Do you keep a stocked pantry at all times? I think most of us would answer yes, even if the things we always want on hand might vary. Meal planning and cooking on busy nights are so much easier when you know certain ingredients are always sitting in your kitchen.

One thing I can always find in the cupboard no matter what, is elbow macaroni. Not only is it one of the most economical staples you can buy, there are so many things you can do with it. From simple casseroles to hearty pasta suppers and creamy macaroni salads, those tried-and-true elbows are a busy home cook's best friend. So, I rounded up 52 of the best elbow macaroni recipes for the next time you find yourself with an extra box.

Related: 75 Retro Recipes and Vintage Suppers You Will Remember From Your Childhood

What can I make with elbow macaroni?

If you browse any recipe book or blog, you will see countless ways to use elbow macaroni in recipes. Here are some of the most popular dishes we love to use it in:

Related: 101 Classic, Simple and Easy Pasta Recipes

What is the most popular way to use macaroni?

Just because you can do a thousand things with a box of elbow macaroni doesn't mean there isn't one utilization that sits atop the rest as being the number one choice. Can you guess it? Yes! Macaroni and Cheese, of course! In that spirit, this collection contains many different versions of the comfort food classic:

Related: 20 Best Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Recipes

Best Elbow Macaroni Recipes

When you launch the gallery you will find some things you probably expect, but also some great new ideas for classic macaroni. Easy Goulash has been a family favorite around here for four generations. There is a Homemade Hamburger Helper that will bring back all the childhood feels. The Cajun Pasta Salad would liven up your next burger night and the Budget Hamburger Casserole can save you some extra pennies.

Related: 65 Best Summer Pasta Salad Recipes

In my local grocery stores, I can usually find a one-pound box of elbow macaroni for a dollar or less. Talk about being able to stretch a buck! With these classic, new and unique recipes, I have so many reasons to stock up and make sure the pantry always has a box just waiting on me.

Easy Macaroni Recipes

Krista Marshall

Sure to become your go-to dish when time is short.

Jon Ashton

The pasta salad to beat all pasta salads.

Krista Marshall

Every bite of this cheesy casserole tastes like a big plate of nachos.

Krista Marshall

The best macaroni and cheese of your life begins with a sheet pan!

Meal Makeover Moms

No mayo in this mac salad! Instead, it has a homemade dressing with an avocado base.

Krista Marshall

The macaroni boils right in the casserole, saving you time.

Krista Marshall

This will take you back to your childhood without the box.


Ms. Yearwood knows great mac and cheese.

John Whaite

A delicious, low-stress skillet meal.

Krista Marshall

The restaurant classic can easily be made at home anytime you're craving it.

Krista Marshall

This mac salad has a secret ingredient everyone will try to guess.

Alison Ashton

Perfect for a lazy Sunday brunch.

Krista Marshall

This creamy macaroni and cheese is great when you don't want to turn the oven on.

Chad A Elick

So delicious, the kids won't care if they are eating their vegetables.

Christopher Testani

No need to hit the freezer section for this classic comfort food.

Jocelyn Ruggiero

With all the classic BLT ingredients, plus more, you will crave this salad.

Erin Schmit

A bowl of this cheesy soup is what you want to warm up with on a cold night.

Krista Marshall

A sweet and tangy macaroni salad with added crunch from fresh veggies.

Krista Marshall

Yep! There is beer in there!

Krista Marshall

Make a batch on the weekend and have lunch all week long.

Candace Floyd

A great starter recipe you can totally customize.


The cheesy flavor will have your kids asking for more.

Jessica Seinfeld

This plant-based macaroni and cheese will please everyone at your table.

Krista Marshall

If you've never cooked with ground lamb, this is the perfect way to begin.

Wolfgang Puck

Wolfgang's version has three cheeses and is baked to perfection.

Deanna Samaan

This mac salad tastes unlike any other you've had, thanks to green olives.

Spend With Pennies

Comfort food with a kick!

Plain Chicken

Sure to be a hit at every summer cookout you take it to.

Spend With Pennies

This hearty soup is a great use for leftover browned ground beef and is loaded with flavor.

Spend With Pennies

This dish lets elbow macaroni come out to play on Taco Tuesday!

How To Feed A Loon

Add a little Cajun kick to your next summer cookout.

Southern Bite

Even picky eaters can't argue with chicken, bacon and ranch!

The Country Cook

Yes, you can make this classic dish in your Instant Pot!

The Country Cook

A tasty skillet meal that feeds a hungry crowd with leftovers too.

Southern Bite

A new twist on this nostalgic recipe everyone loves.

The Country Cook

Add a tropical twist to your next summer picnic basket.

Cupcakes and Kale Chips

You only need five main ingredients to make this childhood classic.

The Country Cook

A weeknight supper made in just minutes.

Plain Chicken

A 20-minute meal where everything cooks in the same skillet.

Southern Bite

This simple meal is filled with Italian flavors.

Plain Chicken

Dump everything in the casserole dish and sit in the fridge overnight.

Spend With Pennies

A grown-up version of this childhood classic.

The Country Cook

Store-bought pimento cheese is the star of this dish.

Plain Chicken

No need to boil the noodles! They cook right in the slow cooker.

The Country Cook

A hearty, simple meal when you're exhausted and starving.

Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen

Two classic dishes in on simple, delicious meal.

The Country Cook

Perfect for your next burger night.


Yes, you can entertain with an elbow macaroni dish too.

Julia's Simply Southern

An old-time dish that is just as loved today.

Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen

A low-carb pasta dish with a homemade Swiss cheese sauce.

Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen

If you've never had crawfish, you're in for a real treat.

Everyday Mom's Meals

A hands-friendly mac and cheese perfect for a party.

Krista Marshall

Up next, 38 Instant Pot Pasta Recipes