Genuine Homemade Beef and Noodles – How to Make Them Like Mom

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Follow this recipe to make perfect homemade beef and noodles – your family will thank you.

Every time I smell the rich aroma of the beefy broth or feel the tender dough under the pressure of my rolling pin, I can feel my mother’s love embrace me. Our family, ever stoic and never big with hugs and “I love you’s,” expresses love through our taste buds; through the home-cooked meals made from recipes handed down through generations. My mom’s recipe for homemade beef and noodles is my favorite midwest meal ever.

It’s an Iowa thing

Beef and noodles, the kind I am going to show you how to make, seem to be a 100% Iowa thing. My Iowa friends often recall them, but I have never seen them on a restaurant menu, not even in Iowa, where I grew up. These are as homemade as homemade gets.

But what are beef & noodles, exactly?

Beef and noodles, Iowa style, is an almost stew consistency dish of homemade thin, soft egg noodles, cooked in a savory, rich beefy broth. To serve authentically, spoon them over mashed potatoes. Yes, mashed potatoes. I never said this was low-carb. The preferred side dish is buttered peas. Yes, I know, more carbs. But it is so tasty.

home made Beef and noodles served over mashed potatoes
mmmm – Beef and Noodles served Iowa-style over mashed potatoes.

My mother made this recipe on weekends, usually Sundays, because, while easy to make, it took several hours for the noodles to dry. She also made them on my birthday – they were and are my favorite meal.

Thank you, Aunt Helen

I am not sure of the origins of the recipe, but according to my father, my paternal great-Aunt Helen taught my mother how to make beef and noodles. Thank you, Aunt Helen, who was a fantastic cook.

I remember going over to Aunt Helen’s midcentury modern ranch home and watching her cook holiday meals. She looked exactly like a blond June Cleaver of Leave it to Beaver fame. She wore the same style dress, with a cute little apron. And her kitchen always smelled fabulous (and was never a mess even when she was in mid-meal prep).

Some of my earliest kitchen memories are of helping my mother make beef and noodles. I would perch on our red kitchen stool and watch her meticulously cut the meat into small pieces, then dice onion “her” way. She could get the teeniest, tiniest dice with a paring knife and holding the onion in her hand. I have never measured up on the onion-dicing front.

The meat and broth were cooked into tender deliciousness in an old-style stove-top pressure cooker. My heart frantically raced each time the moment came to release the steam – I always braced for the pot’s explosion. If there was ever a monster in my childhood dreams, it was this pressure cooker belching steam and threatening to explode.

My mom would fearlessly release the steam with a 2-pronged meat fork, gently tipping the valve. Ever-ready for that explosion, I watched the steam flow out – my mother never looked as brave as she did facing that monster.

It never did explode.

It just gave us the tenderest pieces of meat in the most savory, umami-rich broth, ever.

My favorite part of the preparation, though, was making the noodles. I can’t even contemplate this dish with store-bought noodles. They must be home-made.

My mom mixed up the noodle dough without a recipe and rolled the dough out as thin as humanly possible. The rolled-out sheet of noodle dough dried and rested for several hours covered by one of her hand-embroidered tea towels.

I could never wait for the finished dish, though. Not ever. Throughout the day, I snuck into the kitchen to tear off little bits of dough.

and I never got worms

Note – I love raw dough. Yes, eggs and all. Always have and always will. Please, no shaming. My grandmother, if present, would reprimand me with, “You’re going to get worms if you keep doing that!”

I had vivid visions of spontaneous generation ongoing in my gut, but the warnings never stopped me from nibbling the dough. And I never got worms. And I still snitch dough.

My mother always planned out meals. Part of our family culture is talking about what is on the upcoming menu. After we grew up and before trips home, she would poll us to get a list of the meals we wanted her to prepare. Top on my requests was beef and noodles. Always.

Because there was no written recipe, I was terrified her method of making beef and noodles would be lost someday. Accordingly, I took great care to watch my mother make them every time I had the opportunity. When I lived far away, as I have most of my adult life, I called Mom when it was time to mix the noodle dough so she could walk me through it. I needed her reassurance that I was doing it right.

The last time

My last opportunity to watch Mom make noodles was back in 2015. Fortunately, I had grand plans for a family recipe book (I’ll finish it someday, I promise), so I took photographs of her making the noodles. I had no idea at the time that she would soon become too ill to cook and that she would pass away two years later.

Mom smiling while showing me how to make noodles.
Mom never tired of showing me how to make noodles. I love you, Mom.

Today is the second anniversary of my mother’s death. I miss her so much. I still think about picking up the phone to call her when I start making noodles. Then I remember I cannot. Every time. And I cry.

This photo of my mom’s hands rolling out noodles is one of the most precious pictures I have of her.

Those precious hands worked so hard to not just roll out noodle dough, but to complete a lifetime of work and a bounty of quilts. I love those hands.

When we decommissioned the homestead, her old rolling pin went home with me. The quality is better than any I ever owned. It is the only one I now use.

The gadget you must have to make perfect noodles

And that brings me to THE secret “gadget” that you must use to make these noodles. Oh, I tried for years without and always came up short.

Yes, I have all the bougie tools a kitchen “needs.” The silicone rolling mats, a stone counter, a wooden cutting board. But, bougie tools and all, my noodles ALWAYS stuck.

I would use ample flour and extreme care, but when it came time to jelly-roll the dough before cutting the noodles, I was left gently scraping up the noodle dough bit by bit. My noodles ended up all sorts of thicknesses – often, they became glob-noodles. And I was left in tears.

Sometimes daughters need to listen to their mothers

Sometimes daughters are dense and don’t do “what mom did” just out of principle. One day though, I finally had an epiphany. “I wonder if you can still buy a pastry cloth?” Mom always rolled them out on her pastry cloth. After all, you never see them used by “real” chefs. My mom’s cloth was as old as her 60-year marriage. I thought they had gone the way of the rotary dial phone.

But thank goodness for The Google. Seek, and ye shall find. Pastry cloths are still a thing. Who knew?

Pastry cloths are still a thing

Ateco canvas pastry cloth

A pastry cloth is not to be confused with a silicone baking mat – it is not interchangeable. It is a thick linen canvas cloth perfect for rolling out noodle, pastry, biscuit, and other dough. Nothing works as well.

My next attempt at noodle making, thanks to my new pastry cloth, was a roaring success.

The dough rolls out perfectly, and it does not stick. Voila!

My mom would be proud of me and my noodles.

And we are all still trying to make our moms proud, aren’t we?

Most recently, I made Beef and Noodles for my dad when he visited – and they hit the spot. It felt just like Sunday dinner back in Iowa.

Today by sharing this treasured family recipe with you, I honor my mother and my home state of Iowa.

With COVID-19 raging and most of us on home arrest, there is now ample time to prepare and savor family meals. I hope this dish ends up on your table.

Now – let’s get cooking those homemade beef and noodles!

The beefy broth is pretty standard. Pick a 2-3 pound beef chuck roast, and cut into 1/2-inch bits. Brown it and add it to an Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker with 8-10 cups of water, half a medium diced onion and salt, and pepper to taste. Pressure cook for an hour with a natural release.

Transfer the beefy broth to a larger soup pot or Dutch oven on the stovetop. Don’t use the Instant Pot – it just doesn’t work to finish the dish. Trusty me. You can save the beefy broth in the refrigerator or freezer and use later if you wish.

It’s egg noodle-making time

The homemade egg noodles are THE special part of this dish. And they are easy to make. Really.

Add the flour, eggs, and salt to a medium mixing bowl. Stir to combine. It will be rather dry and crumbly.

Making homemade egg noodles flour and eggs in bowl
Gently mix the flour, salt, and eggs in a bowl

Add 1/4 cup of milk and mix by hand or with a fork until combined. Continue adding milk one tablespoon at a time until the dough ball looks like this. It will probably take 1-3 Tablespoons more. I use 2% or whole milk whichever I have on hand.

After adding milk the dough ball should look like this.

Now roll them out

Place the dough on a floured pastry cloth and pat it into a rectangular shape.

Dough blob ready to roll
Dough blob ready to be patted out.
Rectanglar dough blod for homemade egg noodles
Rectangular dough blob – get the rolling pin now.

Now, roll the dough very thin into a large rectangle extending to the edges of the pastry cloth, sprinkling flour as needed to prevent sticking to the rolling pin.

Almost rolled out egg noodle dough
Almost, but not quite there yet. Love that rolling pin from the 1950’s
Roll the noodles out as big as the cloth will allow.
Just right. The dough is almost paper-thin and extends to the edges of the cloth. Don’t worry about tiny wholes – it won’t matter.

Once the dough is rolled out, sprinkle it very lightly with flour and cover it with a hand-embroidered tea towel. Ok, any clean light cloth will do if you don’t have a hand-embroidered tea towel.

Homemade beef and noodles are almost done - the noodle dough is resting under a hand embroidered tea towel.
Tea towel-covered noodle dough. My Grandmother Evans embroidered this towel. My mom made many for me, and I can make them too. Sadly, I think this craft is going to die out with me, though.

and finally cut them just so

Let the noodles dry for several hours. they should be drier but not stiff, as you will roll the dough like a jelly roll.

Rolling homemade egg noodle dough into a jelly-roll
Roll the dough up into a jelly roll. Look how it comes right off the pastry cloth. It is a miracle. I promise this will not work as well on any other surface.
Cut the jelly-rolled dough into 1/4 inch slices
Cut the noodle into THIN (1/4 inch) strips
Gently open up the egg noodles and spread over the cloth
Gently open up the noodles and spread around the pastry cloth
Cut egg noodles left out to dry on a pastry cloth - all ready to complete your homemade beef and noodles
All the noodles cut and spread out to continue drying

Almost done!

Leave the cut noodles to dry for another couple of hours. Ok, one-three. It is pretty forgiving at this point.

When you put the soon-to-be-mashed potatoes on to cook, heat up the beefy broth. When it comes to a boil, turn it down to simmer. Pick up the cloth by the edges and gently pour the noodles into the broth. The extra flour will help thicken the broth. Cook the noodles while the potatoes are cooked and mashed. Prepare peas in the microwave or however you do them.

Once the potatoes are mashed into deliciousness, serve it all up. Put a hearty pile of potatoes in the middle of the plate and use a ladle to add the beef and noodles on top — like gravy.


Dad enjoying home made beef and noodles
Time to enjoy homemade beef and noodles just like my dad did.

I love the leftovers for lunch. The noodles will continue to absorb the broth, and the next day’s version will be much thicker. These are not el dente but softer.

There you go – a fabulous, genuine midwest meal of homemade beef and noodles that would make my mom proud and your family happy.

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Beef and Noodles on a plate

Genuine Homemade Beef and Noodles

  • Author: Sandra
  • Total Time: 7 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings


This meal is an Iowa-thing. Yes, it’s carb overload, but the tender egg noodles cooked in the meaty broth is absolutely heavenly. Traditionally it’s served over mashed potatoes because the more carbs the better.


  • For the beefy broth

3-pound beef chuck roast (2-3 pounds will do). Cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 medium onion diced small

salt and pepper to taste

10 cups water

  • For the homemade egg noodles

2 c. all-purpose white flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/4 cup milk plus 1-3 Tablespoons additional to consistency


  1. Brown the meat in a little vegetable oil
  2. Add the water, onions, salt & pepper
  3. Pressure cook in Instant Pot or equivalent for 1 hour with a natural release
  4. Optional – simmer browned meat/water/onion mixture on the stovetop for 2-3 hours
  5. Homemade egg noodles
  6. Mix ingredients together to form a tacky dough.
  7. Roll out on a pastry cloth (must use) to cover the entire cloth surface, until dough is <1/4 inch thick
  8. Cover the rolled out dough with a light towel and dry for 2-3 hours
  9. Roll dough into a jelly roll and slice into noodles 1/4 inch wide.
  10. Spread hand-cut noodles over the cloth and allow to dry for another 1-2 hours.
  11. Bring beefy broth to a boil (I use a separate pot – not the Instant Pot)and add noodles, cooking 15-20 minutes.
  12. Serve over mashed potatoes


Equipment needed: Instant Pot, Pastry Cloth

Nutrition information does NOT include the mashed potatoes

  • Prep Time: 6 hours
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Beef, Noodles

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  1. Fantastic tribute to your Mom, Sis! It really was like Sunday dinner back home in I-oh-way. Thanks for the memories (i’ll Be OK in a day or two). Love you. Dad

  2. I can’t love this post enough. My Grandma (who lived with us) made the best beef and noodles. Unfortunately I never made them with her. Thank you for giving me the chance to make this much loved (and missed) dish.

  3. This post is so beautiful. You gave me this recipe a while back. I have not tried it yet (cluttered kitchen being uncluttered due to quarantine) so I will make it soon! I have my Mom’s rolling pin, pastry cloths and tea towels (I will just have to dig through the cedar chests between layers of quilts). Love to you and your family!

  4. Man-maw ( my wonderful grandmother) made noodles like this ( no onion though) in Indiana . They were the best and yes served with mashed potatoes. Yummmm! I learned to make the noodles like this. I must get a pastry cloth!!!! It was a favorite meal!! Thank you for the memories!

    1. You are so welcome. It’s really a recipe that needs to be “shown” so a person knows what the dough should look like. And the pastry cloth really does make all the difference. Thank you for taking the time to share your memory!

  5. My grandmother, my mother, and my aunt were masters at making homemade noodles! They would roll them out to dry, and lay them on newspapers spread out on the bed. Space was truly limited in all our homes.
    I have never figured out exactly when to roll them up and cut them, so your recipe gives me great guidance.
    Thank you!!

    1. I am so glad! You really have to watch these being made to get it right. But it’s worth it – they are sooooo delicious. Good luck!

  6. My grandmother used to make this. She was born an raised in Iowa, however relocated to Washington shortly after marriage. This was a family favorite and I always wondered where it originated. A tradition for us is to eat with diced onions in vinegar and sugar over the top. She had plans of writing a recipe and never completed. I appreciate you sharing yours along with your families story.

    1. Wow — this is very interesting. Onions in vinegar and sugar on top? My mom made onions (sometimes with cucumbers) with vinegar and sugar on the side, but never on top.

      This summer I was on a van trip through Ohio and stopped at a diner that had a Monday special — beef and noodles on mashed potatoes. It’s the first time I’ve seen it in a restaurant and it tasted perfect! I bought a second serving to go and had a wonderful chat with the cook. She made my day.

      Thanks for sharing.

  7. I’m not usually one to comment on recipes, or anything period, but this really struck a soft spot. My dear mother was also quite a tremendous cook, and beef n noodles was one of my favorite dishes she made. She also passed away a few years ago, and I never quite fully got her technique, since we lived in separate countries most of my married life. She ALWAYS used a pastry cloth, for her noodles and roll out sugar cookies both. And she could cut the daintiest noodles with just a sharp knife. I came here looking to find someone who did it like mom, and this seems like as close as it gets. Thanks so much for this.

  8. Just found your recipe today while starting to make beef and noodles like my Grandma used to make. She was born in Indiana but moved to Kansas as a child. Your noodle recipe surprised me to find milk in the noodles. I’ll try it. My family used only flour, eggs and salt. One aunt added cream of tartar to soften them. My dad was in the military so we lived in many places but never found another family that made our noodles with beef or chicken until we lived in Wilmington, Ohio in 1960. We went to the local Quaker Church annual June Strawberry Time dinner. The main course was Beef and Noodles, just like Grandma’s! Turns out her grandfather was born in that county into a Quaker family in about 1820. His family were from Bucks County, PA. In my neighborhood here in Virginia near Washington, DC. I have a friend who came from Wheeling, WV just across the border from PA. She makes the same beef and noodles, which she learned from her grandma. She and I feel closer since we discovered this same noodle traditional recipe we have in common. I wonder if it came into Philadelphia area early with German settlers since they use noodles too. Then they shared it to Quakers and other Pennsylvania early immigrants. Like your family and others who commented, Beef and Noodles topped the menu requests when family came to visit or when we visited “Back Home.” And always served over mashed potatoes!

    1. Wow – everything you describe is very interesting. Last summer, I was traveling in my van in southern Ohio, and a diner in a small town had beef and noodles over mashed potatoes as a special. I was so excited I had to meet and take a photo with the cook. I ate an order and took one to go. So there must be a deep Ohio connection to this recipe (I wasn’t too far from WV). My grandmother was from Iowa (born there in 1900), and her maternal line came out from Maine. Her father was a traveling violinist before settling in Iowa to teach music. Our roots are in England/Ireland/Scottish with a tiny touch of Scandanavian (based on DNA). I don’t know who my grandmother learned to make beef and noodles from, but many of her recipes came from her neighborhood women’s club (Clover Acres Club). It’s so fun to read these stories. About the milk – there isn’t much in it, so they probably taste pretty similar with or without. I hope your beef and noodles turn out and taste just like home.

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