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

Simple ingredients like ground beef (hamburger meat), canned tomatoes, elbow macaroni, and onions are all cooked in one pot for an easy hearty meal.

It’s packed with zesty flavor and the perfect way to feed a crowd on a budget! Serve it alongside some cornbread or homemade biscuits for sopping up the sauce in the bottom of the bowl!

American Goulash cooked in the pot

What is Goulash?

American Goulash and Hungarian Goulash are two completely different dishes.

American Goulash is not the same thing as goulash in other parts of the world. Like many dishes that have the same name (like dumplings for example) the ingredients and preparation are different.

The difference between Hungarian and American Goulash:

  • Hungarian Goulash, a robust beef and onion soup seasoned with Hungarian paprika and sometimes containing potatoes and/or carrots (more often made without vegetables though).
  • American Goulash is old-fashioned goodness. It’s a simple dish consisting of ground beef and elbow macaroni in a tomato-based sauce. It’s classic American comfort food that also goes by the name “slumgullion”, Hamburger Goulash, or “American chop suey” among many others!

American Goulash in bowls with a pot full in the back

Why We Love This Dish

  • American goulash uses a few simple inexpensive ingredients, it’s a great way to feed a crowd.
  • It needs only one pot which means less mess and fewer dishes to wash!
  • It’s really easy to make and great for beginners, it’s cozy and tastes great!
  • This recipe can be stretched to feed a bigger crowd by adding extra pasta and sauce.
  • Double up the batch or freeze leftovers for future meals.

ingredients for goulash on a table

Goulash Ingredients

GROUND BEEF: Ground beef (or hamburger meat) gives this dish its base and adds lots of flavors, Italian sausage can be substituted for the beef for extra flavor.

ELBOW MACARONI: Use whatever pasta is on hand! Elbow, small shells, bowties, or ditalini all work well.

SAUCE: Goulash has a rich zesty tomato sauce! Use your favorite jarred pasta or marinara sauce combined with a can of tomatoes (and juice!). We add water to cook the pasta but you can use beef broth in place.

The sauce is seasoned with tomato paste and Italian Seasoning for an extra boost of flavor.


  • Add some shredded carrots or red bell peppers for a bit of sweetness in the zesty sauce. Diced celery is great in this recipe too.
  • Stir in some Worcestershire sauce, a sprinkle of chili flakes.
  • Stretch out the meal with extra pasta (and water) or a can of drained kidney beans (or your favorite kind of beans).
  • Top it with cheese if desired.

ingredients for goulash in a pot

How to Make Goulash

It’s literally as easy as 1,2,3.

  1. Brown beef, onion, & garlic in a large pot or dutch oven.
  2. Add remaining ingredients except for pasta. Cover and simmer 15 minutes to thicken.
  3. Add pasta and simmer until tender.

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

adding elbow macaroni to goulash


Keep leftover American goulash in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat on the stove before serving. Freeze chilled portions in zippered bags with the date labeled on the outside for up to 4 weeks. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.

pot full of American Goulash with a spoon

More Easy Ground Beef Pasta

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
4.93 from 256 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

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 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 8 servings


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cups marinara or tomato-based pasta sauce approx. ½ of a 26 oz jar
  • 1 ¾ cups beef broth or water or as needed
  • 14.5 ounces canned diced tomatoes with juices
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 green bell pepper diced, optional
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 bay leaves 2 if they are small
  • salt & black pepper to taste
  • 1 ¼ cup elbow macaroni noodles uncooked
  • ½ cup cheddar or mozzarella cheese, shredded, optional


  • Cook ground beef, onion and garlic over medium high heat until no pink remains. Drain any fat.
  • Add water, pasta sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, green peppers (if using), seasonings, & bay leaves. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
  • Add in the elbow macaroni and continue to simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender (about 20 minutes).
  • Remove & discard bay leaves. Top with cheese if using and replace the lid. Let rest about 5 minutes or until 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.
4.93 from 256 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

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

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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!
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Recipe Rating


  1. I’m wanting to make this recipe tonight, however I don’t have ground beef. I do however have leftover beef roast, what are your thoughts on this substitution?

    1. I haven’t tried it so I can’t say for sure, but if you try it I would love to hear how it turns out Amanda!

  2. I made this and it was wonderful. I added a green bell pepper as well as red bell pepper. It looked very inviting with peppers and parsley and I used Parmesan Regianno cheese since it was that or feta!
    Thank you for a great recipe

  3. Followed recipe exactly – very easy recipe, hearty and delicious! Haven’t had goulash in many years, brought back memories.

  4. Love this recipe. It almost exactly as I’ve grown up with. The only difference is I add frozen corn to the dish. The sweetness of the corn goes beautifully with the tangy tomato and Italian herb flavors.5 stars

  5. Do you still have the old recipe for American Goulash that used to be on this page? I liked it better. I think it used a whole can of tomato paste.

    1. The ratio of the original recipe is almost the same as this one with the exception of the tomato paste. The current recipe is half the size as feedback was that the recipe size was too large.

      Here is the original:
      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

  6. I cooked my pasta separately and added it al dente to the finished goulash, then simmered for just a few more minutes. I realize the dish loses its one-pot convenience done this way, but I like the consistency. I also added a splash of worcestershire sauce. I’m wondering if I wanted to make this Keto friendly if I could replace the pasta with cauliflower rice?!5 stars

    1. We have never tried replacing the pasta with cauliflower rice but it sounds delicious, Betty! If you made the cauliflower rice separate like you did the pasta then you shouldn’t run into any issues. Let us know how it turns out!

  7. This is such an easy, nourishing, and fairly frugal one pot dish. Even my non-pasta eating toddler loves this meal! I have made several variations of Goulash, but this is always the one I come back to. Occasionally I will swap out the beef for Italian Turkey sausage, and that’s always a hit too.5 stars

  8. This was delicious! Easy to make and just a great meal. I feel it needed some salt so I just added it after it was cooked, I may add it while cooking next time I make it.5 stars

    1. I have a question. Is it more thick or more soupy consistency? I would prefer the thicker consistency, but I couldn’t tell from the 1 photo.4 stars

    1. Hi Petra, if simmering without the pasta noodles you may need to add additional broth to ensure the pasta is able to fully cook. I wouldn’t recommend simmering with the pasta in the sauce though, it will cause the pasta to overcook and break down.

  9. I’ve made this twice and both times halved the recipe with no detriment to flavour. The last time I used ground turkey and also a few sauteed mushrooms, which was delicious. Highly recommended and VERY EASY! Although I cook complicated recipes regularly, it’s nice to have something up your sleeve that is so easy and fast.5 stars

  10. I made the recipe exactly as stated except I did add more garlic and cheese (Mozzarella and a shaved Parmesan/Romano blend.) My husband and I both loved it! It’s going into our keep binder of recipes. The only thing I’d do differently is where it says to add the pasta and cook for 20 minutes I’d cut that back to 10 to 15 minutes. The 20 minutes made the pasta overdone to me and a bit on the mushy side. I did add the optional salt and pepper and will do so again. For the people saying to add a bunch of beans that isn’t goulash. Thanks for the great recipe!5 stars

    1. Hi Cheryl, You’ll need a fairly large pan to make this recipe and you’ll want to ensure it has a lid. Ours was about 12″ but it has deep walls (about 3″ deep). Hope that helps!

  11. WOW! I did not think this would turn out good honestly as I wasn’t really going off of measurements just throwing everything together. Let me tell ya, so so good! Definitely going into our list of favorites. Thanks for the amazing recipe!5 stars

  12. My elbow mac Pasta didn’t cook right. Some are over done and others are under done and some just right. How can I avoid that next time?

    1. Once the pasta has been added to the Goulash you want to make sure you are stirring occasionally to help it cook consistently through.

  13. So good! I have a 3 yr old son who is extremely picky. He loved this so much. He had 3 servings! First time I’ve ever made goulosh. I used fire roasted tomatoes and fire roasted my red bell pepper. This meal was delicious and inexpensive.5 stars