excellent! My husband loved it as well. I wasn’t sure how he would react to the cauliflower, but he actually loved the texture of it. Thank you for all of your wonderful recipes. I will be making this a lot this Winter.
This looks amazing. I do a lot of veg in my chili.. wonder if that would still be good in this recipe?
Lois E Weyler says
How many cups or oz. of cauliflower would you say a small head is? BTW, love all your recipes.
Made the Chili Mac tonight. Glad I made a double batch because it’s delicious!
So good! I love this dish!
This was delish! Only had diced tomatoes so added some chicken bone broth. Turned out great!