American Chop Suey is a classic comfort food with ground beef and macaroni that comes together with a handful of ingredients and 30 minutes.
What Is American Chop Suey?
Despite the name, it’s a far cry from the Chop Suey of Chinese-American cuisine. This dish comes from New England and is also called American goulash or Johnny Marzetti. Across the country you may also see variations called macaroni red, beef-a-roni, or chili mac (although usually that has some added heat).
Unlike the Chinese version that has bamboo shoots, celery, soy sauce, and usually pork or chicken served over rice, American Chop Suey has its roots in Italian flavors.
What Ingredients Do I Need?
Traditionally, the pasta used is elbow macaroni, but any tube shaped pasta will work here.
For the tomato sauce, you’ll want a tasty marinara sauce. Store-bought sauce works perfectly or make your own, like this one. Don’t worry about heating up the sauce separately, the heat from the macaroni and beef will warm it through.
The meat in this recipe is ground beef. I prefer ground chuck for its flavor and also because its less expensive, but this recipe works well with any type of ground beef. It also works well with ground chicken and turkey.
Other than that, all you need is an onion and a bit of salt. Some recipes also include a green bell pepper or additional garlic, but if your sauce is flavorful enough I don’t think they are essential. I prefer to keep this cozy dish simple, though I encourage you to adjust to taste.
How To Make American Chop Suey
While the pasta is in a pot cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet. Par cook the onions, then add the ground beef and let them both caramelize together. Many recipes have you cook one and then remove it from the pan to cook the other, then combine them. Browning the ground beef and onion together simplifies things and cuts back on time. Win win.
Don’t rush the browning though! A lot of the flavor comes from that browned ground beef, so don’t skimp on that step. Brown everything as evenly as possible and allow one side to become caramelized.
If you wanted to add more vegetables, such as the bell pepper mentioned earlier or even carrot and celery, add them while sauteing the onion before adding in the ground beef.
Once everything is cooked, drain the pasta and stir in your marinara sauce. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in your ground beef mixture. At this point it’s ready to serve though you could also top it with fresh parsley and grated mozzarella or Parmesan cheese.
Complete the meal with some dinner rolls with butter and a side salad. A comforting meal that’s easy to customize in about half an hour, what could be better than that?
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. It tastes just as good or better warmed up the next day.Print
Sauteed onion and ground beef are paired with quick-cook elbow macaroni, your favorite tomato sauce, and a few shortcuts for an American classic dinner that’s ready in under 30 minutes.
Serve with fresh chopped parsley and grated cheese.
Listen to me briefly explain how this dish is made, with great tips along the way, by clicking the play button below:
- 1 lb. uncooked elbow macaroni
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 large onion, peeled, sliced
- ½ tsp. salt, divided
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 3 cups (24 oz.) prepared marinara sauce
- Prepare elbow macaroni according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until onion is translucent and starts to caramelize, about 5 minutes.
- Push onions to edges of the skillet. Add ground beef and remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, breaking up any large clumps of ground beef until cooked through and well browned, about 15 minutes.
- Drain pasta, stir in sauce; transfer to a large serving bowl. Stir in onions and ground beef. Serve warm.