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American Goulash Recipe – Spend With Pennies

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

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

It’s packed with zesty flavor and the perfect way to feed a crowd on a budget.

American Goulash cooked in the pot

Goulash Around The Globe

American Goulash is not the same thing as goulash in other parts of the world.

The difference between Hungarian and American Goulash:

Hungarian Goulash is a beef and onion soup seasoned with Hungarian paprika and sometimes containing potatoes and/or carrots (often made without vegetables).

American Goulash is old-fashioned goodness. It’s a simple dish with ground beef and elbow macaroni in tomato sauce. This American comfort food is also called “slumgullion”, Hamburger Goulash, or “American chop suey” among other names!

American Goulash in bowls with a pot full in the back

Goulash is a Childhood Favorite!

  • American goulash uses simple ingredients, and it’s budget-friendly.
  • This recipe 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.
ingredients for goulash on a table including broth, tomato sauce, bell pepper, seasonings, garlic, onion, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, pasta, and ground beef

Goulash Ingredients

Ground Beef—Ground beef (or hamburger meat) is browned as 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 use ground turkey if you’d like.

Elbow Macaroni – I use elbows but any small pasta will work. Try small shells, bowties, or ditalini all work well.

Sauce – This goulash recipe has a rich zesty tomato sauce. Use favorite jarred pasta or marinara sauce combined with a can of tomatoes. 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.


  • 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 beef, onion, & garlic in a large pot or Dutch oven.
  2. Add remaining ingredients except for pasta. Cover and simmer for 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


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

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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 50 minutes

Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

  • 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.

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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