Beefy, saucy, and totally comforting, this delicious beefaroni prepared with fresh ingredients is an updated version of an old favorite!
Beefaroni, a Blast From the Past
By the time I'd get home from school when I was a kid, I'd be pretty darn hungry; and one of my favorite little meals was a bowl of beefaroni, the classic out-of-a-can version, filled with pasta and a beefy tomato sauce.
It was simple enough to heat up, and would fill my young belly with some warm comfort food. Sometimes, I'd even get a little “gourmet” and sprinkle some grated cheese over top, mix it into the hot beefaroni, and get a cheesy version, twice as good! 😉
Since these days I really get a kick out of recreating old favorite recipes in my home kitchen using healthy, fresh ingredients, and perhaps even putting a slightly more sophisticated twist on them using more complex flavors, I thought it'd be fun to take one of my childhood favorites and create a recipe around it.
This homemade beefaroni blows away the ol' canned version, and is sure to become a quick and easy meal to add to your own rotation. I think it'll take any fan of this old favorite on a tasty trip down memory lane!
My Own Beefaroni Recipe
This homemade version of beefaroni is basically a one-pan recipe, built around a flavorful, seasoned meat sauce.
I like to use lean, grass-fed ground beef, aromatics, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, and generous sprinkle of spices such as cumin and paprika.
Elbow macaroni is cooked up and then added directly to the meat sauce in the pan, then everything is mixed together.
For the topper, I love to add a sprinkle of jack and sharp cheddar cheese to make this dish extra delicious and comforting, and a slight departure from the classic version.
Here's a glance at how I make beefaroni (or you can just jump to the full recipe here):
- I prep my seasoned meat sauce, first by browning my ground beef with my aromatics, then by adding in my spices/seasonings, along with my tomato paste and canned tomatoes, and allow things to gently simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
- While the sauce simmers, I cook my elbow macaroni until tender, to my liking.
- Then, it's just as simple as combining all of the ingredients together in my skillet, sprinkling the cheeses over top, and placing the skillet under the broiler, just until the cheese is melted.
Let me tell you, the layers of flavors in this recipe take beefaroni to a whole new level!
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 6
Nutrition Info: 450 calories
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1/2 teaspoon paprika
• 1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
• 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
• 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
• Olive or avocado oil
• 1 medium onion, finely diced
• 1 pound lean ground beef (85/15)
• Black pepper
• 4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 3 tablespoons tomato paste
• 2 (15 ounce) cans tomato sauce
• 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained of juice
• 10 ounces (uncooked) elbow macaroni
• 1 teaspoon chopped parsley, plus extra leaves as garnish
• 1/2 cup grated jack cheese
• 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
- In a small ramekin, combine the cumin, paprika, granulated onion and garlic, and the white pepper; set this seasoning mixture aside for a moment.
- Place a large cast-iron skillet or other large, oven-safe pan over medium-high heat, and drizzle in about 2 tablespoons of the olive or avocado oil; once hot, add in the diced onions and saute those for about 5 minutes, until they become golden-brown and sweet smelling.
- Next, crumble the ground beef into the sauteed onions, and break it up into fine crumbles with a wooden spoon or spatula; sprinkle in a couple of good pinches of salt and black pepper, along with the seasoning mixture, and cook the beef until cooked through and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add in the garlic and stir until aromatic, then add the tomato paste, stirring to incorporate.
- Pour in the tomato sauce along with the diced tomatoes, add a couple more pinches of salt to make sure the flavor/seasoning level is to your liking, and allow the sauce to gently simmer on low, uncovered, for about 15-20 minutes.
- While the sauce simmers, cook your elbow macaroni according to package instructions, then drain and keep warm.
- Once the sauce is finished, stir in the parsley, then add in the cooked elbow macaroni, and gently stir to combine everything very well.
- Preheat your broiler on high.
- Top the beefaroni with the two grated cheeses, and place the skillet under the broiler for about 5 minutes, just until the cheeses are melted; top with a garnish of parsley, if desired, and serve hot!
Tips & Tidbits for Beefaroni:
- Use an oven-safe pan: Because the recipe gets mixed together in the skillet and then placed under the broiler for a few minutes to melt the cheese, use a cast iron skillet or oven-safe pan. You could also spoon the beefaroni out into an oven safe baking/casserole dish instead if you prefer, then top with cheese and place under the broiler.
- Lean ground beef: I use 85/15 grass-fed, lean ground beef for this recipe. If you prefer, you could substitute ground turkey, chicken, pork, or even sausage.
- Elbow macaroni, or other tasty options: Elbow macaroni is sort of the classic pasta to use for beefaroni, but you can also sub ziti, or penne, or your preferred variety.
- Make ahead for easy beefaroni: The recipe can easily be made ahead by prepping the sauce and cooking the pasta ahead of time; then, on the day you'd like to serve it, warm the sauce gently, combine with pasta, top with cheese, and broil!
- Kicked up with spice: While this recipe is not at all spicy, I do use some spice/seasoning such as cumin and paprika. If you'd like to make it bit more spicy and kicked up, it's really delicious with red pepper flakes, a sprinkle of cayenne, or even hot sauce added!
- Reheating made easy: Reheating any leftovers in a toaster oven at around 350-400° for about 15-20 minutes is a great way to go—this gets the cheese melted again and everything heated through!