These elbow pasta recipes are a crowd-pleaser! Make them at home, and learn some essential cooking tips, including the easiest way to prepare elbow pasta.
Elbow pasta, also known as macaroni or macaroni elbows, is a beloved staple in the world of pasta. Its distinct curved and tubular shape makes it an ideal choice for various dishes. The hollow center of the pasta allows it to hold a lot of sauce, while the curved shape helps it to catch all the flavors in the dish.
Elbow pasta is often associated with classic comfort foods like macaroni and cheese. However, there is more to this versatile ingredient than just this popular recipe. The ingredient shines in a wide range of other dishes as well, including soups, casseroles, and baked pasta dishes.
For more recipe inspirations, we’ve gathered some of the best elbow pasta recipes from around the globe, from Italian classics to Asian-inspired pasta dishes.
Easiest Way To Cook Elbow Pasta
Cooking elbow pasta is simple and can be done in just a few easy steps. Here’s the easiest way to cook elbow pasta:
- Elbow pasta (as much as you want)
- Water, enough to cover the pasta by at least two inches
- Salt (if desired)
- Boil water. Put a big pot of water on the stove and heat to a rolling boil.
- Add salt (optional). If you like, you can put some salt in the water to make the pasta taste better. A teaspoon for every quart of water.
- Add elbow pasta. Put the elbow pasta into the boiling water and stir so it doesn’t stick together.
- Cook al dente. Follow the time on the pasta package, but check it a little earlier to see if it’s just right. The pasta should be soft but still firm.
- Taste test. Take a piece of pasta, let it cool for a moment, and taste it. If it’s too hard, cook it in one-minute increments, and repeat.
- Drain the pasta. Turn off the heat and pour the pasta into a strainer or colander over the sink to remove the water.
- Rinse (optional, usually only for cold pasta recipes). You can rinse the pasta with cold water to stop it from cooking and to help chill and separate the pasta. But if you want to eat it with sauce, don’t rinse it.
BEST Elbow Pasta Recipes
This easy one-pot recipe is ready in about 30 minutes and will satisfy your cravings for a hearty and cheesy meal. The key is to cook the ground beef until browned and crumbly, giving the dish a rich base.
Ingredients include: Chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and ground beef.
Bursting with flavors, this family-favorite dish combines seasoned ground beef, tender pasta, and a rich marinara sauce. The recipe allows customization, so you can add your favorite toppings into the mix.
Ingredients include: Elbow macaroni, onion, ground beef, garlic clove, and marinara sauce.
This recipe features juicy meatballs made with ground beef and pork, coated in a creamy gravy and served over pasta. It’s a great option for meal prepping, as the meatballs and sauce can be made ahead of time.
Ingredients include: Elbow macaroni, ground beef, ground pork, panko, and egg.
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is a delicious side dish staple of Hawaiian cuisine. This version stands out for using apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar, which gives the salad a slightly tart and tangy flavor. The addition of carrots adds a bit of crunch to the dish.
Ingredients include: Elbow macaroni, apple cider vinegar, mayo, onion, and milk.
One Pot Mac & Cheese is a quick and easy recipe that makes the creamiest, most flavorful mac and cheese you’ll ever have. The secret is using a single pot to cook the pasta and make the cheese sauce.
Ingredients include: Chicken broth, whole milk, butter, elbow macaroni, and cheddar cheese.
This classic comfort food showcases hearty Italian sausage that’s paired with tender elbow pasta and a rich sauce mixture. The pasta dish is then topped with shredded Italian cheese and served hot.
Ingredients include: Pasta, onion, green bell pepper, pasta sauce, and Italian blend cheese.
This version of American Goulash is a one-pot meal, meaning minimal cleanup is required. Thanks to Italian seasoning and other spices, it has a perfect combo of hearty, savory, and slightly sweet.
Ingredients include: Ground beef, tomato sauce, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and Worcestershire sauce.
With just a few simple ingredients, you can have this comforting dish on the table in no time. The recipe involves cooking ground beef with taco seasoning and combining them with elbow pasta, cheese, and tomatoes.
Ingredients include: Olive oil, Dijon mustard, chicken broth, tomatoes, and garlic.
This pasta dish is straightforward to make. Simply combine all the ingredients in your Instant Pot, cook for 5 minutes, and that’s it. Top with more cheese and pepperoni for a truly cheesy meal.
Ingredients include: Chicken broth, marinara sauce, elbow macaroni, mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni.
This recipe blends the bold flavors of Mexican spices and tender elbow pasta, all cooked together in a single pan. Serve with your favorite toppings, such as sour cream, avocado, or cilantro.
Ingredients include: Taco seasoning, salsa, water, taco blend cheese, and cilantro.
This Tuna Zucchini Elbow Pasta recipe calls for simple ingredients you probably already have, like elbow pasta and zucchini. Every bite has a blend of savory, briny, and umami that’s sure to please.
Ingredients include: Garlic cloves, zucchini, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, and tuna.
This comforting Mexican dish highlights the use of elbow macaroni and ground beef. The pasta is toasted in oil before being cooked in the sauce, giving it a delicious nutty flavor. It’s then simmered until the flavors have melded and then served with cilantro.
Ingredients include: Elbow pasta, ground chuck, Comino, oregano, Roma tomatoes, and poblano.
This stir-fried pasta dish mixes the tastes of Indian cuisine with macaroni pasta, vegetables, and a creamy sauce. It’s crowd-pleasing and can be made with any leftover veggies that are lurking in the back of your fridge.
Ingredients include: Elbow macaroni, green chili, carrot, capsicum, cabbage, and white vinegar.
The flavors of the Southwest are perfectly balanced in this salad, and it’s sure to be a hit with everyone. It can be served warm or cold and is topped with diced avocado and sour cream, if desired.
Ingredients include: Rotisserie chicken, cumin, chili powder, lime juice, and canned corn.
Deviled Egg Pasta Salad is a tasty fusion of classic deviled eggs and creamy pasta salad. The secret ingredient in this salad is the inclusion of paprika, which gives it a cohesive look and a nice touch of heat.
Ingredients include: Hard-boiled eggs, Dijon mustard, white vinegar, garlic powder, and celery.
16. Chili Mac
This Chili Mac recipe combines the best of both worlds: savory chili and creamy macaroni and cheese. With its rich flavors and hearty texture, the dish is sure to become your family favorite.
Ingredients include: Ground beef, onion, bell pepper, garlic cloves, and chili seasoning mix.
17. Minestrone Soup
Minestrone Soup is a hearty, Italian-inspired soup made with vibrant veggies, beans, and pasta. It’s also a one-pot recipe, which means that everything is cooked in the same pot, making cleanup easy.
Ingredients include: Onion, garlic, carrots, tomatoes, green beans, and kidney beans.
In just a few simple steps, you can achieve perfectly cooked pasta with a delectable homemade sauce, all done conveniently in the microwave. It calls for cheese, which adds a creamy flavor.
Ingredients include: Water, garlic, milk, tomato pasta sauce, cherry tomato, and parmesan cheese.
The stew is relatively easy to make, making it an excellent option for home cooks of all skill levels. It’s full of Mediterranean flavor, with tender octopus as a highlighted ingredient.
Ingredients include: Octopus, onion, white wine, tomato paste, allspice, and ground cloves.
The unique flavor combo of Catalina dressing, hard-boiled eggs, and green olives make this pasta salad a special treat. It’s great for summer barbecues, potlucks, and picnics.
Ingredients include: Catalina dressing, elbow pasta, red onion, hard-boiled eggs, and mayo.
Amish Style Macaroni Salad is a classic summer side dish with a creamy, tangy, sweet dressing. The dressing perfectly balances creamy macaroni and crunchy vegetables, and the whole dish will please a crowd.
Ingredients include: Mayo, sour cream, yellow mustard, carrots, and celery sticks.
22. Sopa De Coditos
This authentic Mexican dish features tender elbow macaroni cooked in a savory tomato, calabacita, and vegetable broth. The soup is then infused with flavors from aromatic vegetables and spices.
Ingredients include: Tomatoes, garlic clove, onion, vegetable broth, and calabacita.
This Macaroni Soup, featuring lean ground beef, only takes less than an hour from start to finish. The leftovers taste amazing, so you can enjoy this soup for lunch or dinner all week long.
Ingredients include: Ground beef, onion, carrots, thyme, and vegetable stock.
Ingredients include: Ketchup, elbow pasta, stewed tomatoes, butter, and sugar.
This Pimento Pasta Salad can be enjoyed as a main course or a side dish. The recipe can be made ahead of time, making it a convenient and versatile option for any occasion.
Ingredients include: Elbow macaroni, pimento peppers, cheddar cheese, mayo, and cayenne pepper.
Creamy ricotta cheese is blended with tender spinach and a savory herbs, creating a yummy twist on the classic macaroni and cheese. The recipe includes whole wheat flour, which gives it a healthier twist.
Ingredients include: Olive oil, yellow onion, milk, chicken broth, and spinach.
27. Lasagna Soup
Lasagna Soup is a comforting dish that tastes just like traditional lasagna but in a soup form. It’s easy to make and packed with hearty flavors that will make you warm and satisfied.
Ingredients include: Elbow pasta, Italian sausage, garlic cloves, onion, and oregano.
This salad showcases al dente elbow pasta with a vibrant chimichurri sauce. But the secret ingredient is the pickled red onion, which adds a sweet note and acidity that balances out the other flavors.
Ingredients include: Parsley, elbow pasta, cilantro, red wine vinegar, and salt.
The roasted peppers add a smoky flavor to this pasta salad, while the cucumbers and cheese provide a refreshing contrast. The simple vinaigrette dressing ties everything together perfectly.
Ingredients include: Onion, roasted pepper, cucumber, cheese, red wine vinegar, and lemon juice.
This weeknight meal is a delicious and easy way to enjoy cauliflower. The cauliflower is roasted until tender and then tossed with pasta, a simple sauce, and fresh parsley.
Ingredients include: Cauliflower, yellow, garlic cloves, red pepper flakes, and parsley.
31. Masala Macaroni
This recipe for Masala Macaroni is an innovative twist to the classic macaroni. It’s full of flavor, thanks to the combination of macaroni pasta, a simple tomato-onion masala, and various Indian spices.
Ingredients include: Tomatoes, bay leaves, mint, garam masala powder, turmeric powder, and salt.
This pasta salad recipe is made with a few basic ingredients. The pasta and vegetables provide a nice contrast in texture, while the creamy dressing helps to bind the salad together and give it a smooth texture.
Ingredients include: Red onion, peas, tuna, mayo, and honey.
Hong Kong Style Macaroni Soup is a classic comfort food that’s hearty and flavorful. It can be customized to your liking by adding ham, spam, or sausage or tossing a fried egg.
Ingredients include: Macaroni pasta, mixed vegetables, chicken stock, oyster sauce, and soy sauce.
This rich and creamy delight combines succulent lobster pieces with perfectly cooked pasta enveloped in velvety cheese sauce. The nutmeg adds a touch of spice that enhances the flavor of the dish without being overwhelming.
Ingredients include: Lobster, butter, cottage cheese, whole milk, and dry mustard.
This dish effortlessly blends the best of Asian cuisine with the comforting familiarity of pasta. It’s light and refreshing, featuring elbow pasta, colorful veggies, and a flavorful Asian-inspired dressing.
Ingredients include: Elbow pasta, avocado, mango, carrot, red cabbage, and pine nuts.
The bottom line
Elbow pasta is a versatile ingredient that has the capacity to transform the simplest of meals into comforting dishes. Whether you’re making a classic macaroni and cheese or indulgent baked casserole, elbow pasta recipes are always a crowd-pleaser.
Don’t limit yourself to traditional recipes when it comes to elbow pasta! This versatile pasta shape works beautifully with various ingredients, so feel free to mix and match your favorites.
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- Deluxe Vegan Pasta Salad Recipe
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- Orecchiette Pasta Recipes
- Ground Beef Casserole
- Swedish Meatball Pasta
- Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
- One Pot Mac & Cheese
- Italian Sausage & Elbow Pasta
- American Goulash
- Cheeseburger Macaroni
- Instant Pot Pepperoni Pizza Pasta
- One Pan Taco Pasta
- Tuna Zucchini Elbow Pasta
- Coditos Con Carne (Elbow Macaroni With Beef)
- Indian Style Masala Macaroni Recipe
- Southwest Chicken Pasta Salad
- Deviled Egg Pasta Salad
- Chili Mac
- Minestrone Soup
- Microwave Pasta Recipe
- Mediterranean Octopus Stew
- Catalina Pink Pasta Salad
- Amish Style Macaroni Salad
- Sopa De Coditos
- Macaroni Soup With Herbs & Spinach
- Macaroni & Tomatoes
- Pimento Pasta Salad
- Spinach Ricotta Mac & Cheese
- Lasagna Soup
- Chimichurri Pasta Salad
- Roasted Pepper Pasta Salad With Simple Vinaigrette
- Cauliflower Pasta
- Masala Macaroni
- Classic Tuna Pasta Salad
- Hong Kong Style Macaroni Soup
- Lobster Mac & Cheese
- Asian Pasta Salad
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