Goulash

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American Goulash: A hearty, comforting, and easy pasta and beef dish. Simmer beef, peppers, and onions in a tomato sauce, then toss with pasta and cheese for a savory meal ready in 40 minutes!

Pair Goulash with some veggies! These Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Broccoli, or Italian Salad all make great side dishes.

Bowl of american goulash with a spoon, ready to serve.

American Goulash

American Goulash, also known as slumgullion, is a comforting American dish made with ground beef, elbow macaroni, and onions in a tomato-based sauce. In the Midwest, it’s often just called “goulash.” However, it should not be confused with Hungarian Goulash, which is made with stew meat and served over homemade dumplings called Nokedli.

Most American Goulash recipes cook everything in one pot, but I prefer a different approach for a few reasons. One, it’s easy to overcook the pasta, resulting in an overly starchy meal. Two, leftovers tend to become less enjoyable as the pasta absorbs too much liquid and becomes mushy. Lastly, it doesn’t save much time. In this recipe, we cook the pasta separately, which I believe yields the best Goulash.

QUICK TIP

Elbow macaroni is the traditional pasta for American Goulash. If you’d like to experiment with different pasta shapes, opt for varieties that are thick and relatively small, such as small shells, ziti, or penne – they all work well.

Making the goulash recipe: vegetables sautéing, meat cooking with veggies, seasonings and tomatoes added, mixture boiling and simmering.

Goulash Ingredients

  • Ground Beef: Ground beef provides the main protein and adds rich, savory flavor to the goulash.
  • Elbow Macaroni: The elbow macaroni absorbs the rich, zesty tomato sauce, adding a satisfying texture.
  • Veggies: The diced yellow onion and red pepper in this recipe enhance the overall flavor, adding depth.
  • Seasonings: The seasonings in this goulash recipe provide a balanced blend of savory, smoky, and mildly spicy flavors. They elevate the taste of the dish.
  • Tomato Base: The crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce provide a rich tomato flavor and create a saucy consistency. Combined, they make a delicious sauce for the pasta and beef.
  • Cheese: The Cheddar cheese adds creaminess and a cheesy flavor, enriching the taste and texture.

VARIATIONS

Recipe variations 

  • Cheese: Mix mozzarella and cheddar for a cheesier option. Lactose intolerant? Enjoy without cheese!
  • Extra Veggies: Enhance with frozen corn, carrots, or mushrooms. Add spinach at the end.
  • Beans: Transform into chili mac with chili or kidney beans.
  • Fresh Herbs: Sprinkle diced Italian parsley for a burst of freshness and color.

Mixing the cooked pasta with beef-tomato sauce, cheese being added, and the final combined dish.

How To Make American Goulash

  1. Prep: Chop onion, garlic, and red pepper.
  2. Cook Veggies: Sauté onion, red pepper, and garlic in olive oil until tender.
  3. Cook Beef: Brown beef, drain, and add spices.
  4. Tomatoes: Mix in tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, bouillon, Worcestershire sauce, and bay leaves. Simmer.
  5. Macaroni: Boil and cook macaroni, then drain.
  6. Finish: Stir Cheddar cheese into the meat mixture. Add macaroni if serving immediately, or store separately for leftovers. Adjust seasonings. Enjoy!

Goulash FAQs

1What Is The Difference Between American Goulash And Hungarian Goulash?

American Goulash features ground beef, pasta, and a tomato-based sauce with various spices. Hungarian Goulash, on the other hand, uses stew meat in a paprika-infused broth, served with dumplings and lacks pasta or cheese. The key distinctions lie in meat, sauce, and seasoning choices.

2Is Hamburger Helper The Same As Goulash?

American Goulash and Hamburger Helper both contain ground beef and pasta, but they differ in taste and texture. Goulash has a tomato-based sauce with bold spices, emphasizing a tomato-forward flavor. Hamburger Helper, in contrast, is known for its creamier and cheesier nature. While they share ingredients, they have distinct flavor profiles and consistencies.

3Can You Freeze American Goulash?

The meat sauce and noodles don’t freeze and thaw together, as the noodles become mushy. To freeze, cool the meat sauce, place it in an airtight freezer-safe container, date, and label it, then freeze. To enjoy, thaw in the fridge overnight and gently reheat on the stovetop, possibly adding extra water or tomato sauce when reheating.

4How Long Does It Take To Make Goulash?

This recipe is efficiently prepared and requires a total of 40 minutes.

Freshly cooked goulash in a skillet with a wooden spoon, ready for serving.

Goulash Recipe Tips

  • Good tomatoes make all the difference in this recipe. I recommend San Marzano® or Muir Glen® fire-roasted. Alternatively, swap tomato sauce with 15 oz Rao’s® marinara for richer flavor.
  • Grate the cheese freshly. Pre-grated cheese contains a cellulose coating to prevent clumping and does not melt as smoothly.
  • Generously salt the pasta water. While we don’t add salt directly to the Goulash due to its salty ingredients, it’s important to season the water in which the macaroni cooks. (Read about how to properly salt your pasta water here.)
  • Sauté seasonings with meat and veggies before adding tomatoes; it intensifies flavors. Don’t skip this step.
  • If you have extra time, allow the meat sauce to simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. While totally optional, it does intensify the flavors and result in a richer and deeply savory sauce.

More Ground Beef Recipes: 

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American Goulash

4.55 from 24 votes
American Goulash: A hearty, comforting, and easy pasta and beef dish. Simmer beef, peppers, and onions in a tomato sauce, then toss with pasta and cheese for a savory meal ready in 40 minutes!
Freshly cooked goulash in a skillet with a wooden spoon, ready for serving.
Print Recipe

American Goulash

Freshly cooked goulash in a skillet with a wooden spoon, ready for serving.
4.55 from 24 votes
American Goulash: A hearty, comforting, and easy pasta and beef dish. Simmer beef, peppers, and onions in a tomato sauce, then toss with pasta and cheese for a savory meal ready in 40 minutes!
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword goulash
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6 -8 servings
Chelsea Lords
Calories 336kcal
Cost $10.38

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion (~1 onion)
  • 1 cup diced red pepper (~1 pepper)
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic (~3-4 cloves)
  • 1 pound lean (93/7) ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: paprika and chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon EACH: garlic and onion powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 2 cans (14.5 ounces EACH) fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons beef bouillon powder
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup freshly grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 3 cups uncooked macaroni

Instructions

  • PREP: Finely dice the onion and red pepper, and mince the garlic.
  • COOK VEGGIES: In a large cast-iron pot, heat olive oil over medium-high. Once shimmering, add finely diced onion, red pepper, and minced garlic. Sauté until tender, adjusting heat if needed. Simultaneously, bring a separate pot of water to boil on high heat.
  • COOK BEEF: Turn the heat to high and push veggies aside in the pot. Add beef to the middle of the pot, letting each side sear for 30 seconds. Crumble and cook until no pink remains, then drain excess grease. Reduce heat to medium. Mix in tomato paste, Italian seasoning, paprika, chili powder, garlic and onion powders, and season with pepper to taste. Stir until spices release their aroma, about 1-2 minutes.
  • TOMATOES: Pour in the tomato sauce, scraping the pot's bottom for any browned bits. Mix in fire-roasted crushed tomatoes. Add beef bouillon cubes, Worcestershire sauce, and bay leaves; stir gently. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low, partially covering the pot. Simmer until fragrant and tender, ideally 30-45 minutes for a richer sauce or until pasta is cooked. While simmering, shred the cheese.
  • MACARONI: Once the water boils, season with salt (roughly 3/4 tablespoon). Add macaroni and cook as per package instructions. Drain when done.
  • FINISHING: Off the heat, mix in the Cheddar cheese until melted. If eating immediately, combine meat mixture with cooked macaroni. For leftovers, add macaroni to bowls and top with meat mixture to prevent noodles from bloating in storage. Adjust seasoning to taste, and enjoy!

Video

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 336kcal | Carbohydrates: 35.7g | Protein: 22.4g | Fat: 11.6g | Cholesterol: 50.3mg | Sodium: 271.7mg | Fiber: 3.2g | Sugar: 6.4g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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Recipe Rating




41 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This looks like a cold rainy day dish. So yummy and comforting. Definitely going to give this a try. Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. It definitely is! 🙂 Pure comfort food! Hope you love it Melissa, you’ll have to let me know what you think! <3

  2. I am so glad I found you . You and your recipes are the best ! I bookmark all of them and this Goulash would go really well with your awesome cornbread I love so much !

    1. Awe you made my day! Thanks so much Victoria! I hope you love this goulash! I do think the cornbread would be delicious with it!

  3. 5 stars
    Last night, I made this recipe as written and using the recommended bouillon brand and John Muir brand tomatoes. It was delicious and flavorful. All my kids enjoyed it.

  4. 5 stars
    Made this according to the recipe using the Rao’s Marinara! I added beef kielbasa because I have a meat guy! DELICIOUS!! Thank you!

  5. 5 stars
    I’ve been looking for this recipe for a long time! I remember eating as a kid but couldn’t find the exact recipe until now!

    It was delicious. And all 4 picky kids enjoyed it!!

    Ps, the first line in Instruction says to mince the ginger. I’m assuming you meant garlic?

    1. Yay!! So glad this was a hit 🙂 Thanks Jama! And yes, you’re right thanks for catching that I just updated the recipe! 🙂

  6. 5 stars
    I must have made this a bizillion times over my lifetime but typically spends loads of time trying to tweak the taste. Seems like something is frequently missing. Not anymore! I’ll admit I was leery of using the full 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce as it’s so salty. I stuck to 1 tablespoon this time. Maybe 2 next time! I also added a minced green pepper as that’s a family preference. So pleased with this recipe 😋

  7. 5 stars
    I made your American goulash for dinner tonight and my husband absolutely loves it, this will be a new staple to my recipe cards.
    Thank you 😋

  8. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe. Followed the recipe exactly and was very pleased with the results. The Worcestershire sauce makes the perfect addition. Thank you!

  9. You have several adds directly in the middle of the recipe. Oh this long af page with nonsense. The page is more of a nuisance to scroll through.

    1. Sorry you didn’t have a good experience; the ads are how I can afford to host the site, pay for groceries to test recipes, and keep up with all the other expenses. You can always click “print” to be re-directed to a page with the full recipe without ads on it

  10. 5 stars
    This was outstanding, and simple to prepare . This recipe cant get any better than it already is if you follow it , i guarantee your family will be asking for more and its plenty .
    You nailed it . Thanks for sharing.

  11. 5 stars
    We made this it turned out great will probably make it again for dinner

  12. Did you use the Wyler beef bullion cubes? I tried to pull up the ones you have listed but a bunch of different brands came up

  13. I really wish people would stop calling CHILI MAC GOULASH. It is good, but stop stealing names of actual dishes. goulash doesnt call for macaroni OR CHEESE wtf. just stop this is disrespectful to my culture

  14. 5 stars
    Another amazing dish, thank you! My husband requested goulash for dinner, of course I looked to see if you had a recipe. So glad I did, I followed your directions exactly. Knowing your recipes are so good and flavorful. I did add 1 cup of corn and finely diced carrots, as your suggestions stated. OMG, delish!!!

  15. 5 stars
    Made this tonight. Very good, better than my usual bland goulash. The red peppers made a big difference, along with the addition of worcestershire. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the cheese (I usually don’t use) & chili powder or paste. I added the tomato sauce & big can diced tomatoes. It still was very tasty. Next time I’m adding cheese, paste & fire roasted tomatoes.

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