Pirate Party Food Ideas – Best Chili Mac Ever

Ahoy, maties,

Ye be looking fer some Pirate party food ideas and chose to look me up? I be honored.

Ye’ll be findin’ some more real good ones close by on this site. The recipes here do follow authentic Pirate food in that the ingredients could be found on board Pirate ships, and in ports of call during the Golden Age of Pirates, 1650-1725.

These recipes span the different areas where Pirates roamed… the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, Latin America, both sides of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, and even India and Asia.

And since ye be searchin’ for good food ideas for a Pirate party, here be a recipe for the best chili mac ever.

Traditional Pirate Food… Not?

Okay, Chili Mac could be Pirate fare. Meat, dried beans, spices, vegetables were the mainstays in those days. And macaroni and cheese has been in recipes since 13th century Italy. No one is really even sure where Chili Mac came from. But probably from the US. It be comfort food at its finest…. Chili, Macaroni, and Cheese.

Best Chili Mac Ever. Spicy Chili Mac. Meat, Veg, Macaroni, Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese.

Perfect as Pirate party food ideas go, no matter the size of the party.

And after all, all food is Pirate food where thar be drinkin’, aye, maties?

Spicy Chili Mac – Good Pirate Party Food

OK, ye be needed somethin’ simple enough to prepare, easy enough to serve, somethin’ all the rabble will scarf with noisy admiration, and be a fast clean up afterwards. Right? Gotcha.

This recipe makes a big batch of smoky, cheesy, spicy chili mac. Just delicious healthy comfort food. I like to pair the smoky chipotle and bacon… and the chili peppers with the fire-roasted tomatoes… and when you add in the heat and tastes of fresh onions, garlic, and jalapenos!… with the melted extra sharp cheddar CHEESE. Mmmmmm.

And if you can find Mexican Oregano, it’s perfect for this, and you’ll need it for similar dishes. It’s a little more pungent and sharper than the softer, more familiar Greek Oregano we know from especially Italian food.

  • Chipotle peppers be smoked jalapenos, medium hot, smoky be what ye be seekin’.
  • Guajillo be just the best tasting chili for beef. It be medium hot, too.
  • California peppers be mild and very tasty.
  • Chili Arbol be a sizzling, fiery-hot.
  • Black Pepper offers a dull hot.


  • 2 T Smoky Bacon drippings

    Guajillo is found in Mexican Red Sauces, Moles, Adobos. Great for Beef.

  • 2 medium Onions small diced, about 3 cups
  • 2 tsp Pink Himalayan Salt, plus more for pasta cooking water
  • 2 pounds Extra Lean Ground Beef
  • 3 T Ground Chili Peppers (Chipotle, Guajillo, California*)
  • 1 tsp ground Chili Arbol
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 T Mexican Oregano
  • 1 (28 ounce) can Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes, with juices
  • ½ C fresh Jalapenos, stemmed and minced
  • 2 T minced fresh Garlic cloves
  • 2 16 oz cans of Dark Red Kidney Beans
  • ½ C Low-Sodium Beef Broth
  • 1 pound Elbow Macaroni
  • 1 pound Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
  • Sour Cream for serving, if desired

* These are the chili peppers that I used. Ancho, Pasilla, and New Mexico chili peppers work great for this, too.

btw: a Tablespoon (T) be equivlent to 2 1/2 tsp.


  1. Heat bacon drippings in a cast-iron skillet on medium-high heat. Add the onions and 1 tsp of the salt and cook until soft, 2 minutes.
  2. Add the ground beef, chili powder, oregano, and cook, breaking up any clumps of meat with a spoon, for 5 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes, jalapenos, garlic, beans (with or without the liquid), ½ C of beef broth, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer uncovered until thickened to chili consistency, about 20 minutes. Taste and add more salt, if desired.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the macaroni in boiling salted water, drain, and set aside to cool.
  5. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  6. Place a 4-quart casserole dish (or a disposable aluminum pasta/turkey roasting pan) on a baking sheet. Once the chili has finished cooking, fold in the cooked macaroni and 1/3 of the grated cheese.
  7. Transfer Chili Mac to the baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake until heated through and cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes before serving.
  8. Garnish each serving with a dollop of sour cream, lime, cilantro, fresh diced jalapeno, if desired.

Looks dazzling and tastes awesome, right?

Notes – Substitutions and Slow Cooker Chili Mac

Now if ye be Pirates drinking, ye can turn up the fire by making substitutions: ground New Mexico chili pepper vs the California, fresh Serrano peppers vs the Jalapenos, and you could double the amount of Chili Arbol, if ye be the daring sort.

Also, if this not be a formal sit down dinner party, you could make slow cooker chili mac. Starting with #5…

  • Turn your 6-qt slow cooker to High, pour in the steaming hot chili, then stir in the macaroni and 1/3 C Cheddar
  • Cook on High for about an hour or so, until the tastes marry.
  • Turn to Warm, leave on the counter with dishes of Garnish: cheddar cheese, sliced green onions, chopped cilantro, lime wedges, and fresh diced serranos…. and let the rabble forage at will.

Whenever I can, I use organic, non-GMO, whole grains, no hormone, grass-fed, no nitrate, no herbicide, etc., ingredients and do all I can to substitute these for processed foods. I find that organic foods are handled better to retain more nutrients, and they taste cleaner, truer to what the food is supposed to taste like.

I also like to use the colored salts instead of white salt. Note that I use the Pink Himalyan Salt. It does not have iodine, which the body can’t use anyway, and it is saltier than most white salt. For this reason, I buy ingredients with low or no salt/sodium. That way I know what salt is being used and can control the right level of salt to finish to my desired taste.

Normally I use dried beans instead of canned, but I modified this for the purpose of easy prep for your party.

I am glad you stopped by. I hope that you chose this recipe for Best Chili Mac Ever for your party. If you did, drop me a comment below and let me know how your party went. Especially, the grog stories.

Also, leave a comment if you have any questions about preparing for this, or about what did Pirates eat.

And stop back by for more Pirate party food ideas. Thank you.

Cooking for Pirates, where every meal is a party for a Pirate.

Party on, me hearties, yo ho.


    • Thank you, Claire.
      If you like this one, there are other great recipes here.
      Cooking for Pirates, where every meal is party to a Pirate.
      Enjoy yer day, yo ho.

  1. Arrgh me matey, wow, does this look delicious or what?  Now, my daughter is a huge chili fan, she makes all kinds of recipes.  She is really going to love this one because her son is a huge mac and cheese fan, and she can make one dish and they both can enjoy it.  I can’t wait to have her try it, I’m going to have her invite me to dinner for giving her the recipe, lol!  Great site, by the way!  Love it!  

    • I appreciate your taking the time to comment.

      Chili Mac is such a happy food, satisfying, and this is healthy comfort food… and who can resist?

      Enjoy this recipe.

      Thank you, Babsie.

      Pirate Mike – Foodie Pirate

  2. Wow now my mouth is watering!  When I was in the Navy, chili mac was always the go to.  It was the one meal I could always count on that would come out good. I have definitely bookmarked your website, as I can’t wait to see what other delicious recipes you will put out there!  Was wondering , where do you get the Mexican oregano from?  Also is ground chili Arbol, something that can be found with the other spices in the store?  If not can it be substituted with regular chili pepper?  As I said before this recipe sounds amazing and I can’t wait to see what ye be having next matey!


    • Hahahaha, everybody loves chili mac, the ultimate comfort food.

      There are my recipes that I’ve developed over the years. Dozens of them. My plan is to get as many on this site as I can.

      Try Sprouts for Mexican Oregano in the bulk herb and spice section.

      For Chili Arbol, I buy the whole pepper in a plastic bag hanging in the chili peppers section… again I know Sprouts usually has them…. at least here in Dallas. The I grind them in a coffee grinder. (I have a different one for grinding my organic whole bean coffees.) Something close to Arbol would be Cayenne. The heat is similar, Arbol just has a different taste. Cayenne has a spicy heat, but to me, a more neutral taste.

      If you don’t have a Sprouts, or it doesn’t have these items, maybe a local Mexican grocer would have some, or maybe find something online. I’ll be searching online for a source and can let you know.

      Thank you for a wonderful comment. And thanks for taking the time to connect.

      Please do enjoy a bunch of this.

      Pirate Mike – Foodie Pirate

  3. Wow, reading this made me hungry – it sounds delicious.  I’m going to try the slow cooker version since I use that for cooking chili anyway.  Might have to make 1.5x the recipe, I think this would be just as good as leftovers.  I’m definitely going to check out your other recipes!

    • If you have a 6 qt slow cooker, I believe making 1.5x the recipe would fit. And, yes, great for leftovers. If you heat it up at work, people will start milling around wondering what you have. 🙂

      By all means check out the other recipes…. and more to come. There’ll be Italian, Cajun/Creole, Brazilian, Cuban, French, Greek, Morroccan……….

      Thank you for your comment and bon appitit!

      Pirate Mike – Foodie Pirate 

  4. It is a real nice article, I also have another one that is very tasty, Maybe you can take some good advice about this:

    1 pound of lean ground beef or ground turkey
    1 medium onion
    1 tablespoon chili powder
    3/4 teaspoon minced garlic
    1/8 teaspoon black pepper
    1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    1/2 teaspoon cumin
    1 teaspoon celery salt
    1 teaspoon salt (optional)
    1/2 cup salsa
    1 16 ounce can of kidney or pinto beans in chili sauce (chili beans)
    1 14 ounce can of diced chili ready tomatoes (or use plain diced tomatoes and increase salsa to 3/4 cup)

  5. Hey Mike, your article was awesome. Chili Mac is the best food idea ever. Personally, I’m a man who loves chili mac, not so much with the beans in it but I definitely like it nonetheless. Are there any other ways to add other ingredients such as extra meat? Also, I love the origin story, I didn’t know that it was made back during the pirate era; I can only imagine what else they ate along with chili mac. Excellent post.

    • I’m not sure Pirates of the Golden Age in the Atlantic and Caribbean ate it. But all the ingredients were available back then. 

      There were timber colonies in Mexico and Europeans passing all through the Latin countries from Mexico to Columbia through Central America. There was some combination of meat and beans along with corn and tortillas.

      Italians were not really represented well in the Americas, but I’m sure there were Italians in and around the Mediterranean for centuries before and after the Golden Age. The Barbary Coast Pirates were the reason the new US Government started the Navy and Marines… ‘to the shores of Tripoli.’ And they could have eaten macaroni, but not chili.

      Chili Mac is perfect for a modern Pirate Party, where you can set out a slow cooker on the counter and let folks spoon up what they want, when they want.

      And sure, every recipe if for experimenting. Leave the beans out. Slow cook a pork roast and shred the meat for pulled pork meat. Or do the same with a beef roast. Add more or different fresh peppers. Anything you like.

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.

      Pirate Mike – Foodie

  6. It is a wonderful list of ingredients for this great recipe. I like the fire roasted juicy tomato slices in that recipe with raw jalapenos. Awesome.

    I love the historic name and history attached to this recipe. A lot of ingredients come in cans so it is an easy clean!

    I am sure, everyone would enjoy the dish, 

    Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    • Hello, Anusuya.

      Reading your comment made me happy.

      These are truly wonderful ingredients. All my cooking is like this, Italian, Indian, Greek, Mediterranean, as well as US. 

      Enjoy your cooking!

      Pirate Mike – Foodie

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