Macaroni and Tomatoes - The Southern Lady Cooks


I grew up on this side dish of Macaroni and Tomatoes.  My mother was a country cook and knew how to make a dish that was cheap, easy and good! If you like tomatoes and pasta, you will love this.  Just add fried cornbread and you got some good food. This is a very easy recipe.

Macaroni and tomatoes is a wonderful old-fashioned dish.

2 cups macaroni, uncooked

1 (14.5-ounce can) petite diced tomatoes

1 (14.5-ounce can) whole tomatoes in juice

1 tablespoon bacon grease (can add more)

Salt to taste

1/2 teaspoon pepper

How to Prepare:

Prepare macaroni in boiling, salted water according to package directions.  Drain.  Return pasta to cooking pot and add the diced tomatoes and whole tomatoes along with the juice.  I just break up the whole tomatoes.  Add bacon grease, salt, and pepper and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Enjoy!

Note:  I am sure there are a lot of different ways to prepare this macaroni and tomatoes dish.  You could add other spices, chopped onions and green peppers, etc. but we like it just plain. I have made this using fresh tomatoes from the garden, too. Either way, you make it, this is a super easy recipe your family will love.

Macaroni and Tomatoes - The Southern Lady Cooks
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4.98 from 47 votes

Macaroni and Tomatoes

This old fashioned recipe is one your family will love. Super easy but never goes out of style. There are hundreds of comments on this dish, one of the most popular on our website.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, southern
Keyword: macaroni and tomatoes
Servings: 5 servings
Author: The Southern Lady Cooks


  • 2 cups macaroni uncooked
  • 1 14.5 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 ounce can of whole tomatoes in juice
  • 1 tablespoon bacon grease can add more
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


  • Prepare macaroni in boiling, salted water according to package directions. Drain. Return pasta to cooking pot and add the diced tomatoes and whole tomatoes along with the juice. I just break up the whole tomatoes. Add bacon grease, salt and pepper and simmer for about 10 minutes.

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  1. One of my favorite dishes EVER!! I make mine a little different though. I boil crushed tomatoes first, then add the macaroni, a little grease, and a small amount of ketchup to thicken it. I can eat this but itself, but I LOVE it with large yellow lima beans.5 stars

  2. Wow, this recipe brings back wonderful memories! My Mom made it every few weeks with large sea shell noodles. I can remember crumbling bacon over the top.

    Of course, now that I’ve seen this, it’ll be on the menu this week!5 stars

  3. Love, love, love Macaroni and Tomatoes. I have been making and eating it since I was a child. I usually fry up some chicken and serve Macaroni and Tomatoes with it. Total comfort food at its best.5 stars

  4. THANK YOU for not adding sugar !!! It seems everyone around here adds sugar and ruins it!!! This has been through 4 genertions of ours so far and we all love it. What a comfort food !! 🙂

  5. We loved this growing up one of my favorites my grandmother would make with burgers . Still eat it with burgers , hotdogs , even steak but we just used butter and pepper . Yum

  6. My great grandmother use to make this the beat!!! I always looked forward to it! She used jumbo shells and a tbsp of sugar to hers as well. It is still one of my comfort foods. Now my vegetarian daughter loves to make this as well. Can you imagine a recipe so simple being made by 5 generations of women?5 stars

  7. My grandmother made something like this. A family favorite but she put hamburger in it and used tomato juice as the broth. We just called it M-T-H for Macaroni Tomatoes and Hamburger. Great comfort food.5 stars

    1. This takes me back to the 70’s, it was a staple when times were tough. Only difference is we added sliced onions. My Dad called it”Poor Man’s Soup”. Apparently, he cooked this while a cook in the Navy. Still make this frequently! Absolute comfort.5 stars

  8. One of my mom’s staples. Love it but add bacon the onions were sautéed in. One of my all time favorites. But, my children have no discerning taste and just want macaroni and tomato sauce I don’t understand it. Plain Jane they call it, why bother?
    BTW love your recipes , thanks.5 stars

      1. mac and maters is a staple for us and I make it just like this with a couple of tweaks. Season the tomatoes in a separate pad and add a pat of real butter. (Why you ask. .Because my Mom did) Just parboil the mac, drain then add in the hot maters. Cover and bring to a simmer. The mac will continue cookin in the mater juice. IF there are leftovers I make goulash a couple of days later5 stars

    1. I have been making this for years, but use butter/olive oil instead of bacon grease. (I don’t always have.) I also add some fresh basil (when I have) or a little garlic sometimes. Comfort food for us!5 stars

  9. Love this! My mother in law, a fine Virginia lady always made this. She called it Depression Macaroni. Using just the bacon grease instead of the actual bacon stretched the bacon into two meals when times were lean. It was always made with her home canned tomatoes and I remember her version having celery seeds and a touch of sugar. I made it for lunch with a jar of tomatoes that I canned this past week. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane.5 stars

  10. I made this six years ago when my grandson was born while he was in the hospital and loved it! This showed up in my Facebook stream today so I just made it again remembering those times and the little things. I also made cornbread to go with it because I learned that on the south they go together! Thank you for the excellent recipe and sharing your culture with others! Even us westerners who live in the north!5 stars

    1. Thank you so much for the kind comment! So glad this was such a hit. Have a wonderful week 🙂

  11. We make it with stewed tomatoes(with bell peppers and onions) and mix chunked cheddar into it and a layer of cheddar on top. Baked until the cheese is good and melted. sometimes use it as a main dish or a midday snack during the summer as its is good right out of the refrigerator also. Great recipe!5 stars

  12. The true down south version was as above but on most southern tables it also included a soft cheder cheese. Today most folks use Velveeta for a creamy texture to taste.

    1. Never heard of putting velveeta cheese in macaroni and tomatoes. We used to put it in regular macaroni and cheese but not macaroni and tomatoes but to each his own taste.

      1. Funny thing, that we did put tomatoes on Mac n Cheese, but not cooked into it. Sometimes, stewed tomatoes, sometimes just canned whole toms. But, my mom always used Velveeta as a base, because it emulsified the other cheeses.

    2. Im from the South, been eating this since I was a child and I’ve never heard of putting cheese in macaroni and tomatoes. Macaroni and cheese? Yes. Macaroni and tomatoes? No. We love it exactly how this recipe is written. Thank you for bringing back memories from my childhood!5 stars

    3. Growing up in Southeastern Kentucky coal mine camps. This was a delicacy.
      By adding cheese, makes it a different meal/ side dish all together. But, it sounds interesting . Maybe? You should call it ” Mac & Cheese “.

  13. We don’t use bacon grease but we do add crumbled up colby cheese to it. I will use the full moon version when I can get it.

  14. We didn’t use bacon grease, but we used a little sugar to cut the acid from tomatoes. I will definitely use bacon grease from now on! Sounds great!5 stars

    1. My mama used a pinch of sugar too! Plus a tiny bit of vegetable oil….but I’ve no doubt she was taught to use bacon grease.

  15. My mother in law used to make this frequently. I tried on several occasions and my son said it just wasn’t the same. I wish I knew her secret.

  16. Grew up with this dish. I just used whole canned tomatoes or diced with butter and salt. Sprinkle pamasaun cheese and eat5 stars

    1. I grew up on macaroni and tomatoes and also hamburger gravy over torn, white bread and mashed potatoes. They were part of mom’s dinner rotation. Whenever I need comfort food, macaroni and tomatoes are at the top of my list. I love how simple it is and how it makes me feel like I’m home.5 stars

  17. I love macaroni,tomatoes and bacon. Cook bacon, drain and save. Add a can of diced tomatoes to the pot, salt, pepper, a tsp. of sugar. Add uncooked macaroni and reserved bacon that has been chopped or torn into smaller pieces. Cook until pasta is done. Delicious!

    Love your posts, Jean5 stars

  18. Growing up, I thought my mom was the only one that cooked this. None of my friends had ever heard of it. Mom cooked it with macaroni, tomatoes, bacon grease, wieners, salt, and pepper. There were 7 children in my family and that was how she could make a pack of wieners feed us all. My oldest son and oldest granddaughter love it too, so I have to cook it for them occasionally. A few years ago, I cook it for my husband, (boyfriend at the time), who had never heard of it…he loves it. I am so glad because it is my comfort food.5 stars

      1. I also grew up on. macoroni and tomatoes. My comfort food too. I make it just like your recipe. I usually make salmon patties with it. Just like your recipe too.5 stars

  19. I grew up eating this and still do – and I’m almost 60! My granny was the best at cookin’ this. I always thought it was a southern dish. However, in our many travels with the Army I made friends with a delightful yankee girl from upstate New York. She said they cook it up there also but they add green peppers and onions to it. What-da-ya-know, I like that yankee recipe too!5 stars

  20. I fix this like my mom did. Sautee onions in butter when tender add leftover Mac n cheese and then cook til heated thru. Yum!!

  21. Loved this as a child. My children loved it . And we all still love it today. I eat this all the time. But I only put tomato juice and salt in. We grew up very poor and this was our meals many times. Good with cornbread or crackers.

    1. At the age of 69 I grew up eating this but my mother used tomato juice instead of the tomato. Have actually tried it with tomatoes but still prefer juice. Love it, children and grandchildren all love eating it.❤️

  22. Thank you. My grandma used to make this for me when i was little. This brought back such loving memories

  23. My mom made this – only she used butter not bacon grease and only the whole tomatoes not the petite. , my uncle called it Irish macaroni and had to tell his Italian wife how to make it.

  24. My pap used to make it for me, he didn’t have a lot of money, and he pretty much raised me, it was a common meal with him and I, everytime I make it I still remember some of the talks him and I had

  25. Ate this all the time growing up and still do. One of my favorite foods. My mom and grandma fixed theirs with fatback grease instead of bacon grease. That’s how I fix mine too. Yum Yum

  26. I add hamburger in mine and I don’t use bacon grease I use tomato soup . But I have loved this and was my favorite growing up .

  27. My favorite dish for over 40 years. However, I have tweaked it a bit over the years. I no longer use bacon grease but I add a cup of V8 Juice for some added spunk and in winter months I add a couple of heaping tablespoons of salsa. My grandkids love it too. It’s become a family tradition.

  28. I have been eating this since I was in grade school, I’m now 63, My Mom made it with a can of stewed tomatoes. Always added sugar to it. One of my favorite meals.

    1. Exactly how my Mom made it and how I make it for myself. Hubby grew up with something similar, they added cooked ground beef and called it Blood, Guts and Worms… there were 3 boys in the house…5 stars

  29. This was and still is my favorite dish!!! When I was 6 I ate so much I actually got sick on them! I can remember my Mom telling me “I would probably never eat them again”. Hah! This dish was my dish when I wash young and supporting my self with little money! Still love them to this day, and I have passed that love on to my children!

  30. So love macaroni & tomatoes. One of my favorites. My grandmothers & mother (southern cooks) all made this. I make it too. So very good.

  31. Mama made this lot’s!!! only thing is she added potatoes and of course onions and garlic too. we ate it along with fried spam….yummy!!!!

  32. Memories. When we added hamburg and celery, onion we called it goulash. Otherwise it was just mac and tomatoes. It has to be elbow mac. We have had it in the family for 5 generations. All love it.

  33. OMG!!I grew up with this I still love it and my daughters love it AND my grand babies love it !
    So easy to fix! SOOOO GOOD!

  34. I am now almost 49 and we grew up on the hamburger and onion added version! My dad said it is called “Flapadilly”. I just lost my dad in March, but right up util he wasn’t able to get around, he would make this for me whenever I asked, no matter how sick he felt. It was one of “our things”. Sure do miss you daddy!!! …and your flapadilly, lol.

  35. I am not from the south, but I grew up on macaroni and tomatoes, as did my mother, my children, my grandchildren and now my great grand children. We make it close to the same way, except we use our home canned tomatoes and not the store bought kind. In fact, that dish was one of the reasons I wanted to learn how to can tomatoes.:)

  36. My grandmother would cut up bacon into 1″ squares, and fry them, then add to the tomatoes and elbows. Comfort food right there! 🙂

  37. My mom made something similar, only she used stew beef cooked in the pressure cooker, then added the tomatoes and macaroni. I’m from the south, also.

    1. My Mom would make this for our lunch for our big family. We never had a lot of money. When the garden came in she would fix this with fresh tomatoes, pepper, and onions. She could not afford cheese. She add beaten eggs add to hot macaroni to add protein. Yummy. For my children I added hamburger and cheese. We called it macaroni goulash.5 stars

      1. Thank you for your rating and kind comment Pat. We love this dish and have made it for years. So good.

  38. My mother in law would make this. But, she would fry bacon (limp) for the grease and add the bacon in also.

    1. We alway fried chopped bacon and onions then added cooked Thin spaghetti, tomatoes, salt and pepper. always delicious!!

  39. I grew up eating this and it was one of my favorites. My grandmother put a little butter on top. I went without butter, but one of my sisters loved the butter.

  40. Well dang!! After reading all of the comments, I am craving Macaroni and Tomatoes, and it’s 12:07AM I will probably add sauted onions.

  41. My mom used to fix this for my siblings and I when we were little. I remember her adding hamburger, was always a treat. If she didn’t have any hamburger she would add sugar in place of the salt, pepper and bacon grease. She also used whole tomatoes and squished them with her hands. Yummilicious!!! Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  42. My mother always made this, alittle different but always good and filling, especially when you have alot to feed!

  43. This is one of my favorite dishes. My mother called it macaroni soup.
    I love all your recipes. They are good and easy to make.

  44. We were also brought up on this and I am a Canadian the only thing different was we added cheddar cheese to it as well.

  45. Love all of your recipes. Thanks for sharing them. This was one of my favorite dishes for my mother to fix. The only thing she did different was to cook the tomatoes with bacon grease salt and pepper for a 15 to 20 min in a seperate pan then add the cooked pasta and let them simmer for 5 to 10 min.before serving.

  46. my mother used make this for me when I was young I had forgotten about it now I can make it thank you so much.

  47. I love it. Mom fixed it when I was a kid. Usually had it with salmon cakes. She didn’t use bacon grease, but brown finely chopped onion in butter and then added it to the macaroni and tomatoes. Yummy.

  48. We had this on a regular basis when I was growing up in the 70’s. My mother added cooked sausage pieces to the dish.

  49. This was always a special treat for us as kids growing up. However my mom would use butter instead of bacon grease and add a small can of tomato juice instead of the whole tomatoes. I still make this for myself as comfort food and my daughter carries on the tradition.

  50. I use to eat this when i was a little girl..moms was the husband is 85 years old and he said he had never eaten this so i made him some last night for dinner and he loved it ,,and to my surprise he went back for thirds..He loved it…I really love to cook for him when he loves what i fix….I added a little celery seed in mine with onions….

  51. My mom would make this for us way back in the 70″ s, I haven’t had this in yrs, I think it’s time to make some. Thank you.

  52. We grew up with very little money in Maine and this was a staple for us and sometimes mom put ground beef in it when we could afford it. Thank you for the memories.

  53. Love your recipes…brings back so many memories. My mom made this for nine children. We all loved this dish.

  54. We love this dish and I make it often . I usually add some canned tomatoes and green chilies because my husband likes it spicey . It goes really good with fried Fish !

  55. again, this is something my mom made for me as a kid and I still love and make a lot, I don’t use the bacon drippings often though, but I do use butter in it.

  56. We used to make it with sugar, no bacon grease. Probably both are bad for you, but OH SO GOOD!

  57. Looks yum. Sometimes its the simplest dishes that are the best. Used to make macaroni and milk…little butter and salt. Voila`

  58. I had to respond to this one,, I can’t seriously believe nobody knows how to make this simple dish.. I’ve made it for years. But I only use the macs, & tomatoes,, NOTHING else goes in it but perhaps a bit of butter, and some salt & pepper to taste…

  59. I grew up in the south and I have never heard of this recipe,but it looks delicious and I am actually going to make it tonight. Especially after reading all the comments!!

  60. I love this. I remember eating this when i was a little one.although i did forget and this makes me want to make it.but i remember that my mom put a little sugar and milk in it.

  61. Ohh, this dish brings back so many childhood memories. We ate tons of this, mainly because we were poor, and it was cheap to make besides being delicious! I think ours was just made with macaroni, tomatoes, salt & pepper and a little margarine (probably couldn’t afford any bacon). It’s been years since I even thought of this dish, but now I have to make some for old times sake! Thanks for the reminder and the recipe.

  62. My mom always made this too and I wasn’t sure how, but she also added onions and I think a little sugar. My dad, now 94, still loves this. Will make for him soon. I love your page, I have copied so many receipes…I need to get a printer!! So glad a friend of mine posted your receipes on FB…now I can’t quit cooking! Making, sauerkraut, potatoes and sausage right now!

  63. Bless you for posting this!!!! My mom made this as well. I lost her in January and I had only asked her once how to make it. I couldn’t remember…I can’t wait to try this to see if it tastes like hers. Sounds like it’s the same ingredients….THANK YOU!!!!!

  64. My husband likes chopped onions sauteed in the grease till clear and add to the macaroni and tomatoes. I also like to make salmon cakes and cornbread with this.

  65. I thought my mom invited this dish because this is the first recipe I have seen for it. We had this often with fried streak o’lean and corn bread. Brings back lots of memories. Thanks for sharing.

      1. Love fried cornbread! I eat mine like a sandwich with butter and
        thin slices of onion with a glass of buttermilk.

  66. Sounds like a wonderful combination. I’m thinking even cold on those hot summer days when you want tasty, but not hot. I think this will be on my menu for the upcoming weekend with some steaks, and corn on the cob cooked on the grill. Thanks Judy. Always trying to figure out new stuff for my two guys.

  67. Wow I didn’t know other people ate this!! LOL!! I was raised on this except we use butter instead of bacon grease. Definitely comfort food at its best! 🙂

  68. I did this tonight with Mexican style tomatoes (green chilies).

    Make you slap your Mama!

    Cornbread, mac/tomatoes, yum, yum!

    Bill Clay, in8angst

  69. I use our home canned tomatoes with the macaroni, too. Just tastes better and more like Mom and Grandma used to make (smile). We love salmon patties too. But often times I vary the tomatoes and macaroni with a little sugar or some spices like basil and oregano. Another favorite of mine is breaded tomatoes. A quart of home canned tomatoes with a tbsp of butter, a little sugar and some crumbled up bread, just enough to thicken up the tomatoes. Have to watch myself with this one, too, so I’ll leave some for my husband!!! Have an awesome weekend everyone!

    1. My mom used to make this for me and my sister also. She would cook the macaroni and tomatoes with the oregano, basil and some garlic yummmmmy.

  70. Easy and simple delicious comfort meal! Fried cornbread sounds so tasty too! I’ll add other ingredients as well bcoz my family prefers something not too plain. ;P

  71. Oh my goodness, I never thought anyone else did macaroni and tomatoes!! So simple and good. Grew up with this quick and hearty meal. Now hubby and I have this on those nights when it cold outside and want something quick and easy. Love your blog. Takes me back to my childhood and great memories.

  72. My Mom worked at Foulds Macaroni factory as a supervisor during WWII. (Foulds Macaroni makes Creamettes and is located in Libertyville, Illinois. Still there and still in business.) She always made us Creamettes with tomato sauce and a dab of butter on them. This was a staple for lunch in our home for three little girls. To stretch it when we had guests we would throw some hot dogs and smoky links into the pot while the Creamettes were cooking. We all still love Creamettes and eat them often.

  73. I’m telling you, I could live on this stuff. I love it, I don’t think I can get full on it! It’s good anytime, like you said, add cornbread and ta da! One of the best comfort foods on the planet. My favorite way is with tomatoes canned from my garden, it’s like adding a bit of sunshine to it. Thank you for posting!

  74. My Grandmother used to make this for me like 35 years ago.I had forgot all about it.It was really good.Thanks for reminding me.

  75. I thought my family was the only one that had this regularly as a side dish … and as a main course on occasion. Mom would make this (and she always added the bacon grease) along side salmon patties, fried potatoes and cornbread and I continued the tradition with my own kids. They are grown now and when my oldest returns home he always asks for this sometime during the visit.

  76. There is no other way in this world to make this dish. I was raised on it, Cathy was raised on it and my grandchildren were raised on it !! We Hockensmith’s sure know good food ,right Cuz?

  77. Pure comfort food at its best. This is a family favorite…will have to try the bacon grease. Love your site!

    1. I have eaten this as far back as I can remember! Nothing better!… I make mine the exact same way but I add a sprinkle of garlic powder… Umm umm!

  78. I had forgotten all about this dish. My Mom could stretch a dollar at the grocery store. We ate things like this often…Have a great weekend…Balisha

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