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Sloppy Joe Mac and Cheese combines zesty ground beef, peppers, and onions in a creamy macaroni and cheese base. This is one very delicious mash-up!
A super easy weeknight meal that everyone enjoys!
On any given night, I’d gladly eat a bowl of this delicious Sloppy Joe Mac and Cheese! It’s a simple stovetop macaroni and cheese combined with a zesty, flavorful ground beef and vegetable mixture – all flavors and ingredients inspired by our favorite Sloppy Joe sandwich recipe.
Served with a simple side salad or a vegetable side dish, Sloppy Joe Mac and Cheese is a beefy, cheesy meal that is perfect for a busy weeknight meal.
Why you’ll love Sloppy Joe Mac and Cheese
- This is a satisfying and delicious meal-in-one that both kids and grownups will enjoy.
- It’s a flexible recipe – swap in your favorite cheese, other vegetables, different shaped pasta, or another variety of ground meat.
- This takes just about thirty minutes to prepare from start to finish – a perfect dinner option when schedules are hectic.
Key Ingredients & Substitutions
- Ground Beef – Choose a low-fat ground beef mix such as 93/7 or 90/10 beef to fat ratio. A lean ground beef mixture won’t need draining after it is cooked, allowing the beef juices to remain in this dish. (If you use a higher beef to fat ratio, you will need to drain any excess fat once the ground beef is cooked).
- Vegetables – Green bell pepper and sweet onion are typical additions. You could also add mushrooms if that is what your family likes or use different onions or colored bell peppers.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Cheese – Our recipe includes sharp yellow cheddar and white American cheese, however the yellow cheddar could be replaced with white cheddar if you prefer. Yellow American cheese can used instead of the white.
- Seasoning – Kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes add a nice zesty flavor with a touch of heat.
- Pasta – We chose an elbow macaroni, but other shaped pastas are fine to use instead.
- Optional – If you’d like to change the recipe up a bit and introduce a tomato flavor to this dish, add a tablespoon or two of Tomato Paste.
Special Tools Needed
- Cutting Board and Sharp Knife
- Large skillet or Braiser – To cook the beef and vegetables
- Medium/Large Pot – To cook the pasta
- Wooden Spoon
How do I make Sloppy Joe Mac and Cheese?
- Sauté the bell peppers and onion in olive oil.
- Brown the ground beef in the same skillet.
- Add water, seasoning and cheeses.
- Cook to melt the cheese into the beef and water. The mixture will thicken* into a beefy cheese sauce.
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain and return the pasta to the skillet.
- Spoon the beef and cheese sauce over the pasta.
- Stir to combine, then serve immediately.
Tips & Tricks
*Just note that the longer the sauce simmers, the thicker it will become. If it’s too thick, simply thin down with water.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I make Sloppy Joe Mac and Cheese ahead of time? Yes, you can make ahead and reheat before serving. We suggesting adding a little bit of water to loosen the cheese sauce as you reheat it.
- How do I store leftovers? Store refrigerated in a covered container for up to two days.
- How do I reheat leftovers? Reheat in a small saucepan with a little water, or microwave individual servings.
- Can I freeze the leftovers? We don’t recommend doing so. Once frozen and thawed, the sauce will separate and the pasta will get mushy.
You might like these other Macaroni and Cheese Recipes:
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Sloppy Joe Mac and Cheese
Sloppy Joe Mac and Cheese combines zesty ground beef, peppers, and onions in a creamy macaroni and cheese base.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large green bell pepper diced small, about 1 1/4 cups
1 medium sweet onion, diced small, about 1 1/4 cups
2 pounds lean ground beef such as 90/10 or 93/7, beef to fat ratio
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 cup tap water
1 pound sharp yellow cheddar cheese, shredded
1 pound white American cheese, cut up
12 ounces dry elbow macaroni
- In a large skillet or braiser, heat olive oil over medium high and once hot, add peppers and onions and sauté for two minutes.
- Add ground beef, salt, pepper, garlic powder and pepper flakes and cook beef to brown. Do not drain.
- Add water, shredded cheddar and cut up American and reduce heat to medium.
- Stir and cook. The cheese will melt into the beef and water and the mixture will become creamy. Remove from heat.
- While the beef and cheese mixture cooks, cook the elbow macaroni to just short of fully cooked then drain and place back into the pot.
- Spoon the beef and cheese mixture over the cooked pasta and stir.
- Serve immediately.
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