American Chop Suey Recipe - Classic Macaroni and Beef Dish from USA

American Chop Suey

American Chop Suey Recipe - Classic Macaroni and Beef Dish from USA
Region / culture: USA | Preparation time: 15 minutes | Cooking time: 30 minutes | Servings: 6


American Chop Suey
American Chop Suey

American Chop Suey is a beloved comfort food dish that has found its way into the hearts and kitchens of many American families. This dish, characterized by its hearty ingredients and rich flavors, is a testament to the melting pot of cultures that the United States represents. Combining elbow macaroni, ground beef, and a savory tomato sauce, American Chop Suey is both satisfying and relatively simple to prepare, making it a favorite for weeknight dinners.


Despite its name, American Chop Suey has little to do with traditional Chinese cuisine. Its origins can be traced back to the early 20th century in the northeastern United States, where Italian-American communities began blending their culinary traditions with American ingredients. The result was a unique and flavorful dish that quickly gained popularity across the country. Over the years, it has been known by various names, including "goulash" and "macaroni beef," but "American Chop Suey" has remained the most enduring.


How to prepare

  1. Cook the macaroni according to the package directions.
  2. In a skillet, sauté the ground beef, onion, and Italian seasoning for 5 – 10 minutes.
  3. Thoroughly drain the meat and onion mixture.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes and spaghetti sauce to the skillet, and mix well.
  5. Add the butter and mix until melted.
  6. Once the noodles are done, drain them thoroughly.
  7. Transfer the hamburger mixture from the skillet to the pot and mix well.
  8. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Heat the mixture until it becomes bubbly, then serve.


  • There are numerous ways to customize American Chop Suey to suit different tastes and dietary needs. For a healthier version, consider using whole wheat pasta and leaner cuts of meat. Vegetarians can substitute the ground beef with lentils or a meat alternative. Adding vegetables like bell peppers, mushrooms, or spinach can increase the dish's nutritional value and add a pop of color.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To ensure your American Chop Suey is as flavorful as possible, consider browning the ground beef well to develop a deep, rich taste. Adding the Italian seasoning early in the cooking process allows the herbs to infuse the meat with their aromatic flavors. For a smoother sauce, consider blending the diced tomatoes before adding them to the skillet. Lastly, don't be afraid to experiment with additional spices or vegetables to tailor the dish to your personal preferences.

Serving Suggestions

American Chop Suey is best served hot, directly after cooking. It can be garnished with grated Parmesan cheese or fresh herbs like basil or parsley for added flavor. A side of crusty bread or a simple green salad complements the dish well, making for a well-rounded meal.

Cooking Techniques

The key to a successful American Chop Suey lies in the cooking techniques used. Sautéing the onions and ground beef until they are well-browned adds depth to the flavor. Simmering the sauce allows the flavors to meld together beautifully. Be sure to cook the pasta al dente to prevent it from becoming too soft when mixed with the sauce.

Ingredient Substitutions

For those looking to make substitutions, ground turkey or chicken can replace beef for a lighter option. Gluten-free pasta can be used for a gluten-free version of the dish. If you're out of Italian seasoning, a blend of dried oregano, basil, and thyme makes a good substitute.

Make Ahead Tips

American Chop Suey is an excellent make-ahead meal. It can be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave, adding a little water or broth if the sauce has thickened too much.

Presentation Ideas

Serve American Chop Suey in a large, shallow bowl to showcase its hearty ingredients. A sprinkle of fresh herbs or cheese on top adds color and flavor, making the dish even more appealing.

Pairing Recommendations

A light, crisp salad or steamed vegetables make great sides for American Chop Suey, balancing out its richness. For wine enthusiasts, a medium-bodied red wine like a Merlot or a Chianti pairs well with the tomato-based sauce and beef.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Leftover American Chop Suey can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, simply warm it in a saucepan over medium heat, adding a splash of water or broth to loosen the sauce if necessary. It can also be reheated in the microwave.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

A serving of American Chop Suey contains approximately 400-500 calories, making it a substantial meal option. The exact calorie count can vary based on the specific ingredients and portion sizes used.


A serving of American Chop Suey is a good source of carbohydrates, primarily from the elbow macaroni. Carbohydrates are essential for energy, and this dish provides a substantial amount to fuel your body. The exact carbohydrate content can vary depending on the type of pasta and sauce used, but on average, a serving contains approximately 45-60 grams of carbohydrates.


The fat content in American Chop Suey largely comes from the ground beef and butter. Using lean ground beef and moderating the amount of butter can help reduce the overall fat content. On average, a serving contains about 15-20 grams of fat, but this can be adjusted based on the specific ingredients used.


American Chop Suey is a good source of protein, thanks to the ground beef. Protein is crucial for building and repairing tissues, and this dish provides a hearty dose to support your body's needs. A single serving typically contains around 20-25 grams of protein.

Vitamins and minerals

This dish is also a source of various vitamins and minerals, particularly from the tomatoes and onions. Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and potassium, while onions provide vitamin C, vitamin B6, and manganese. Together, these ingredients contribute to a nutritious meal that supports overall health.


Common allergens in American Chop Suey include gluten (from the pasta) and dairy (from the butter). Individuals with sensitivities to these ingredients should consider suitable substitutions to accommodate their dietary needs.


Overall, American Chop Suey is a balanced dish that provides carbohydrates for energy, proteins for muscle repair, and fats for nutrient absorption. It also offers a variety of vitamins and minerals to support overall health. Being mindful of portion sizes and ingredient choices can help maintain its nutritional value while catering to specific dietary requirements.


American Chop Suey is a classic comfort food dish that combines simple ingredients into a hearty and delicious meal. With its rich history and versatility, it's no wonder this dish has remained a favorite in American cuisine. Whether you stick to the traditional recipe or experiment with your own variations, American Chop Suey is sure to satisfy.

How did I get this recipe?

I have a clear memory of the first time I discovered this recipe for American Chop Suey. It was back in the 1960s when I was just a young newlywed living in a small town in the Midwest. My husband and I were invited to a potluck dinner at our neighbor's house, and I wanted to bring something special to share with everyone.

I had heard about American Chop Suey before, but I had never actually tried making it myself. So, I called up my mother-in-law, who was an amazing cook, and asked her for the recipe. She chuckled and told me that American Chop Suey was a simple and delicious dish that was perfect for feeding a crowd.

She went on to explain that American Chop Suey was a comforting and hearty blend of ground beef, tomatoes, onions, peppers, and macaroni, all simmered together in a savory sauce. It was a popular dish in many American households, especially during the 1950s and 1960s. My mother-in-law assured me that it was easy to make and always a hit with guests.

Armed with my mother-in-law's recipe and a newfound sense of confidence in the kitchen, I set out to create my own version of American Chop Suey. I gathered all the ingredients I needed and got to work in the cozy kitchen of our little house.

As I browned the ground beef and sautéed the onions and peppers, the aroma of the dish filled the room, making my mouth water in anticipation. I added the tomatoes and seasonings, then let everything simmer on the stove while I cooked the macaroni. Finally, I mixed everything together in a big pot and let it all meld together for a few more minutes.

When the American Chop Suey was ready, I scooped some into a serving dish and brought it over to our neighbor's house for the potluck dinner. As soon as I walked in the door, the delicious smell drew everyone's attention, and they all eagerly lined up to try a spoonful.

To my delight, the American Chop Suey was a huge hit! Our neighbors raved about how flavorful and comforting it was, and many of them asked for the recipe. I beamed with pride as I shared my newfound culinary success with everyone.

From that day on, American Chop Suey became a staple in our household. I made it for family gatherings, potlucks, and even just for a cozy night in with my husband. It quickly became a favorite dish of ours, bringing back memories of that first potluck dinner where I discovered its deliciousness.

Over the years, I have continued to make American Chop Suey, tweaking the recipe here and there to suit my taste. I have added extra vegetables, experimented with different seasonings, and even tried using different types of pasta. But no matter how I make it, the dish always brings me back to that first time I discovered its comforting and hearty goodness.

Now, as a grandmother myself, I love passing down the recipe for American Chop Suey to my own grandchildren. I tell them the story of how I first learned to make it and encourage them to experiment with the ingredients to make it their own. I hope that they will create their own memories with this beloved dish, just as I have done over the years.

American Chop Suey may be a simple and humble dish, but to me, it represents so much more. It's a reminder of the joy of discovering new recipes, the satisfaction of sharing delicious food with loved ones, and the comfort of a home-cooked meal. And for that, I am forever grateful.


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