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 691 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 691 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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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’ve only ever made my mother’s Goulash recipe so I thought I would try this as it had a few extra ingredients that hers didn’t have. I love the recipe but the only thing I would do different next time is use 2 cans of tomato soup instead of marinara sauce! It taste too much like spaghetti instead of goulash, otherwise it is wonderful!5 stars

  2. For years, I have looked for a goulash recipe that tasted like Mom’s and Grandma’s version, which they made from memory – they didn’t write it down. By leaving out the bay leaf and adding 1/2 tsp sugar (to counteract the canned tomatoes acidity), it was a dead-ringer for the family recipe! In addition to sprinkling cheddar cheese on top, when I reheated leftovers, I stirred in some of the cheese. Oh, that tasted so good!

  3. Great base recipe! I tweaked it adding 7 oz. green chilis, Cumin seasoning, garlic salt, more garlic and salsa! Hopefully I can replicate my tweaks as it was delicious.
    Thanks for the basics Holly!5 stars

  4. I’ve been wanting to try this recipe and finally did tonight. It was delicious! I used venison, added the green pepper and found I didn’t have any beef broth so just used water. It was great and is definitely a keeper!5 stars

  5. I used the water liquid option, I accidentally had to use crushed tomatoes instead of diced, and I added finely chopped carrots. I had 1.2lbs meat so I added a little extra water and noodles. Tuned out great and is perfect meal prep, got 5 portions out of it.5 stars

  6. I’m a college student who doesn’t have a lot of time to cook during the week and on a budget so this recipe is great for dinners during the week to just heat something up when I’m too tired to cook! I added a little ground cayenne pepper on top to add a bit of a kick and it’s amazing. Perfect for cooking for one person with lots of leftovers!5 stars

  7. This is really good. I added mushrooms because I had them and also added a tablespoon of fish sauce that I add to lots of dishes – really is a great flavor enhancer. I’m sure this would wonderful without my additions but I can’t resist the fish sauce. Thank you so much for this wonderful, hearty recipe.5 stars

  8. I’m 63 years old and my Ma used to make this for me. she added a couple of cans of mushrooms that would help stretch it out. my dad and sister loved this too. I’ll tell you what that day there were no leftovers. I make this till this day and freeze some for her and her mate tom. This is the only thing that I cook that she loves. Thanks Ma.

  9. Wow! So good…looking for a different way to use a pound of ground beef instead of the usuals (burgers, tacos) and saw this recipe, and made it exactly as written…which is what I do every time I try a new recipe…it was just fabulous! So full of flavor, and definitely not too “tomato-ey” as some have said. You need that tomato flavor to round out the dish. My husband loved it, as well, and this will definitely be added to our monthly repertoire. Thank you so much for this recipe….appreciate it!Li5 stars

  10. HaHa…my mom made this often and we loved it! But she called it “Mystery”! The mystery is because the meat wasn’t always ground beef! We lived off the land and had “wildlife” such as Squirrel; rabbit; groundhog; turtle (snapping turtle from river); venison; pheasant; quail; etc. Raised our own chickens and turkeys for meat as well! When my grandchildren said they had American Chopped Suey for their school lunch and described it to me…I had a “Aha moment” and it brought back childhood memories of this meal!5 stars

  11. Good afternoon Holly, I made the American goulash today. I put it in my crockpot and letting it just heat to a delicious yummy meal. I’m debating on adding small shells or the elbows. I know which ever one I choose will just add more deliciousness. Thank you for all your yummy recipes. Comfort foods. Love your recipes . Susan5 stars

  12. This recipe is one of my favorite comfort foods that my Mom made when we were kids. Still one of my favorites to this day 63 years later !!5 stars

  13. After my husband’s death, I’m now cooking for one. I love these types of recipes where I can make 2 meals out of them. Quick and easy and I don’t need a lot of ingredients that I have to go out and buy for only a few uses. Thank you!5 stars