American Chop Suey

American Chop Suey

Making American chop suey for my Baltimore-bred husband was a new and novel concept. He had never heard of the dish. I, too, am a Baltimore native, and I couldn’t imagine why this dish was so foreign to him. Made with tender pasta, tomato sauce, and ground steak, it's a wonderful weeknight dinner option you'll want to add to your rotation.

american chop suey close up

American Chop Suey Recipe

After my husband's obvious confusion, I knew I had to research this dish a bit further. When I consulted executive chef Google, I learned that American chop suey is a dish native to New England, where my family roots began.

When I shared pictures with the hubs, he recognized the dish, but said that his family didn’t have a name for it. I would bet that they called it American goulash, noodle and meat casserole, or hamburger mac and cheese. In any event, this comfort food is the best when you are in a hurry to put together a hearty and satisfying dish that everyone loves in no time.

The first couple of times I made this recipe, I made way too much. So much that I sent friends and family home with substantial storage containers full of leftovers. I have since edited the recipe so that I can teach you how to make American chop suey for a hungry family of four.

Serve with a kale salad, or try this spinach fruit salad! Or make some artichokes or prepare a green veggie of your choice, to balance the meal. The good news is that leftovers taste great too — you may even consider making it a day ahead and reheating it. There's a reason why I like to call this the best American chop suey recipe ever.

Why You'll Love This Recipe for American Chop Suey

  • It's hearty and satisfying
  • Comes together with easy-to-find ingredients
  • Perfect for meal prep
  • Kid-friendly and approved 

Ingredients & Substitutions

Macaroni - Use elbow macaroni for a traditional American chop suey recipe. I've also used Orecchiette pasta instead in the past and it also tasted great. 

Aromatics, Veggies, and Seasonings - You'll need onion, garlic, mushrooms, bell pepper, Worcestershire sauce, dried basil, fresh oregano, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. 

Tomatoes - This recipe for American chop suey calls for tomatoes in several different forms. Use crushed, diced, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and a can of V-8 juice to create the sauce.

Ground Steak - You could also use simple ground beef, but I find that 90% lean ground steak tastes even better.

Honey - Add a tablespoon of our Eastern Shore Honey for a subtle hint of sweetness.

How to Make American Chop Suey

Step One: Cook the macaroni

Follow the instructions on the package to cook the macaroni to your preferred pasta texture. Drain it and set it aside.

american chop suey onions

Step Two: Sauté the onion, garlic, and vegetables

Heat olive oil over medium in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Add the onion and sauté until golden brown, then add the garlic, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Cook until the veggies are soft.

Step Three: Brown the ground steak

In a separate sauté pan, brown the ground steak. Break it up with a wooden spoon as you go to ensure even cooking. Drain any excess grease and then add the meat to the vegetables.

Step Four: Add the sauce

Stir in the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, V-8 juice, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, basil, oregano, and honey and bring the mixture to a boil. Let it simmer for 12-15 minutes.

american chop suey assembled

Step Five: Assemble the American chop suey recipe

Add the macaroni to the sauce and mix to heat through. Sprinkle in the red pepper flakes and some Parmesan cheese to serve. Enjoy!

American chop suey on dinner table

Adapting our American Chop Suey Recipe

Honestly, when I decided to make this dish, I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand. I had most of the important ones, and I ad-libbed. You'll remember that I used Orecchiette pasta in place of macaroni. An excellent pasta sauce took the place of most of the tomato ingredients. Dinner was served.

A little improvisation is good in the kitchen now and then, and I encourage you to make your own version of the best American chop suey recipe. If you can manage to get to the food store, grab these ingredients and try them out.

  • If you have some zucchini on hand, sauté it with the onions and other vegetables.
  • A little diced jalapeño pepper would add just the right amount of heat.
  • Try cooking and crumbling Italian sausage instead of ground beef. If you don't eat red meat, use ground turkey, chicken, or a plant-based "meat" crumble.

How Long Does American Chop Suey Stay Fresh in the Refrigerator?

When stored properly in an airtight container, American chop suey can stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Make sure to let it cool completely before storing it and always use clean utensils when serving to prevent contamination.

Can I Freeze American Chop Suey?

Yes. Allow the dish to cool completely before transferring it to freezer-safe containers or freezer bags. Make sure to leave some room for expansion. This recipe for American chop suey can be stored in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. To reheat, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and then heat it on the stovetop or in the microwave until heated through.

Is American Chop Suey the Same as Goulash?

Although often compared, they aren't the same, even though some people call it American goulash! The former is a dish commonly made with ground meat, pasta, and a tomato-based sauce, while goulash is a traditional Hungarian stew typically made with chunks of meat (such as beef or pork), vegetables, and seasoned with paprika. The two dishes have different origins, flavor profiles, and ingredients, making them distinct from each other.

american chop suey

If you decide to make this after learning how to make American Chop Suey, or better yet, your own take, why not take a photo and share it with us using #beeinspired on Instagram. We love seeing your photos!

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