One-Skillet Cheesy Beef and Macaroni / Katie Workman / / Photo by Todd Coleman

Skillet Recipes

A one skillet recipe is a dinnertime life-saver, I think we can all agree on that.  This ground beef and pasta recipe is very possibly the least sophisticated recipe in The Mom 100 Cookbook, and very possibly the one that my husband in particular eats as though he will be fasting for the following week.  His eyes get kind of teary whenever I made this.  He’ll shows up for dinner early.

It’s nothing new under the sun (macaroni and beef and cheese; rocket science this ain’t), but once you try it you will understand the deepest meaning of the word crowd-pleaser.  And (hold onto to the edge of the table) – IT ALL COOKS IN ONE SKILLET.  Even the pasta, which cooks right into sauce!  I know, I know!  It’s the little things.

One-Skillet Cheesy Beef and Macaroni / Katie Workman / / Photo by Todd Coleman

Get a huge pan, a 12 or 13-incher (best pan in the world if you cook for a group regularly), make a vat of this, keep it in the fridge.  If you don’t have this huge honking pan, cut the recipe in half.  If you have bigger kids who are constantly running in and out of the house with their friends, all of them starving and in need of fuel before or after soccer practice, then you, you my friend, may never again be without a batch of this One-Skillet Cheesy Beef and Macaroni awaiting reheating and inhalation.

IT ALL COOKS IN ONE SKILLET.  Even the pasta, which cooks right into sauce!  I know, I know!  It’s the little things.

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Beef Mac and Cheese

We actually just call it cheesy beefy for short, and some of the kids friends refer to it as hamburger mac and cheese. My sister-in-law Lisa with her three large boys and revolving cast of visiting teenagers swears by this.  It is reminiscent of something that rhymes with Flamberger Felper, but it’s better and it’s yours.

One-Skillet Cheesy Beef and Macaroni / Katie Workman / / Photo by Todd Coleman

Not to be a broken record, but please, please feel free to experiment with this pretty flexible ground beef skillet recipe. The chili powder, for instance, changes the flavor from a more Italian-American vibe to slightly Mexican, but in no way crosses over into overly exotic.  Use ground turkey or chicken.  Add shallots.  Use cumin, or maybe curry powder.  Try Monterey Jack.  Wear stilettos to the PTA, spit into the wind, take up rock climbing, learn to sing opera (see what happened there?  Now using cumin sounds like a very reasonable experiment, as compared to singing an aria; remember, it’s just ground meat.)

Green pepper is often called for in dishes like this, and it’s fine, but red (or orange or yellow) bell peppers are sweeter, and usually more kid-friendly, but this is not anything other than subjective opinion, and you shall do as you please.

Grating Cheese / Katie Workman / / Photo by Mia

Reheating Leftover Beefy Mac and Cheese

Leftovers can be reheated on the stovetop over medium low heat (you may want to add a bit of water if it seems like it’s drying out), or in a preheated 350°F. oven for 10 to 15 minutes.  Add the cheese at the very end, otherwise it has a way of dissolving right into the casserole, not staying on top in that appealing melty way.   If you are serving half of it, and saving half, just sprinkle half the cheese over half the pan, leaving the rest naked for another day.

Other Recipes Using Ground Beef and Cheese!:

Other Macaroni and Cheese Recipes:

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One-Skillet Cheesy Beef and Macaroni

Full on crowd-pleasing comfort food.
Yield: 12 Servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes


  • 2 pounds lean ground beef  85/15%
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped red yellow, orange, or green bell pepper 
  • 1 cup chopped peeled carrots 
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 cans 28-ounces crushed tomatoes in juice 
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder optional but recommended
  • Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3/4 pound dried elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese (8 ounces)


  • Heat a very large skillet (for this full recipe, it should be a deep 12-inch pan) over medium high heat and brown the beef, stirring until no pink remains, about 5 minutes.  Drain the beef and set aside.  
  • Wipe out the skillet, add the oil, and heat it over medium heat. Add the peppers, carrots, onion and garlic and sauté until almost tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the ground beef back to the skillet, as well as the basil, oregano, tomatoes with their juice, water, Worcestershire sauce, and chili powder if using.  Season with salt and pepper, turn the heat to high, and bring to a simmer.  Add the pasta, stir and cover.  Lower the heat to medium and simmer covered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender, and most of the liquid is absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes.  Taste and season again if needed.
  • Sprinkle the cheese over the casserole then cover for just 1 more minute until the cheese is melty, and serve.  Serve this right out of the pan.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 372.95kcal | Carbohydrates: 25.39g | Protein: 22.97g | Fat: 19.49g | Saturated Fat: 9.48g | Cholesterol: 71.18mg | Sodium: 198.63mg | Potassium: 406.52mg | Fiber: 2.01g | Sugar: 2.64g | Vitamin A: 2463.95IU | Vitamin C: 17.86mg | Calcium: 172.8mg | Iron: 2.52mg

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  1. Flavor was good but there is no way the pasta is cooked well this way. Had to keep adding water or broth to give pasta enough liquid to cook. Even then it was hard and chewy. Maybe I’ll try cooking pasta separately.

  2. Zero flavor. I added a lot more garlic, salt, pepper and cheese and it was still mediocre. Took 25 minutes to cook the macaroni in a very large and deep calphalon skillet. 2 teenage boys and a husband said to not make it again.

  3. Made this for something easy!! My husband and I both love it. Pasta cooked perfectly. The green,red,yellow peppers…garlic…onion…Worcestershire sauce and chili powder have it great flavor!!!!! It’s a keeper

  4. I have to agree with Kelle. This had ZERO flavor. It tasted like watered down tomatoes. I even added more spices and tries to jazz it up with a few other ingredients but still zero flavor. It was so bad I even had my wife try it and ahe rarely yives a bad review but even she gave it a dounle thumbs down. Usually your recipes are really good Katie but this one was sub par. Thankfully, the pizza parlor was open!

  5. This is one of our all time favorites – we love it!
    It’s ideal for feeding a bunch of people and is always well received. It’s easy to modify – try adding some mushrooms or carrots – and leftovers are equally good.

  6. We will def make again. I did add 1/2 more water and a little bit of brown sugar to cut the tomato taste just a little.

    1. Good call Karalyn on the brown sugar, tomatoes are a bit overpowering for some. I pre-cook the elbow mac, drain and dump it into the browned hamburger along with the tomatoes and seasonings then top with shreaded parmesan and mozzarella and bake.

  7. I had to split our family ratings on this one – 5-stars from the wife (who loves mild foods) and 3-stars from me (I tend toward more flavor). Worth coming back to to experiment, for sure, but our biggest issue was that the full recipe is, well, at best “right at” the limit of what our 12” skillet can handle. You’ll be less nervous if you go with a 14” skillet, and then have just one pan instead of two, since I had to do a last minute changeover of pans to avoid a legendary melt-over scenario :-)

  8. This was very, very good. My husband will not eat any veggies and he gobbled this down. I love that it had carrots, tomatoes, and peppers. It was good, and made a huge batch so I have plenty to freeze.

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