American Goulash

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American Goulash is an easy old-fashioned comforting meal that is perfect for the cold winter months. Everything cooks in the same pot, even the pasta!

American goulash in a large pot.

Hi friends! Melanie here again from Garnish & Glaze to share a comforting easy meal for you to enjoy all fall and winter long. This time of year is all about the hearty meals that keep us warm and leave us feeling full and satisfied. It’s time to start making all the comforting Mac & Cheese, Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup, and American Goulash!

American goulash and a white bowl.

What is Goulash?

Goulash is a hearty dish of stewed beef and tomatoes that was first developed in Hungary. It typically doesn’t even have pasta in it but this American version does and cooks right in the sauce making it an easy complete meal. It tastes similar to lasagna but without the ricotta cheese. I love it because it’s basically a 1:1 ratio of meaty red sauce with noodles. The more beefy sauce, the better!

Pot of American goulash with the small white bowl on the side.

How to make American Goulash:

You’ll start out by browning your ground beef in a large stock pot. Work it into crumbles as it browns. Using a potato masher to crumble the meat works like a charm. Once it’s browned, remove it and drain it but leave a tablespoon or two of grease in the pan to cook the onions.

Cook your onions in the beef grease over medium heat until soft and then add in the garlic and cook for just a minute before adding the meat back in along with everything but the pasta and cheese. I prefer to use one can petite diced tomatoes because they’re smaller (less noticeable to my kids) but if you don’t have that on hand regular diced work too.

A close up photo of American goulash with a metal spoon.

You’ll bring the pot to a simmer, cover it, and reduce the heat to low and allow it to simmer for 20 minutes so the flavors can marry together and the beef to get tender.

Stir in the dry pasta and return the lid and allow it to cook for 15-20 minutes. You’ll want to give it a stir about every 5 minutes especially at the beginning to make sure the noodles don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Cook just until the noodles are al dente because they will continue to soften in the hot Goulash and you don’t want them getting too soft and falling apart.

After turning off the heat, stir in the cheese and garnish with fresh parsley.

American goulash in a white bowl with a metal spoon.

This recipe makes a lot so it’s perfect for feeding a big family, sharing with others, or eating the leftovers for lunch the rest of the week. Enjoy!

Watch a video on how American Goulash is made here:

American Goulash

4.57 from 37 votes
American Goulash is an easy old-fashioned comforting meal that is perfect for the cold winter months. Everything cooks in the same pot, even the pasta!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Author Melanie Dueck
Servings: 8 People


  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon beef base or bouillon
  • 2 15 ounce cans tomato sauce
  • 2 15 ounce cans diced tomatoes (one petite diced)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Seasoned salt
  • 2 tablespoons Italian Seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni noodles uncooked
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese shredded
  • Fresh Italian parsley chopped


  • Brown ground beef in a large stock pot. Remove from pan and drain. Leave about 1-2 tablespoons grease in pan. Add the diced onion and cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat until tender. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
  • Return ground beef to pot along with the water, beef base, cans of tomatoes and sauce, soy sauce, bay leaves, seasoned salt, Italian seasoning, paprika, and black pepper. Stir together, bring to a boil, cover, reduce to low and let simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Stir in the noodles, cover, and simmer 15-20 minutes or until al dente. Stir occasionally to prevent noodles from sticking to the bottom.
  • Just before serving, stir in the cheese. Serve garnished with fresh parsley.


Serves: 8

Calories562kcal (28%)Carbohydrates45g (15%)Protein29g (58%)Fat29g (45%)Saturated Fat12g (60%)Cholesterol95mg (32%)Sodium1601mg (67%)Potassium367mg (10%)Fiber2g (8%)Sugar1g (1%)Vitamin A410IU (8%)Vitamin C0.5mg (1%)Calcium149mg (15%)Iron3.8mg (21%)

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.

Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic


Melanie Dueck

Melanie is the cook and photographer behind the blog Garnish & Glaze. When she’s not playing princesses with her two little girls, she’s experimenting in the kitchen. She takes simple ingredients and creates everything from healthy dinners to indulgent desserts.

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    1. Agi, what are the ingredients…simple is better for us. I started reading the ingredients and wow ! that’s a lot more stuff than I thought it had ! Sheila

    2. 4 stars
      Agi remack, nowhere did this claim to be real gulyas. It clearly says in the recipe that this is American goulash, which is an entirely different dish than the Hungarian one you are talking about.

      1. also call American Chop Suey in some locales….jus saying.Let it be known that it’s just damn good…OOooh I forgot…also Named Slumgullion to some folks so call it what ya may but it’s Damn Good.

  1. 4 stars
    I used to make Goulash for my family of 12 years ago. i also liked to add red kidney beans in it. Was a favorite of my young ones.

    1. Hi Rose, thats how my ma used to make it too.
      I love dark red kidney beans where called for or not.My mom’s gone now, and I sure miss her delicious meals unfortunately I didn’t get her recipes. I tried to replicate her recipes but it’s not the same. Happy cooking, by the way, my ma’s sisters name is Rosella.
      Winter will soon be here, I’ll be cooking all the hearty dishes that warm the tummy.
      Nice to talk, take care, judy

  2. Loved the American Goulash recipe. I added a couple of T of brown sugar which we thought was a goodimprovement.
    Thanks for your posts…I get lots of good recipes and ideas

  3. 3 stars
    I will make this again with some changes. We enjoyed the recipe but it was pretty salty in my opinion. Are you sure a tablespoon of seasoned salt is correct? I also only used 2 tblsp of soy sauce. I added kidney beans which everyone enjoyed. Besides being salty it was yummy. Thanks for the recipe.

    1. Some Italian seasoning mixes have salt in them, so that might have added to it. I am on a low salt diet so I mix my own seasoning mixes.

  4. 5 stars
    Amazing!! This was one of my favorite dishes as a kid that my grandmother use to make. Unfortunately I was too young to think about getting the recipe. Since then I could never figure out how to make it. Authentic Goulash is a VERY different recipe. I chalked this up to me mis-remembering or her making up a name for her dish. However when I saw your recipe for American Goulash – it hit me! That’s what her dish was – a 50’s translation of an old world dish. Thank you for posting, it really brought me back. And now I am able to share one of my favorite dishes (from when I was young) with my son.

  5. 5 stars
    This was very good! I mixed in a small can of tomato paste after I sauteed the garlic and onions and let it toast a little bit. I didn’t have beef bouillon, so I used 3 cups chicken stock instead of the water. I also didn’t have seasoned salt, so I used salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and chile flakes. At the end, I put in a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to brighten it up. Very, very good!

  6. This was delicious, but it was SOUP. I followed the recipe exactly. I tried to cook it down to thicken it, but the pasta started to fall apart. Was I supposed to drain the tomatoes? The recipe doesn’t indicate that. Even the melted cheese didn’t help.

  7. Great….My tweeks….1. Drained the diced tomatoes. 2: used beef broth vs water and bullion 3. added a touch of hot sauce. I didn’t think the cheese really added to it. but it tasted like chili – next time I’ll skip the pasta – add beans – and make the ground beef a little chunkier. Oh and for you KETO folks – skip the pasta and at the end put it over zoodles (zoodles taste much better uncooked – and are more like pasta in consistancy)

        1. 5 stars
          You would need to omit the water if you don’t use the pasta. As it is, I cook the pasta separately and leave out the water because the pasta tends to get too mushy if you don’t take it off the heat at the exact right time. I also add bell peppers.

  8. 5 stars
    I used to Love my Dunkirk (NY) High School Cafeteria when “Goulash Americana” was on the menu, back in the 1965-’68 era…When “Goulash Americana” was on the lunch roster…I made sure i was IN School, that day,… makes fond memories…and the “Goulash Americana” sure made fond High School memories for me….I really wish i had that recipe..

  9. My husband usually makes goulash so I was a little panicky when I had to make it. This recipe was so good! My husband loved it and said it was better than his and trust me that is a compliment. He doesn’t usually like to change up his tried and true favorites. Looks like I’ll be making the goulash now! (Hmm what have I done lol!)

  10. 5 stars
    I have made this dish multiple times for my picky toddlers. They love it. Generally, I halve the recipe. It works just the same. Its really good with cheddar cheese sprinkled on top!!!

  11. 4 stars
    i brown onions along with the haburg and green and red peppers than i use couple jars of spaghetti sauce but i boil the acaroni buy itself

  12. Wonderful recipe, but 1 tablespoon of seasoned salt is WAY TOO MUCH! It over-powered the entire dish. I’m revising it for next time to ½ – 1 tsp seasoned salt, and providing some at the table so if anyone wants more they can add it themselves. A great lesson learned: you can always add, but you can never take away.

    1. 5 stars
      Pamela. If u ever over salt again, add a raw peeled potato and let it cook. It will absorb a lot of the salt!!

  13. Make this, cooking the pasta separately, but my family always called it American Chopped Suey. no idea why. I love your method of cooking the pasta with everything else. I’ll try that next time.

  14. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious. I made it the first time this evening and everyone loved it to include the neighbors. Only thing I did differently was to cook the noodles separately and I didn’t add the water. Also, I added kidney beans and peas and made for a delicious meal.

  15. 5 stars
    This was great. Only changes I made, was since I was cooking for 2 I halved the recipe & reduced the amount of salt. This definitely on old timey recipe.

  16. 5 stars
    I’ve made this a few times & it’s absolutely delicious & so easy to make. Last time I made it I added a can of red kidney beans & that was delicious too.

  17. 5 stars
    Very good recipe, and easy to make your own! I used Worcestershire sauce in place of the soy sauce, then added some crushed red pepper to spice it up! I also seasoned the meat while it was cooking with salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder. We also used mozzarella instead of cheddar. With a dish like this, you almost can’t go wrong with small variations!

    Quick question though- for the nutritional information, what would you say is a serving size? Maybe 1 cup?

  18. 5 stars
    One of my go to suppers. My Mom called it “Slum-gooey” and we still call it that today ! Only difference is I add chopped green pepper to the onion to sauté. Gives it a little kick and crunch and color. Also, have used all different pasta, but always cooked the pasta separate. Serve with a side salad and a hunk of bread. Definitely will fill your family’ bellies !

  19. 5 stars
    We made it just as the recipe says except we used beef broth instead of water, we used our own preserved tomatoes from the cold room for the sauce, and a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes. It was awesome, we did manage to over cook the pasta a bit, but it was very yummy, only the wife and I eating it here so we had to freeze some and use it up later, it thawed well and was enjoyed again. Might be an idea to turn off the heat a few minutes early, the volume of material and heat mass will finish the pasta.

  20. My mom made this growing up and I’ve made it on regular rotation for the last 25 years. It’s so great and my kids love it. My parents called it Slumgulion – not sure where that name came from, but when I tell people American goulash – they know what I’m talking about – LOL

  21. I actually cooked some goulash a couple of days ago. In America it’s called spaghetti
    because of the meat, stewed tomatoes, onions and noodles without a few of the ingredients is the reason it’s called spaghetti.

  22. My 2 brother in laws love it, so I make sure that I cook it once a month and take them each a huge container of it.
    One eats it with the meat and the other brother in law eats it with the meat

  23. I also cook my noodles separately because if not the starch from the noodles are too much. Plus I don’t like the taste of it if it’s not cooked separately.

  24. EXCELLENT! Great tasting dish and pretty quick to prepare. I couldn’t find elbow macaroni at grocery store but used a small tubular pasta and it still came out awesome! Keeping this one!

  25. 5 stars
    This satisfied my picky eaters! Tons of compliments and delicious warmed over for lunch the next day!

  26. 4 stars
    Very good except it was too salty. I didn’t even use the soy sauce because I accidentally forgot.. next time I’ll use a fraction of that and a fraction of the season salt. The house smelled amazing though. Everyone liked it, I’ll make it again for sure . Thanks for the post

  27. 5 stars
    My family and I love this recipe! Makes a ton. Was wondering if you’ve ever frozen it before and if that works. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  28. 5 stars
    I don’t know what the complaints are all about. I’ve tried numerous recipes for American Goulash and this one is, by far, the very best. I just finished making it and it’s incredible!

  29. 5 stars
    This was a very good recipe, but it was too salty for me. I’m wondering if the recipe should read 1 tsp seasoned salt instead of 1 tbsp. Other than that, the flavors were delicious!

  30. 5 stars
    We visited a favorite cousin one winter weekend and she said she had made Hungarian Goulash for dinner. My picky youngsters rolled their eyes, which usually means “no way!” However, after eating a large portion, my oldest asked, “may I have more Yugoslavia?” A big laugh and another large helping. I’m making this the next time he visits! It sounds just like I remember.

  31. 5 stars
    Wow, we loved it. I thought the entire list was a little crazy with the ingredients but I followed the recipe exactly and bom, did those flavors ever mix well together. A new favorite!

  32. 4 stars
    I followed this recipe except I left out paprika bc I hate it! I also didnt have any seasoned salt, so I used kosher salt. It was really good! I cut everything in half and it worked out well. Topped with the cheese by the bowl instead of mixing it in. Will defiantly make again.

  33. I love goulash and originally made it like this recipe but as the years passed I would make homemade Mac and Cheese one day then use the leftover Mac and Cheese for goulash but I also added a drained can of red kidney beans. It really made it so much better with the leftover Mac and Cheese.

  34. 5 stars
    I love this recipe but with a couple modifications. I add chopped up zucchini and yellow squash. I also don’t add the bay leaves or cheese. Just because I didn’t have the bay leaves and don’t miss them and I don’t like cheese. 🙂

  35. 5 stars
    You would need to omit the water if you don’t use the pasta. As it is, I cook the pasta separately and leave out the water because the pasta tends to get too mushy if you don’t take it off the heat at the exact right time. I also add bell peppers.

  36. Could I throw all ingredients in slow cooker on low for the afternoon?? Cook noodles separately and add when ready to eat?

  37. 3 stars
    This was very simple to make and I loved that it’s a one pot recipe. However, it’s extremely salty and asks for way too much Italian seasoning. Next time I’ll half the soy sauce (I even used low sodium!), season salt (maybe even less!) and Italian seasoning, plus use low sodium beef broth instead of the water and bouillon.

  38. Definitely American goulash. I plan to make this but using Impossible burger.. I rarely eat meat anymore..
    I grew up in Chicago and I am of Eastern European heritage. Goulyas is chunks of beef and or pork, onion, in a lighter tomato sauce with lots of garlic, paprika, salt and pepper and about a tablespoon of caraway seed cooked until dissolved. Served over a bed of thick noodles, dab of sour cream optional.
    Unfortunately I tend to refer to this American version posted as Hamburger Helper.

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