Macaroni and Tomatoes is an old-fashioned southern recipe that many people remember from their childhood (have you tried it?). It's a quick 20-minute meal that uses basic pantry ingredients such as elbow macaroni, diced tomatoes, and seasonings; plus everybody's favorite... bacon! Yes, my friend, bacon adds a smoky and salty goodness that elevates this humble dish to a whole new level.
What does it taste like? You've got tender macaroni and tangy tomatoes blended with crispy savory bacon pieces (sounds good so far!). Perfectly seasoned with salt, pepper, and a little sugar for some much needed comfort food that will take you back to your childhood. You'll want to save this recipe!
Often served as a main dish because it's a budget-friendly meal, it also serves as a side dish because it goes with just about anything. It's versatility makes it one of the most popular dishes still to this day.
Another delicious pasta dish made with elbow macaroni is my Beefy Mac and Cheese. It's a very hearty meal and only takes 20 minutes to prepare. This Mac and Cheese has always been popular on site. Made with only 4 ingredients.
Ingredients You'll Need
Macaroni and Tomatoes are the main ingredients, but let's throw in some bacon and seasonings!
Elbow macaroni - this hollow pasta allows the tomato sauce from the canned tomatoes to cling onto the elbow macaroni, somehow getting inside those little tubular openings. Penne pasta is similar so if that's all you have, go ahead and use it.
Canned tomatoes - use chopped or diced canned tomatoes. You can use any flavor you like, but plain works really well for this dish.
Bacon strips - you'll need 3 strips of bacon; you'll use the bacon grease and the bacon (don't waste the bacon lol!).
Sugar - just a pinch! You don't have to add the sugar, but just ½ teaspoon of sugar balances the acidity of the tomatoes.
Salt and pepper - when adding salt and pepper to any dish, do it in small increments doing a taste test before adding more. Once you've add too much, it's hard to go back!
Ingredient Substitutions and Additions
I love how versatile this Macaroni and Tomatoes recipe is! I'll always love the classic version, but sometimes I like to switch it up a little.
- Instead of plain tomatoes, try Rotel tomatoes or stewed tomatoes.
- Skip the bacon grease and use butter instead.
- Add sauteed onions, bell peppers, and minced garlic.
- Top with your favorite cheese such as cheddar or parmesan.
- Add 8 ounces of tomato sauce if you like yours a little more saucy (adjust seasonings).
- For a flavor kick, add some red pepper flakes, chili powder, or Cajun seasoning.
How to Make Macaroni and Tomatoes
Step 1 - cook and drain the pasta. Set aside.
Step 2 - cook the bacon, and remove it from the pot.
Step 3 - add the macaroni, tomatoes, and seasonings to the pot. Simmer 5 minutes.
Step 4 - top with crumbled bacon before serving.
Tips for Success
- Consider adding salt to the boiling water before adding the macaroni. Salting the water enhances the flavor of the pasta which in turn flavors the entire pot of macaroni and tomatoes. Typically, you'd want to use about 2-3 heaping teaspoons of salt for a large pot of water. On the flip side, be careful not to use too much salt. How to Properly Salt Your Pasta Water explains this in more detail.
- Don't overcook the macaroni; you want it to be cooked al dente. If you overcook it, it'll absorb the tomato juice and get mushy.
- Try using any tubular pasta like penne or ziti, but you can also try shell pasta or bow tie. If all you have is spaghetti, you can use it, too.
- Save time by cooking the bacon in one pot and boiling the pasta in another pot.
What to Serve with It
Serve with pinto beans, green beans, or lima beans.
Try it with a dollop of sour cream.
Goes great with cornbread, crackers, or a grilled cheese sandwich.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can add ½ pound of cooked and drained ground beef or sausage.
Absolutely! It can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating in the microwave.
Keep leftovers tightly covered in the refrigerator. Eat within 3 days.
More Pasta Recipes to Try
If you tried this recipe, please let me know by leaving a comment! I'd love to hear from you.
Macaroni and Tomatoes
- large pot
- Pasta strainer
- measuring cup(s)
- measuring spoons
- 2-¼ cups uncooked elbow macaroni
- 3 strips bacon
- 14.5 oz diced tomatoes in tomato juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- For the best results, it's recommended to read through the instructions and recipe notes before you begin making the macaroni and tomatoes.
Macaroni and Tomatoes
- In a large pot, cook the pasta per the package directions until al dente. Drain the pasta in a strainer (colander) in your sink and leave it in the strainer for now.2-¼ cups uncooked elbow macaroni
- Wipe out the pot used for cook the macaroni with a paper towel. Add the bacon to the pot and cook it until it's crispy. Then remove the bacon and place on paper towels. Leave the bacon grease in the pot. Tip - you can cut the bacon strips in half to make them fit better at the bottom of the pot.3 strips bacon
- Add the macaroni, tomatoes, and seasonings to the pot with the bacon grease. Stir to combine and bring to a gentle simmer for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat.14.5 oz diced tomatoes in tomato juice, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon sugar, ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Taste test and add more seasonings, if needed.
- Crumble the bacon, and sprinkle it on top of the macaroni and tomatoes.
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy to my readers. I'm not a nutritionist and I don't guarantee the accuracy of this data. The data may differ according to the brands I used versus the brands you use. To calculate the data yourself using your brands, try using an online nutrition calculator or app.