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Macaroni and Tomatoes Recipe

In this post I’m sharing how to make a classic Macaroni and Tomatoes Recipe.

Y’all, this is one of those old times dishes that has carried on and still loved by many. Some would even consider it a comfort food.

This macaroni tomato recipe began back in the depression era. Times were tough for families and stretching out meals was necessity. 

The macaroni and tomatoes would have been the main meal for many families or a side dish that could last for several days.

This is one of those very simple recipes and can certainly be customized to suit your own tastes with additional ingredients.

With as few as three ingredients, you’ve got yourself a tasty pasta side.

I’ve read stories of mothers and grandmothers who would make this and sometimes add onion, diced spam, or ground beef. Bellies were full no matter how simple the meal.

Classic Macaroni and Tomatoes Recipe

Bowl of classic macaroni with tomatoes surrounded by fresh garden tomatoes and a red ticking towel

There are a lot of possibilities with a can of tomatoes and frugal minded folks discovered them all. Including our beloved macaroni and cheese, which is a holiday staple these days.

Now I must go ahead and confess that I do one little extra thing to my macaroni and tomatoes recipe that most probably do not. That doesn’t mean that it’s not right. It’s just how I like it.

My motto happens to be, the right way to make a recipe is how you like it.

So before anyone yells at me for not doing it right (the way you do it), I like to add a little bit of a thickening slurry at the end to thicken up those tomato juices.

It really coats the pasta better, in my humble opinion. That is totally optional and you certainly do not have to do it.

Diced Tomatoes Side Dish

Stainless cooking pot with stewed tomatoes and cooked elbow macaroni pasta

One consensus among cooks is that this dish requires a little bit of bacon grease. I whole heartily agree!

The bacon grease add another layer of flavor and a bit of smokiness. I keep a jar of bacon grease in my refrigerator at all times. It is the star ingredient to many recipes.

Macaroni pasta and diced tomatoes combined in a silver pot

This one pot dish is really easy to make. With as few ingredients as the elbow macaroni, bacon grease, a can of diced tomatoes and some salt & pepper you’ve got the makings of a fine meal.

I add a pinch of sugar to enhance the flavors. Just a pinch does the trick. There is no need to go making a sweet pasta side dish.

Embellish the recipe further however you like. You’re the home chef at your house and you’ll be the one eating it after all.

Black and White Serving Bowl filled with a macaroni and tomatoes recipe

Below in the printable recipe card I’m sharing how I make this dish. I’m going through it step by step and giving you the list of ingredients you’ll need.

This tried and true humble dish turns out perfect every time.

Yield: 1 Pasta Side Dish

Macaroni and Tomatoes Recipe

Tried and True Macaroni and Tomatoes Recipe

Classic macaroni and tomatoes is the budget friendly dish that has been around for generations. Keep it simple as a side dish or jazz it up and make it a meal.

Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 8 oz Box of Elbow Macaroni (about 2 c, uncooked)
  • 1 tbs Bacon Grease
  • 28 oz Can of Petite Diced Tomatoes, with the juices
  • Salt, to taste
  • Cracked Black Pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp Sugar (optional)

Thickening Slurry

  • 2 tbs Cold Water
  • 1 tsp Cornstarch


  1. Cook the macaroni pasta according to box directions; drain well.
  2. While the pasta drains, return the pot to the stove (over medium heat); add bacon grease and melt then and canned diced tomatoes. Stir to combine.
  3. Add the cooked macaroni to the tomato mixture. Season with salt, pepper, and pinch of sugar. Stir until heated through.
  4. Next, if using the thickening slurry; combine the cornstarch with cold water and add the pot. Stir and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the juices are thickened (about 10 minutes).


This side dish can be kept simple or other ingredients such as diced onion, basil, garlic, ground beef or diced spam could be added to make it a meal.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

0.5 cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 95Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 108mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 3gSugar: 7gProtein: 2g
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I know that you’ll enjoy this delicious side as generations of families have. 

If you try it, please stop by and let me know how you enjoyed it. I love hearing from you.

You might also enjoy this recipe for Baked Tomato Mozzarella Melts from Southern Plate.

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Nancy Dauteuil

Wednesday 13th of September 2023

Have been making this all of adult life recipe from my Mamaw. Definitely use bacon grease, add 1/2 cup (medium diced onion) to grease t sauté prior to adding tomatoes.


Thursday 3rd of August 2023

I used to make a dish similar to this and would heat the tomatoes, then add shredded cheese to the pot. When the cheese was melted into the tomatoes, I would add the cooked macaroni and heat till hot.


Sunday 23rd of July 2023

I’ve made this and I remember my grandma making this often during the summer! My grandma would sauté onions a little bit of green pepper to her recipe. Such a delicious summer memory!


Monday 10th of April 2023

Can you use bowtie macaroni in place of the other since that is what I have on hand?

Julia Jordan

Tuesday 11th of April 2023

Yes, feel free to use the pasta that you have on hand. Enjoy!


Tuesday 21st of March 2023

I can't believe this is a real recipe! My mom made this for us growing up. I've always loved it and yes she did put in bacon grease. When I had my own family, I changed it up a bit. I would cook a couple pieces of bacon to get the grease, then remove the bacon, add a little bit of garlic, chop a couple of fresh tomatoes and just cook for about 2 minutes then pour it over the macaroni. My kids loved it like that growing up. So many good memories with this recipe either way...

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