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Keto Chili Mac

by Chris Carlton

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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.

Top down photo of keto chili mac and cheese in a large pot over a striped napkin.

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.

A large blue dutch oven with chili and cauliflower, and a bowl of grated cheese off to the side.

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!

A bowl full of keto chili mac with avocado and sliced jalapeño.

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?

A white bowl filled with keto-friendly chili mac and cheese over a striped napkin.

Want more keto comfort food recipes?

Order Keto Soups and Stews Cookbook
A top down photo of keto chili mac in the pot.

Keto Chili Mac and Cheese

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.


Course: Main Course

Cuisine: American

Keyword: chili mac and cheese, keto chili mac

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Servings: 8 servings

Calories: 305kcal


  • 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.

Nutrition Facts

Keto Chili Mac and Cheese

Amount Per Serving (1 serving = about 1 cup)

Calories 305
Calories from Fat 182

% Daily Value*

Fat 20.2g31%

Carbohydrates 4.7g2%

Fiber 1.3g5%

Protein 23g46%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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