American Chop Suey with Bread and Vegetables
American, New England

Gram’s Easy American Chop Suey

Cooks in 20 minutes Difficulty Easy 8 comments This post may contain affiliate links. We may earn money from the companies mentioned or linked to in this post.

This American Chop Suey recipe brings back so many memories of my Gram. She wasn’t one of those Grams who wore an apron and made cookies all day. Oh, she made quilts and clothes. Knitted. Crocheted. Embroidered. She also worked the jigsaw in the wood shop at the back of the house, helping Gramp build their furniture. Early American was her preferred decor.

She had a cactus garden and a rock garden at one side of their otherwise barren, desert backyard and she read about every book in the Kearny Public Library. She stayed up late, slept late, and often sat at the kitchen table drinking copious amounts of coffee, smoking cigarettes, telling and retelling World War II stories with my Gramp. He was in the Navy and she worked in a war plant building airplanes. Their adventures during the war were a never ending fount of conversation. After cable television arrived, she watched CNN for hours on end.

That was my Gram. She did have her culinary specialties, though, and American Chop Suey was one of her favorite dishes to make. I have to admit, she never called it American Chop Suey. She called it her “Roni Dish.” I never knew it was called anything else until I started researching the dish for this post. I was a little stunned at the name. Why is it called chop suey?

History of American Chop Suey

Originating in New England, you’d think with pasta and tomato sauce this dish would be called something Italian, not chop suey, which is actually an American born Chinese-inspired dish. Well, you might be surprised to learn, the dish itself was originally made with rice. I can’t imagine that. It really wouldn’t be the same. Luckily, somebody changed the carb to pasta, because American Chop Suey is now one of my favorite meals, too.

Actually, there are quite a few names and variations on the dish. Beefaroni or goulash, and when mixed with kidney beans and covered with cheese, some people call it Chili Mac. Apparently, real Chili Mac has real chili con carne in it, though. Which just goes to show how many different ways you can spin this dish and how many different names you can give it. In the Midwest, there’s a version assembled on the stove and then placed in a casserole dish, covered with cheese and baked. They call it Johnny Marzetti, which I’m anxious to try real soon, but today we’re making my Gram’s version of American Chop Suey, her “Roni Dish.”

How to Make This Recipe

This is a super easy dish to make. Here’s what you need to get started:

Ingredients for American Chop Suey
Ingredients for American Chop Suey

Equipment Needed


  • Elbow macaroni
  • Ground beef
  • Onion
  • Bell Pepper
  • Butter
  • Garlic
  • Diced or crushed tomatoes
  • Tomato sauce
  • Tomato paste
  • Kosher Salt and Pepper
  • Dried Oregano
  • Dried Basil
  • Water
Peppers and onions sautéing in pan.
Sauté pepper and onion until soft. Then add garlic and sauté for one minute more.

After you’ve gathered all of your ingredients, go ahead and chop the onion, stem and deseed the green bell pepper and chop it, as well. Mince the garlic and set aside. Now’s a good time to set a saucepan or dutch oven on the stove filled with 4 – 5 quarts of water over medium-high heat for your macaroni noodles.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan over low-medium heat. Add the peppers and onions to the butter and sauté on a medium-high fire until soft. Add the garlic and sauté for one minute more. Any longer will cause the garlic to get bitter.

Add the ground beef and spices to the vegetables. Chop and cook the beef until it’s all broken up and there is no longer any pink showing on the meat. Now’s the time I like to add the tomato paste in order to brown it a little. This ekes out every bit of tomato flavor from the paste. Next, add the tomatoes and tomato sauce and allow to simmer.

Make the Pasta

If your water is boiling, add the macaroni to it and boil until al dente. The instructions should be on the box. Usually, about seven minutes. When it’s done, drain off the water in a colander and return the macaroni to the pot. Add the ground beef and tomato mixture to the macaroni and mix well. That’s it! Dinner’s ready!

Traditionally, American Chop Suey was served simply with salt and pepper and with white bread and butter on the side. I like to add a little Parmesan cheese to the top of mine. If I’m feeling really ambitious, I’ll serve it with garlic bread, as well.

This American Chop Suey recipe brings back many happy memories for me. I hope it will be the beginning of many happy memories for you and your family, as well.

Have you tried this recipe? Please, be sure to rate it on the recipe card and leave a comment below. Thanks!

Gram’s Easy American Chop Suey

4 from 11 votes
Recipe by Kimberly Scott Course: MainCuisine: American, New EnglandDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time





New England comfort food at its best. Filled with ground beef, tomatoes, and pasta, American Chop Suey is a great source of vitamin C, protein, and love.


  • 3 Tablespoons butter

  • 1 large onion, chopped medium

  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped medium

  • 2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 lb. ground beef

  • 1 teaspoon oregano, dried

  • 1 teaspoon basil, dried

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste

  • 1/2 can tomato paste (3 ounces)

  • 1 can crushed or diced tomatoes (14.5 ounces)

  • 1 can tomato sauce (14.5 ounces)

  • 16 ounces elbow macaroni

  • 4 – 5 quarts water

  • grated Parmesan cheese, to taste (optional)


  • Chop onions and seeded bell pepper. Mince garlic. Set all aside.
  • Fill a large pot with 4 – 5 quarts of water and set over medium-high heat to boil.
  • Melt butter in a large frying pan over medium heat and add peppers and onions. Cook until soft, stirring often. Add garlic and cook for one minute longer.
  • Add ground beef and spices – oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Chop beef and stir until the meat is crumbled and cooked well. It should be firm with no pink spots but not browned.
  • Add macaroni to pot of boiling water and cook to al dente, about 7 minutes, or according to package directions. (If water has not yet boiled add a bit of salt and turn up the heat.)
  • Add tomato paste to beef and stir to brown the paste a bit, then add the tomatoes and tomato sauce. Allow to simmer.
  • When the macaroni has finished cooking place in a colander to drain and then return to pot.
  • Add meat and tomato mixture to the macaroni and stir to mix well. All the macaroni should be covered with tomato sauce.
  • Serve in a bowl or on a plate and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.


  • Traditionally served with white bread and butter, but is also great with garlic bread.
  • American Chop Suey will last four to five days in the refrigerator. To freeze, allow to cool completely and place in an airtight container. Will last up to three months in the freezer.

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Nutrition label is an estimate based on online nutritional calculators.


  1. I’m surprised you don’t drain the fat from the hamburger after browning.

  2. Great recipe! I used meatloaf mixture instead of all beef. Added little Italian seasoning.
    Tip: best to cool macaroni before adding to meat mixture. Why? The macaroni will not absorb the liquid as much resulting in a less dry dish.

  3. This was delicious! Great meal for a rainy night and love the flavors.

  4. This is an excellent family meal and/or Great for Leftover Lovers!

  5. Sounds sooo good. That slice of sourdough in the pic looks like the perfect way to top it off. Never mind the garlic bread

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