Hamburger and Macaroni

Hamburger and Macaroni! Others call it goulash or even American chop suey. Whatever you call it, it's great for a midweek meal. Browned ground beef cooked in a tomato onion sauce, mixed in with elbow macaroni. So good!

  • 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 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 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.

cooking hamburger for hamburger noodle casserole hamburger recipes with browned hamburger and onions

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.

What to make with Hamburger meat in 30 minutes Best hamburger recipes - hamburger and macaroni

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.

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  • Felicia

    This is alright. It definitely looks pretty however like a few others on here have pointed out it’s a little bland. I would try this recipe again but would alter it a little.


    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Felicia, if a recipe tastes bland, that’s a good indication that you need to add more salt for your taste. So, just add salt!

  • Janet

    I can’t wait to try this. I’m really a big fan of homemade dishes.

  • Shirley

    Sounds rather bland like my Mom made. I updated hers and used some diced green chilies, a couple of cans of RoTel tomatoes, some sliced black olives, some sliced mushrooms, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire and stirred in a cup of shredded Cheddar at the end. I did it all on the stove top and added the cooked macaroni at the end with the cheese. Yes, I used the parsley and seasonings. Oh and I also used diced green pepper with the onions and all the rest of the ingredients above. Garlic is good too.

  • Lois

    Was very simple to make but lacked flavor and I even added garlic. Not something I would make again.


    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Lois, sounds to me like you needed to add more salt. Try adding a bit more and I think you’ll find the dish has plenty of flavor.

      • Cassandra

        Well said , this dish has plenty of yummy flavor .If you want more flavor then add more season salt . Thank you for this recipe Elise Bauer, because it’s a hit at my house ! : )

    • Carrie Havranek

      Hi Lois, I’m sorry to hear that you found this lacking flavor. Did you use salt? And the cayenne? It’s also a great idea to taste as you go because sometimes you might find you need more of this or less of that to suit your tastes. Thanks for your feedback.

  • Brenda

    Keeper, this dish was really good.


  • Mel

    Simple & delicious❗️


  • Lisa

    This a staple in our house! It brings my husband and I to our childhood, but better!


  • Jo

    Love this! Quick and easy to make. Don’t have to buy ingredients that you would probably use again. I had everything in my cupboard!


  • Debra

    We loved it! I will definitely make this again. Next time though I will go easier on the chili peppers….lol


  • DeeDot

    Love Love Love this recipe!!!! A+++++


  • Pete

    I wish you still had you older recipe. I have it, and I’ve been making it for years. A favorite for my 6 year old, I freeze portions and send it to school for her lunch. Your original specified Vegesal seasoned salt, which I bought online, and it really makes it. Also, I like to saute the onions separately, after cooking the ground beef, then adding back the ground beef. The onions are much better this way. It is more work.


  • Kimie

    Not a goulash fan but I gave this a try. Very pleasantly surprised! Quick and easy to make and the kiddos claimed I was the best cooker ever!


  • Ray


  • Mer

    Great. We really enjoyed, much better than my old family recipe for “goulash”.


  • Chris p

    I saved a step by putting the uncooked pasta in the pot with the can of tomatoes and a half can of water. Instead of pepper flakes I added hot sauce when I put in the spices. Also for more moisture I added fresh sliced mushrooms. Turned down the heat and let it simmer for about ten to twenty minutes. Came out perfect. Just like the picture.


  • 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?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Amm, I haven’t tried freezing it but I don’t see why it couldn’t be frozen. If you try it, please let us know how it turns out for you!

    • Morgan

      Best practice would be freeze it without the noodles. Thaw and heat the sauce, meat, and veggies while your noodles cook.

  • 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.

  • Jackie

    Made this recipe tonight. Husband and I both enjoyed it. Easy to make and hearty!


  • Hapless Cook

    Made this two or three times. It’s OK, but quite bland. It would need more spices to wake things up

  • Kristin

    Very yummy! I added a can of V8 juice to mine to make it a little soupy. Great for a cold Fall day.

  • booch221

    This is just as easy as Hamburger Helper, and soooooo much better, made from scratch!


  • J.S. in VA

    Been making this dish since I was a sweet young bride first learning to “cook”. We always called it “Iowa Ghoulash,” and various peeps would add various and sundry “extras” to the main dish: tons of mushrooms, different cheeses, corn and other veggies on occasion. Whole family loves this true basic. Yum.

  • Nicola Tisa

    I too added a clove of garlic as well as both parmesan and locatelli cheese and it was delicious! Thanks.

  • Linda

    This is the same recioe we’ve been making for 60 years – minus the pepper flakes. We called Macaroni and Tomatoes

  • 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.

    • Laurel

      Martha, my family called it Monday Night Special! Dad always added a bit of ketchup and pickle juice.

  • 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!

  • Rusty Shackleford

    Grew up on a very similar dish like most here. I just made this dish and just ate the last spoon full in my bowl and then figured i’d look it Bout the only things I (and my mom, and GM..etc) did a lil different was saute a lil sweet pepper with the onion and a clove or two on crushed garlic. We always use just stewed tomatoes so it was a little chunky. Didn’t chop the burger too fine either. From n.w. PA and we always called it goulash but some folks also in this area call in Slumgullion. Main rule is NO Italian seasons of any kind. That makes it taste like spaghetti (which I love too) . Yes, one of the best plain, simple, comfort foods of all time ! ;)

    • Virginia Rusch

      Hey, at our house this was called goulash made with home-canned tomatoes. Hubby’s fav with 1/2 green pepper (picked out before serving) and a couple toes of fresh garlic. Our “slugullion” is still good at my house…especially when yellow snap beans are in season. We cook some bacon with maybe 1-2 onion. Leave some grease in pan for browning onion and adding extra flavor. Cook up some fresh chopped carrots and potatoes, cover with salted water. Boil until tender. In meantime, trim and cut a quart of yellow beans in 1″ pc. When carrots and pot’s are tender, add the beans, bacon and some drippings, and maybe a little more water. Cook until all is tender. Add milk to make a soup. Using 2%, I add some cream or half and half. If preferred, this can be thickened a little, but we like milk on some of our vegies, so thickening not necessary. We love this even using green beans. We always looked forward to the first picking of beans. I know, it’s probably one of those family things (not for everyone), but I have been eating it since given the recipe in my babysitting days. I’m pushing 84 now. That’s a lot of yellow beans. Enjoy.

  • Shannon

    Growing up my mom made something very similar, we called it American Chop Suey. No matter what you call it, it’s delicious!

  • Karen

    I grew up on this dish but we called Slumgullion – never could find source of this name – but originated in Ohio I believe. We always add lots of parmesan and use stewed tomatoes instead of diced.

    • booch221

      My online dictionary defines Slumgullion as, cheap or insubstantial stew.

  • tammy thompson-shetterly

    Haha! You noticed that, too? My mom (of German extraction, Minnesota raised) called this goulash. Hamburger, onions, bell pepper, elbow macaroni, crushed tomatoes and/or tomato juice and PAPRIKA! Always loved it as a child. Was astonished when I had a true Hungarian Goulash, it was so different. Regardless, I like it both ways: the real Hungarian version and the Americanized version which appears to go by a half dozen names as you traverse the country. It’s good stuff, for sure, but it has paprika in it or you can’t call it ‘goulash’, imo! :)

  • yasin

    hi there
    I’m a university student and i just make it
    I LOVE it
    thanks for this nice food
    I always make from your foods
    and my family love them too

  • Florence

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. It reminds of my mom’s very simple version of this when we were growing up. She fried ground beef and an onion and then added a jar of Original Ragu spaghetti sauce and boiled macaroni. We loved it! I incorporated my unique blend of spices to my mom’s recipe and its delicious! Fried ground beef, 1 onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1 jar Original Ragu spaghetti sauce, 1/2 cup water, 1 bouquet garni – made up of 1/2 cinnamon stick, 3 allspice balls, 3 cloves, 1 bay leaf – salt and pepper to taste, 16 squirts worcestershire sauce, 5 squirts hot sauce. Simmer on low 45 minutes for the spices to meld and add parmesan when serving. Yum!!!

  • Siebert Tenseven

    This is the classic BEEF-A-RONI. Never to be imitated, it is the end of day meal for every spouse that wanted to make something better than the BEANIE-WEENIE she made yesterday, thank goodness.

  • Matt

    In my wife’s Family they call this mulligan. When I was growing up my Mother called it Goulash. Where ever you come from it is still simple, down home comfort food.

  • Kate

    Another mass**** here! we ate this regularly and it was either goulash or american chop suey (especially on the school lunch menu). I like to add low salt V8 when I make it now and the recipe varies depending on what’s in the fridge.

  • Vicki in GA

    Thanks for sharing this fabulous recipe.
    I’m 68 years old and this is COMFORT food.
    My husband, bless his soul, worked swing shift would call before he got off work and ask me to make this dish for him. It brings back lots of memories.


    • Siebert Tenseven

      It really is so good, isn’t it?

  • Meals Alone

    I am so excited to have found this recipe. It is a better , healthier version of what I used to make with canned tomato soup and Velveeta.

  • danny

    My mom’s version was basically macaroni + ground meat + mild green chilies + tomato sauce. It was pretty much the only thing I could cook when I went to college.

  • Audrey

    So many call it goulash and nobody has added paprika, which is usual in Hungarian goulash!

  • Sarah

    I find the history names so neat! My Grandma made this with corn but the name of this casserole was/is “more”! Love family traditions that we pass along!

    • Sarah

      Also cheddar cheese….

  • Sherri Dosher

    My husband’s family also calls this goulash and it’s one of my father-in-law’s favorite dishes.

  • L.D. Meyer

    You can substitute the hamburger for ground turkey, cheaper and healthier too. L.D.

  • L.D. Meyer

    I see many of the comments remember this dish as I do and refereed to it as “Chop Suey” or “Goulash”. My mom liked to joke around, we’d ask her if she was making “Goulash” and she’d say …nope “Chop Suey” and the next time we’d ask her if she was making “Chop Suey” she’d say nope….”Goulash”, always pulling our leg. L.D. Bon Appetite! Adios n’ Hasta La Bye Bye!

  • Cary

    My Mom called it Depression Spaghetti………’s my husband’s favorite!!

  • Sally

    My grandmother made this; my mom made this; I make this and now my daughters make this. We’ve called it goulash or slumgullion interchangeably. If this is put into a casserole dish and topped with grated cheese, it’s Johnny Marzetti. We used to use tomato soup, now I use crushed tomatoes and maybe add a little water to it.

    Occasionally we’ll do a variation by adding a can of drained kidney beans, chili powder and top it with grated cheddar. It’s called chili mac.

    No matter what you call it or how you cook it (stove top or oven), it’s good!

    • Scott

      In the 1960’s when the lunch ladies in the school cafeteria served it, it was referred to as goulash. When my Mom made it at home, we called it slumgullion. Perhaps an early instance of PC newspeak rearing it’s ugly head.

  • Amy

    Vermonter here- we always called this chop suey. My fiance, also a Vermonter, calls this goulash. They are interchangeable- at least where we are in New England.

    I think I read somewhere that this is a Depression-era dish. You can make a lot for not much cost and with ingredients that keep for a long time- elbow macaroni, onion, canned tomatoes, hamburg (another regional colloquialism for ground beef).

  • Nicholas

    I needed to add a can of tomato paste because it was lacking flavor. Perhaps I was not supposed to drain the grease after browning the ground beef/onions and/or drain the water from the canned tomatoes?

    I love your website though, this will be a frequent stop for me from now on. :)

    • Elise Bauer

      The ground beef we get is so lean these days I can’t remember the last time I had to drain the fat from cooking some. Water from the canned tomatoes will just reduce in the cooking of the sauce, so there is no need to drain that either. Salt is your ally in this recipe, as so many. If the dish seems to lack flavor, just add more salt.

  • michael pesavento

    goulash goulash how i love ya
    my mother and grandmother made this about twice a month
    they cooked the macaroni first but i would like to try the all in technic
    they used diced stewed tomatoes, tomato paste and chili sauce
    also lots of diced onion and green pepper,butter and black pepper
    thanks for reminding me of how much i love this dish
    haven’t made this in years today is the day.

  • Liza in Ann Arbor

    We too called it goulash, which I later learned isn’t goulash at all. A major 70s throwback that I am so happy to have a recipe for! By the way, made your classic meatloaf this week and it’s truly the best I’ve ever had.

  • Deb in Indiana

    Mostly, I think, called Goulash in Indiana. My mom’s version was made with tomato juice (we canned lots every summer) and lots of basil, and more like a soup than a casserole. We cook the macaroni in the juice (that is, brown meat and onion, add juice, bring to a boil, add macaroni, cook and serve.)

    I made this just last weekend for my mother. She is getting on, and I love to cook foods that bring back good memories of when she was cooking for me. My kids grew up with this at the top of their comfort food list, too. Nice dish to share — thanks!

  • Julie

    We grew up with this as well- we called it “Noodles and Meat.” Heh. My mom added fresh chopped bell pepper and garlic to the mixture and no red pepper flakes or celery salt, but otherwise this is just like hers. I made it for my husband and he loved it. It’s the best “I want to kick back and drink wine more than I want to make a fancy dinner” meal ever.

  • Pat

    In Minnesota, this is called hotdish. To distinguish it from other hotdish recipes, it may even be Hamburger hotdish or Goulash.

    Though I use home canned tomatoes in mine and mix ground venison and hamburger.

    Always a classic.

  • Bruce A

    Another New Englander here, and another of the “American Chop Suey” club. Mom made this at least once a week growing up in the 70’s and 80’s.

  • Amanda Herwaldt Cowan

    I’m going to forward this to my mom. She really struggles to think of things to feed my dad. He’s very “red meat and potatoes” and she tries to go a more light and real food approach. This is real food meets Hamburger Helper! I think it’s right up her alley!

  • gail

    This is a family favorite. I have to leave out the onion since my husband thinks he’ll die if he eats a cooked onion, but I add green or yellow pepper and sliced black olives. Use tomato sauce instead of diced tomatoes, but still pretty close to the same dish.

  • Sue Stevens

    We also had a similar dish called goulash, but my Mom added Ketchup instead of tomatoes. We loved it. We also made slumgullion on a regular basis which in our house was ground beef sauted with onions and garlic, tomato paste, diced potatoes and green beans. Simmer on the stove top, or in an electric skillet like my Mom did. Yummy!

    • booch221

      Diced potatoes and green beans sounds really good! There are so many variations you can do with this dish.

  • Maggie Lang

    I am also from the Boston area, now living in AZ. We call this American chop suey as well. My husband just loves this dish. My recipe calls for tomato soup and a 15 oz. can of stewed tomatoes. I also use chopped green bell pepper, worcestershire, garlic powder…

  • Karen

    American chop suey! Man, I love this stuff. My family always used spaghetti sauce instead of tomatoes, but this is indeed a New England Classic.

  • Dorothy

    Our version when I was growing up was almost exactly the same except always had chili powder and more liquid was added to the sauce so the macaroni cooked in that, not separately. We called it chili noodles. My kids loved it too and still ask for it when they come to visit.

  • debbie koenig

    Add me to the American Chop Suey camp! My mom’s from Boston, so it’s got to be a New England name. Thanks for the reminder–I haven’t made this in eons.

  • Carolyn

    Add another tally for the “goulash” label. Grandma Susan used to make this with Campbell’s tomato soup for a more kid-friendly taste, but I think using real tomatoes really makes this dish wonderful. Best part is, you can add just about anything you want (mushrooms, peppers, etc.) and it’s still fabulous!

  • Lisa

    My husband and I enjoyed this, and I’m adding it to my personal files. I am looking forward to trying more of your recipes. Thanks!


  • Marygrace

    Making this again for dinner. My family loves this dish, fast & easy. My Grandma used to make a dish like this and would cook the macaroni as part of the dish, she would brown macaroni first then add liquid & other ingredients. It was alway delish, and very smooth/creamy. i would try and replicate but never could – until i figured out the silky smooth sauce was from a stick of butter added to the dish. She also added rosemary. Either way a favorite dish in our household.


  • Kathyjo

    I made this often when my six kids were small. I don’t make it now, but upon seeing this recipe, it brought back many memories of my children. I plan on making it this weekend when granddaughter, Justice is visiting..she never had it and loves veggies…not fruit…just veggies..go figure..anyway..thanks for the memories..didn’t think anyone else made this..we called it poorman’s stew.

  • Toya Wren

    yeah you will definately need a can of tomato soup for this or some kinda of marinara or pasta sauce. I made this last week 2 pounds for my family of 4. My husband didn’t really care for it, he said it was too bland and definately needed sauce. I was left to eat it by myself :( I threw some shredded cheese in there. It does look pretty and the (smaller)cavatappi noodles makes this dish stand out!

  • Erica

    My grandmother made a dish very close to this. Instead of adding the diced tomatoes she would add tomato soup. My other grandmother made this same dish but she would use homemade/canned stewed tomatoes. It is amazing both ways and I am having a hard time deciding on how I want to make it. I am curious if anyone else has had it with tomato soup and which they like better because I love it both ways.

    • Deanna

      Our family recipe calls for tomato soup too – and some frozen corn. We called it “Eat Mor” with the “e” left off. Haven’t eaten it in a loooong time, but it sure brings back memories!

  • Sharon White

    I have been making goulash for years, but the recipe I used, if my memory serves me right, was from Chef BoyArDee Pizza Sauce. Ground beef, green peppers, onions, Pizza Sauce, cooked macaroni and lots of cheddar cheese on top, then baked at 350 degrees until hot and cheese melted. My kids loved this. This was in Omaha. I’m now in New Mexico and have a hard time finding Chef Boyardee, but still use Pizza Sauce.

  • Colleen

    I grew up with a similar version of this, and my mom and grandma both called it Goulash. I still make it today, even though my hubby isn’t crazy about one-dish meals. I saute onion, and a diced green pepper in a skillet; then add the ground beef (I use ground round) and brown. Stir in one can tomato soup, a can of diced italian tomatoes, and 1/2 can of water (sometimes I slip in a little red wine), stir and cook on low heat until bubbly. Then I add 1 can of corn (creamed also works), or 1 1/2 cup frozen corn…or if there’s corn leftover in the ‘frig, that’s what I use. I then stir in about 2 cups cooked bow tie pasta – my kids’ favorite. Cook until hot through, add shredded cheese to the top, turn burner off, cover and allow cheese to melt, about 7 minutes. Serve with crusty bread….it is the ultimate comfort food for me…and brings back so many good memories of my mom. This was the dish she provided following baby’s births, surgery, bad case of the flu, any episode that called for comfort, there was mom with a hug and a casserole of Goulash!

  • whitney r

    My grandmother and mother have been making this for years. We are from New England and we always call it Chop Suey. I love it! My mom puts peppers onions stewed tom ground turkey or beef and some tom sauce. My grandma doesn’t add the peppers. we also put sugar and salt in it. We top it with parm cheese. YUM-O

  • Dale A.

    This has always been a favorite of mine. I think I improved the recipe from my mom but I’ve been eating it my whole life.
    Now my kids, who are just reaching their 20’s are just as much a fan as I’ve always been. Besides really good fried chicken (which I cannot make) this is my favorite meal!

  • Dawn

    My family grew up calling this delicious dish Goulash. Both my mother and my grandmother made it regularly. My cousin has since renamed it in honor of my grandmother who was Swedish. We now call it Swedish Chili! So delish!

  • Karen

    I was looking for something different to do with ground beef, and found this recipe. Used Adobo, Italian Seasoning, Sweet Basil, and Ditalini pasta (on hand). My youngest son’s finicky friend was over and tried a little. He came back for more!! It’s a keeper. Thank you.

  • Susan

    I grew up calling this Johnny Marzetti and it was a low-cost meal back in the late 70’s and early 80’s when Dad was laid-off from NCR and then Frigidaire. It had everything, meat, vegatebles and bread (pasta). Mom was always so resourceful. I haven’t thought about it in years and made it this past Saturday and my husband loved it. I am definitely putting this into my rotation of meals.

  • Tammy

    I grew up in Minnesota eating this too but we called it Hotdish…even though there are a million Minnesota Hotdish recipes…in our house this was what Hotdish meant. My husband loves this and I vary it from time to time using mexican or itailan spices.

  • Evelyn

    I made this for dinner last night. I grated some sharp cheddar cheese on top and put it under the broiler until the cheese started to bubble. It was a great weeknight meal and we (my husband and I) will be eating the leftovers tonight.

  • Cathy

    This dish was prepared frequently when I was growing and first married. One variation my mother often made was to add a biscuit topping. Without the biscuit topping my dad called it “goulash” and with the topping we called it macaroni casserole.
    Just a note about Worcestershire sauce – the American version may be gluten free but besides the malt vinegar being replaced by distilled white vinegar, the natural sugar of the original recipe has been replaced by high fructose corn syrup and natural ingredients such as cloves, lemons and pickles have been replaced with “natural flavorings”.

  • Rose

    We too made something very similar for years when there were 6 in the house. My husband and I were both serving in the AF, we have 3 children and we had a live-in grandmother for 20 years. This was a meal that pleased everyone and could be on the table quickly – all 3 of the children learned to make it when they were in high school to help take the load off the adults. We live in Colorado where a lot of food has a southwest kick to it. We called our version Chili Macaroni. We always used a can of beer as part of the liquid and added some chopped green chiles and some chili powder, topping it with grated cheese. Thanks for the recipe and bringing back memories.

  • BGF

    My mom made this with tomato juice instead of tomatoes. She only used the meat, onions, macaroni, juice and lots of salt. (My mom over salts). She called hers Spaghetti Dope and served it with fried tators cut into chunks and fried golden brown. YUM!

  • Janine

    The diced tomatoes in your recipe almost look like tomatoe sauce. The can I bought had large chunks of tomatoes and the child I made this for did not care for those. I have to say I did not like them either. I did not grow up here in the US so I am not familar with this dish, but I sounded like something a child would enjoy. I may have to make this with tomatoe sauce next time, because everything else, especially the falvors, came together nicely.

  • Nick

    My family has enjoyed this dish for three generations, and it’s great to see that not only have other families enjoyed it too, but they’ve also come up with funny monikers for this dish! (Grunt’n’Growl, Garbage and Dog Chow are my top three favorites, LOL)

    We enjoy our “HMO” with a big ‘ol dallop of sour cream on top… which, after mixing with the tomato sauce, leaves your plate with a pinkish mixture. I can’t remember which young relative coined the term, but EVERYONE in our family knows what it means when we’re having “Pink Stuff” for dinner!

  • Debbie

    I made this recipe for my husband. We both loved it. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Harriette

    I made this for dinner today, it was pretty good, the spice blend is very nice. But when I added everything to cook, I noticed that the mixture looked a little dry. So I added some tomato sauce, but other than that, very tasty!

  • Elizabeth @ MomCooks

    My Mom made this and called it Goulash, but then at the dinner table would invariably tell us her Mom called it “Slumgullion”. I have no idea where that word comes from!

    This is one of those dishes that I think tastes better the next night for dinner, after it sits in the fridge for almost 24 hours. I think it’s because the macaroni absorbs the excess liquid. What the earlier commenter said about adding extra water and cooking the macaroni in the pot, that doesn’t seem like it would work unless the tomato/hamburger mixture actually came to a boil. Pasta won’t cook all the way if the liquid isn’t boiling, am I right?

    Great question, I don’t know. I always use boiling water to cook pasta. ~Elise

  • Shanna

    My family makes something similar to this, but we add corn, mushrooms, and homemade tomato sauce. It’s been called “Goulash” for, literally, decades in my family, though I’m not sure why? LOL! Delicious regardless of the name!
    Om Nom Nom!!

  • Lulu

    Hi Elise,
    I also grew up with a mom who probably should have had her own cooking show specializing in quick, budget-friendly meals.
    I remember she used to make something along these lines, which she called her “Homemade Hamburger Helper”, and of course it was a thousand times better than anything you could ever get out of a box. When I saw this recipe here the other day, I decided I had to make some for us, just for old time’s sake. Only thing I changed was I added some fresh garlic, which for us is a must.
    Mom said it was delicious and when I told her she used to make something like this, she replied, “did I??”. I think, like your mom, she never wrote her recipes down and just came up with stuff based on what she had on hand.

    Not only did my mom love this, but this morning she told me that she picked up some more ground beef and would like me to make Hamburger Helper again tonight, please. So kudos to your mom and thanks for posting this!

  • Patricia

    Thank you for posting this recipe. My mother used to make this when I was a child and called it John Marzetti. I never got the chance to ask her how she made it before she passed away. I do remember her using a rather large casserole dish and putting it together in layers of sauce, noodles, sauce, cheese, noodles, sauce, cheese..ect. She would use velvetta slices for the layers and then cut the cheddar into sticks and shove them down into the casserole dish. Very cheesy but amazing! There were always large chunks of mushrooms, green pepper, onion and tomatoes. Thank you so much for posting this maybe I will play around with it and pray it taste’s like my momma’s!!

  • S

    I came up with something similar to this as a home style alternative to Hamburger Helper. I throw a bit of red wine when the hamburger is browned then season then add some milk and butter. Everything else is pretty much the same. I may have added tomato before. That is a very nice touch though. The good thing about this dish is you can modify it so many ways. I never even remember how to cook it, as long as you brown the beef, season it, then add the noodles, it’s hard to go wrong.

  • Jeanie

    Has anyone made this recipe with tomato sauce? My son doesn’t like tomatoes but likes tomato sauce; go figure.

  • Ellen

    I grew up eating a version of this called “goulosh”. My Dad refused to eat this and any version of Hamburger Helper due to a childhood memory of his own, so my Grandmother cooked it for me. Is ‘goulosh’ (the name) a Southern thing? I lived/grew up in southern Georgia. As a child my Dad was forced to eat this for an entire week when the fam went on a vacation. Grandma refused to cook on vacay and premade this dish to take with them. Lol.

  • erin

    I give this dish two thumbs up. My 2 year old daughter is rather picky and she loved it. I went a step further by adding some cheese and putting it in the oven. Good recipe!

  • Susan

    My mom made this all the time.
    She would use a can or two of stewed tomatoes and also a green pepper, a yellow onion, pound of beef….We called it Goulash…

  • Susan

    My husband and I really enjoyed this recipe. Thanks for sharing!!

  • Arlene Tan

    My friend Amber had with her 1LB of organic wheat macaroni. As I have cooked macaroni before she asked me if I could cook macaroni for lunch, and she like the same taste as my macaroni last time. Unfortunately, I use canned Italian spaghetti sauce then. And now I have none! So I browse for pasta/pasta sauce recipe and found this one. I was short of some ingredients so I replaced it with what I could find in the kitchen. The result: they love it and so did I! They can’t stop praising me for the delicious macaroni. My thanks to YOU for sharing such an easy, quick sauce.

  • Sarah

    I just wanted to say how much my fiance and I enjoy this! We are both seniors in college and I love how I can make this quickly and that it’s actually going to fill my fiance up (He’s 6’6″ and active, so he needs a lot of food!) AND leave enough to pack lunch for both of us the next day.

  • Val from PA

    Very tasty!! I had to use a combination of diced canned tomatoes and tomato sauce (didn’t have the large can of tomatoes on hand), added an extra cup of cooked macaroni to stretch it a little further for my family of 5, and sprinkled some mozzarella cheese on top. Yummy and filling!!


  • Erin

    I’m not usually a fan of hamburger meals, but the picture looked too good to pass up. I prepared this tonight, and found the recipe to be very easy, quick, and tasty! I made cornbread muffins to go with the dish – excellent! Thanks for the great recipe.

  • Linda

    I have a recipe similar to those discussed here. Mine uses chopped onion, ground beef, tomato soup and cheddar cheese (preferably sharp), and salt & pepper to taste, and of course, macaroni. I call it goulash. My Mom always called it chop suey. I have since learned that there is indeed a dish almost like mine called American Chop Suey.

  • Lisa

    I made this today, the picture won me over. I used a can of fire roasted tomatoes. I think it is important to impress that the tomatoes need to simmer some prior to the addition of the meat, my tomatoes didn’t and they were slightly hard. I also added some brown sugar splenda to cut the acid of the tomatoes( I have diabetes from pancreas removal) also sprinkle of liquid smoke and then used about a half cup of shredded cheese on top melted. I purchased a loaf of rustic multigrain bread. It has just started to get cold again (we just had 2 blissful days of Indian summer) This just hit the spot tonight. It will be better tomorrow when the flavors have mingled at little. I also though about the ground pork or turkey options. This could be done so many different ways, use Mexian seasoning, or Italian too. This is so verstile could use ground lamb and do Middle Eastern. The picture looks scrumptious

  • LaMona won me over. I don’t usually like hamberger dishes. I am really a burger kinda gal. But this is great tasting and easy. Did I say EASY!!! I made a few substitutions. I use 1/2 onion (hubby dislikes onion) & added black olives. This way we can still call it “HMO” without hubby knowing there is onions in it.

  • carly

    Great Recipe! My whole family loved it, quick, healthy, even my 11 month old wanted more!

  • Gracie

    I love this recipe, easy to make and good to eat – with leftovers. I change it up a bit by adding meatballs (precooked) instead of ground beef, and I do not precook the macaroni, I just add it with the meatballs, sauce as instructed and step 3 and cook for about 20 minutes, toss on some cheese for a 1 skillet dinner!

  • RochesterRalph

    My mom made this for my brother and I after working her shift for a local company. It was fast and easy. She called it Hungarian Goulash. I now make this on occassion with a bit of a twist. I call it Mexican Goulash and use green peppers with Frank’s Red Hot sauce in place of the Worcestershire more or less to taste. All other preps are the same.I love it.

  • rokorox

    Comforting, inexpensive, easy, delicious. Delighted with the results! Added peas for colour. Thanks for another lovely recipe.

  • Steve

    Hi Elise,

    This is the first dish I’ve made from your site and it was delicious! I only made one mistake…I bought both cilantro and parsley at the grocery store today (cilantro for the fresh tomato salsa I will be making tomorrow for fajitas!) And I accidentally mistook the cilantro for parsley, whoops! I took it out in one clump and put in the correct parsley. That won’t be a mistake I make again. Though, the cilantro smelled so amazing that I was getting hungry for tomorrows salsa! Thanks so much!

  • Laurie

    We have always called this “hotdish” – period. A must is to add about two T. white or brown sugar to take the bite out of the sour tomato taste. Once you try any variation of tomato hotdish with the sugar added to the sauce, you’ll never make it again with out it!!! Also, lots of garlic powder is awesome too.

  • Grace

    This was a short-order cook’s dream dish. I have gone from cooking for seven to only two and sometimes one when I am dieting ! My numbers can also balloon at any moment to 20 or more. All of these recipes were created for families like ours…I have called us “the accordian”. Darling Elise you are a genius.

    The genius is my mother, who fed six kids and a hungry husband on a very limited budget. Cooks up quickly and the leftovers are great. ;-) ~Elise

  • Paul

    What a wonderful recipe! My wife and I both really enjoyed it. Thanks for posting it.

  • Alicia*

    Elise, you saved me again! Woke up from a nap and was asked, “What’s for dinner?!” “Ummm, beef and macaroni?” This was the first place I looked. Recipe came together fast and easy. Dbf likes it hot and spicey so I added 4 times the red pepper flakes. It was 1 step shy of ridiculously hot, but still good. He LOVED it. I could tell by the 2nd helping. Wish I had crusty garlic bread. Would have been a great accompaniment. Thanks for the great site!

  • Denise

    Your site never seems to let me down Elise. The collaboration of your cooking plus your parents is amazing. Made this last week (didn’t have celery seed) and thought it was good. My BF liked it and asked me to make it again last night. Made it last night with all the correct ingredients (plus two links of hot turkey italian sausage that I had) and it was FABULOUS!!! Your right Elise, RR has NOTHING on your mother. ;0

  • dutch haling

    Ok this is the bomb. I too had this as a child .
    the denver public school system used to serve this once a week. They added mustard seeds to it and it really made a difference. I use Stewed tomatoes and a small can of toatoe sauce. You’ll find that making it 2-4 hours ahead then reheating it in a slow oven (300) for 20 minutes will really make a big difference.

  • RobynT

    Made this, loved it, put alink on my own (mostly audienceless) food blog. Oh and also, my mom has a recipe called Johnny Mousetti that I think is kind of like this.

  • ad

    Hi there, any substitute for Worcestershire sauce? :) I don’t think it’s available in Singapore.

    Try a steak sauce and add just a dash of fish sauce. ~Elise

  • Cantboilwater

    Only thing I changed was using stewed tomatoes instead of diced. Added plenty of onion & garlic, but my family just didn’t go for this one. I had to add spaghetti sauce.

  • Beth

    This is one of my son’s favorites! I call it “Dog Chow”, he called it “Delicious”! I just so happen to have all the ingredients on hand…maybe I’ll suprise him tonight.
    Love this site, thanks to all!

  • annalisa

    I made this two nights ago. I don’t know what I did wrong but it came out funky. Funny thing is everyone ate it all up. Guess I’m picky! As always, still love the site Elise.

  • Bruce Farr

    Fascinating that so many people enjoyed this classic dish under so many different names. Growing up in our New England household, we simply called it “Macaroni,” and it was my favorite meal, hands-down. My sister and I would even slather slices of white Dreikorn’s bread with butter, scoop some “macaroni” onto the bread, fold it over and eat it like a sandwich!

    For old time’s sake, I’m making this tonight. Thanks, Elise.

  • Patricia W

    Yummy! I made this with ground turkey, following the recomendations of entry by Patrice and it turned out awesome! I also made this with whole wheat pasta making it even healthier and was able to take to work for lunches all week…saving a ton of money. This is a keeper!

  • Nancy J

    My husband family has also made this dish for years and now I make it for mine. One big difference is we use Italian stewed tomatoes, yum! It is one of my husband’s and children’s favorites.

  • Maureen

    Slumgullion is the term my parents used for a dish of this type. Slum is the term for the watery/muddy stuff left in the sieve after panning, and the gullion may be derived from the Irish Gaelic word for “pit,” “mud” or “cesspool.” My son would probably just call this sort of dish “slop.”

  • Michael

    In northern Michigan, it resembles what we call “goulash.” Love hearing all the other regional names; some of them are hilarious!

    I’m just getting into “foodie” blogs, and I love this one for realizing we don’t all have access to organically-grown fresh Shitake mushrooms on a regular basis…and if we do, most of us we can’t afford them!

  • Fay

    My family had this all the time. I still make it.
    We call it poor mans goulash. Some time we would put parmesan cheese on top. Also for a change we would use different kinds of noodles.

  • kerry

    This is what my family calls tomato mac. Or when we used to use spaghetti, American spaghetti. At some point though, my parents switched out the ground beef and replaced it with bacon, which I never cared for as much.

  • Aaron

    It’s interesting to see nearly everyone has a version they grew up having. Oddly enough I was speaking of ‘American Chop Suey’ with my wife just the other day. It appears as though she’s never had it. I grew up in New England, she, the midwest. I’ll be making this some time this week, I bet with her love of pasta, and tomato sauce, she’ll be all over it.

  • nan bell

    I think this is a world wide recipe. I lived in Guatemala for many years and my neighbors used this same recipe, just as good in central america as in the northern regions!

  • Jan

    Mother always made this at least once a week. We called it Slum Gullion, heaven knows why but this recipe comes very close to what Mother used to make. I make it now for us. With gas the way it is and food prices going up and up a simple, inexpensive, great tasting, filling meal is a recipe everyone should have in their home cookbook and this fits the bill all the way around!
    Thanks Elise!

  • smplyjenn

    My best friend makes a version of this. She adds veg soup, bbq sauce and a slice of processed cheese, with two large green peppers, mushrooms and thinly sliced pepperoni, with elbow mac.

    I’ve never liked elbow mac, just not creative enough. in moms pastas there was never just one type, it was always filled with many different shapes and sizes. Some were a great sucess some werent, soup pasta was fragile, didnt freeze to well, made a bit of a gunky mystery when reheated.

    As a Canadian I remember it being called American Chop Suey. We called it Muck.

    In my moms version of muck, she would add spinash, green beens (or yellow), carrots, what ever was left over or what ever she just felt like having, mind you, beets and turnip were a mistake, Huge mistake.

    Muck was made and put in individuals casserole dishs, cooked and served in the same dish topped with buttered crumbs and a sprinkle of shredded cheese and to that just a wee dash of oregano to make it perfect.

    As I’m writing this I can see it all in my minds eye. her exact movements, placing the dishs side by side, filling each carefully making sure that there was just enough of everything so that none would do without even a single chunk of tomato.

    I think tomorrow I will be making this for supper. In memory of mom.

    Jennifer L NS Canada

  • Don in AZ

    I made this tonight and found it very good. Like others, I’m left thinking it could use *something* … but I’m not sure what.

    One thought was to use the “flavored” diced tomatoes. DelMonte has several varieties — Basil, Garlic and Oregano; Garlic and Onion; Green Pepper and Onion; and some Chile style. I’ve used the Green Pepper and Onion in other recipes and found it pretty tasty. But I’m not sure which of those “matches” the basic celery seed/Worchestershire flavor. My suspicion is the Garlic and Onion would, but I’m fearful of adding garlic to the recipe.

    Any thoughts?

    Oh, I added a sprinkling of grated Parmesan to my dish tonight and it was a nice combination.

    • Sarah

      I used to buy the DelMonte Basil, Garlic and Oregano mixture because I thought it was a timesaver, but then I read the ingredients – turns out one of the main additions for flavoring the tomatoes is High Fructose Corn Syrup. So I went back to buying the plain unsalted DelMonte tomatoes and now I just use an Italian seasoning mix. Healthier for me and I get the same taste with just a bit more cooking time.

  • Fran in NJ

    Add me to the American Chop Suey camp, which appears to be a New England variant. My mother’s recipe was very similar, except regular salt and pepper, no celery seed or Worcestershire. Instead, she added canned bean sprouts, cheddar cheese, and served it with a dash of soy sauce. I still make it her way. Divine!

  • Angie

    My Grandparents made a similar recipe called “Poor Man’s Supper”. You can make a lot for very little money and it goes a long ways. My Grandparents had four girls and money was very tight back then. My Grandparents raised enormous gardens and canned just about everything to last all year. In their recipe they would use home canned tomatoes. When money was very tight and they couldn’t afford the hamburger, they would just have macaroni, homemade canned tomatoes and salt and pepper. We today in my family still call it “Poor Man’s Supper” and just love it.

  • Tracy

    I made this today for the “daycare kids.” (I run a home daycare.) They ALL loved it. The true test of a good recipe…a houseful of kiddies! (I loved it too!) I’ve been looking for something like this….I guess I’m the one gal whose mom didn’t make it!

  • Dawn

    I make something very similar, and it’s my 12 year old daughter’s favorite dinner! I start browning my ground beef, then add in onions and green peppers. When the beef is cooked and the veggies are soft, I add a jar of spaghetti sauce and 2 TBSP of chili powder, and let simmer for 10 minutes, then add the cooked macaroni. Put a helping in a bowl, top it with a handful of shredded cheddar and a glob of sour cream, and we call it “chili mac”!

  • Mark Garrett

    Add plenty of chopped garlic and a 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese to the mix and you will die.

  • Sacha

    Made this last night using 1 tsp. Ozark Seasoning from Penzeys instead of Vegesal and ~1 Tbsp. dried parsley instead of fresh (added with the sauce). My man loved it…although he did add some hot sauce. :-) It was very easy to make!

  • Deanna

    Great recipe! Made it last night and I must add that the worchestshire sauce really ties everything together. Easy to make, super-tasty and comforting…what’s not to like? Thanks again.

  • Jerry

    My momma used to make a very similar dish and had a special name for it too: Pasta-Shooty. I don’t know where the name came from, but whenever she asked what we wanted for dinner we immediately yelled Pasta-Shooty!

    I’m making this tonight.

  • Cheryl Nazareth

    I love the recipe. I made it last night for my fiance and me and it was a HUGE success. Next time Im gonna try putting mushrooms in and maybe some bell peppers. I LOVE your website. Its a favourite on my computers… and home! :)

  • Chad

    This is a very good recipe and has been in my family for five generations now.I research recipes and this one comes from minnesota during the lumbering boom in northern MN and yes it’s called gulash, green peppers being added is a newer version and is always baked to finish .Perfect dish for those cold nights.tip always use stewed tomatoes and a little catsup to taste never spaghetti sauce.the tomatoe taste should not be over powering.

  • Denise

    Hi Elise,

    I didn’t grow up on this so it was a new experience for me and it was TASTY!!!

    I thought I had all ingredients but was missing the worchestershire, parsley and celery seed. I threw in a red bell pepper, some diced celery and garlic powder w/ parsley. I can’t wait to make it again with all the “correct ingredients”.

    I am definitely going to be making this at least once a month. Thanks for another favorite!

  • Charmaine

    It was quite tasty and easy to make. Thank you for sharing this recipe on your website! I’m looking forward to trying out more of your recipes in the future.

  • john

    My mom used to make something similar to this. Only since my family loved spicy food she used some cayenne pepper or chili powder to give it a little extra kick, but if your family doesn’t agree on the level of spice it might be something best left for each person to add.

  • eliza

    Hi, I’m from Asia and had another similar version of this dish. We called it Fried Macaroni. We are using a mixture of chili sauce, tomato sauce, soy sauce (to replace Worcestershire sauce and tomato). Cooking method is similar as above. Eventhough haven’t try this yet, but I know this will taste good.

  • Tim Stedman

    I make this recipe often as well, and learned it from my mother. The only thing I do differently is, I only cook the pasta half way and let it finish cooking in the tomato sauce so that it gets that tomato-y flavor in the pasta.

  • surfma

    This was very good. I doubled the receipe and used red bell pepper, a can of chopped green chili’s, and instead of the celery seed(didn’t have any) I used a Mexican seasoning blend. It was great and will be gone by tomorrow night! My husband wants to make it with some ground Elk.

  • Michael

    Great recipe! Easily converted to a chili-mac recipe with chili spices, some green pepper, a can of kidney beans, a can of corn, and a tablespoon or two of brown sugar.

  • Linda

    I always had fond memories of eating american chop suey in elementary school, but was disheartened when it was discontinued. I was so happy to come across this recipe – I made enough to last for about 3 days! I noticed it tastes better the day after (doesn’t all pasta?), once all the ingredients have really been absorbed by the pasta. Thanks!!

  • betsy

    I have made this two times now. My husband said it was really good the first time, so I made it again last night. I actually use low carb pasta to make it a lower carb dish so that I can also enjoy it. There’s a really good low carb pasta out there that I’ve been feeding to my husband for a long while now, and I don’t think he knows it. Anyway the only things I did different was to add italian seasoning and put parmesan cheese on top of it after it’s dished. This recipe comes together quickly and it’s tasty and filling!


  • Elise Bauer

    Hi Wen – I haven’t used Mrs. Dash or Lawry’s seasoned salt in such a long time I can’t tell you how they compare to Vegesal. I’m sure either would work. And if you don’t have any seasoned salt, just use regular salt.

  • wen

    I plan on making this tonight. But what’s “vegesal”? Is it similar to Mrs. Dash? Or is it more like Lawry’s seasoned salt? I don’t use Lawry’s anymore (although, I grew up on the stuff) because of the msg.

    So, would it be okay to just use regular sea salt?

    Thanks, and love your blog, and love your wonderful pictures!

  • Zac Lantis

    WoW!! This recipe was great! I had to look it up for a class and it was AWESOME!

  • Michelle

    This was a breeze to make and a substantial, one-skillet hearty meal. Be proud to serve this to anyone from your kids to your boss. The second time I made this I did add another 1 tsp of salt and only 1/2 of the pasta. Deeelicious!

  • Eileen

    My mother-in-law makes this dish, but instead to plain canned tomatoes she uses canned stewed tomatoes, it adds the extra sweetness that Johnny Marzetti has.

  • Colleen Plumer

    I remember having this at least twice a month at our school cafeteria. It was called American Chop Suey, and I’m from Northern Maine so maybe it is an east coast name. Every family I knew had it once in a while with slightly different versions. I liked it without onions, but was so enamored with it, I’d eat the schools version with onions anyway. We used to have great food back then, all homemade everyday! Now my kids have the option of crustables, a PB&J sandwich made by Smuckers. UGH!

    • reen b

      This is a re-post of an old post but I’ll reply anyway: I, too, had this at my elementary school in Maine and it was called American Chop Suey as well! Why IS that?? LOL They made it with bell peppers but I would omit them (not a fan of them cooked).

      Thanks for the recipe – will make it tonight and bring back fond memories of goofing around at the cafeteria lunch tables!

  • Lisa Gardener

    This is a good recipe but to make it even better add some Italian seasonings and lots of cheese.

  • Elise Bauer

    Dear Anonymous,

    According to Lea &amp Perrins, their Worcestershire sauce is “suitable for a coeliac diet”.

    According to some of the websites I’ve checked, the Canadian version of Lea &amp Perrins Worcestershire sauce may not be gluten-free, but there are other makers that are, you’ll have to check.

  • Anonymous

    this recipe comes up as gluten free but worchestire sauce is not GF. An important distinction for those of us who can get really sick by consuming the smallest amount of gluten…

  • Lisa

    I tried this, but found that a can of tomato paste was needed, as well. It turned out nicely.

  • Lisa

    Just wanted to add that we’ve always called this “American Chop Suey” as well (I think this name is an East Coast thing, maybe?) and have it at least once a month. It’s a rare thing when there’s actually leftovers. Definitely one of those ‘go to’ meals when you want something fast, yummy and totally comforting. And most of the ingredients are always in my pantry. :)

  • Laurie

    My 91-year-old grandma makes this. She calls it “Hotdish,” and we all know what she is referring to since she makes no other caserole-type dish. She uses a quart of HOME-CANNED tomatoes which break down into a slurry, with no distinct tomato chunks. When she wants to get FANCY, she adds diced green or red pepper.

  • Anonymous

    I have been looking for this type of recipe for quite some time. My Mom used to make this for us when we were growing up. There were four of us children and we always called it “GARBAGE” I don’t know why. Sometime there were one or two pork chops left over from a previous dinner and my Mom would throw them in and it was always a game to see who would get the pork chop with their serving. What a great Mom my Mom was.

  • david

    I never had this until I joined the military. At both Fort Jackson, S.C. and Fort Sam-Houston, TX it was referred to as “chili-mac”. I loved it then, and make it for my friends now. 25 minutes or less, you can prepare enough food for 8 people.

  • HB

    I made this last night. With all the rain we’re having in the Northeast, it’s still comfort food weather! Anyway, after reading some of the posts, I added green peppers. Otherwise I stuck with the recipe. It was delish but next time I think I will also add a 1/2 can or so of tomato sauce as I would have liked it a little less dry… I almost omitted the Worcestire Sauce but thought better of it and grabbed some at a convenience store. I am glad I did not leave it out!

  • lawchick

    My mom made a version of this called “moola,” which was passed down from her mom. It began with frying up some chopped bacon, then browning the ground beef and onions in the bacon grease (these were the old days of working hard outdoors all day, so there was no sissy draining of the grease). V-8 juice provided the liquid, and swiss cheese was melted on top at the end. Delicious, if artery-hardening.

  • Heat her

    I made something very similar to this in the pressure cooker last night, my one-pot miracle. I used ground pork instead of hamburger and cellentani noodles. Brown the meat, add everything else, and cook for 6 minutes! I used fennel seeds and a little red wine, no Worcestershire sauce. My two year old said, “No!” when I put it in front of him, but we have a “you have to eat one bite” rule, and after that he ate three bowls full.

  • brenda

    My mother-in-law made this for my husband when he was growing up. I never had it myself. He told me about it so I tried to make it for him. I had no tomatoes so I substituted salsa. He liked it and that is what I have been using ever since. I mentioned it to his sister and she was horrified that I messed with the “family recipe”!

    • Elena

      Oooooooo :) The adding of salsa sounds good !

  • Denise

    We’ve been making this for generations and have always called it “American Chop Suey.” Ours is simpler with just meat, onions and a large can of diced tomatoes, then add the macaroni. Nice to know it’s comfort food in so many regions!

  • Karen

    I also had something similar growing up…we called it Mixed Up Mess…because I guess my mom added whatever was in the frig. Onions, celery, peppers, zucchini, corn, beans, mushrooms, etc.
    I still make it and I still use whatever I have in the frig.

  • Bea

    My mom used to make a form of this for us when I was little, it was great for us because there were four of us kids and it was easy to make a huge batch plus leftovers. We always called it Grunt’n’Growl. Where that name came from I have no idea.

  • Bonnie

    In our household, this is called Slopparoni or Glopparoni, as the spirit moves us.

    Actually, anything with a macaroni base would fit that title. Here in Minnesota, it’s a “hotdish” and the crushed red peppers would be regarded with suspiscion, the cook opting instead for a Lutheran whitening agent such as sour cream or cream of mushroom soup. Bliss.

  • Ann

    We called this “goulash”! I still make a very similar variant at least twice a month for myself. They also served this at my favorite restaurant (which is no longer open) back home in Iowa on Wednesdays at lunchtime. Yum! :)

    • Jamie

      So interesting, Ann. I’m originally from western Iowa (Denison) and we called this “goulash” in my house also! I later visited Hungary and discovered that the real goulash is not at all like the one I grew up with. Go Iowa!

  • Angie

    My mom used to make a similar dish it was just Macaroni, diced or whole tomatoes from the can (chopped)she didn’t like them so small, and spam. She just called it Macaroni & Tomatoes. It’s really good, but a very salty dish. I’ll have to try this recipe later.

  • Patrice

    This was so yummy! But we don’t eat beef so I substituted ground turkey. For those of you who might prefer the turkey option, the meat might turn out a little bland. To fix this, I first sauteed the onion in the saute pan and added the meat to the onion. After the meat had browned, I added the salt, crushed red pepper, celery seed and Worcestershire sauce. I let this simmer for a few minutes to flavor the meat and then added the tomatoes, let it simmer a minute or so and then added the macaroni and parsley. I left the ground turkey in kind’ve large pieces so it was important to make sure it had flavor! This did the trick. Oh-I also topped this with a little grated pecorino romano at the end. So good. Sometimes the simple things are the best.

    • Elena

      Another option is to use ground turkey and ‘turkey Italian hot sausage’. It will make the difference. The only place I can find it is in Publix.

  • April

    Wonderful recipe.
    I made last night and it was very good.
    I put shredded cheese on top of mine, yummy!

    • Athina

      I’ve never had issues doing the both in the same pan-it is how my mother did it, and was always delicious.

  • Rebecca

    This looks like something my family would love, and a boon to those days where I don’t feel much like cooking, but I don’t understand using a separate skillet for browning the onions–why not just put them in to sautee with the ground beef? Don’t most people do it that way for spaghetti sauce, chili, etc., or is it just me?

    Note from Elise: Saves time. You want the hamburger to brown, and it will brown best on high heat, while the onions will cook best on medium high heat.

  • Nadyne

    My grandmother also fed us this great dish,,but we called it Slumgullen.

  • buffy

    HMO must be a universal recipe for several generations. I recall my mother making it as I grew up, but unfortunately her recipe didn’t find it’s way into the family cookbook. Elegante Mother hasn’t made HMO for more than 25 years, so I was delighted to find that you’d featured it. I’m pulling together recipes for one of my grandnephews, and I’ll add this to his cookbook. Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    I made this for dinner last night, and it was a big hit! My only suggestion is to add about a teaspoon of sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes. (And, I confess, we added a combination of American and cheddar, and it was perfect!)

    As always, thanks, Elise!

  • Jen

    Growing up, I just called it hamburger macaroni. My husband’s family called it “garbage” for some reason.

  • Lisa

    My mom made what we called “goop” growing up. she used tomato juice and a can of sliced mushrooms. I have made it my own by using a vegetable juice, celery, green pepper and bring it to a simmer, add the raw ground beef simmer til it’s cooked add a little water and a cup of uncooked macaroni and cook til the macaroni is done! yum!! oh — LOTS of fresh cracked pepper!

  • Naia

    I found this…

    What’s Johnny Marzetti? Johnny Marzetti is a casserole created in the 1920s by the owner of the Marzetti Restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. Who was Johnny Marzetti? According to the “American Century Cookbook” by Jean Anderson, Johnny Marzetti was the brother of the owner of the Marzetti Restaurant.

    Here’s the rest of the article:


  • jumper

    My family makes this all the time and we called it goulash also (a rose by any other name..etc).

    I some times take it to potlucks when I don’t have much time to prepare something fancy and I make it and take it in my crock pot. And it’s always a big hit.

    People that haven’t had it in a while always say “When I was a growing we used to have this all the time”

    I think it is one of the best comfort foods out there.

    • Erika

      We call it goulash too… I think my Belgian American Grandma thought it was exotic because of the tomatos!

  • Zoe

    That’s so great that other people know John Marcetti! I was pretty sure my grandma didn’t make that name up. Now I’ll have to do some research and find out where that name comes from — I’m determined. Thanks for that recipe, Dave — though it’s MUCH fancier than what my mom made, and grandma I’m sure. ;-)

  • Sue Salaniuk

    My mom had a version of this she called John Marcetti (and I see another post with that name! Small world). I have no idea why either. I am now a vegetarian (although I cook with meat for my family and will try this one) and I’ll bet that tempeh or bulgar would make an almost unidentifiable substitute for the beef.

  • Julie

    Hey, I make something similar, but have a good shortcut to make it even easier. Add a cup or two of water to the ground beef, tomato, onion mixture to make it really soupy, then add the dried pasta straight to that pan. The pasta will cook in with the simmering meat and tomatos, soak up the extra liquid, and pick up all those flavors. Yum! And, you don’t have to wash a pasta cooking pan.

  • Annie

    I learned a variation of this dish called “Train Wreck” back in college. Saute the ground beef and onion, add two cups of frozen veggies and spaghetti sauce, heat through, add the cooked pasta and then some mozzarella cheese to finish it off. My son called from the military to ask for the ingredients so that he could continue the tradition! (He called again to say that, “It tasted exactly like it was supposed to.”) God bless our troops.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!