Deliciously simple to make Southern Macaroni and Tomatoes is an iconic dish many Southern folks still remember and cherish from their childhoods.
Depending on what part of the South you are from, there are a few variations. Yet, each starts with the same ingredients. Southern Macaroni and Tomatoes were made with elbow macaroni, stewed tomatoes, bacon grease, and a little seasoning.
One of the many things I love about Southern Macaroni and Tomatoes is that it has to be one of the most accessible comfort foods to make. It takes little to no time to cook and serve. This dish is so economical and perfect for potlucks and family gatherings. Chances are, if you grew up in any of the Southern or have even resided in the South for some time, you are familiar with this budget-friendly dish we call Macaroni and Tomatoes.
Southern Macaroni and Tomatoes should Not be confused with American Chop-Soy, aka American Ghoulash, which are in whole other category that usually is confused for Southern Macaroni and Tomatoes. Yet contain ground beef, green bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and seasoned herbs, which are apples compared to oranges when it comes to this particular recipe.
“Real cooking is more about following your heart than following recipes.”
Over the years, my mother and I have changed a few things with the recipe to make other delicious variations. However, we like our recipes at an interpretation, not a full-on bastardizing of the recipe and calling it something it’s not. I think it’s essential to preserve the integrity of recipes. Slight variations are creative when cooking, not intrusive.
When my Grandmother used to make her recipe for Southern Macaroni and Tomatoes, it was as simple as her boiling salted water, adding macaroni noodles, draining them (never did she rinse them), then adding her own homemade canned stewed tomatoes, a little bacon grease, table salt, and lots of black pepper. She never added sugar to her tomatoes as the canned stewed tomatoes were lovely enough without adding the sugar.
“A recipe has no soul. You as the cook must bring soul to the recipe.”
– Thomas Keller
Family Variations of Southern Macaroni and Tomatoes
My mom used to make it more of a casserole-style, layering elbow macaroni, stewed tomatoes, mild cheddar cheese, which was delicious tasting. Or she would make it as plain as all get-up just like my Grandmother.
When I make my Southern Tomatoes and Macaroni, I want it more traditional-style. I use the large elbow macaroni cooked in salted water, Stewed organic tomatoes, fried bacon bits, bacon grease, onions, and a touch of freshly chopped parsley. Then season it with kosher salt and coarse black pepper. ( I never add sugar to my tomatoes either, they are sweet enough)
You can also do a spicy variation of Macaroni and Tomates as my sister-in-law does. By replacing the stewed tomatoes with Ro*Tel tomatoes, using unsalted butter, adding Cajun seasoning, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and black pepper to the recipe. Just be sure not to overdo the spices if you have children joining in on the meal.
“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”
– Harriet Van Horne
Note: I have also heard of a few people adding ground beef, smoked sausage, green peppers, sugar to the tomatoes, and some parmesan cheese on the top. Still, I prefer mine more traditional and to the point compared to the other variations. I guess it’s because it just isn’t Southern Tomatoes and Macaroni anymore after adding all these additional items to the recipe. That’s where the confusion begins with some.
Let’s address the other elephant in the room.
Should you add sugar to the recipe? Suppose you are using good-quality organic canned stewed tomatoes or homemade canned stewed tomatoes. In that case, sugar isn’t necessary unless you have bitter, acidic tomatoes or a sweet tooth. You can feel free to add it but do so a little at a time.
Recommended Equipment For Southern Macaroni and Tomatoes
Can opener– to open canned tomatoes
Cutting board– to chop parsley and onions on
Sharp kitchen knife- to chop parsley and onions.
Large saucepan – to cook bacon, onions, and elbow macaroni
Medium saucepan – to cook/ heat tomatoes
Slotted spatula– to remove bacon from pan
Wooden spoon- to stir tomatoes
Serving dish- (Optional) to place Southern Macaroni and tomatoes
Serving spoon- (Optional) to serve the Southern Macaroni and Tomatoes
Grocery List for Southern Macaroni and Tomatoes
Stewed tomatoes, organic preferred
Coarse black pepper
Southern Macaroni and Tomatoes
- Can opener– to open canned tomatoes
- Cutting board– to chop cooked bacon, parsley, and onions on
- Sharp kitchen knife- to chop parsley and onions
- Large saucepan – to cook bacon, onions, and elbow macaroni
- Medium saucepan – to cook/ heat tomatoes
- Slotted spatula– to remove bacon from pan
- Wooden spoon- to stir tomatoes
- Serving dish- (Optional) to place Southern Macaroni and tomatoes
- Serving spoon- (Optional) to serve the Southern Macaroni and Tomatoes
- ½ pound bacon thick-slicked, cooked crisp, chopped
- 2-3 tablespoons bacon grease may sub with butter
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 4-14.5- ounces stewed tomatoes organic, chopped
- ¼ cup parsley finely chopped *optional*
- Kosher salt to taste
- coarse black pepper to taste
- 12 ounces macaroni noodles al dente
- 1 teaspoon sugar +more if desired
- Gather all suggested equipment and ingredients before beginning the recipe.
- Fry the thick-sliced bacon until it is very crispy but not burned. Remove bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon—Reserve three tablespoons of the bacon drippings to cook the yellow onions. Once onions are cooked-Reserve again
- On a cutting board, dice onions, chop fresh parsley, and cooled crisp bacon- reserve until needed.
- Meanwhile, boil the elbow macaroni according to the package instructions for the al dente method.
- While the Macaroni is boiling, open the cans of organic stewed tomatoes and dump them juice and all in the medium saucepan to heat for about 15 minutes.
- Once the Macaroni is done, drain immediately, do not rinse. Add the Macaroni, chopped bacon, onions with bacon drippings, parsley, Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper to the saucepan with the heated tomatoes. Combine the ingredients thoroughly.
- Serve while still hot.
Although themccallumsshamrockpatch.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and how ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Under no circumstances will themccallumsshamrockpatch.com be responsible for any loss or damage resulting from your reliance on nutritional information.
If you enjoyed this recipe for Southern Macaroni and Tomatoes, here are some more suggestions you may want to try.
- Chicken Bacon Spinach Pasta is tossed in a thick and creamy roasted garlic Parmesan sauce. It’s a perfect combination of flavors and textures that will have you thinking that your eating at one of your favorite restaurants!
- Southern Meat Sauce has been floating around for years; a thick, rich, hearty, and filled to the brim with sweet organic tomatoes, peppers, and onions that lends the perfect layer of flavor to any pasta you choose.
- American Goulash, aka American Chop Suey, aka Beef and Macaroni, has simple, economical, filling ingredients. Such as lean ground beef, green bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and seasoned with herbs that are reasonably family-friendly and super simple to find at any market or local grocer.