Whip up this easy homemade beefaroni with simple ingredients for an effortless weeknight dinner you can feel good about feeding your entire family.
It is embarrassingly tempting to just reach for a boxed or canned meal. I get it. It is simply less effort, and let's be honest, the kids typically complain about the canned stuff less. So if you can't beat them, join them! This homemade beefaroni is sure to please your picky eaters, and you will feel good about knowing exactly what ingredients you are feeding them!
What is Beefaroni?
Beefaroni is a popular canned pasta meal from Chef Boyardee enjoyed by kids and adults craving an easy meal. Beefaroni consists of crumbled ground beef in a lightly seasoned tomato sauce combined with noodles. Although it is cheap and easy to buy at the grocery store, this dish can easily be replicated at home with fresh ingredients.
My easy homemade beefaroni recipe sticks to the basics of this childhood classic by using tomato sauce, ground beef, and macaroni noodles as the main ingredients. However, I liven it up with diced tomatoes, chopped onion, and a bit of Worcestershire sauce for depth.
This dish is a simpler version of an American goulash I've made with venison. Best of all, this easy family dinner comes together in the time it takes to boil water and cook the pasta, making it perfect for feeding the whole family on busy weeknights!
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Elbow macaroni pasta - Traditionally, beefaroni uses elbow noodles, but you can substitute any small pasta noodle you have on hand if needed.
- Lean ground beef - Since the crumbled beef will be swallowed up in a sea of tomato sauce, using lean beef is a good way to save on calories without sacrificing flavor. I use a 90/10 beef for this recipe, however, you can go leaner than that if desired. Although, I find if you go TOO lean, the beef doesn't brown as well because there is too little fat (then you need to add olive oil). You can substitute 80/20 beef as well.
- Yellow onion - A sweet onion is a perfect substitute.
- Garlic cloves - You can substitute ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder instead if needed.
- Tomato sauce
- Diced tomatoes - I recommend using a 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes. You can also use garden-ripened fresh tomatoes if they are in season. Avoid the "fresh" tomatoes at the grocery store, they typically seriously lack flavor.
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
How to Make it
Begin making this easy beefaroni recipe by first boiling a large pot of water then cook your macaroni noodles until they are al dente, according to the package directions.
While you are waiting for the water to come to a boil, brown ground beef and chopped onion in a large skillet or saute pan set over medium heat and sprinkle in the salt and black pepper.
Tip: Rather than simply cooking the beef until it is a grayish-brown, let the beef sit in the skillet a bit longer without stirring excessively. The ground beef resting on the bottom of the skillet will form a deep brown crust around it. This is where the flavor is at! At this point stir the beef to allow the rest to brown as well.
Once the onions are tender and the beef is nicely browned, add the minced garlic and cook one or two minutes until fragrant. Then add your tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir everything well to combine and gently simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened. Finally, drain the tender noodles from the water and add them to the tomato meat sauce in the skillet then serve.
How to Customize this Recipe
This beefaroni recipe is a great base recipe to customize to fit your own personal tastes. I did my best to make this casserole dish effortless yet still flavorful, with minimal ingredients, to allow you plenty of room to customize this simple recipe to create layers of flavor. Here are a few of my suggestions:
For a fresh gourmet twist, add a few fresh basil leaves to the tomato sauce as it simmers, it will transform the dish! Otherwise, a simpler alternative would be to sprinkle in some dry Italian seasoning for extra flavor. Even a chopped pepper and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese would be great additions.
Going in the opposite direction, you can add 1-2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese to create a cheesy pasta dish, similar to chili mac, or chili powder to make it a quick chili with noodles. Otherwise, a simple pinch of crushed red pepper flakes is perfect for adding a little heat.
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
This beefaroni dish is best when eaten fresh, but the leftover beefaroni still reheats very well too. The leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator using an airtight container and eaten within five days for the best flavor and texture. I do not recommend freezing the leftovers, because the noodles will not hold up well to freezing.
The easiest way to reheat leftover homemade beefaroni is to microwave it in individual servings until warmed through. Alternatively, you can gently heat it back up in a small saucepan. The noodles will absorb moisture as it sits in the fridge, so feel free to add a small splash of water if it no longer appears saucy enough.
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- 8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
- 1 pound lean ground beef (90/10)
- ½ onion (chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 30 ounces canned tomato sauce
- 15 ounce can diced tomatoes (drained)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- Boil a pot of salted water and add macaroni. Cook according to box instructions.
- While water comes to a boil, add beef, onions, salt, and pepper to a saute pan set over medium heat. Brown the beef and cook onions until tender. Add minced garlic and cook an additional couple of minutes until garlic is fragrant.
- Add canned tomato sauce, drained diced tomatoes, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir everything together and let simmer 10-15 minutes.
- Once macaroni is tender, drain from water and add to the skillet with the tomato sauce. Mix together and serve.
This recipe was originally published on March 27, 2019, on FoxValleyFoodie.com.