Macaroni and Beef with Cheese Recipe

Macaroni and Beef with Cheese is a classic comfort dish that brings together the heartiness of ground beef, the simplicity of pasta, and the richness of a cheesy topping. This dish is reminiscent of the old-fashioned home cooking that many of us grew up with, offering both familiarity and warmth in every bite. Known for its versatility and ease of preparation, it’s a perfect meal for those busy weeknights or when you need a satisfying dish that appeals to all age groups. The combination of flavors and textures makes it a complete meal that’s both filling and comforting. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or someone who’s just starting to explore the kitchen, this recipe is straightforward, customizable, and sure to yield delicious results.

Choosing Ingredients and Cooking Tips:

  1. Ground Beef: Opt for lean ground beef (80/20) for a good balance of flavor and health. However, if the beef is fatty, consider cooking it separately and draining the excess fat.
  2. Macaroni: Use a sturdy pasta like classic elbow macaroni. For a healthier twist, whole wheat pasta can be a great substitute.
  3. Cheeses: Cheddar and mozzarella are great choices for their melting properties and flavor, but feel free to experiment with other types like Gouda or Monterey Jack for a different taste.
  4. Tomatoes: Canned whole tomatoes pureed provide a rich base for the dish. For a chunkier texture, you can opt for diced tomatoes.
  5. Seasonings: The beauty of this recipe lies in its versatility. Adjust the seasonings to your liking, whether it be traditional Italian herbs or something more adventurous like smoked paprika or chili powder.

Making the Dish:

  • Layering Flavors: Begin by sautéing onions, then add the beef and seasonings for depth of flavor.
  • Partial Cooking of Pasta: Cook the macaroni only halfway through as it will continue to cook in the oven.
  • Sauce Consistency: Ensure the tomato sauce is not too thin to avoid a soggy dish after baking.
  • Cheese Topping: Generously top with cheese for a gooey, delicious crust.

Variations and Substitutions:

  • Meat Variations: Substitute ground beef with ground turkey or chicken for a lighter version, or even a plant-based meat alternative for a vegetarian option.
  • Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free pasta and check your seasonings to ensure they are gluten-free.
  • Add Veggies: Enhance the nutritional value by adding vegetables like bell peppers, mushrooms, or spinach.
  • Spice Level: Adjust the heat by adding chopped jalapeños or chili flakes for those who like it a bit spicy.

Macaroni and Beef with Cheese is more than just a dish; it’s a canvas for culinary creativity. It’s a meal that can be dressed up or down, modified to suit dietary needs, or transformed with whatever ingredients you have on hand. Enjoy the process of making this comforting classic and the pleasure of serving a meal that’s sure to be greeted with smiles.

Macaroni and Beef with Cheese Recipe


  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of canola oil
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 pounds of lean ground beef
  • 1 box of macaroni pasta
  • 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 can (28 ounces) of whole tomatoes, blended until smooth
  • Optional seasonings: black pepper, oregano, cumin, coriander, chopped garlic, hot smoked paprika, chili powder, or others to taste (for this recipe, black pepper, garlic, and a tablespoon of fish sauce were used for depth of flavor)


  1. Begin by gently cooking the diced onions in canola oil in a large pot, seasoning with a generous pinch of salt.
  2. Add the ground beef to the pot, breaking it apart as it cooks. (If the beef is particularly fatty, you may opt to cook it separately, then add it to the pot along with the tomatoes to avoid excess grease.)
  3. Season the beef and onions with another pinch or two of salt, along with your chosen dry seasonings. Incorporate the pureed tomatoes and any additional fresh seasonings, then bring the mixture to a simmer. Lower the heat and let it cook gently for about an hour.
  4. While the beef and tomato mixture simmers, partially cook the macaroni in boiling water until it’s halfway done. Drain the pasta and add it to the pot with the tomato and beef sauce. (The entire box of macaroni was used for a larger yield, but you can adjust the pasta quantity based on how rich you want the final dish to be.)
  5. Stir the macaroni into the sauce, adjusting the seasoning with more salt or other spices as needed. Let the mixture cool until the pasta has absorbed the tomato juices, then transfer it to a large baking dish. Cover with foil. This can be left to sit for a few hours, refrigerated for up to two days, or frozen for several weeks.
  6. When ready to serve, bake the dish in a preheated 400°F oven until it is piping hot, which will take about 45 minutes if starting from cold or room temperature.
  7. Just before serving, remove the foil, sprinkle the combined cheddar and mozzarella cheeses over the top of the macaroni, and broil until the cheese is melted and golden brown.

This Macaroni and Beef with Cheese dish is a hearty, comforting meal that goes beyond the conventional store-bought versions. It’s filled with wholesome ingredients, customizable to your flavor preferences, and topped with a generous layer of melted cheese. The process of preparing this dish is both enjoyable and rewarding, offering a more satisfying and tastier alternative to pre-packaged meals. Perfect for a family dinner or as a make-ahead meal, this dish is sure to be a delightful addition to your culinary repertoire.

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