Hamburger and Macaroni

BudgetComfort FoodGround BeefMacaroni

American comfort classic hamburger and macaroni! Browned ground beef cooked in a tomato onion sauce, mixed in with elbow macaroni.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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 salted hot water (1 tablespoon of salt for 2 quarts of 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.

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.

4 Add cooked pasta: Reserve a half cup of the pasta cooking water. Mix in the drained and cooked macaroni and the parsley. Cook for another 5 minutes. Add in some of the pasta water if the dish is too dry.

Add freshly ground black pepper and  salt to taste.

Hello! All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words and link back to Hamburger and Macaroni on Simply Recipes. Thank you!


If you make this recipe, snap a pic and hashtag it #simplyrecipes — We love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter!


Rhode Island 'Chop Suey,' from The Perfect Pantry

Creamy Taco Mac, from Annie's Eats

Cheeseburger Mac, from Ezra Poundcake

Hamburger Macaroni

Showing 4 of 195 Comments / Reviews

  • Michelle Wolfley

    This is comfort food at its finest in my house! My husband absolutely devours this dish every time I make it, and even gets excited about leftovers. He even makes sure that we have celery seed whenever he does the grocery shopping! I add a small can of tomato sauce for extra juiciness, and use rotini pasta instead of elbow macaroni. The spirals of the pasta help the meat sauce stick to every bite. I have made this dish with ground turkey and ground pork and it’s still just as wonderful. Thank you for this recipe, Elise! You make me look good!


  • Amm

    Can this be frozen?

  • Jacqueline

    We always called this dish “Iowa Goulash,” & have been eating it for years. Everybody loves it, but I use a lot of garlic & large onion for meat and a small one for the sauce which I put together separately in another pan while cooking the meat. Have boiled to soften up a large green pepper ahead & cut it in pieces for the sauce along with crushed tomatoes & mushrooms – then mix the whole mess together and chow down! YUM, the simple meals can be the most delicious.

  • Wendy

    Made this tonight. I added a can of Rotel, a can of tomato sauce and added an extra tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce. I also season my beef with garlic salt. Yummy! Big hit!

  • Ray b.

    Very bland and very dry. I put more seasoning in and added a can of tomato sauce.

View More or Leave a Comment/Review
Hamburger MacaroniHamburger and Macaroni