Chef Boyardee defined the beefaroni concoction and made it the king of pasta recipes back in WWII. While it still reigns supreme today as a popular favorite among kids, it also holds a special place in the hearts of many adults, too. The flavor profile is simple and easy to appreciate at any age.
Homemade pasta recipes like beefaroni can taste great without being difficult to make. Actually, this beefaroni recipe is crazy simple to throw together and it’s so much more nutritious than any store-bought brand. Besides it just tastes so darn good.
C’mon, let’s get started!
What I Love About Beefaroni Recipe
Busy weeknight dinners are simple when they come together in under 30 minutes and this easy beefaroni is absolutely scrumptious. Couple that with a hearty quality and you’ve got a recipe for a successful meal the entire family will love! Here are even more reasons to love this yummy beefaroni!
- Ready in less than 30 minutes
- Protein-packed and nutritious
- Hearty and satisfying
- Uses ingredients you probably already have
- Absolutely delicious
- Kids love this recipe
Coaxing out the tastiest flavor of this beefaroni takes just a few extra minutes of time and virtually no effort! I find that this beefaroni tastes better if you let it sit for a few minutes before serving.
As the cooking time is concluded, just turn the heat off and put a lid on your beefaroni. Letting it sit for 5-8 minutes before serving allows the sauce to thicken and all the yummy essence to blend into one cohesive flavor.
The recipe doesn’t call for it, but I do like to season my beef just a bit while it’s cooking. While the kiddos will love this beefaroni as it stands, I prefer to add a little Lawry’s or something for my benefit. I don’t use much, just enough to add a little flavor for the adult palate.
I know that onions and kids don’t always mix but you’ll need them for this recipe because they just add so much flavor. Finely mincing them means you don’t have to sacrifice taste to avoid using onions. Cooking them down slowly over low heat before adding the beef seems to really help the process with the smaller pieces.
Onions and garlic are a type of allium. Sautéing or sweating them over low heat before adding them to your beefaroni is an easy way to build layers of flavor and coax out their mellow sweetness. As they begin to break down with heat and salt, they create a deep satisfying flavor that will intensify the awesomeness of your beefaroni.
Storing your beefaroni in an airtight container with a secure lid in the refrigerator will keep it fresh for 3 or 4 days, according to the USDA. If your fridge is packed, you can use a gallon Ziploc to save room because this beefaroni recipe easily feeds 6 or 7 people, especially if you pair it with a fresh salad and garlic bread. The thing is though, there probably won’t be any leftovers unless you make a double batch.
Can You Freeze This?
Absolutely! I often make a double batch, myself. That way we have half of it for dinner and then I freeze the other half. It makes a great ready-made meal on those busy weeknights or evenings when you are just exhausted, but you want the fam to have a hearty nutritious meal.
There have also been times when I’ve just cut the recipe in half because I didn’t need as much. One of the best things about this recipe (besides how easy it comes together) is how completely flexible it is!
Make Ahead Tips
When my kiddos were young, I was an avid prepper! It was the smoothest way to get through a busy week. We’ve already talked about just making the entire dish and tossing the whole recipe in the freezer for a ready-made meal. You can also divvy it up into single serve portions for a tempting afterschool snack.
If you prefer not to freeze cooked noodles, that’s no problem either. You can prepare the entire recipe with everything but the noodles and toss it in the freezer. Then all you have to do is thaw it out, boil your noodles and throw everything together. Voila! Dinner.
How Long Can You Keep This In The Fridge?
This beefaroni will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days, if it stored properly. This includes ensuring that it is kept at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If it is taken to a picnic or potluck, it shouldn’t be unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours.
There are so many variations for this yummy beefaroni recipe it can make your head spin! Everything really boils down to time and personal preference.
Some people prefer to use pasta shells instead of elbow macaroni. You can also add fresh herbs or even bell peppers if you’re trying to sneak in some veggies. You can also try making your beefaroni with ground turkey or chicken to save some calories. It is every bit as delicious!
You can almost try something different every time you make this beefaroni depending on your mood and the crowd you’re serving.
Can I Make It Taco Flavored?
You most certainly can, if you think the fam will love it. Simply add the taco seasoning in with the tomato soup and combine thoroughly for a tasty taco pasta that will draw them to the kitchen table.
Try making something a little different with this recipe for taco stuffed shells on a different night. Its savory cheesy goodness that will be requested over and over again!
What Other Kid-Friendly Pasta Dishes I Can Try?
Pizza pasta is another kid-friendly pasta dish with plenty of cheese and the warm inviting flavor or America’s favorite meal – pizza! It’s another hearty nutritious meal that comes together quickly and nourishes their little souls. Enjoy a blast from the past and have some yourself.
Making Ragu Bolognese is another way to appeal to the hearts and palates of children around dinner time. This savory, slightly sweet pasta dish has plenty of kid-friendly meat and a beautiful Ragu sauce that will have them asking for second helpings.
Can I Change The Sauce?
Of course, you can but I can’t guarantee there may not be an extra step involved in the recipe. Try making Cajun pasta for a feisty flavor boost or pasta primavera for a deep rich satisfying meal everyone will enjoy. There really are no limits to the number of ways you can tweak this recipe,….the sky’s the limit!
Can I Turn This Into A Casserole?
Turning this beefaroni into a casserole is one of my favorite ways to serve it. I make it according to the directions and then simply put it in a casserole dish and cover it with cheese. It doesn’t need to bake long, just enough to melt that cheesy dairy goodness on top!
For a beautiful dish that delivers authentic Italian flavor, try making this cannelloni recipe in all its simple glory. It’s not as difficult as you may think!
Baked Mostaccioli is another irresistible dish no matter the age of your dinner guests. It’s a savory combination of sausage, alfredo and spaghetti sauce with plenty of cheese to tie it all together. This is one you don’t want to miss for sure!
What Other Types of Pasta I Can Use In This Recipe?
Well, as you know the classic elbow macaroni is the most popular pasta to use in homemade beefaroni recipes, but you can use whatever you like. Some people prefer miniature shells while others even like egg noodles. Personally, the egg noodles remind me of stroganoff, but the light airy consistency is fantastic in beefaroni!
Try using rigatoni or penne pasta, even farfalle works in this recipe (I prefer the miniature version). For something a little different, try using ravioli. I guarantee the kiddos will love it! I’ve even used cheese stuffed tortellini but that may be a little over the top for some. Teenagers seem to love it, though.
- 2 cups elbow pasta uncooked
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 cloves Garlic minced
- 1 medium onion finely minced
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cans condensed tomato soup
- 1 10 3/4 ounce can water
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- Prepare pasta according to package instructions. Drain well and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, heat up the oil over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add onions and garlic, and saute, adjusting the heat as needed, until they are very soft. Add beef, salt, and pepper to the pan and cook until there is no longer any pink. Drain.
- Mix together the soup, water, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add the soup mixture to the beef. Add the pasta and mix well. Continue to cook on medium until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes.
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More Homemade Pasta Recipes
Homemade pasta recipes make some of the most delicious and satisfying meals for people of all ages. The best part is how variable they are! You can add veggies, tomatoes or cheese to amp up flavor or nutritional value. Plus, they are great for meal prep to ensure you have delicious nutritious meals ready on the fly any night of the week. Here are some additional homemade pasta recipes you are sure to love!
- Mushroom Pasta
- Cacio E Pepe
- Greek Pasta
- Lemon Garlic Pasta
Take a walk down memory lane with this classic homemade beefaroni recipe. It is fondly reminiscent of Chef Boyardee but waaay more nutritious. To the heart’s delight it is appealing to the palates of children and just about anyone else who tastes it. If you’re hoping for leftovers, you’d better make a double batch!
This blast from the past makes a great afterschool snack, a nutritious meal, simple prep item and even a sought-after potluck dish in the fall and summer months. To quote the intelligent words of a famous chef, “Thank goodness for beefaroni!”
Really liked it. Added spicy V8 juice and cheese near the end.
Yummmy! Thanks, Melanie! I’m glad you like it 🙂
Quick, easy, & everyone liked it! I used 1 tsp of salt & chickpea shell pasta (because my kids are allergic to milk & eggs). They can’t eat other pasta cans/boxes so this was a nice treat for them! Thank you for the recipe!
I’m so happy it was a hit. That sounds so healthy! Thanks, Shea!
I was looking for a healthier version of the canned stuff for my son and this has been the biggest hit the biggest game changer I just cannot thank you enough for this recipe.
Thank you so much for your positive feedback, Shelly! I’m glad you found this recipe for your son 🙂
My hubby has always loved Chef Boy R dee beefaroni. I tried your
Recipe and he loves it.
Wow, thank you so much Sue! I’m glad this one is a hit 🙂
Thank you for your positive review!
Hello, your recipe sounds so nice, but I’m not sure I understand the amount of water to use, is it one can of water to one can of soup,I think we have different measurements in the uk, thank you for any advice
Hi Julie. It’s one can of water to two cans of soup. 🙂
Would like to try this in instant pot. What modifications would I need to make?
I think it’s great I grew up on a farm and we grew all of our food. Cba beef Aron i is a hidden secret pleasure. This turned out really good. The sugar wasn’t necessary, it tasted too sweet. I added a dash of lemon juice and that seemed to balance it out.
Thank you so much, Ruth! 🙂
I love this recipe – however I sub the tomato sauce with either stewed tomatoes or tomato bits. It’s wonderful.
4 1/2 stars. I never comment on recipes, but I have to with this one! My very picky tween/teenage kids (and husband!) gobbled this up and all liked it a lot! It was super easy to throw together on a weeknight with minimal clean up. My kind of dinner for sure!! The only reason I didn’t do 5 stars is because I myself would prefer a little more seasonings or add-ins, but overall very good! Thank you!!!
Daisy Rose says
Tasty recipe for both the kids and the adults during COVID. Used tomato sauce, 15 oz can (no tomato soup) added just a little brown gravy mix to cut the bite of the tomato sauce, omitted sugar, and doubled ground beef. Cooked macaroni al dente in separate pan, so individuals could adjust servings to taste. Beefaroni makes them happy. Used these same ingredients another night and added chili powder and a chopped green bell pepper to the meat while it was cooking and we had Chili Mac! Thanks for satisfying, inspirational, inexpensive meals as we get ready to roll into…OMG!!! has it only been 51/2 years, I mean months under lockdown!!??? GEEZZ LOUISE.. .Wash your hands…Don’t touch your face. Wear a mask while in public and Don’t forget to Social Distance. I want all these people OUT OF MY HOUSE!!!
So glad you all enjoyed the Beefaroni! LOL I’m with you on lockdown! <3
Dan Locurcio says
Just made this for my kids. It was excellent! Tastes similar enough to the Chef Boyardee version but you can just tell this is better for you. And so easy! Thanks!!
Woot! Thanks, Dan! So happy to hear it was a hit with your kids! 😀
carla niro says
Disabled senior who loves retro beefaroni . It has saved me many a nights when I can’t walk too much and need a fast dinner.
If I feel stronger I just add peas or even spinach . Next time I will order a case. Loved it back then and live it now.thank you
You’re welcome, Carla! This made my day❤️
Peter Miks says
Can I use tomato sauce instead of tomato soup
Hi Peter! I have yet to try using tomato sauce for this recipe. But if you give this a go, come back and let us know how it turns out for you! ?
Firstly, I have loved every recipe of yours I ever tried. ? I knew 2 cups of macaroni would be too much for my personal taste, so I pared it back to 1.5, but unfortunately it was still too much and there was no sauce when it was done. I wanted it saucy, so I was very disappointed. It tastes pretty good, but had to jazz it up a little with fresh parsley and grated Parmesan. If I make it again, 1 cup of elbows will definitely be plenty for the amount of meat and sauce in this dish.
Hi Marianne! Thanks for the input. I like most of my pastas extra saucy but for this recipe I wanted it to be a more like the original only with better flavor. Hopefully, the next recipe will be a hit <3
I’ve made it a couple of times with 1 cup elbows and It’s perfect. I didn’t mean to sound like it didn’t taste good with my first comment. It definitely is tasty as can be! I love it.
Yum! I tried this because it’s so easy, it turned out so good! I love your goulash too! 🙂
Thanks! I’m glad you like this!