Hamburger and Macaroni


Rachael Ray has nothing on my mother. As far as this family is concerned, my mom invented healthful, delicious comfort food that one can cook in 30 minutes or less.

This hamburger and macaroni dish has been served in our house at least once a month for the last 45 years. We even have a special name for it—HMO (Hamburger Macaroni Onions). I’ve also heard it called “goulash” or “American chop suey”.

My father gets a song in his voice when he announces that we’re having HMO for dinner. You make brown the meat and make the sauce while the water is coming to a boil and the macaroni is cooking. So it takes less than half an hour to make. So easy!

Hamburger and Macaroni Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4


  • 2 cups uncooked macaroni (use rice pasta or gluten-free pasta for gluten-free version)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped (or mixed chopped green onion greens and yellow onion)
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • Pinch chili pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 large can (28 oz) of diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt  and freshly ground black pepper to taste


1 Start cooking the pasta: Get a large pot of hot water heating and begin cooking the macaroni as per the directions on the macaroni package.

2 Brown the beef and onions: While the water is heating and macaroni cooking, prepare the sauce. In a skillet, brown the ground beef in a tablespoon of olive oil on high heat. Stir only infrequently so that the ground beef has an opportunity to brown.

hamburger-macaroni-method-3 hamburger-macaroni-method-4

When the beef has mostly browned, add the onions to the pan and toss to combine. Cook until the onions are soft, about 4-6 minutes.

3 Add seasonings, tomatoes: Add the celery seed, a dash of crushed red pepper and seasoned salt. Pour in canned tomatoes, add the Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine. Simmer for 5 minutes.

hamburger-macaroni-method-5 hamburger-macaroni-method-6

4 Add cooked pasta: Mix in the drained and cooked macaroni and the parsley. Cook for another 5 minutes.

Add freshly ground black pepper and  salt to taste.

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Rhode Island 'Chop Suey,' from The Perfect Pantry

Creamy Taco Mac, from Annie's Eats

Cheeseburger Mac, from Ezra Poundcake

Hamburger Macaroni

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Showing 4 of 188 Comments

  • Chris Graham

    Made exactly as written … Was a hit! 5 stars!

  • Lauren

    Great recipe! I add a diced green pepper with the onions as well as a clove of garlic. I also throw into a casserole dish, top with cheese and put into the oven until it’s nice and melty. Great weeknight meal and the whole family loves it!

  • John

    Here in New England we call it American Chop Suey.

  • Martha Prefontaine

    My family made this a lot. Used tomato sauce. My sister made it for her family and they called it Saurday Night Special.

  • Liz dzurinda

    I’ve been making this for my family of 6 for about 6 years now! Thanks Elise! If one of my picky eaters gives me a hard time I simply say “deal with it, you’ll be eating this for years!” I love it as does most of my family (including 2 year old triplets). I follow your recipe exactly. I even cook the onions separately which is an earlier version, I think. Yum!

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