Skip to Content

American Chop Suey Recipe

Chop Suey is a classic New England dish that is beloved by a lot of different families.

If you grew up near Boston, then you’ve definitely eaten Chop Suey before, and if you haven’t, then this recipe is a great place to start. 

American Chop Suey Recipe

One reason that this recipe is so enjoyable is that it is incredibly simple, and can be made on even the tightest budget.

Whether you want to impress dinner guests or just create a hot bowl of comfort food on a cold winter night. 

Like I said, this is a simple recipe that anyone should be able to follow along with, but don’t worry, because we’ll go slow, and make sure that you have all the right instructions and equipment. 


As mentioned, this recipe involved a lot of kitchen staples, and can be made with a lot of alternatives that we’ll get into later. The way that I’ve always made this recipe is to include the following ingredients: 

  • 1 Chopped White Onion
  • ½ Chopped Green Bell Pepper
  • 1lb Ground Beef
  • 16oz Elbow Macaroni
  • 18oz Crushhed Tomato Sauce
  • 15ox Tomato Sauce
  • ½ tbsp Italian Seasoning 1tsp Olive Oil
  • 1tsp Black Pepper
  • 1tsp Salt

A lot of these ingredients will be things that you already have in the kitchen or pantry, so it’s something that can be easily thrown together in a rush if you suddenly realize that you haven’t got anything in for dinner. 

Alternative Ingredients 

There are a few things that you can easily add to this recipe in order to flavor it to your own tastes. See this recipe as the base on to which you can add anything you like. 

For example, I’ll almost always include garlic, but it’s not necessarily a traditional ingredient. As well as garlic, you could also add Worcestershire sauce if you have it, as it add a fantastic flavor to the beef. 

Instead of green peppeprs, you can always use yellow or red to change the flavor profile slightly, or the aethetics. If you don’t have green onion in your pantry, don’t worry, you can still make this recipe. 

You might also see other recipes that include beef broth or soy sauce, both of which also compliment the beef really well.

You can also add a bunch of other vegetables like carrots or celery, but at that point you’re just making a bolognese with bell peppers. 

You also don’t have to use macaroni, it could be any other kind of pasta, or even noodles. You can make it more like a soup if you want to, as it works when it’s more watery or thicker. 

As long as you use a lot of tomato and veg, you’ve got an American chop suey.

This is actually one of the reasons it’s so popular, because you can make sure your kids have gotten a great amount of veg in their diets just by giving them a bowl of chop suey.


Again, you don’t need anything particularly fancy to make this recipe, as it was created as an easy dish that anyone would be able to make.

I’ve included using a Dutch oven, however, if you don’t have one of these, don’t worry. It can just as easily be made just on the stove top as it can in the oven. 

However, with that being said, this is a short list of the equipment that you will need in order to create this recipe. 

  • Frying Pan
  • Medium Saucepan
  • Strainer
  • Spatula 
  • Sharp Chef’s Knife
  • One Chopping Board
  • Dutch Oven (optional)
American Chop Suey Recipe


Once you’ve got all of the ingredients and equipment that you need, you can start to put this meal together.

It won’t take more than 40 minutes in total, meaning that you can be sat down with a bowl of this American Chop Suey in no time at all. 

Here are the instructions for how to make this recipe. 

1. Prepare The Ingredients

Gather all of your ingredients and start to prepare them. 

You’ll want to start by washing your green onion, then peeling your onion. Now, I’ve always used a yellow or white onion, however, red or sweet onions will work just as well – whatever your preference is. 

Chop your veg up into small, thin pieces, and leave them to the side. 

Top Tip

Freeze your onion for about 10-15 minutes prior to chopping to reduce the chances of crying

At this point, I like to measure out and prepare all of my ingredients and put them in their own little bowls or boards.

This allows me to just concentrate on cooking once I need to, instead of going back and forth trying to organize everything. Plus, it makes me feel like I’m in one of those fancy recipe videos. 

2. Brown Your Beef

Bring about a tsp of oil to medium heat in your frying pan. At the same time, you can be cutting and separating your beef into smaller chunks. 

Once your oil is hot enough, add your beef and start browning it.

You’ll want to leave the beef in these smaller chunks and let it brown a little before completely separating it, as this actually allows it to cook better and retain a greater flavor. 

If you’re wanting to use Worcestershire sauce, this is the time that you would add it. It’s very commonly used in ground beef recipes because of how it compliments the flavor of the meat. 

After a couple of minutes, break the ground beef up and continue cooking until it’s all completely brown. At this point, transfer it onto a plate and let it rest. 

3. Cook Your Pasta

Whilst your beef if browning you can start to cook your pasta as well. Bring a medium pot to a boil, add a pinch of salt, and then add the elbow macaroni (or whatever pasta you’re using). 

You want to cook your pasta until it’s al dente, so be sure to keep your mind on it whilst you cook the rest of your ingredients. 

Once your pasta is ready, strain the water out of it and then add just a little bit of olive oil so that the pasta doesn’t stick together whilst you’re waiting for the rest of the meal to be done. 

4. Sauté Your Veg 

Add a little bit more olive oil to your pan but retain the juices from the beef (also known at the fond), then return the frying pan to the heat and add your chopped onions and peppers. 

You’re going to want to sauté these until the onions start to become translucent and aromatic. At this point, you can add garlic if you’re wanting to include it. 

You might notice during this step that the fond on the bottom might start to stick or burn to the bottom of the pan.

If this happens, add just a touch of your tomato sauce and you’ll find that the fond will unstick itself from your frying pan.

Whatever you do, don’t get rid of the fond because it adds a really amazing dimension of flavor to the sauce that you’ll be creating. 

5. Make The Sauce

Speaking of sauce, once your veg is all cooked properly, you’ll be able to start bringing everything together. 

Start by adding your crushed or chopped tomatoes to your pan on top of your veg. Mix that around, then add your tomato sauce and Italian seasoning. This is the basis of your sauce. 

Test the flavor and determine whether you need to add more salt and pepper, at this point, it’s all down to taste. 

Finally, add back your ground beef and let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes. You only need to stir occasionally just to make sure that nothing is burning or sticking to the bottom of your pan. 

Top Tip

If you notice that your sauce is a bit watery, you will be able to thicken it up.

First all you can just let it simmer for longer – if you find that you still have time to spare before you need to serve, you can just let it simmer for longer.

You could also add tomato paste which can act as a thickening agent. 

If you haven’t already drained all of your pasta water, adding about a quarter cup of your starch-rich pasta water can also really help in thickening up your sauce. 

Cornstarch is a very powerful thickening agent used in a lot of dishes. In order to avoid it going clumpy in your sauce, create a 1:1 slurry of cornstarch and water and mix it together well before adding it. 

If all else fails, you can also just resort to draining out some of the liquids, careful to not lose any of your other ingredients when doing so. 

6. Bring It All Together

After everything has finished simmering, it’s time to finish off your meal. Add your pasta into the sauce and mix well.

The al dente pasta will finish cooking in the sauce, and the sauce will get into all the nooks and crannies of the pasta. 

I would absolutely recommend topping a dish of Chop Suey with your cheese of choice, though mozzarella is a favorite of mine. You can serve this with garlic bread or without, depending on how hungry you are. 

7. Enjoy The Next Day

Chop Suey makes really great leftovers. Once the flavors have really been given a chance to get to know one another, they absolutely shine.

In an airtight container, I would expect chop suey to last for about 3-4 days in the refrigerator, but that’s only if you can resist eating a spoonful every time you go to get something. 

Personally, I’ve found that the 2nd day is when all of the flavors are all still french enough to taste absolutely incredible. By the last couple of days everything starts to mellow out a lot, but it’s still definitely edible.  

If you’re reheating it, you can do so on the stove top or in the microwave, though I recommend adding a some water, or even some beef stock to the dish to prevent it from drying out.

What Is Chop Suey

You might have gathered from the amount of variation you can give this recipe that Chop Suey is really just a mashup of what you have, but this recipe is very much the basic starter of American Chop Suey.

It differs from traditional Chinese Chop Suey because it is typically made with macaroni in one pot, and is known for being sweet.

Asian Chop Suey on the other hand is much spicier and cooked separately before being combined. 

If you recognize this recipe but don’t know it as Chop Suey, that’s because, outside of New England, this dish is also sometimes called Goulash, or Jonny Marzetti, as well as other names as well.

It’s a well travelled dish that has picked up a lot of nicknames, as well as a lot of the culture of where it’s being served. 

Final Thoughts

Whether you need a dish to feed a party, or just to keep the kids full after school, this American Chop Suey recipe is sure to please everyone that tries it.

Justin Roberts