Hamburger and Macaroni

Updated, from the recipe archive. First posted 2004.

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). Dad 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 Vegesal or other 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


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

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2 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. 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.

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3 Add the celery seed, a dash of crushed red pepper and the Vegesal or other seasoned salt. Pour in canned tomatoes, add the Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine. Simmer for 5 minutes. 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 and Macaroni on Simply Recipes

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Showing 4 of 187 Comments

  • Sheeijan

    I really liked this recipe not only for the ease of cooking and quickness, but because it reminds me of simple old-fashioned Southern cooking. I used to eat a lot of Hamburger Helper in college, I wish I had had this recipe back then!

  • Linda

    I grew up on this recipe and still love it. Adding a little chopped green pepper with the onion is also good – and another way Mom made this was to mix everything together, put it into a casserole dish, cover with grated cheddar and pop it into the oven until the cheddar was melted – YUM!

  • Barbara

    Mom and Grandma both made this–I think my Mom still does.

    They both used chopped green pepper in it (I prefer red sweet pepper), and my Aunt Nancy added garlic to hers.

    Sometimes, Mom would also melt cheese on top–but it was never cheddar, but Velveeta. Cheddar would have been better, I must say.

  • Zoe

    My mom made something like this for us that her mom made for them. The only difference was that it had corn in it, and I don’t think my mom used onion (probably simply because she didn’t want to chop one — my mom wasn’t a cook). My grandma called it John Marcetti. My mom has no idea why, but that’s what we called it too.

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