Macarrones con Jamonilla


Pasta is love. Add spam and that's something really special.



My “5 Pasta Night Recipes from 5 Countries” series was graced with a Puerto Rican spam pasta that is to die for. If you’re looking for a hearty, more flavorful version of a Bolognese, macarrones con jamonilla is the answer. Made from pasta, tomato and spam sauce, garlic, onion, peppers, herbs, and spices, this quick and easy dish bursts with flavor! 

This macarrones con jamonilla recipe comes from Carlo, who is from Puerto Rico. The dish reminds him of his mom, who would make it often for Carlo and his siblings during childhood. He and countless other children enjoyed macarrones con jamonilla at school, as well. Nowadays, his wife makes it for him, and yup, he still loves it. It is traditionally eaten with a side of white rice in Puerto Rico, making it the ultimate carb-loaded comfort food to enjoy on pasta night!

When spam was initially introduced in Puerto Rico during the Great Depression, it was quickly adapted into many dishes out of necessity. Over the years, spam became quite popular in many Puerto Rican dishes, proving it versatile and delicious. Many kinds of pasta include this ingredient, which turned out beautifully in my macarrones con jamonilla.

When I saw this submission for a spam pasta, this excellent combination immediately caught my eye, and there was no question about whether I’d include it in this episode! It was super easy and cheap to make, and the salty, savory flavors complement the veggies beautifully. It is a fun pasta dish, and I thoroughly enjoyed the final product.

This dish taught me that it is fun and easy to make pasta sauces outside of the usual plain tomato sauce. You can add to your macarrones con jamonilla with any ingredients lying around the house to make it your own, but I guarantee that no matter what variations you make, you’ll enjoy this zingy, fabulous Puerto Rican pasta!

Watch the Video

Macarrones con Jamonilla


  • 1 box Elbow Macaroni
  • 1/2 Medium Onion Diced
  • 1/2 Cup Bell Peppers Diced
  • 1 tbsp Garlic Pasta
  • 1 can Spam Cubed
  • 1-2 Bay Leaves
  • Chopped Cilantro
  • 8 oz Spanish style tomato sauce (ex. Goya) or 4oz tomato paste 
  • 1/4 cup White Wine
  • 4-5 Pimento Green Olives Sliced
  • 1 Packet of Puerto Rican "sazon,


  • Cook your spam and then sautee veggies over medium heat in hot oil until soft. 
  • Add sauce and spices. Sautee a couple of minutes, then add wine. 
  • Add the olives and season to taste. 
  • Cook your pasta
  • Mix in the cooked pasta and let it simmer for 2-3 more minutes. 
  • Enjoy alone or with a side of white rice! 
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Region: North America
Keyword: Comfort food


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