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 is one of my mother's recipes that 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" or "Hamburger Noodle Casserole."
My father gets a song in his voice when he announces that we're having HMO for dinner. You 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!
Many Names for Hamburger and Macaroni
Many culinary traditions have a version of hamburger and macaroni. It's similar to the Central European dish goulash, but this hamburger and mac doesn't have the paprika that's standard in goulash. It's also often called American chop suey, although it doesn't much resemble the traditional Chinese or Chinese-American chop suey. Some may call it slumgullion, although that name also refers to an inexpensive stew made from leftovers.
Some of our readers know it as hamburger hotdish, mulligan, or Johnny Marzetti. Whatever it's called, it's comforting and so simple you'll never think about buying a pre-mixed box of pasta and spices to "help" you make hamburger and macaroni again.
Variations and Add-Ins
- Up the veggie factor by adding finely chopped vegetables like carrots, celery, zucchini, or mushrooms.
- Add corn or peas.
- Add a can of diced green chiles.
- Add a clove or two of minced garlic when sautéing the onion.
- Substitute ground turkey or ground chicken for the beef.
- Top with shredded cheese like cheddar or mozzarella.
Make This Vegetarian/Vegan
Make it meat-free by adding vegetarian meat crumbles and using vegan Worcestershire sauce (many Worcestershire sauces are made with anchovies).
How to Store Leftovers
Refrigerate: Refrigerate leftovers, tightly covered, for 3 to 5 days. Reheat over medium heat on the stovetop until it's bubbly and the ground beef reaches 165 °F.
Freezer: Freeze leftovers in a freezer safe zipper bag or container for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator. Reheat over medium heat on the stovetop until it's bubbly and the ground beef reaches 165 °F.
What to Serve With Hamburger and Macaroni
- Caesar Salad
- Make-Ahead Dinner Rolls
- Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan
- Classic Glazed Carrots
- Air Fryer Crispy Cauliflower
Hamburger and Macaroni
2 cups uncooked macaroni
1 tablespoon extra virgin 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 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Start cooking the pasta:
Get a large pot of salted hot water (1 tablespoon of salt for 2 quarts of water) boiling and begin cooking the macaroni as per the directions on the macaroni package.
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 to 6 minutes.
Add the seasonings and 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.
Drain the pasta:
Drain the pasta, reserving a half cup of the pasta cooking water.
Add the cooked pasta:
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.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 24g||31%|
|Saturated Fat 8g||40%|
|Total Carbohydrate 30g||11%|
|Dietary Fiber 5g||20%|
|Total Sugars 7g|
|Vitamin C 33mg||163%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|