Skip to Content

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:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 95Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 108mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 3gSugar: 7gProtein: 2g
Pinterest Cover Image for Macaroni and Tomatoes recipe post

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.

Home » Macaroni and Tomatoes Recipe

Meet Julia

Author of Julia's Simply Southern

Please Share Y'all!


Tuesday 13th of July 2021

How many calories would 2 cups be of this? Great recipe.

Julia Jordan

Wednesday 14th of July 2021

Thank you, Breanna! The recommended serving size is around 1/2 a cup. For 2 cups, according to nutrition calculators, would make it around 400 calories.


Thursday 4th of February 2021 mother made this often as a side dish with pork chops. I forgot how yummy this was..need to make a batch soon. She cooked for a family of 10! She was always looking for things that fed a large family. We loved this.

Julia Jordan

Friday 5th of February 2021

Lynn, Thanks for sharing your wonderful memory with us. A lot of the great recipes we have today came from those who were stretching things to make sure everyone had a full belly at the end of the meal. I hope that you get to enjoy some macaroni and tomatoes soon. ~Julia


Sunday 20th of September 2020

How can I print the recipe without printing 12 pages? I hit print and it takes me back to your first page. Recipe looks great but need to print to make recipe. Please fix or send me recipe.

Julia Jordan

Monday 21st of September 2020

Pat, If you use the print button in the recipe card further down in the post, it pulls up no more than 2 pages which are the recipe card to print. You can also select to just print the first page since the second just has nutrition information on it. I'm sending you an email with a pdf of the recipe page so you can print it. ~Julia


Sunday 20th of September 2020

I like to add some shredded cheddar cheese or Velveeta at the end.

Julia Jordan

Monday 21st of September 2020

Sabrina, That sounds yummy! I've heard that a lot of folks like a bit of cheese in their mac & tomatoes. As a cheese lover, I'm always about the cheese!

Cindy S.

Monday 10th of August 2020

Oh my !! I had forgotten all about this luscious meal! I loved this as a child, we only ever had it seems like at holidays or family reunions in the summer. But whenever it was on the table I made sure to grab some. The chewy noodles and the tart sweet tomatoes! It was heaven on a plate! Thank you so much for bringing this recipe back to my memory. I am going to fix some today when I get home from work. I have just the perfect garden raised tomatoes to go in it!!

Julia Jordan

Monday 10th of August 2020

I'm so happy that you're gonna make this recipe and that it brought back wonderful memories. Enjoy!

Skip to Recipe