This easy Goulash recipe is full of hearty ingredients that will warm you from the inside out.

While goulash can vary, this version uses ground beef, onion, canned tomatoes, and elbow macaroni to make a hearty one-pot meal.

American Goulash cooked in the pot

This Is The BEST Goulash Recipe Because…

  • It is the ultimate comfort food, and it’s delicious!
  • This goulash recipe uses simple ingredients you probably have on hand.
  • It’s budget-friendly and can be stretched to feed a crowd by adding extra pasta and sauce.
  • It needs only one pot which means less mess and fewer dishes to wash!
  • Double up the batch or freeze leftovers for future meals.
American Goulash in bowls with a pot full in the back

Goulash Around The Globe

American Goulash is not the same thing as goulash in other parts of the world. This American Goulash recipe is a simple dish with ground beef and elbow macaroni simmered in tomato sauce. It is also known as “slumgullion”, Hamburger Goulash, or “American chop suey” among other names!

Hungarian Goulash is a beef and onion soup seasoned with Hungarian paprika and sometimes containing potatoes and/or carrots.

ingredients for goulash on a table including broth, tomato sauce, bell pepper, seasonings, garlic, onion, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, pasta, and ground beef

Ingredients for Goulash

  • Ground Beef—Ground beef (or hamburger meat) is the base of this meal, and it’s okay if you use a little bit more or less than called for. You can substitute Italian sausage or ground turkey.
  • Pasta – I use elbows but any small pasta will work – try small shells, bowties, or ditalini.
  • Sauce – This goulash recipe starts with jarred pasta sauce or marinara sauce and canned tomatoes. Water or broth are added to cook the pasta.
  • Seasoning – Onion, garlic, Italian Seasoning, and bay leaf flavor the sauce.


  • Diced celery or red bell pepper can be added to the meat sauce.
  • Stir in some Worcestershire sauce and a sprinkle of chili flakes.
  • Stretch the meal with extra pasta (and water) or a can of drained beans.
  • Stir in some Parmesan cheese, or top it with cheddar cheese or sour cream for serving if desired.
ingredients for goulash in a pot

How to Make Goulash

This easy goulash recipe comes together in just one pot.

  1. Brown the beef: Brown beef, onion, & garlic in a large pot or Dutch oven (recipe below).
  2. Simmer pasta: Add remaining ingredients, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes to thicken.

Serve goulash with bread or dinner rolls for dipping and dunking.

adding elbow macaroni to goulash

Got Leftovers?

Fridge: Leftover American goulash can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave.

Freezer: Freeze chilled portions in zippered bags with the date labeled on the outside for up to 4 weeks. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating on the stovetop.

pot full of American Goulash with a spoon

Did your family love this American Goulash? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below! 

pot full of American Goulash with a spoon
4.97 from 698 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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American Goulash

Goulash is a simple skillet dinner with tomatoes, beef, and macaroni noodles in a zesty tomato sauce. It's a perfect comfort food on a budget!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 8 servings
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  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 large yellow onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cups marinara sauce or tomato-based pasta sauce, approx. ½ of a 26 oz jar
  • 2 cups beef broth or water (more as needed)
  • 14 ounces canned diced tomatoes undrained
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 green bell pepper diced, optional
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf 2 if they are small
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 ½ cups elbow macaroni noodles uncooked, about 8 oz
  • ½ cup cheddar or mozzarella cheese, shredded, optional


  • In a large skillet with a lid or a Dutch oven, cook the ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium-high heat until no pink remains. Drain any fat.
  • Add the marinara sauce, broth, diced tomatoes with juices, tomato paste, bell pepper (if using), Italian seasoning, & bay leaves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Add the elbow macaroni, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Uncover and simmer for an additional 5 to 10 minutes or until the pasta is tender.
  • Remove & discard the bay leaf. Top with cheese if using, and replace the lid. Let rest for about 5 minutes or until the pasta has thickened and the cheese is melted.



This recipe can easily be doubled to feed a crowd (serving sizes can be adjusted in the print screen).
For heartier appetites, the meal can be stretched with additional pasta (and water/broth), canned beans or chopped vegetables. (diced zucchini, sliced mushrooms, corn, or additional bell peppers). Any ground meat can be substituted for beef. 
Start with the amount of broth/water as listed and add extra if needed (depending on pasta shape). The goulash will thicken as it cools and rests. Depending on the size and shape of your pan, you may need to add a little bit more liquid. Keep an eye on the dish as it cooks, and add more liquid as needed. The mixture will thicken slightly as it cools.
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
4.97 from 698 votes

Nutrition Information

Serving: 2cups | Calories: 217 | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 47mg | Sodium: 562mg | Potassium: 812mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 587IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Beef, Dinner, Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine American
plated hearty American Goulash with a title
hearty American Goulash in a bowl and in the pot with writing
close up of American Goulash with a title
American Goulash in the pot and plated with a title

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About the author

Holly Nilsson is the creator of Spend With Pennies, where she creates easy, comforting recipes made for real life. With a passion for nostalgic flavors and simplified techniques, Holly helps busy home cooks create delicious meals that always work. She is also the author of “Everyday Comfort,” which promises to inspire even more hearty, home-cooked meals.
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Recipe Rating


  1. I always find that cooking dry pasta in a sauce results in a gummy, chalky texture. Love the recipe but would cook the macaroni separately first and add at the end.

    1. We don’t find it to be an issue with this recipe but thank you for the tip! I appreciate it.

  2. Hey You’re one of my favorites when looking up a recipe. May I suggest after browning the meat and veggies add the tomato paste in the middle of the pot and cook it for about a minute then stir everything together and cook for another minute . This cooks off the raw flavor of the tomato paste. Then add remaining ingredients. Other than that, followed the recipe to a T and it was bangin!!5 stars

  3. Hey,

    I love this recipie, I make it every week to two weeks, have been for awhile. My picky 2 1/2 and 4 year old daughters love it and so does my husband!

    I have a question though, am I crazy or did you have a different version of the recipe up before ? One where you simmer the sauce for 15 minutes before adding the macaroni and then add the macaroni and cook for an additional 20 minutes? I like what I think is the original method because simmering it for longer gives it a richer flavor but it’s a great recipie either way!

    Tam5 stars

    1. Hi Tam, we updated the recipe to ensure consistent results and flavor. Here is the old recipe so you can see the changes that were made :)

      2 onions chopped
      2 pounds lean ground beef
      2 cloves garlic minced
      1 jar tomato based pasta sauce approx. 26 oz.
      2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
      1 can 6 oz tomato paste
      1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
      2 bay leaves
      3 cups water
      1 green bell pepper optional
      salt & black pepper to taste
      2 cups macaroni noodles uncooked
      1 cup cheddar cheese
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      Cook ground beef, onion and garlic over medium high heat until no pink remains. Drain any fat.
      Add pasta sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, water, seasonings, bay leaves and green pepper. Simmer covered for 15 minutes.
      Add in the in the macaroni and continue to simmer, covered, stirring occasionally until pasta is tender (about 20 minutes).
      Remove & discard bay leaves. Top with cheese and replace the lid. Let sit about 5 minutes or until melted.