Game Day Chili Mac

Game Day Chili Mac

Chili mac is a favorite MRE (ready-to-eat meal) of United States service members — and it’s what CNN anchor Brianna Keilar is making to honor them for one of the biggest college football rivalries — the Army-Navy Game — taking place tomorrow, December 11. Boosted by warming spices, this Cincinnati-style chili dish is satisfying, filling fare for both game day and other cold nights — and quite the upgrade from an MRE pouch. You could also omit the spaghetti and make this as a topping for chili dogs.

Makes 4 servings


2 pounds ground beef
1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped + 1 more for topping, chopped (optional)
5 cups beef stock
8 ounces tomato paste
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 ½ tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (or red pepper flakes)
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound spaghetti (1 package)
Lots of shredded medium cheddar


  1. In a Dutch oven or large pot, brown ground beef and 1 chopped onion, about 10 minutes. Brianna likes the ground beef to be more broken up, so she used a handheld potato masher or pastry blender to separate chunks (you can also do so with a spatula).
  2. Drain fat if needed.
  3. Add beef stock, then simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add tomato paste, chili powder, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, cocoa powder, garlic powder, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, allspice, cloves and bay leaf. Simmer — uncovered so that chili reduces — for 1 hour.
  5. Bring a separate pot of salted water to a boil and cook spaghetti until al dente.
  6. Remove the bay leaf from the chili. Use a spoon to skim off fat if needed.
  7. Serve chili over spaghetti. Top with cheese and, if preferred, 1 chopped onion.