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Homemade Beefaroni is a fast family-friendly meal that reinvents a childhood classic. Kids and adults love this hearty and comforting mixture of macaroni and beef in tomato sauce with just a hint of spice. It is made with only five main ingredients, including pantry staples like elbow noodles and ground beef, and takes less than twenty minutes. This easy beefaroni recipe is sure to become a staple on your dinner menu!
Originally published on Mar 27, 2017. Updated with video and additional useful information about the recipe.
Homemade Beefaroni Recipe
Similar to the stuff you buy in a can, but so much better and still crazy fast. This hearty bowl of macaroni and beef in tomato sauce is sure to become a new family favorite in your house too. It has just a hint of spice, with enough to taste it, but not too much for those picky eaters. So it’s totally kid-friendly. Just cook some elbow noodles (even gluten free, if needed), brown some ground beef, and add some sauce and chili powder. It doesn’t get any easier!
I’m sure like many of you, this dish holds a special place in my heart. Although perhaps not for the same reasons. Sure, in my childhood my mom opened up a can or two of Chef Boyardee Beefaroni – that macaroni and beef in tomato sauce that I know lots of us ate growing up.
But for me, beefaroni isn’t about the canned stuff. It’s about my grandma. It was actually one of the easiest meals she made, but it evokes the strongest, warmest memories for me. I can still hear her saying, “I made a pot of junk for dinner.”
Yes, she called it “junk”.
It’s a simple mixture of cooked elbow noodles, browned ground beef sauteed with a bit of onion, tomato sauce, and just a hint of chili powder. Cook it up and stir it all together in one pot so you can hear that unmistakable sound of the pieces of elbow macaroni moving around with just the perfect amount of sauce. That’s the sound that brings me back to my grandma’s kitchen.
Now my kids devour it just as quickly as I did, and I’m sure your entire family will too.
Watching my boys dig into a bowl of “junk” reminds me that it doesn’t have to be a complicated meal or some super authentic ethnic cuisine from your heritage to connect the generations. It’s really just about coming together to enjoy each others’ company and share about our past, present, and future. That’s a family recipe.
How to Make Beefaroni
This is one of the ultimate quick and easy dinners for busy nights. You can brown the meat in a skillet while you cook the elbow macaroni in the pot where you will combine everything. Or make it a one-pot meal, and brown the meat in the same pot after you’ve drained the noodles.
Plus it makes a lot, so you can feed a large family, a couple of your kids’ friends, or save some for leftovers. Yes, it might be even more delicious after it has been in the refrigerator for a day or two.
And I’m going to tell you how to make my beefaroni recipe.
What is beefaroni made of?
This easy version only has five main ingredients:
- Elbow macaroni – you can use traditional, whole wheat, or gluten free noodles
- Ground beef
- Canned tomato sauce
- Chili powder
Plus olive oil, salt, and pepper.
How do you make homemade beefaroni?
Here is a brief overview just to show you how simple it is. Check out the printable recipe card just below for the full amounts and details.
- Cook the elbow macaroni in a large pot according to package directions, and drain.
- Brown ground beef in a skillet olive oil with onion, salt, and pepper.
- Return the noodles to the pot.
- Add the ground beef, tomato sauce, and chili powder.
- Stir everything together and heat it through.
What do you serve with Beefaroni?
- Salad with Creamy Balsamic Dressing
- Lemon Roasted Broccoli
- Spinach Artichoke Cheesy Cauliflower Breadsticks
- Stuffed Pepper Soup
- Cucumber Tomato Salad with Feta
- And for dessert, try grandma’s favorite Strawberry Whipped Cream Cake or Gluten Free Cake with Strawberries and Whipped Cream
Need more ground beef recipes…
- The Best Chili Recipe is always classic.
- Easy Sloppy Joes have all the kids running to the dinner table.
- Lasagna (and a version made with Gluten Free Lasagna Noodles) is comfort food everyone loves.
- Shepherds Pie can be easy enough for a weeknight meal.
- Italian Pasta Casserole is another favorite way to eat ground beef and noodles.
- My Grandma’s Porcupine Meatballs (aka Polish meatballs) are like stuffed cabbage, but without the cabbage.
Easy Homemade Beefaroni
- 8 oz. uncooked elbow macaroni (regular or gluten free)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1.25 pounds ground beef
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 29 oz tomato sauce
- 2 Tablespoons chili powder (you can use more or less, to taste)
- Cook pasta according to package directions.
- While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add ground beef, onion, salt, and pepper.
- Cook until the beef is browned and cooked through. Drain any excess grease.
- Drain the cooked pasta and return to the pot. Add the beef, tomato sauce, and chili powder and stir together.
- Return the pot to the stove over medium heat until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
My favorite quick and easy dinners:
- Sriracha Lime Crockpot Turkey Tenderloin Recipe
- Hawaiian Scrambled Eggs
- Balsamic Glazed Steak Bites
- Cubed Steak in a Cast Iron Skillet
My husband loves beefaroni and he asked me to make him some. As usual, I never have the exact items in my pantry but I easily adapt! Used small shells for the “roni”, didn’t have sauce so I used a can of diced tomatoes and a jar of my processed plum tomatoes and about a tsp of tomato puree. Tastes great! I want to try this out using mini ravioli’s to make the Beefaroni Ravioli!
I follow a keto lifestyle so I didn’t try this, but my husband loved it. I used ground turkey instead of beef, and only used 1-1/2 T of chili powder. It made 4 hefty servings. He ate one and I froze the others. I will definitely make this again for easy meals he can grab and microwave whenever the fancy hits him. Thank you!
I’m so happy he enjoyed it and that you found a new meal prep recipe!
Made this for dinner, very tasty! It will be added to my menu.
I did substitute a 15oz can of crushed tomatoes and a 15oz can of tomato sauce instead of 29oz tomato sauce.
So glad you liked it!
Can you substitute tomato sauce for another sauce? Such as a spaghetti sauce?
I usually use a more plain tomato sauce so the herbs in the sauce don’t conflict with the chili powder, but spaghetti sauce will work, though it will change the flavor a bit.
Classic! I made it as written. Perfect beefaroni recipe! My 20 month old granddaughter gobbled it up! Thank you so much for your recipe and your memories. Recipes that remind of us of our youth and those we’ve loved are always the best recipes.
Delicious! I add green bell peppers.
Made this and my family (usually not into American things) ate it up in SECONDS. I’ve never seen anything like it. Will definitely be making it again and will be put in my folder of good no-fail recipes.
This is amazing! Thanks for letting me know!
As a mom of a 4 and 2 year old, I’m always looking for something that’s quick, filling and good for those days that seem longer than others. My family loved it! I made it as described, just added a little cheese on top at the finish. Definitely will make again! Truly a keeper!
So glad you found a recipe for those kinds of days! Yes, we used to eat it with parmesan, but any kind of cheese would be tasty on top!
I tried this and it came out great the 1st time except too much chili powder and I only used 1 tablespoon. I did it a second time and opted out of the chili powder, still great without the spice.
Glad you adjusted to make it the way you enjoy it!
Used Tuttorosso tomato sauce, only one tablespoon of chili powder, and added 1 cup of beef stock to make it a bit more saucy. Came out great! Thank you.
I’m a school nurse and yesterday I had to pick up a tray from the cafeteria for a student that was confined to the Health Center. The entree was Beef-a-roni. I couldn’t get the image of that thick dark blob with a skin of melted cheddar out of my mind… The deep brownish-red color of the saucy meat that resembled long simmered chili ; the mushy way overcooked macaroni., that cheesy crust….OMG! Exactly what I loved 50 years ago! Last night I searched the internet in vain for this version of my childhood obsession . Then I came across your recipe. Taa Daa!! Looked pretty darn close. Maybe it’s the additional of the chili powder? I might have to cook it to death and top it with cheese to get close to that childhood memory…and I will. Thank you for posting and l’ll be sure to let you know once I make it. Happy Holidays!
Hahaha, I’m sure some cheese will make it even better!
I remember the commercial…. we’re havin’ Beefaroni…. beef and macaroni…
Haha, gotta love nostalgia!
[…] Beefaroni – A childhood classic revived! […]
What a great, simple recipe. So easy and enjoyable to make. If you want to embellish with garlic, onions, cheese, etc, this is a great base. I enjoyed every minute of construction, tasting as I went along to adjust salt and pepper. The critic of your literary style has has little respect for the effort it takes to create a recipe and article. Kudos to you.
I read Stanley’s comment in the voice of Stanley from The Office. Made the comment so much better.
Thankyou so much for this simple recipe. Turned out delicious! And we just have to keep praying for people like Stanley. There’s alot of unhappiness in this world & misery loves company!
I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe, and you’re absolutely correct. 😉
I feel sorry for Stanley-so harsh and uncaring. He needs to stay away from sites like this because others enjoy the stories even if he doesn’t. He needs to keep such negative comments to himself. He must have had a really bad day and wants everyone to suffer with him.
Thank you, Donna. While I would love to be able to please everyone who visits my recipes, it’s simply impossible. I do the best I can, and I appreciate knowing that there are people like you out there who DO enjoy reading my stories. 🙂
I have looked everywhere for this recipe..for this old school recipe…thank you so much girl…
You’re very welcome. I love old school recipes like this one!
Thank you for this recipe. We are a kosher family and to
find a simple meat recipe that has no cheese or milk is not easy. This one is on my list to make this week.
I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe, Leanora Thank you for rating it so highly.
I grew up with a similar recipe that we called American Chop Suey! I still make it occasionally for my husband. Thank you for your stories – I love them even more than the recipes. 🙂
Thank you so much for your sweet comment, Mary. I’m glad that you enjoy my stories, because I do enjoy sharing them!
I’m an Australian and we don’t do Beefaroni. After hearing it so many times on tv, I just had to see what all the fuss was about.
I was halfway through the recipe when I thought “where is the cheese” thinking Beefaroni was a mix of Macaroni ‘n’ cheese and beef. I had a look at few other Beefaroni recipes, and they all had cheese stired in towards the end. So I basically followed your recipe (I substituted some tomato sauce with canned crushed tomatoes)and added a couple of handfuls of grated cheddar cheese just before serving. It was fantastic.
I will definitely be making this again.
Wow, Alan! I hadn’t even thought of adding a cheese factor to the beefaroni, but what a fantastic idea! I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂
Looks so yummy I hope I can recreate it for my family. Thanks in advance.
I’m sure you will! It’s easy and family-friendly. Enjoy!
I came here for a recipe, not a novel on your life as a child. Tighten it up a bit .
If scrolling is too difficult for you to get your free recipe from my site, then you’ll notice I added buttons at the top of each post that allow you to jump straight to the recipe or to the printable page. If that still isn’t sufficient then feel free to go to the Allrecipes or Food Network website as opposed to someone’s food blog.
Wow Stanley, why the need to be so rude?!
Thank you for your support. 🙂
Holy crap. Get a life Stanley
Thanks for your support, Randi. It’s not possible to please everyone, but I do the best I can. Part of my posts involves sharing stories about how the recipes were created. People who don’t enjoy that portion of the posts can either scroll down, use the “jump to recipe” button at the top of the posts, or choose to go to a site like “Allrecipes”, where there are no introductions. 🙂
Rude people like Stanley think it’s all about them. Just hit that little x at the right top of page ,bye
So, I made this last night for 9 people, doubling it. After reading the comments I did make a couple of changes. I added a can of petite diced tomatoes and a little garlic as well as some plain Greek yogurt to cut the acidity a little bit. I served it with a Ceasar salad and French bread and there was not one bite left! Everyone loved it!
And on another note your story really touched my heart. I was born on my grandmother’s birthday and we were very close. She had RA and after all her years of suffering she passed away at 67. I was only 16. Before she died we spent many hours in the kitchen. It is where I learned my love for cooking!
I’m so happy that you enjoyed the Beefaroni recipe, Anne Marie, and thank you for sharing your story with me. It’s wonderful that you and your grandma were able to bond through cooking together. <3
My husband calls this American Chop Suey! I need to make it for him!
Looks decent but I am a tad worried about the acidity of all tomatoe with nothing to cut it. Suggestions? (I suffer from minor digestive issues)
Perhaps you can stir in a touch of heavy cream, half and half, or Greek yogurt? As a kid we used to top it with parmesan or cheddar cheese.
Table spoon of sugar also! Great recipe. Fried onions with the hamburger is also a great taste If you like fried onions.
Thank you, Nikki! I’m glad that you enjoy the recipe.
LOVE this homemade version!!
Now that is a great kids meal. Looks so hearty!
This looks like a MAJORLY husband pleasing dinner! I can’t wait to try it out on him!
This is a great recipe. Everyone in my family enjoyed this delicious recipe. It’s so simple to make. Thanks for sharing this recipe.
I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed the beefaroni recipe. Thank you!
Your story is very wam, it reminds me about my childhood when my mom cooked for me grilled meat rice, until now, this is my favorite food. I see your recipe is similar to my aunt’s recipe, except that she doesn’t add cheese to. Someday I’ll try your recipe.
I’m glad that the post brought back some happy memories for you, and I do hope that you’ll try my beefaroni recipe soon. Thanks for your comment!
I’ll be trying your recipe because I never would have thought to put chili powder in it! I make something similar we call goulash, but the chili powder sounds like a winner.
My journey with arthritis started when I was just 20 years old. I’m now 50 and this past year has seen a real downward spiral with it. I have the same problem with cooking your Grandma did now and also with standing for more than 10-15 minutes at a time. And I love, love love to cook!
Once my kitchen is fixed(it’s gutted for a redo) this will be one the first things I try! Around May I’m told! LOL
P.S. That food processor would sure help out with the chopping! 🙂
The chili powder really does add a lot of great taste to the beefaroni recipe, Angela, so I look forward to hearing what you think of it after you’ve had a chance to try it. I’m sorry to hear that arthritis is giving you trouble. Sometimes we just need to cook at the pace our bodies allow us to. 🙂
I’ll try this recipe but will change part of the tomato sauce for crushed tomatoes
Adding crushed tomatoes to the beefaroni recipe is a great idea, Janet. I hope you enjoy the meal!