Quick & Easy CrockPot Potato Soup

CrockPot Potato Soup is very easy to prep and your whole family will love it. A creamy potato base is flavored with onion, bacon and cheese.

Slow cooker potato soup is a creamy comforting take on mashed potatoes and has all of the same flavors we add to our twice baked potatoes.

A ladle serving CrockPot potato soup made with bacon and green onions.

How to Make Slow Cooker Potato Soup

Making potato soup in the crock pot is easy to do. A quick overview of this recipe:

  1. Cook bacon until crispy.
  2. Add (raw) potatoes and other ingredients to the slow cooker. Set it and forget it!
  3. When potatoes are tender, mash a bit to thicken and add a splash of cream.

Serve and enjoy with green onions, cheese and extra bacon as a garnish!

Process shots of potato soup ingredients being added to the slow cooker.

Potato Soup Consistency

To Make it Thicker There many methods to thicken soups but really, mashing or pureeing part of the soup works the best. With this method you are using the soup ingredients themselves to create a creamier base.

  • (Easiest Method) Use a potato masher. You’ll definitely want this soup to have some texture, so go easy!
  • Use an immersion blender right in the slow cooker.
  • Put part of the soup into a blender (be sure not to seal the lid so the steam can escape).
  • You could also add a sprinkle (or two) of instant potato flakes.

To Make Potato Soup Thinner If you’ve over-mashed a little or are finding your soup too thick, add a bit more broth, cream or even milk.

Potatoes being mashed and cheese and sour cream being added to CrockPot potato soup.

Reheating Potato Soup

CrockPot Potato Soup will taste just as good the next day and reheats beautifully. It should last up to 5 days in the fridge.

Stovetop Heat soup over medium heat until hot (do not boil). Ladle into bowls, garnish and serve.

Microwave Microwave soup until hot stirring every 30-40 seconds. Top with extra cheese, bacon crumbles, a sprinkle of chili flakes… yum!

Oven Pour soup into a casserole dish (who knew?), add cheese as topping, and bake in the oven on 350°F for 20 to 30 minutes. Top with croutons and dinner is served!

Can Potato Soup Be Frozen?

Yes (and no). Potatoes don’t generally freeze well as they tend to fall apart.

Since the potatoes in this soup are mashed, it’s ok to freeze. The texture may change very slightly but it’ll still taste great! Do not add the dairy before freezing, stir in the cream/sour cream while reheating.

More Favorite Soups

CrockPot Potato Soup

Slow cooked creamy potato soup garnished with bacon and cheddar cheese.

  • 8 slices bacon
  • 2 pounds russet potatoes (peeled and 1-inch diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme (leaves removed from stem, or 1/2 tsp dry )
  • 1/2 onion (diced)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3-1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese (shredded)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 3 green onions (green tops sliced thinly)
  1. Cook bacon until crispy over medium-high heat. Remove from the pan and chop.

  2. In a 6-quart slow cooker add potatoes, garlic, thyme leaves, onion, black pepper, and bacon (reserve a little bit of bacon for garnish).

  3. Pour chicken stock into the slow cooker and stir to combine.
  4. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours (or 6-8 hours on low) or until the potatoes are fork-tender.

  5. When the potatoes are soft use a potato masher to mash some of the potatoes in the slow cooker. The more you mash, the thicker the soup.

  6. Add cheddar cheese, sour cream, and heavy cream to the mixture. Stir to combine.

  7. Place the lid back on the slow cooker and let the soup warm through on high, about 30 minutes. Stir the soup a few times while it’s warming up.
  8. Serve the soup topped with green onions.

Heavy cream can be replaced with evaporated milk.

Ham can be added in place of bacon in this recipe.

Add any cheeses you like, parmesan and gruyere are great choices!

A big bowl of CrockPot potato soup with cheese, bacon, and green onions.
A big bowl of CrockPot potato soup with cheese, bacon, and green onions.
Top photo - A ladle serving CrockPot potato soup made with bacon and green onions. Bottom photo - Cheese and sour cream being added to CrockPot potato soup.

Pimento Cheese: An Easy Dip or a Spread!

Pimento Cheese is the best Southern style spread! Sharp cheddar, cream cheese, pimentos and seasonings make for a dip or spread that’s crazy good. I could seriously eat this stuff with a spoon!

It’s also versatile, you can use it as an appetizer served with pretzels, bagel chips or veggies, anything that will convey this yummy stuff from plate to mouth! Pimento cheese is also great as spread for sandwiches or grilled cheese sandwiches,  either by itself or, as a mayo alternative!

Pimento cheese mixed in a glass bowl.

What is Pimento Cheese?

Pimento Cheese is one of those old fashioned Southern favorites that over time has become a staple. In the South it’s sometimes known as “Carolina Caviar” or “Southern Pate.” But no matter what you call it, everyone loves it because of its distinctive and cheesy flavor!

This is an easy combination of mayonnaise (Duke’s is best), sharp cheddar cheese and of course pimentos.

So, What are Pimentos? These little red bits are what you find in olives and add great flavor to dips, dressings and casseroles. They’re made from small sweet peppers called “Cherry Peppers” (more about pimentos here).

How to Make Pimento Cheese

Making pimento cheese is as easy as 1, 2, 3! Which is great, considering how fast we seem to go through it.

  1. Shred sharp cheddar cheese by hand or in a processor.
  2. Combine all the ingredients except for the shredded cheese and pimentos. Mix thoroughly until smooth and creamy.
  3. Fold in the shredded cheese and pimentos last to make this spread super chunky and delicious! Pretty easy, right?

Two images showing the pimento cheese ingredients being mixed in stages.

To Serve Pimento Cheese

Spread onto your favorite crackers, enjoy in a sandwich, or set out as a dip with veggies, pretzels, or bagel chips!

  • Try it with simple celery dipping sticks or other veggies
  • Perfect for veggie platters or with an array of chips and dips!
  • Roll it up in tortillas with chopped cucumber and slice into fancy sandwiches!
  • LOVE to dip pretzels in this stuff!
  • Spread it on burgers, wraps or sandwiches

Can You Freeze It?

Cream cheese has a tendency to separate and become grainy/liquid when frozen, so freezing is not recommended. Pimento Cheese should keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Variations

  • Add in some sundried tomatoes or finely chopped chives.
  • Experiment with different cheeses.
  • Diced jalapeños give this spread a spicy kick.

Overhead image of pimento cheese on a cutting board with crackers and celery.

Delicious Party Dips

Pimento Cheese

A festive dip that’s bursting with zest.

  • 2 1/2 cups cheddar cheese (shredded, extra sharp)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 8 oz cream cheese (softened)
  • 4 oz pimentos (drained and chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  1. Combine mayonnaise, cream cheese, Worcestershire sauce, yellow mustard, garlic powder and cayenne pepper in a bowl. Mix with a hand mixer until fluffy.
  2. Fold in pimentos and cheddar cheese.

For a smoother texture, mix cheddar with a hand mixer before folding in the pimentos.

Top photo - Pimento cheese mixed in a glass bowl. Bottom photo - Pimento Cheese ingredients being mixed in a clear bowl.
Overhead image of pimento cheese on a cutting board with crackers and celery.
Overhead image of pimento cheese on a cutting board with crackers and celery.

Taco Stuffed Pasta Shells (Freezer Friendly)

Taco stuffed pasta shells are a great twist on classic stuffed shells Jumbo pasta shells are filled with a creamy seasoned beef & vegetable mixture and topped with cheese. 

All you need to add to this delicious taco inspired casserole is a simple tossed salad, or some roasted broccoli!

A serving of taco stuffed shells on a plate garnished with parsley.

What Pasta To Use

Jumbo shells are sold with the pasta and are available in most supermarkets (or online at Amazon).  They often come in a box (to keep them from breaking) next to the lasagna. They are called conchiglie, because they resemble conch shells.

If you can’t find them, try substituting for the smaller shells and creating a casserole (layered like I do with my baked ziti), rather than stuffed shells.

How To Make Taco Stuffed Pasta Shells

To make these stuffed pasta shells:

  1. Cook the pasta shells to al dente (they’ll cook a bit more in the oven).
  2. Brown the ground beef and onions and drain fat.

Two images showing taco stuffed shells filling in a pan then mixed and combined with cream cheese.

  1. Add tomatoes, taco seasoning, water, and veggies (per the recipe below). Cook until all of the water is evaporated.
  2. Fill each pasta shell with a few tablespoons of the beef mixture. Add them to a casserole dish.

Two images showing jumbo pasta shells being filled with the taco mixture and then lined up in a casserole dish.

  1. Top with salsa. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Then, add cheese and bake an additional 10 minutes to melt the cheese.

You bet, these are even freezable! You can prepare these up until step 5, and store them in the fridge for up to 24 hours or freeze them (more on that below).

Two images showing taco filled pasta shells on a casserole dish topped with sauce and then with shredded cheese.

To Make This a Freezer Meal

This meal can be made ahead of time and frozen.  Prepare as directed but don’t add the cheese on top and don’t bake it. Ensure the filling is cooled and cover tightly with plastic wrap and then wrap in foil.

To Cook: Remove it from the freezer the night before and refrigerate overnight.  By dinner time the next day it’s ready to top with cheese and bake.

Storing and Reheating The Leftovers

Have leftovers? No worries! They will last about 3 days in the fridge, covered.

These reheat pretty well. To reheat this stuffed taco casserole, microwave for a couple minutes, or reheat in the oven at 350°F for about 10-12 minutes.

More Tasty Taco Takes

We love traditional ground beef tacos and often cook the meat up in batches for meals. Add taco meat to your regular ground beef dishes to spice them up like taco lasagna or taco casserole.

Leftover meat is also great on Taco Salad or in a taco soup recipe!

Taco Stuffed Pasta Shells

Taco Stuffed Pasta Shells. Jumbo pasta shells filled with a creamy seasoned beef & vegetable mixture and topped with cheese.  This is the perfect weeknight meal and fun twist on Taco night!

Filling

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 onion
  • 2 envelopes taco seasoning
  • 1 14.5 oz can of ((low sodium) diced tomatoes with juice)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped veggies ((red, yellow or green peppers, corn, zucchini… whatever you have on hand))
  • 1 package ((8 ounces) cream cheese, cubed)

Other

  • 24 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
  • 2 Cups Salsa
  • 2 Cups grated cheddar and/or monterey jack cheese
  • Sour cream for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Cook pasta shells al dente according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

  3. Brown ground beef and onion in a large pan until no pink remains.

  4. Add in undrained tomatoes, taco seasoning, 3/4 cup of water and veggies. Cook 5 minutes or until liquid has evaporated. Stir in cream cheese until melted.

  5. Fill each pasta shell with about 2-3 tablespoons of the beef mixture. Place into a casserole dish.

  6. Top with salsa. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle cheese on top. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

To Make Ahead: Prepare up to step 5. Refrigerate or freeze overnight.

To Cook Frozen Shells: Defrost in the fridge overnight and proceed with baking as directed.

 

 

Taco Stuffed Pasta Shells served on a white plate.
Taco Stuffed Pasta Shells served on a white plate.
Top Photo - Taco Stuffed Pasta Shells served on a white plate. Bottom photo - Pasta shells in a casserole dish.

Pineapple Casserole: Easy as 1, 2, 3!

Wooden spoon scooping into a dish of pineapple casserole.

Pineapple Casserole is a salty-sweet side dish that’s popular in the South and always a hit at pot lucks. It’s made with pineapple, cheddar cheese, salty crackers, and a few other ingredients and takes just 5 minutes to prepare!

If you’re serving up a honey baked ham for the holidays, this pineapple cheese casserole compliments it perfectly. Finish this meal off with a side of cheesy scalloped potatoes and some 30 minute dinner rolls, and I promise, everyone is going to want seconds!

Wooden spoon scooping out a helping of pineapple casserole.

What Is Pineapple Casserole?

This casserole is a popular Southern side dish made with crushed pineapple, pineapple chunks, and cheddar cheese with crackers.

I know, it sounds like a really strange dish, but the flavors work! And I promise if you show up with this dish and a pitcher of Christmas Punch, you’ll be everyone’s favorite person! Really, it’s the best!

How To Make Pineapple Casserole:

This pineapple casserole recipe is as easy as 1, 2, 3! With just a 5-minute prep time and 30 minutes to bake, it’s the perfect last-minute side dish for the holidays!

  1. Filling: Combine ingredients together and transfer to a baking dish. A 9 or 10-inch pie pan will work or a 9×9 or 10×10-inch square dish will work. If you want to double the recipe for a large crowd, use a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  2. Topping: Melt butter in the microwave, then mix crushed crackers until evenly coated.
  3. Combine: Spread the crackers over the top of the pineapple mixture and bake until the crumbs are golden brown.

Ingredients for pineapple casserole in a metal mixing bowl.

Is Pineapple Casserole A Dessert?

Not really, but it could go either way. It does taste like a salty pineapple pie!

For a yummy pineapple dessert, I love serving this easy 3 Ingredient Pineapple Angel Food Cake!

Can Pineapple Casserole Be Made Ahead Of Time?

Yes, it can, but honestly, it’s so easy to prep that I think prepping it ahead is actually harder because there are more steps to take.

If you MUST prep it ahead:

  • Mix together the pineapple filling
  • Transfer it to the baking dish
  • Wrap with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

Just before baking, mix together the topping and sprinkle over the pineapple mixture. You don’t want to add the crackers prior or they could get soggy.

Wooden spoon scooping into a dish of pineapple casserole.

Does Pineapple Casserole Need To Be Refrigerated?

Yes. Once baked, it can be left at room temperature for an hour or two and then should be placed in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic wrap or in an air-tight container.

More Delicious Side Dish Recipes

Pineapple Casserole

This casserole is a salty-sweet side dish that's popular in the South and always a hit at pot lucks.

  • 20 ounces crushed pineapple (drained)
  • 20 ounces pineapple chunks (drained)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese (shredded)

Topping

  • 1/2 cup salted butter (melted)
  • 40 Ritz crackers (crushed)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

  2. In a large bowl, combine the pineapple, flour, sugar, and cheese. Transfer the mixture to a 9×9 or 10×10-inch baking dish. A 9 or 10-inch pie dish may also be used.

  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter and crushed crackers until evenly coated.

  4. Sprinkle the crackers over the top of the pineapple mixture and bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm.

  • For a larger crowd, double the recipe and bake in a 9×13-inch pan.
  • Granulated sugar may be used instead of light brown sugar.
  • Other butter crackers may be used instead of Ritz, you should have about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of crushed crackers.

Close up of a scoop of pineapple casserole being removed from the casserole dish.
Close up of a scoop of pineapple casserole being removed from the casserole dish.
Top image showing the baked pineapple casserole. Bottom image of all the ingredients in a pot.

Easy Broccoli Rice Casserole

Broccoli Rice Casserole from Scratch!! This delicious side is easy to make.. and if you add chicken or ham it makes a great main dish!

This Broccoli Rice Casserole recipe is made from scratch with no condensed soup! Fresh broccoli cooked until tender crisp and fluffy rice come together in a creamy cheesy homemade sauce to create a family favorite side dish!

This cheesy broccoli rice casserole is great served alongside our Crispy Baked Chicken with a tossed salad for the perfect easy meal!

Broccoli Rice Casserole baked with cheese on top

If you’re looking for a side dish your whole family is going to love, this broccoli rice casserole is the answer!  I’ve combined my favorite velvety cheese sauce with a combination of broccoli & rice and baked it until bubbly.  The result is a side (or a quick meatless meal that my whole family loves)!

How Do You Make Broccoli Rice Casserole?

Don’t let the homemade sauce scare you away from giving this recipe a try, this from scratch cheese sauce tastes amazing (much better than just adding in a can of soup)!

Creamy cheese sauce ingredients in a sauce pan.

  1. The sauce for this recipe starts with a roux (which is just butter and flour cooked and milk added). Let the butter and flour cook for a few minutes before adding milk for the best flavor.
  2. Slowly stir in milk a bit at a time while whisking and cook until thick and bubbly. Add cheeses and stir until melted and creamy.
  3. Toss cheese sauce with broccoli and rice and bake in a casserole dish.

Broccoli Rice Casserole ingredients in a bowl.

Variations on Broccoli Rice Casserole

  • Lighten it up: To lighten this up a little bit you can use light cheese and lowfat milk with great results. We’ve also subbed in brown rice or quinoa (or even Cauliflower Rice) with amazing results.
  • Add protein: We very often add in chicken to make a chicken and rice casserole (the perfect way to enjoy your leftover baked chicken breasts).  Turkey or ham work great too.
  • Swap the Cheeses: Out of cheddar?  Use swiss, monterey jack or whatever you have on hand.
  • Add veggies: Add in cauliflower or whatever other veggies you have on hand to turn it from a side into a whole meal!

Two images showing the broccoli rice casserole before and after being baked.

Serving Suggestions

Broccoli Rice Casserole is great as an entrée for vegetarians, but if you are a meat-eater, it goes perfectly with any kind of protein! It’s a perfect complement to roasted chicken, pork chops, or even a beef roast!

Add a crunchy, cold salad, some dinner rolls with butter!

Cheesy Dishes You’ll Love

Broccoli Rice Casserole from Scratch

This Broccoli Rice Casserole is made from scratch (and contains no condensed soup). Fresh crisp broccoli and fluffy rice come together in a creamy cheesy homemade sauce to create a family favorite side dish!

  • 6 cups fresh broccoli cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 cups cooked white rice

SAUCE

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup onion (diced (about 1 small))
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon each garlic & black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (divided)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Cook onion and butter on medium-low heat until softened and translucent. Stir in flour, garlic powder and pepper. Cook an additional 2 minutes.
  3. Gradually pour in milk while whisking. Continue whisking over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and add dry mustard, paprika, cream cheese and 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese. Stir until melted.
  4. Place broccoli in boiling water for about 2 minutes. You still want it slightly crisp as it cooks more in the oven.
  5. Stir together rice, broccoli and cheese sauce. Place in a greased 2 qt casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese and bake 35 minutes or until bubbly and cheese lightly browned.

Top image - close up of broccoli rice casserole. Bottom image - broccoli rice casserole before being baked.>/div>

Close up of broccoli rice casserole.
Close up of broccoli rice casserole.

Easy Cheesy Broccoli Casserole (from scratch)

Cheesy Broccoli Casserole is going to be your family’s new favorite side dish! Tender broccoli florets are smothered in an easy cheese sauce and topped with buttery crumbs. Bake until golden and bubbly!

Turn this into a meal by adding leftover baked chicken breasts, leftover turkey or even leftover baked ham!

Broccoli casserole being served from a casserole dish

Ingredients in Broccoli Casserole

BROCCOLI

  • Fresh broccoli best in this recipe
  • Boil or steam broccoli just until tender crisp (do not overcook or your casserole will be soggy)
  • Frozen broccoli can be used in place of fresh but the casserole will be softer (defrost first)
  • Whether using fresh or frozen, drain very well to keep the sauce from getting watery.

CHEESE SAUCE

  • Cheese sauce can be made with any cheese you’d like
  • Dry mustard adds a bit of depth, if you don’t have any, add a small dash of Worcestershire or dijon mustard

CRUMB TOPPING

  • Buttery round crackers can be replaced with any kind of crackers
  • Panko bread crumbs can be used, add a bit of extra butter to the topping

How to Make Broccoli Casserole

This casserole is as easy as 1,2,3!

  1. Boil or steam broccoli until tender crisp.
  2. Make the homemade cheese sauce (per recipe below) and toss with broccoli.
  3. Top with buttery crumbs and bake until golden and bubbly.

Homemade cheese sauce for making broccoli casserole

Variations

You can swap out other veggies (cauliflower or asparagus) for some or all of the broccoli. Add in ham or leftover Chicken Breasts to make this a main dish.

Pasta or rice are great additions but do soak up some of the sauce so if you’re adding rice, I’d suggest using a Broccoli Rice Casserole recipe to get the best ratios.

To Make Ahead of Time

Prepare as directed keeping the topping in a separate container. Cover and refrigerate up to 48 hours.

To bake remove from the fridge 30 minutes before baking and don’t put the crumb mixture on top. Bake 15 minutes and stir. Add crumb mixture and bake an additional 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. You may need to add up to an additional 10 minutes to heat through.

Broccoli with cheese sauce in a casserole dish to make broccoli casserole

Leftover Broccoli Casserole

To reheat broccoli casserole, cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven at 350 degrees. In the microwave reheat until heated through (the crumb may not stay as crisp this way).

As the cheese sauce is homemade, I would not recommend freezing this dish as dairy can change consistency when frozen.

More Broccoli Faves

Cheesy Broccoli Casserole

This creamy broccoli and cheese casserole is pure comfort food and a delicious side dish for any meal!

  • 2 pounds fresh broccoli* (cut into bite sized pieces (approx. 10 cups))
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 medium onion (diced)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Topping

  • 1 cup buttery crackers (coarsely crushed)
  • 1/4 cup cheddar
  • 2 tablespoons butter (melted)
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Boil broccoli in a large pot for 2-3 minutes or until tender crisp. Drain very well.
  3. In a saucepan, cook onion in butter until tender. Add in flour, salt & dry mustard, allow to cook 1 minute.
  4. Add milk a little bit at a time whisking after each addition until smooth. Continue whisking over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Stir cream cheese until smooth.
  5. Remove from heat and add in cheddar and parmesan cheeses. Toss with broccoli and pour into a 3qt baking dish.

  6. Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over broccoli cheese mixture. Bake at 375°F for 20-25 minutes or until heated through and bubbly.

Fresh broccoli can be substituted with 2 pounds frozen broccoli, defrosted and well drained. Texture will be softer.

A serving of broccoli casserole being scooped with a wooden spoon.
A serving of broccoli casserole being scooped with a wooden spoon.
Top photot - A serving of broccoli casserole being scooped with a wooden spoon. Bottom photo - cheese sauce being poured over broccoli.

Chili Mac Skillet (One Pan Meal)

Supper never fails to satisfy when you serve this Chili Mac Skillet. This cheesy, meaty meal combines ground beef, macaroni, and cheddar cheese in a thick tomato sauce enriched with beef broth.

Make this your go-to recipe when you need to stretch your food budget and still put a smile on everyone’s face! Serve this hearty meal with a light tomato cucumber salad and a slice of garlic bread to soak up every last drop!

Chli Mac in a skillet topped with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese

What is Chili Mac?

Chili Mac is a fresh take on an American Goulash recipe, with a flavorful Tex-Mex flair, thanks to the addition of chili powder and herbs. Make it on the stovetop in a pot for an easy meal that’s a breeze to prep!

Ingredients for Chili Mac

Not only is the shopping, prepping and cooking for this homemade one pot meal super easy, but cleanup is a breeze too. Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

  •  Base: ground beef, beef broth, elbow macaroni
  • Toppings: cheddar cheese
  • Veggies: crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, onions, garlic cloves
  • Sugar & Spice: parsley, basil, oregano, chili powder, beef bouillon cube, sugar

Substitutions

If you prefer, substitute ground turkey or chicken for the beef and use chicken broth and bouillon. Penne pasta, rotini or shells will also serve in place of the macaroni. Add canned black beans, bell peppers or corn to stretch this recipe even more.

For maximum flavor and bite, use extra sharp cheddar. Pepper jack or Colby also work well in this recipe. Consider giving chili mac more of a Mexican vibe by getting creative with cumin powder, jalapenos, or chopped cilantro.

Ingredients to make Chili Mac in a large skillet

To Make this One Pan Skillet Meal

Follow these simple steps and you’ll have dinner on the table in a flash:

  1. Brown the ground beef with onion and garlic and drain off any fat.
  2. Add all the ingredients to the same pan (per recipe below) expect the cheese.
  3. Cover and cook until the macaroni is tender, stirring occasionally.

Once cooked, adjust seasoning, top with shredded cheddar, a sprinkle of green onion or cilantro and serve.

An overhead image of chili mac ready to serve

Don’t Forget the Sides!

The beauty of one pot meals like this is that you don’t have to fuss too much with sides. Serve chili mac with tortilla chips or tangy panzanella salad for a welcome crunch.

Baked corn on the cob or tomato avocado salad are also tasty and light sides that will complement the stick-to-your-ribs heartiness of chili mac.

How to Reheat It

This is a terrific meal to make in advance to allow the flavors to deepen and develop. Chili mac will keep in the fridge for up to four days, or in the freezer for up to four months.

To reheat, thaw and then pop into the microwave until steaming hot. Or you can take it straight from the freezer to the oven and bake until bubbling hot throughout.

Macaroni Madness

Chili Mac Skillet

Creamy tex-mex infused pasta skillet!

  • 1/2 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 3/4 pound dry macaroni noodles
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon each dried parsley, basil and oregano
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
  1. Finely dice the onion (or grate with a cheese grater). Add onion, beef and garlic to a pan over medium heat. Cook until no pink remains. Drain any fat.

  2. Add remaining ingredients except cheese. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and cover.

  3. Stirring occasionally, let cook 13-17 minutes or until macaroni is cooked through (add a little bit of water if needed).

  4. Season with salt & pepper to taste and serve warm topped with cheese.

 

Chili Mac Skillet served in a white bowl and garnished with shredded cheddar and fresh parsley.
Chili Mac Skillet served in a white bowl and garnished with shredded cheddar and fresh parsley.
Top photo - Chili Mac Skillet served in a white bowl and garnished with shredded cheddar and fresh parsley. Bottom photo - Chili Mac cooked and ready in the skillet.

Grilled Cheese with Tomato

 

Grilled Cheese with Tomato is the ultimate comfort food, it doesn’t matter if you are an oldster or a youngster. Soft sourdough bread grilled with gruyere, cheddar cheese, and tomato is always the perfect lunch or snack! 

It’s all about the cheese when it comes to the best grilled cheese sandwich!

2 grilled cheese sandwiches stacked on a plate.

How to Make a Grilled Cheese and Tomato Sandwich

A pan-fried grilled cheese with mayo and tomato looks just as good on a plate as it tastes! Why not try a grilled cheese with bacon and tomato for a heartier version?

  1. Sprinkle salt on sliced tomatoes and let drain. This helps it stay a little drier so the tomatoes don’t leak all over the bread.
  2. Spread mayonnaise on the outside of each slice of sourdough bread. Mayonnaise helps the bread get toasty, whereas butter will burn before the cheese is melted all the way.
  3. Place a slice of cheddar, tomato, basil on each slice of bread and sprinkle with gruyere.

Grilled cheese ingredients on a cutting board.

To Cook: Place, mayo side down, on a heated skillet and fry until golden brown. Turn sandwich over and fry on the other side. Both sides should be equally browned and the cheese melted just enough to squeeze out the sides of the sandwich.

Tip: To speed up the frying process, cover the pan for a few  minutes, this will help melt the cheese a bit faster.

Bread topped with cheese and tomatoes, open faced on a frying pan.

What to Serve with Grilled Cheese

Everyone knows it’s a tradition for a grilled cheese sandwich to be paired with creamy tomato soup, of course! It’s a perfect combination of crunchy and creamy, great for a busy weekday or rainy day!

Another great complement to a tomato grilled cheese sandwich is a crispy tossed salad topped with a bright and tangy vinaigrette and some croutons!

Grilled Cheese Heaven!

Tomato Grilled Cheese Sandwich

This grilled cheese sandwich is perfectly paired with sliced tomato for a crunchy and fresh sandwich!

  • 4 slices sourdough bread
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 large tomato (sliced)
  • 2 oz cheddar cheese (sliced)
  • 2 oz gruyere cheese (or mozzarella, grated)
  • pinch of dried basil
  1. Slice tomato 1/4″ thick and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place on paper towels and let drain 10 minutes.

  2. Spread mayonnaise over the outside of each slice of bread.
  3. Place 1 slice of cheddar on each slice of bread. Add tomato slices and basil. Top with gruyere and remaining slice of bread.
  4. Preheat a small skillet over low heat. Place mayonnaise side down in the skillet.
  5. Grill until golden, about 4-5 minutes. Flip and grill the other side until golden.

Grilled cheese sandwiches are great whether served for lunch, dinner or just a snack! This grilled cheese with tomato takes comfort food one step further. It's an easy recipe combining your favorite bread with 2 types of cheese and tomatoes and grilling until golden brown! #spendwithpennies #grilledcheesewithtomato #grilledcheese #sandwich #comfortfood #kidfriendly
Grilled cheese sandwiches are great whether served for lunch, dinner or just a snack! This grilled cheese with tomato takes comfort food one step further. It's an easy recipe combining your favorite bread with 2 types of cheese and tomatoes and grilling until golden brown! #spendwithpennies #grilledcheesewithtomato #grilledcheese #sandwich #comfortfood #kidfriendly
Grilled cheese sandwiches are great whether served for lunch, dinner or just a snack! This grilled cheese with tomato takes comfort food one step further. It's an easy recipe combining your favorite bread with 2 types of cheese and tomatoes and grilling until golden brown! #spendwithpennies #grilledcheesewithtomato #grilledcheese #sandwich #comfortfood #kidfriendly

Creamy Bow Tie Pasta Salad

This Bow Tie Pasta Salad is an easy, tasty side dish that is always a favorite at barbecues, potlucks, or even as a filling lunch! While I often make Italian Pasta Salad, this dish has a rich creamy dressing that’s hard to resist! Ham, cheddar and veggies are mixed in for the perfect potluck dish!

Serve alongside Hamburgers or grilled pork chops for a summer salad everyone loves!

A white serving bowl full of bow tie pasta salad with ham, cheddar and red peppers

Favorite Bowtie Pasta Salad Ingredients

While some of the basic ingredients may change, the star of this pasta salad is the bow tie shaped pasta!  Not only does it hold up well to the creamy mayo dressing but the shape complements round peas, diced pieces of ham and cheese. Like most pasta salad recipes,  you can add or remove ingredients based on what you have on hand; this recipe is very versatile.

  • Base: Bow Tie pasta (you can substitute any medium shaped pasta or even make Tortellini Salad).
  • Meat & Cheese: cheddar cheese & ham are my favorite choices. You can make bowtie pasta salad with feta and skip the ham and make it with chicken or pepperoni.
  • Veggies: I love pasta salad with peas! Add white onion (or swap for red or green), bell pepper (even chopped spinach works well).

These are just the basics! Get creative with what you have on hand and make your own custom summer bow tie pasta salad with items like sliced black olives, celery and even sun-dried tomatoes!

A bowl of bow tie pasta with salad ingredients in bowls around it.

How to Make Bowtie Pasta Salad

To make this pasta salad start by boiling the pasta according to package directions. Once cooked, run it under really cold water to cool, this stops the cooking process so the noodles don’t get overcooked (and mushy)! Once you have that complete, it’s easy ‘peas’-y!

  1. Mix all the dressing ingredients in small bowl.
  2. Toss everything together and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Before taking a big scoop of tasty pasta salad, season with salt and pepper.

A bowl of bowtie pasta salad ingredients and dressing ready to be mixed

To Make Ahead

The flavors blend as this recipe sits making it the perfect make ahead party dish. If making more than a few hours ahead of time, be generous with the dressing as the pasta will soak it up a bit.

Got Leftovers?

Fridge: A bowtie pasta salad with ham can last 3-5 days in the fridge if it is kept cold and in a tightly sealed container.

Freezer: Pasta Salad doesn’t freeze well so prep this shortly before serving.

Close up of a prepared bow tie pasta salad in a creamy dressing

More Delicious Pasta Salad Recipes

Creamy Bow Tie Pasta Salad

A creamy bowtie pasta salad recipe with ham, peas and cheddar cheese!

  • 1 lb bow tie pasta
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese (diced)
  • 1 cup ham (diced)
  • 3 tablespoons white onion (finely diced)
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas (defrosted)
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper (finely diced)

Dressing

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons sweet relish
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Boil pasta al dente according to package directions.
  2. Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
  3. Toss all ingredients in a large bowl. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

 

This easy bow tie pasta salad is a family favorite! Made with bow tie pasta, peas, ham and cheese, topped with a creamy homemade mayo dressing. It's the perfect potluck, or barbecue dish and a super tasty lunch! #spendwithpennies #bowtiepastasalad #pastasalad #barbecue #sidedish
This easy bow tie pasta salad is a family favorite! Made with bow tie pasta, peas, ham and cheese, topped with a creamy homemade mayo dressing. It's the perfect potluck, or barbecue dish and a super tasty lunch! #spendwithpennies #bowtiepastasalad #pastasalad #barbecue #sidedish

Taco Lasagna – a fun twist on a classic dish!

Taco Lasagna brings a south-of-the-border kinda’ twist to a classic lasagna recipe! All the best parts of a ground beef taco are layered with lasagna noodles to create one colorfully layered entrée!

Serve with your favorite toppings like sour cream, pico de gallo, or a dollop of the best guacamole.

A slice of taco lasagna on a plate, garnished with sliced jalapeños and tomatoes.

Surprise your friends and family with a Mexican twist on an Italian classic! Take this easy taco lasagna to a potluck or an office luncheon! Make it even easier by assembling and baking it earlier! Just reheat it when you reach your destination!

How to Layer Lasagna

For this taco lasagna (made with noodles), start with the tomato sauce on the bottom of the casserole dish. This keeps the noodles from sticking to the bottom of the pan and makes the portions come out easier!

The standard layering technique is sauce, noodles, sauce, noodles, cheese, noodles, sauce. Just remember to put a layer of noodles between each cheese and sauce layer to keep everything in place!

A four square image of the steps to prepare a taco lasagna.

How to Make Taco Lasagna

Once you have all the mixtures prepped, layering this taco lasagna dish is a breeze!

  1. Beef Mixture: Brown ground beef, onion, and garlic in a large skillet.
    • Drain the fat and stir in the taco seasoning (or use homemade taco seasoning) and water. Cook until is evaporated and sauce is thickened.
    • Add the beans and veggies and cook the sauce mixture until heated thoroughly set it aside.
  2. Cheese Mixture: In a small bowl, combine the cottage cheese, sour cream and egg. Set aside.
  3. Layering: In a 9×13 inch pan, layer the ingredients ending with sauce!
  4. Bake: Cover the taco lasagna, bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle with remaining cheeses and bake until cheese is browned and bubbly.

Allow the casserole to rest about 10 to 15 minutes so it has a chance to set. Top with sour cream, tomatoes, sliced black olives, sliced green onions or jalapeños!

Taco Lasagna baked in a white casserole dish. Garnished with sliced jalapeños and tomatoes.

What to Serve with Lasagna

Just like a traditional Italian lasagna, this cheesy taco lasagna lends itself to simple sides like a crunchy tossed salad, a tray of fresh cut veggies with Buttermilk Ranch Dip, or even some tortilla chips for scooping!

More Mexican Inspired Dishes You’ll Love

Taco Lasagna

Seasoned beef, beans, and veggies layered between lasagna noodles and baked until bubbly.

  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese (divided)
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese (divided)
  • 9 lasagna noodles (cooked and cooled)

Sauce

  • 1 pound ground beef (or turkey)
  • 1 onion (finely diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 packages taco seasoning (low sodium or homemade)
  • 1 green bell pepper (finely diced)
  • 28 oz low sodium diced canned tomatoes (undrained)
  • 1 cup corn
  • 15 oz black beans (drained and rinsed)

Cheese Layer

  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 egg
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

  2. In a large pan, brown ground beef, onion and garlic. Drain any fat. Stir in taco seasoning and 1 cup water. Cook until water is evaporated.

  3. Add green pepper, undrained tomatoes, corn, and black beans. Let simmer 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat.

  4. In a small bowl, combine cottage cheese, sour cream, cumin and egg. Set aside.

  5. In a 9×13 pan, layer in the following order: 1 cup of sauce, 3 lasagna noodles, 1/2 of remaining sauce, 3 lasagna noodles, cottage cheese mixture, 1 cup of each cheddar and mozzarella, 3 lasagna noodles, remaining sauce.

  6. Cover with foil and bake 40 minutes. Remove foil, add remaining cheeses and bake an additional 15 minutes or until cheese browned and bubbly.

  7. Let rest 10-15 minutes before cutting. Serve with desired toppings such as sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, olives, green onions and cilantro.

Nutrition information does not include optional toppings.

REPIN this Easy Recipe

A slice of taco inspired lasagna served on a white plate and garnished with sliced cherry tomatoes

Taco lasagna bake is a tasty oven-baked casserole dish. Using lasagna noodles, black beans, corn and taco seasoning you can prep and bake this dish ahead of time. Perfect for a quick weeknight meal or to take to a potluck! #spendwithpennies #tacolasagna #maindish #Mexican #casserole
Taco lasagna bake is a tasty oven-baked casserole dish. Using lasagna noodles, black beans, corn and taco seasoning you can prep and bake this dish ahead of time. Perfect for a quick weeknight meal or to take to a potluck! #spendwithpennies #tacolasagna #maindish #Mexican #casserole