American Goulash Recipe (Tomato, Beef and Macaroni)

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This Easy Goulash Recipe is full of flavor and the perfect way to feed a crowd as it makes a huge batch!

A simple skillet dinner with tomatoes, beef and macaroni noodles in a zesty tomato sauce creates the perfect comfort food on a budget!

Add more or less liquid to make it the perfect consistency!

Grandma's Cheesy Goulash in a white bowl

How to Make American Goulash Recipe (Tomato, Beef and Macaroni)

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Call it Amercian Goulash, call it American Chop Suey…  it doesn’t matter what you call it, you’ll just want to call it tonight’s dinner! This is a delicious and easy meal that the whole family loves!

Beefy Macaroni with a savory yet simple seasoned tomato sauce!  I’ve been making this amazing goulash recipe for years, not only does it taste great but it’s a really quick and inexpensive way to feed a crowd (and so much easier to put together than lasagna!)

What is Goulash?

Goulash in America and in other parts of the world are not the same thing! This is NOT the same dish as a traditional Hungarian Goulash (.

Hungarian Goulash is which is made with chunks of meat, peppers, paprika and other spices to create a traditional soup.

This particular version (which I didn’t name) is often called Goulash or even American Chop Suey.  It’s similar to a Chili Mac but is more of a tomato sauce flavor (and I skip the chili powder).

Cheesy Goulash Recipe close up in a bowl.

I personally prefer a nice thick goulash so I usually let the meat sauce boil down for a little bit before adding the macaroni.  If you’re short on time (or prefer your goulash a little bit of a soupier texture) you can certainly just add the macaroni in right away.

I’m a firm believer that every single dish should include cheese if at all possible.  I do top this with cheddar to make a cheesy goulash that my kids can’t get enough of!

Goulash in bowls at the table.

We serve it up with some 30 Minute Dinner Rolls and a fresh salad for a complete meal!  To make it extra yummy, serve it topped with a little bit of sour cream!

The great thing about this goulash recipe is that it’s one of those dishes that tastes just as good the next day (or even better). It keeps well in the fridge for a few days but it also freezes perfectly for lunches or meals later in the week!

Print Recipe
4.63 from 24 votes
Servings: 8 servings
Grandma's Goulash
Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
40 mins
Author: Holly
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: goulash recipe
This easy American goulash recipe is full of flavor and the perfect way to feed a crowd as it makes a huge batch! A simple skillet dinner with tomatoes, beef and macaroni noodles in a zesty tomato sauce creates the perfect comfort food on a budget!
  • 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
  1. Cook ground beef, onion and garlic over medium high heat until no pink remains. Drain any fat.
  2. Add pasta sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, water, seasonings, bay leaves and green pepper. Simmer covered for 15 minutes.
  3. Add in the in the macaroni and continue to simmer, covered, stirring occasionally until pasta is tender (about 20 minutes).
  4. Remove & discard bay leaves. Top with cheese and replace the lid. Let sit about 5 minutes or until melted.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 361, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 85mg, Sodium: 486mg, Potassium: 947mg, Carbohydrates: 31g, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 7g, Protein: 33g, Vitamin A: 13%, Vitamin C: 34.5%, Calcium: 17.9%, Iron: 28.4%

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

If you love this goulash recipe, here are more recipes you might want to check out:

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Cheesy Beef & Macaroni Casserole

Homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole

This EASY Goulash recipe is a family favorite and quick to prepare.Lean beef is simmered in a deliciously fast tomato sauce & topped with cheese for a comforting dish everyone will love! This makes a huge batch and is perfect to feed a crowd.


Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

163 comments on “American Goulash Recipe (Tomato, Beef and Macaroni)”

  1. Husband said it was a home run.

  2. Thank you for this recipe ❤❤❤ quick and delicious dinner !!! A 10 in my book

  3. Very easy and so yummy!

  4. The recipe ingredients calls for 3 cups of water but it never mentions the water in the directions? 

  5. My old aunty nelly used to live in America, she was a nurse there in the 1940’s and passed a similar receipy down through the family when she moved back to England it was so tasty n cheap to make I’d love to know if it was grandmas goulash or her own invention it was minced beef, onions, mushrooms, tin of chopped tomatoes, tin of baked beans, tin of sweetcorn, garlic and gravy topped with macaroni with grated cheddar cheese over the top melted it was so so tasty and cheap to make thank you and hope people enjoy what we’ve always called Aunty Nellies mess ❤️

    • What a great memory to share Jane :) I’m so glad you love this recipe and think about Aunty Nelly when you make it!

  6. Hi Holly.
    What size noodles do you use in this recipe. I’m making it as we speak. Thank You!


  7. Followed the recipe exactly and it was perfect! No alterations necessary.

  8. My mom used to make this for us it was such a comforting meal. Thanks for bringing back such a wonderful memory. I will be making this soon.

  9. Do I drain the diced tomato

  10. My mother and all the generations before her made this dish. But we called it “Italy-Um”. I’m not at all sure how it’s spelled so I did my best to convey the name I grew up calling this dish. I’ve known the basic ingredients but I never was able to find the exact recipe or as exact to my moms as possible.  My mom passed away in 2001 and she was not known to write down her recipies so I have been looking for it for quite some time.  I think I found it — the holy grail of pasta — I’m just so thrilled to have found it. I can’t wait to make it and serve it to the family. I’ll let you know how it goes!!!

  11. l was searching for a goulash recipe and judging by the readers comments l believe this to be rather close to what my neighbors mom used to conjure up. l’m trying this today with a few variations thanks to some fantastic replies from your readers,thanks guys,loved the comments.*****

  12. awesome old time Goulash. Just as I remembered.

  13. I absolutely LOVE this recipe! Have made it hundreds of times and tastes exactly like my mothers! I do add corn but I have 1 question.. My eldest daughter has embraced the vegan lifestyle for the past 3 years and wondering if I need to add anything to replace the meat? Im pretty sure it will taste just as fabulous but wondering about nutritional value of ground beef?? Thanks for any ideas or suggestions!

    • I don’t follow a vegan lifestyle, so perhaps other readers will have some good ideas. You substitute a tofu that is meant to replace ground beef, found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.

    • I make my goulash with rehydrated TVP (textured veggie protein) and it is so much like a lean ground beef!!

  14. My husband loved this recipe. I added mushrooms for a little bit of something extra

  15. I have made this a couple of times now and it came out saucy both times, but i think i know why. When you said 2 cups of macaroni do you really mean 16 oz’s of weight? I hope so because that is what i am going to do next time.

    • It’s written correctly. It is supposed to be saucy, but if you prefer less sauce, you can add more macaroni next time.

  16. Fantastic!!

  17. Made this tonight 100% according to the recipe but substituted ground venison for beef and it is delicious!

  18. Way too much tomato going on. This is just spaghetti.  

    • This uses macaroni noodles and additional ingredients. The noodles are cooked in the sauce which is how a traditional American Goulash recipe is prepared.

  19. If it serves 8, how big are the serving sizes? Thanks! 

  20. Made last night… Huge hit… adding to family go to … quick and easy. Delicious 

  21. I have used this recipe twice now, and it is deeeelicious. I followed the directions precisely.  My husband and son love it too.  It makes a big pot so I have plenty for leftovers for lunches throughtout the week.  Thank you for sharing!

  22. OK…I am embarrassed – what are we supposed to do with the bay leaves? Do we add this with the pasta sauce? And then we are supposed to remove the leaves before serving, right?
    Forgive me as I am not very fluent with knowing/understanding how to cook with bay leaves. We plan on making this tonight! :-) Thank you!

    • Great question! The bay leaves are added for flavor in the sauce in step 2 with the seasonings.

      Once the sauce is cooked, the bay leaves are removed from the sauce and discarded as bay leaves should never be eaten.

  23. Times and Temp vary from recipe..never seen noodles cook in 20 minutes on simmer, I think heating sauce on Med heat for about 5 minutes and then adding noodles and bring to boil for awhile is better accurate..great recipe though!! Just adjust heating..

  24. I replaced 1lb ground beef with sweet Italian sausage. Perfect and quick meal.the whole family loved it

  25. The recipe calls for 3 cups of water, but I don’t recall reading anywheres that it is used.

    I assumed it was going to be to cook the macaroni in, but apparently you add the macaroni to the dish and cook it in within it?

  26. I altered the recipe a little bit but it was good. Definitely make it again. 

  27. Was exactly what I was craving. So delicious, easy to make, and uses basic ingredients we almost always have on hand.

  28. I posted a little earlier and now I see it has been removed. I want to know if this can be made in the oven and do I need to cook the pasta first or can it go in the casserole dish with the rest of the ingredients. Thanks and I hopes this one goes through I want to go to the store to get part of the ingredients it calls for.

  29. Can this be cooked in the oven and do I need to boil the macaroni first or I read one recipe where it said to put the macaroni in uncooked. Please reply I am adding this to my grocery list.

    Thanks Eunice

  30. yessssss my daughter and grand girls and husband LOVE it


  32. This recipe is amazing and simple! We make it twice a month and my family loves it!! 

  33. I made this tonight. It was good. I substituted 2 cans of Rotel in place of diced tomatoes (1 mild & 1 orig.). Used the pasta sauce as suggested. I might of messed up on qty of noodles as I forgot to measure. But good nonetheless.

  34. This was delish! I halved the recipe – I didn’t have tomato paste or bay leaves or green peppers – it turned out great – I did have to stand over it and stir it to keep from sticking but I may just need a better pot! It was plenty for me, husband and daughter.

  35. Yep, but meatless with mushrooms and favorite beans. Just wondering… why does it print out with tiny print. Is that your setting, or something wrong on my printer settings. I couldn’t find anything.

    • Hi Kay, I am glad you liked it! I will test printing at home to see if it is an issue with the website!

  36. Love this recipe the only thing I changed was a added some frozen cut green beans everybody loved it

  37. Very tasty but my wife was disappointed that there were no nutrition facts listed. 

  38. Made this today exactly as the recipe was written and as my grandson would say it was absolut Dewishes. Plan to make it often. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe.

  39. When I grew up in western PA in the 1960s, Mom made this most Mondays and called it Texas hash.

    When my aunt in NC served it to me in the 1980s, she called it slumgullion.

    More recently, a friend who grew up in MI told me that this is what Midwesterners call “goulash,” which could hardly be more different from the true Hungarian goulash.

    It seems to be a venerable all-American comfort food.

  40. I have been using an identical dish for years. I use tomato sauce, rather than paste and pasta sauce.

    I also do not over cook the macaroni, so it will absorb juice and become tasty, as well as finish cooking.

  41. Do you use any old spaghetti sauce or marinara sauce?

  42. Hi Holly,

    Where did you get the great onion chopper in your Grandma’s Goulash recipe. I need one of those asap!


  43. Very good! Grew up with this and Ohio’s Johnny Marzetti

  44. I grew up in the Boston area in the 60’s and 70’s. My mother got the recipe from the Boston Globe. This was called American Chop Suey. My wife grew up in the NY area and she calls itGoulash. We still refer to it by the name we grew up with. My children love it. This is a recipe that they will continue to make and will pass on. We didn’t put cheese in it. We used Parmesan cheese on it at the table. A winter staple that would Stick to your Ribs my mother would say.

  45. I use Tomato juice with whole peeled tomatoes, corn and green beans.

  46. This was a super fun receipe to make and very cheap had everything in the pantry/ freezer. My only question is “can I freeze it??? ”

    Thanks again and ps please post some more of these yummy receipes

    Shell (mum of 2 kids who adore pasta)

  47. I just made this for dinner and it is great, lots of flavor. Will be making this again, Thank you for sharing

  48. Great recipe!!!

  49. This was excellent! I used ground turkey instead of ground beef, only 1 onion, 2 extra oz of pasta sauce, no bay leave, and I left the cheese out so everyone could put as much cheese as they wanted on their individual plates. My husband and I had friends over and they loved it! We also had leftovers for the next couple days.

  50. Can’t wait to try grandma’s goulash. Looks absolutely delicious.

  51. Thank you so much for bringing this recipe back into my life. My mother used to make this growing up but when I moved out and started my own family I had forgotten about it. Then one day BAM here it is. I just had to make it right then and it taste just like her’s. DELICIOUS. Thanks again.

  52. It is SO easy, and will definitely make it again with our family modifications.

    This was good, but there are a couple things I would change strictly on my family’s own personal preference. The meat was a little bland but I didn’t season it while browning because it didn’t say to. Hoping the leftovers will meld overnight and help that. Also, I would use less oregano next time, but again… that’s a personal preference. It is SO easy, and I will definitely make it again with our family modifications. Thank you!!

  53. Can you do this in the crock pot?

  54. I make this in the crock pot. I cook theHamburg onions and peppers in the frypan and then dump everything in the crock pot and cook 4 hrs on low. Top with cheese the last 15 minutes

  55. I can’t wait to try this version, I have never make Goulash with Pasta Sauce before, Maybe it may become a favorite for my family

  56. I have some left over elbow noodles that I made yesterday. If I add the cooked elbow noodles do I still need the water and should I shorten the cook time. Thanks!

    • You wouldn’t need the water and yes, you’ll need to reduce the cook time so the noodles don’t get mushy. I would just thicken the sauce on it’s own for about 15-20 minutes and then give the noodles just a few minutes to heat up and soak in a little bit of the sauce.

  57. This is one of my favorite comfort food recipes now. I’ve been making it for dinner regularly for a few months and I have even made it to have company over. Everyone loves it. I make half a batch at a time and it feeds my husband and I for about 3 days. Sometimes I use ground pork (can be cheaper) and I load it up with a couple very thinly sliced zucchini. The zucchini doesn’t add much flavor but rather absorbs all the other flavors so it is the perfect hidden vegetable. Two thumbs up in this house!

  58. I brown the uncooked macaroni with the hamb, and onions, and add a can of corn and mushrooms gives the dish a hole new taste but is very good

  59. I tried this goulash recipe today, made it for my mom while I was visiting her. I made it exactly, except I only had about half an onion, and it was tasty. I added a bit of sour cream to my bowl, and wish I’d had a bit of cheese to add too :) The only thing I might do differently is boiling the noodles separately, as I felt like maybe they were slightly off.

  60. My grandmother made almost the same dish and called it goulash!.. she added a can of (drained corn) poured it into a casserole dish and topped it with a layer of sliced Cheddar or American Cheese until slightly browned on top.. Yummy Yummy… thank you for posting!

  61. This looks like tonight’s dinner! This is something that everyone here will eat. Thank you for a ground beef recipe that doesn’t use chili/taco type seasonings. Getting tired of that. It uses ingredients I always have in the house, and is easy, to boot.

  62. i add green pepper and use 3 cups of tomato juice and 2 16oz stewed tomatoes 2 cups elbowmacaroni and add my spices 1 tsp oregano 1 tsp garlic powder 1 tsp chili powder 1/2 tsp basil 1tspcelery flakes 1/2 tsp sugar and salt and pepper everybody says it really good

  63. This was a great recipe and I liked the fact that the pasta cooked in the tomatoes. Thank you for sharing this. It was fast and easy. I sprinkled some grated Havarti Cheese on top…Yummy! Thank you for sharing this with us.

  64. Looks delicious! Thanks for the shout-out for my Italian Sausage, Tomato, and Macaroni Soup.

  65. My family has made this for years!!! only we season with paprika & oregano & add corn. Its A W E S O M E and it feeds my family of 3 for at least 2 days sometimes 3.

  66. All can say is WOW! This recipe for Goulash is amazing! The sour cream really sets it off!!!! I could not wait for a reply to my previous question about preparing the pasta separately, however, I made the recipe as directed and cooked the pasta separately. I did prepare a 1lb. box of elbow pasta, mixed it all together and waaaaalaaaaaaa – scrumptious!!!!!

  67. I am in the process of making this as I type. I do have a question about the uncooked pasta. My stove cooks very slow – will the meat sauce be too saucy by adding the 3 cups of water and preparing the noodles separately?

  68. I grew up eating this but it was bland so I changed it when I started cooking it I used spicy v-8 juice tomato sauce and tomato paste diced tomatoes and a big jar of pasta sauce with a lot of seasoning oregano basil smoked paprika

  69. I put a can of kidney beans, diced tomatoes, macaroni,
    some green pepper (to taste) and tble of Worcestershire sauce in mine. This was years ago when I was single, had a low paying job and hamburger was cheap. I’d make up a lot and kept warming it up and it got better each time! lol

  70. I first thought that was an egg on top of the goulash in the photo. But that might not be a bad idea, huh? I think I’d definitely not use the sour cream/cheese mix. Maybe even a couple of eggs?

  71. Hi! Just wondering how.this.recipe would be able to be frozen once cooked?

    • Hi Rosemary,
      I haven’t frozen this recipe before so I can’t say for sure. Hopefully someone else here has tried it and can offer some advice. :)

      • i am wondering, also, if you can freeze leftovers???? or does the pasta get too mushy when thawed and reheated?

        • I haven’t tried freezing leftovers. Hopefully someone else here has and can offer some feedback!

          • Yes, this can be frozen. I always make a big batch so I can eat some now and have some in a month or so. It’s the cook once, eat twice way to save time and dishes.

  72. I made this a few days ago. So yummy, and very easy. Loved not having to cook the macaroni separately. I cut the recipe in half since there is only tow of us, and it is enough for three meals. Very ecomonical. Thanks for sharing!

  73. I did this recipe today, and it turn out perfectly. The pasta cooked in the meat juices made it flavorful. The half of the recipe is enough for a family of four.

  74. I also use kidney beans in mine.

  75. We call this goulash American Cop Suey here in New Egland! It’s always delicious!

  76. Making this tonight looks amazing :)

  77. This sounds so easy but one question….by cooking the macaroni right in the sauce…..does the sauce not get a starchy taste from the pasta? And I never thought about serving with cheese and sour cream….Thanks!

  78. My Mom used to make this with leftover spaghetti sauce, and added frozen corn seeing this pic reminds me of the good old days around the dinner table! Thanks!

  79. Recipe looks yummy!!! Do have a question tho if you don’t mind. Not that I have a big family but
    My family has huge appetites… Could you give me some insight on how much to use of what say
    If I were to use a box and a half if macaroni ? Thank you very much .

    • This recipe serves 8 as written. I’m not sure how big your boxes of macaroni are but maybe just measure the dry noodles and you will be able to get an idea as to how many servings you have. :)

  80. This is a family favorite. Our recipe is slightly different. Instead of the jarred tomato sauce, we use tomato juice or spicy V-8 juice, and our pasta is already cooked, so we omit the water. Next time I make this I will add the water and cook the pasta in the sauce. I’m sure the flavor will be that much better. Thank you!

  81. I wanna half this recipe- Do I just half the ingredients?

  82. I just made this dish for my family,
    And everybody loves it.I used a big can of
    Crushed tomatoes and a can of tomatoe
    Soup.It is Delish!!!!!! Thank-you for the
    Receipe I will be making this often:)

  83. I just made this for me and my husband tonight for dinner and it was awesome!! Such a great comfort food dish! I halved the recipe and we still had a bunch left over, might have to try and “third” it next time :-). Thanks for the delicious recipe!

  84. I bet this will be so good!!! You can even pour everything into a casserole dish and add mozzarella and cheddar cheese on top yummy. One complaint though and its not about the recipe or the food (its all delishhh) Can you please start putting serving sizes on the recipes? For those of us that are watching what we eat and need to enter this in our recipe builder it would be great to know the serving sizes for all your wonderful recipes!!!!

  85. I have been making this for years. My family loves it.
    My Mom is the one that taught me. This was something she would
    make for dinner for at least once a month as I was growing up. I loved
    it and start to make it for my children which they loved.

  86. Eating this as I type. Amazing, quick and wallet friendly! Thank you!

  87. I make this all the time but I also add Salsa and Chili powder. its soooo good

  88. How many does this recipe feed? It sounds really good, but I think I would have to double it! I would be feeding 5, 3 adults and 2 children. What do you think?

    • This serves 8 so there should be enough to go around (especially if you’re having bread and/or salad with it). If you aren’t sure, you can double it or 1.5x the recipe… because this is one of those dishes where the leftovers are wonderful!

  89. I made this Vegan style. Used 2 bags of Boca crumbles for the ground beef, added a large, finely chopped jalapeno for a little kick, & added 3 cups instead of 2 cups of macaroni noodles. It came out more like a thick chili than the photo above, but let me tell you … it was AWEOME! Added some Daiya (vegan) cheese and it made it pure perfect! Will be putting this one in my family recipe binder for sure!

  90. This looks wonderful and I am planning to make it this weekend, but can you please tell me, do I boil the pasta first? Don’t kill me. lol

  91. I’ve always used kidney beans in my goulash. Might try it this way, but my version has become a famiky favorite lol

  92. Been eating this for 50+ years! Instead of pasta sauce, we use tomato soup and stewed tomatoes, crushed in food processor, and omit the bay leaf (YUK). This really is delicious!!

  93. Congratulations!
    Your recipe is featured on Full Plate Thursday this week. Hope you are having a great week and enjoy your new Red Plate.
    Miz Helen

  94. Goulash is one of our favorite comfort foods, this looks delicious! Thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and have a great weekend!
    Miz Helen

  95. This is a great mid-week meal, and my men would love it. Thank you for sharing and linking up with us at the #WWDParty. I hope you have a great weekend.

  96. I can’t wait to make this I love goulash. Thanks for the recipe. Thanks for linking up at Tell Me About It Tuesday. We hope you hop over and share with us again next week.

    • I just made this and it was to tomatoey. It made a huge casserole. I have enough to take to church here social. It was ok but not like my mommas

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