Ten percent of the Dutch population thinks that macaroni and chili con carne are.......Dutch dishes. I kid you not. Eighty-seven percent of that same population eats macaroni at least once a week. When you ask children here in the USA what their favorite kind of food is, they'll usually say: Pizza! Dutch kids would tell you that macaroni was their favorite food.

A Dutch TV show called "Man Bijt Hond" ("Man bites dog") has a section called "Hond Aan Tafel", where the camara crew knocks on a random house door around dinner time and asks the surprised habitants if they can join them. Most often the answer is yes, and the short scene allows for a peek in the life of just an ordinary person. Nine out of then, the answer to "What's for dinner?" guessed it.....macaroni.

And they're not the only ones that love macaroni. Yours truly enjoys a huge plate of the salty, warm, comforting pasta with a pickle on the side to provide some crunch, yummmmm!!!!!!!!!!!! It's one of the many reasons why I keep ground beef in the freezer: once the meat is thawed, this dish is quick and easy to prepare. Just what you need when you're looking for some comfort!

Dutch Macaroni
3 cups of elbow macaroni or fusilli
1 lb of ground beef
1/2 a leek, white only, sliced thin
1 red pepper
1 sachet of macaroni spices*
1 small can of tomato sauce
Pickles, optional

Cook the macaroni according to instructions. Brown the ground beef in a skillet, pour off the fat and add in strips of red pepper and the sliced leek. Stir in the spices and the tomato sauce, simmer for ten minutes. Add the macaroni and mix with the sauce. Serve warm.

* I buy the macaroni spices in Dutch stores online, but the spaghetti spice mix packages that are available in your standard supermarket are practically the same.


  1. Hello, I just found your blog and as I've lived in Holland for 10 years I find it fascinating. I've never really been into the "maaltijds" finding them strangely spiced (preferring Mexican seasonings myself)but your macaroni recipe tempted me so I made it today. You mention that any basic spaghetti sauce recipe will work, but I think you'd end up with a very different dish. The "Silvo" brand "kruidenmix voor macaroni maaltijd" has (among others) the following spices in its ingredients: paprika, coriander seed, mustard seed, cumin seed, ginger, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Not your average spaghetti sauce! But it was good, and will still be good for lunch tomorrow.

    Thanks for your blog!

  2. Oh yuck, that bring back bad memories lol. I always hated macaroni as a child and it's definitely not something I miss hahaha (I live in Australia now).

  3. Why on earth are these ready-made spices-mix an ingredient of your recipe?! dutch husband indeed doesnt know anyother way to make macaroni than this spice-mix....i was hoping to find something else on your blog, though.

    1. Egeltje, I am sorry to disappoint you :-( Dutch macaroni is just that: ground beef and a ready-made-spice mix. It's comfort food, easy to make, favorite with kids and adults alike, and has one of those flavors that it's just not easy to make from scratch, or even expected to be. As macaroni is not originally Dutch food, it would be hard to find a "traditional" recipe. I've often debated whether I should remove this recipe, or at least provide a "homemade" version. But if I did provide that, it wouldn't be Dutch macaroni anymore, the stuff we grew up with and that every so often we crave like crazy. I'll give it another think, thanks for the question!

    2. "or even expected to be"...i guess that says it all! :-D
      I just cannot get used to the fact how ready-made mixes are so 'in' the Dutch culture. I call it still culture because my mother-in-law (nearly 70 years old) doesnt not any other way to make macaroni either. I will always amaze me how the food industry managed to change habits and tastes so profoundly. Actually i find it sad. A lot of people dont know how the ingredients are for pancakes, even though the ready-made mix for pancakes ask to add for milk and eggs. What's in the mix, then, just the flour ?! That's rather expensive flour then, greatly marketed...

  4. Looks good! I've been craving some macaroni from when I lived in Holland in high school but I'm finding the spice packet to be impossible to find:(

  5. Thanks for posting this. My mother in law gave me a sachet of these spiced but I wasn't sure how to use them as the instructions are in Dutch!

  6. My nan used anothe traditional dutch recipe: fry-off chopped onion, tomato paste and cubed canned ham or spam, salt and pepper, nut meg. Then add boiled macaroni and mix and fry. Stirnin a raw egg (optional, you can also use bread crumbs) and some grated cheese. I really hate this dish, lol!

    1. That is how we had, fry up the spam and chopped onion, add tomato sauce and a can of tomatoes, mix in with cooked noodles. It was our favorite dish growing up and we still love it

  7. here is a dutch macaroni recipe without the addition of the spice packet. Personally, i follow this recipe but do add the spice mix.


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