American Chop Suey


I call this meal the “IhavegroundbeefinmyfridgeandIhavenoideawhattomakefordinner” meal option.  True, sometimes I will actually crave a good American Chop Suey with its saucy ground beef, savory onions and warm filling maccaroni, but honestly most times I make this meal it is out of sheer panic! American Chop Suey is 9/10ths pantry food items and 1/10th fresh (or frozen) meat.  It is something the whole family loves and it is easy to change-up by adding in mix-in’s like a can of corn, making it a quick and easy Sheppard’s Pie substitute or sprinkling some mozzarella cheese on top, making it into a sort of easy skillet lasagna!

This here is your basic, good old-fashioned American Chop Suey recipe.  No frills, no fuss, just ground beef, onions, pasta, sauce and a few (quite literally 3) seasonings.  It is by far one of the easiest weeknight dinners that any home cook can throw together in well under 30 minutes!  Just about every other week or so, I pick up a package of family size ground beef.  A little more often if I find that it is on sale in the interim weeks.  But, unlike the steak I pick up or the full chicken I plan to turn into a stock and use the meat in various recipes, I often don’t really have a plan for what to do with this American staple.  I just pick it up thinking, well if I don’t think of anything, I can just freeze it.  Although, I usually end up using at least half of it if not all of it throughout the week.  Sometimes though, I look at it and say, yep, I have no other fresh meat in the fridge, what am I going to do with you! Sometimes I have the time to lovingly labor over a beautiful Lasagna or I am all about making a big pot of Minestrone Soup… but, sometimes I am in a hurry and just want to get a quick dinner on the table.  There is no quicker meal utilizing pantry items than this.  Also, this recipe can be easily adjusted to feed a couple, a family of 4 or a crowd of 15+.

I can never seem to get a good price on ground beef unless I buy this ginormous 3+ pound package… so what I do, to save myself strife, is to brown it all up with a touch of salt all at once, then portion it out for different meals either throughout the week or sometimes I will even freeze the already browned meat.

I use my giant 14″ Pampered Chef Deep Covered Skillet and get it all done at once. If you don’t have a large enough skillet to accommodate th amount of meat you have, do this in stages, there is nothing worst than over crowding a pan of ground meat as the meat will end up boiling instead of browning and you will get grey meat without a lot of flavor.

See here how there is space for all 3lbs.? This is what you are looking for.

Use one large onion and do a large dice on it.

I removed two pounds of meat along with most of the fat and leave the remaining pound in the skillet.

Next, I add in the onions.

Mince some fresh garlic.

Add in the garlic after the onions start to soften.

Use an Italian seasoning blend along with a little kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper for seasoning.

The trick to using dried spices is to be sure to rub the spices in your fingers first and then put it right into the fat in the hot skillet to bloom it’s flavor.

I like using good old-fashioned elbow macaroni for this recipe.

Cook to the package instructions.

Once your onions and garlic have had time to soften and cook through, add in a small 6oz. can of plain tomato sauce.

Mix this together and add in about 6 oz. of the pasta cooking water too (so just fill your empty sauce can with water).

Add in your maccaroni and stir.



American Chop Suey

Serves 4-6


1 lb. ground beef, browned

1 large onion, diced medium/large

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 lb. elbow maccaroni, cooked to package instructions

1 6 oz. can plain tomato sauce

6 oz. pasta cookingwater from elbow maccaroni

1 tsp. Italian Seasoning blend

1 tsp. kosher salt

1./2 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper


Drain browned ground beef of most of the residual fat from cooking.  Add onions into a large skillet until tender over a medium heat on the stovetop.  Add in garlic, cook about 2-3 additional minutes. Add in Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, cook another minute.  Add in sauce and water and combine.  Add in maccaroni and stir, cook to combine an additional 3-4 minutes.  Taste for salt and enjoy!

*To make gluten-free, just replace elbow maccaroni with the gluten-free variety.