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Baked Macaroni

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My version of Baked Macaroni is basically several layers of macaroni pasta, a meat sauce and generous amounts of grated mozzarella cheese. This started out as a lasagna recipe but I didn’t have the pasta for it, so I searched my pantry and found elbow macaroni instead. A new recipe was born right there.

This Baked Macaroni is a great make-ahead meal for family dinners, when you have friends gathering during a weekend, or else need a potluck dish to bring along. I have even cooked this ahead of time, frozen it and brought it with us to the beach condo for our family vacations. Yes, it travels well, too.

This Baked Macaroni has been a longtime recipe of mine. I have also been sharing this with family and friends, from the Philippines to here in America, for so long that I forgot I was the original sharer of the recipe, till one day, a cousin told me she was bringing my Baked Macaroni to her family potluck. When I asked her to share the recipe with me, she said, “But you gave it to me years ago!” An email archived in my files showed proof of that, from 30 years ago.

What Pasta To Use

You can use practically any pasta you have on hand or prefer. This is a user-friendly recipe and you can make substitutions any time. You can use any of the following: spaghetti, penne, ziti, macaroni be it short or long, or even ravioli for a special occasion version.

What Cheese To Use

I used large amounts of grated mozzarella in between the layers and on top. Feel free to substitute or add other cheeses – soft or hard. My family likes to see the melty cheese as they slice their individual servings, especially the way the soft strings stretch out as you scoop up the baked pasta. And the bubbly topping of the cheese makes the whole dish hard to resist.

All the Ingredients You Need

You probably have most of these ingredients already in your pantry, but here’s a checklist:

  • Macaroni pasta – you can substitute with ziti, penne, spaghetti or even ravioli
  • Ground beef
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Jimmy Dean’s Pork Breakfast Sausage – use the Regular variety. This type of breakfast sausage is also called ‘country sausage’. It is made of pork, and has predominant flavors of salt, black pepper and sage. Some of the brands’ other varieties are seasoned with maple syrup or cayenne pepper. (Or use any breakfast sausage brand)
  • Tomato sauce
  • Tomato paste
  • Diced tomatoes, canned
  • Banana ketchup (or catsup) is bottled commercial ketchup made with pureed banana, seasoned with salt, sugar, garlic, onions and spices. Its flavors are mostly sweet, savory and tangy. It is a favorite Filipino ketchup condiment and available at Asian markets or online sources. I use the UFC brand. But when I have time, I make my own banana ketchup and use it for cooking or sauces at table side.
  • brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Grated Mozzarella cheese
  • Parmesan cheese, freshly-grated
  • red bell pepper
  • Garlic bread, for serving

When To Serve This

This is a special occasion kind of pasta dish. It’s definitely a crowd pleaser because of its layers of savory-sweet flavors from the tomato sauces. The addition of banana ketchup is a Filipino whim and adds to the sweetness, that contrasts the savory sensation. This makes the sauce taste like our favorite Filipino-style spaghetti. The cheese melting all over after it was baked is a pleasure to see and to savor. The combination of robust beef and smoky sausage adds that depth to the entire casserole. And if there are any leftovers, the next day is an even more enjoyable experience when you heat up the Baked Macaroni again. This recipe is a keeper and is on my menu rotation quite often. You will know what I mean when you make this scrumptious Baked Macaroni.

This is a uniquely special kind of meal, so I’m making this as we celebrate my son Toby’s birthday this week. Happy birthday with love, Toby!

Baked Macaroni

My Baked Macaroni has several comforting layers of elbow macaroni, a hearty sauce of ground beef, crumbled pork breakfast sausage in tomato sauces with a hint of sweetness from Filipino banana ketchup, and heaping amounts of grated mozzarella cheese. This makes an ideal family meal, a casserole for gatherings or a great potluck dish. This is a recipe by Elizabeth Ann Quirino for The Quirino Kitchen.
Cook Time1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Asian, Filipino
Keyword: Baked Macaroni
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 428kcal
Author: Elizabeth Ann Quirino – The Quirino Kitchen


  • 1 Large stockpot, to boil pasta
  • 1 Large saucepan, to cook sauce
  • 1 Casserole pan, oven-safe; like what is used for lasagna


For Pasta

  • 1 box (16 ounces) elbow macaroni

For the sauce:

  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 whole white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 whole (16 ounces) Jimmy Dean Breakfast Pork Sausage, crumbled
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (12 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 1 cup banana ketchup (like UFC); preferably Filipino brands
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar

For toppings and layers:

  • 3 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly-grated
  • 1/2 of a whole red bell pepper, seeded, chopped, for garnish on top

For serving:

  • garlic bread


To cook Pasta:

  • Boil water in the large stockpot.
    Cook the pasta according to package directions, about 11 minutes.
    When cooked, drain liquid and set the pasta aside.

To cook the sauce:

  • In a large saucepan, over medium heat, add the extra virgin olive oil.
    When oil is hot enough, saute the garlic and onions.
    Add the beef and crumbled breakfast pork sausage. Combine well. Continue pan-frying till the beef turns from pink to a light brown, about 5 to 8 minutes. Some fat from the pork and beef may render in the saucepan.
  • To the meats in the saucepan, add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and paste, and the banana ketchup. Mix well into the meats.
    Season with salt and pepper.
    Cover and continue cooking over a low simmer for about 35 to 40 minutes.
  • When the meats in the tomato sauce are cooked completely, add the brown sugar at the end. Turn off heat so that the sugar doesn't burn. Mix the sauce for the sweetness of the sugar to incorporate.
    Tip: Adding the sugar at the end of cooking can prevent the sauce from burning.
    Set the sauce aside for the assembly.

To assemble and bake the Baked Macaroni:

  • Preheat the oven at 375 F.
    Get the casserole pan ready.
    Assemble the ingredients in the casserole pan by arranging them in layers in this order from the bottom to the top:
    Pour some of the sauce at the bottom of the pan, and spread it out with a spoon.
    Add the cooked macaroni pasta on top of the first layer of sauce. Spread out the pasta.
    Pour some of the sauce on the pasta layer.
    Sprinkle a few tablespoons of the grated mozzarella all over the sauce.
    Repeat the layers in this order: pasta, sauce, cheese — for about 3 times.
  • For the top: layer a generous amount of meat sauce. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese, and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle the chopped red bell peppers all over.
    Cover the top with foil. Bake in the oven at 375 F for about 20 minutes. Remove the foil cover. Bake for 5 minutes more, uncovered, till the top is golden brown and bubbly.
    Serve warm with garlic bread on the side.

Cook's comments:

  • If there are leftovers, cover and store in the refrigerator. This will keep for 3 to 4 days in the ref.
    To freeze the cooked Baked Lasagna, cover tightly with plastic wrap, then foil. Freeze. This will keep in the freezer for about 2 weeks.
    Make-ahead meal: You can cook and assemble the Baked Macaroni, but skip the baking part first. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and foil . Freeze for up to 3 weeks. When ready to bake, take it out of the freezer, thaw till it defrosts at room temperature. Then, bake accordingly.
  • Substitutions: 1) If you're short of time or ingredient availability, it's okay to swap a whole bottle of store-bought marinara sauce (24 ounces) for the tomato sauce and paste.
    2) If you don't have Jimmy Dean's breakfast pork sausage on hand, you can substitute with any kind of pork sausage available, which has a savory-salty flavor. Chop it finely or crumble the sausage to maintain the same texture as ground beef.


Serving: 100grams | Calories: 428kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 89mg | Sodium: 572mg | Potassium: 344mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 102IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 180mg | Iron: 2mg

Copyright Notice: Hello, Friends! Please DO NOT LIFT OR PLAGIARIZE The Quirino Kitchen recipes on this blog,  my original recipes, stories, photos or videos. All the images and content on this blog are COPYRIGHT PROTECTED and owned by my media company Besa-Quirino LLC by Elizabeth Ann Quirino. This means BY LAW you are NOT allowed to copy, scrape, lift, frame, plagiarize or use my photos, essays, stories and recipe content on your websites, books, films, television shows, videos, without my permission. If you wish to republish this recipe or content on media outlets mentioned above, please ASK MY PERMISSION, or re-write it in your own words and link back to my blog TheQuirinoKitchen.com to give proper attribution. It is the legal thing to do. Thank you. Email me at [email protected]

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