American Goulash

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American goulash is an easy, old-fashioned, and comforting meal that is insanely delicious and perfect for the cold winter months. Everything cooks in one pot, even the pasta!

Everyone needs a hearty recipe that they can go to on those chilly days where you want to be warmed up from the inside out! Try this chicken stew, this fantastic beef stroganoff, or this yummy BEST EVER Beef Bourguignon!

A pot of American goulash with a wooden spoon in it.

What is American Goulash?

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

This time of year is all about the hearty meals that keep us warm and leave us feeling full and satisfied. American goulash will do precisely that! Plus, it’s easy to make. Get ready for this… You make it all in ONE POT. It only takes about 10 minutes to prepare, and then the rest of the time, it’s just cooking on the stove. 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!

Ingredients in One-Pot Goulash

This delicious one-pot meal is perfect when you need an easy recipe for those busy, on-the-go nights. The ingredients are simple, and you probably have most of them already at home and ready to go! See the recipe card at the bottom of the post for exact measurements.

  • Ground Beef: I like to use lean ground beef in this recipe.
  • Onion: Dice up your onion into small, similar sized pieces.  
  • Garlic Cloves: If you don’t have fresh garlic cloves on hand then you can use minced garlic. ½ teaspoon equals about 1 clove of garlic.
  • Water: The water is used as a base to cook the pasta noodles in.
  • Beef Base (or bouillon): The beef boullion just ups the beef flavor and adds to the overall taste.
  • Tomato Sauce: The tomato sauce will mix everything together.
  • Diced Tomatoes: Canned diced tomatoes are easy and work perfect for this sauce.
  • Bay Leaves: These add in that classic, deep flavoring to the overall dish.
  • Soy Sauce: My favorite one to use is this soy sauce.
  • Seasoned Salt: This adds to and enhances the flavors in the goulash.
  • Italian Seasoning: You can use store bought or you can make this homemade Italian Seasoning and always have some on hand!
  • Paprika: This sweet spices adds in a lot of flavor.
  • Black Pepper: The pepper will only add in some seasoning, there isn’t enough for any heat.
  • Elbow Macaroni Noodles: The best part about these is that you pour them in uncooked! No worrying about getting these ready beforehand.
  • Cheddar Cheese: Freshly shredded cheddar from a block will melt in the sauce better.
  • Fresh Parsley: This is used as a garnish for the finished recipe!

Let’s Make Some Dinner!

This American goulash is packed to the brim with beef, noodles, and cheese. The flavors are incredible, and my mouth waters just thinking about it!

  1. Brown the Meat: 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 then cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat until tender. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
  2. Simmer: 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. Then, stir together, bring to a boil, cover, reduce to low and let simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Add (uncooked) Noodles: Stir in the noodles then cover, and simmer 15-20 minutes or until al dente. Stir occasionally to prevent noodles from sticking to the bottom.
  4. Mix in Cheese: Just before serving, stir in the cheese. Serve garnished with fresh parsley.
4 pictures showing the steps on how to add the goulash ingredients to the pot.

What’s the Difference Between Hungarian Goulash and American Goulash?

Hungarian goulash is a thick stew filled with meat and vegetables. It sometimes has dumplings or potatoes in it rather than pasta. The classic sample ingredient in traditional Hungarian goulash is paprika. American goulash doesn’t have any extra vegetables (aside from the tomato-based sauce), and it has macaroni noodles and cheese. American goulash also goes by the name “American chop suey.”

A pot with American goulash being stirred with a wooden spoon.

Can You Freeze American Goulash?

YES! This is a fantastic meal to make ahead of time! Here is how you can freeze it after it’s been cooked and reheat it later!

  • Freeze: Once your goulash has cooled then you can place it in a casserole dish and cover it with a double layer of foil. Or, you can put it in a ziplock bag and lay it flat in your freezer. Make sure to label your container with the date! American goulash can stay frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Reheat: When you are ready to eat your goulash, take it out of your freezer and thaw it in your fridge overnight. Heat it up on the stove on medium heat until it is warm throughout! Enjoy!
3 bowls of American goulash, each with a spoon.

How to Store Leftovers

This goulash recipe makes a lot so it’s likely that you will have leftovers! This makes a fantastic lunch or dinner the next day!

  • In the Fridge: Place your cooled goulash in an airtight container and put it in your fridge. Leftover goulash can last 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
  • Reheat: You can heat this back up on the stove on medium heat until it’s warmed through. Or, you can warm it up in the microwave. Cook it for 1-2 minutes on high and stir. Continue this until its warmed up!
A bowl of American goulash with a silver spoon.

American Goulash

4.55 from 44 votes
American goulash is an easy, old-fashioned, and comforting meal that is insanely delicious and perfect for the cold winter months. Everything cooks in one pot, even the pasta!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Author Alyssa Rivers
Servings: 8 People

Ingredients
  

  • 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) ddiced 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

Instructions
 

  • Brown ground beef in a large stockpot. Remove from pan and drain. Leave about 1-2 tablespoons grease in the. 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.

Notes

Updated on February 2, 2022
Originally Posted on October 5, 2018

Nutrition

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.

Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Keyword american goulash, goulash
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic

Alyssa Rivers

I am Alyssa and the blogger behind The Recipe Critic. I started my blog in June of 2012 as a place to share my passion for cooking. I love trying new things and testing them out with my family.

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  1. 5 stars
    I love this dish very much! I make it all the time! Reminds me of my childhood! Makes me miss my grandma! Every dish I’ve made of yours has been great! I love the chicken parmigiana a lot too!

  2. 1 star
    Not enough pasta/too much liquid, too much ground beef. It needs 3-4 cups of pasta, and only 1 lb of ground beef.

  3. 5 stars
    Excellent! Will definitely put this recipe in regular rotation. Few alterations: omitted the soy sauce, added mushrooms and used 4 cups of cavatappi instead of elbow macaroni. Didn’t see any reason to remove the browned ground beef to saute the onions and deglaze pan. Can’t imagine including the soy. Too much sodium otherwise.

  4. 5 stars
    This dish is so delicious. I added 3 cups of pasta. I have these macaroni elbows that are larger than the usual ones and they worked perfectly. What I love is the one pot meal! I was concerned that this dish would be very salty with the seasoning salt and soy but it wasn’t. Seasoning was perfect. Thanks for sharing this recipe. Will make this one of my regular dishes.

  5. 5 stars
    Delicious. I ran out of seasonings…so added a packet of McCormack..Sloppy Joe seasoning as I had it on hand still wonderful and easy to make..

  6. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious!! Not only do the boyfriend and I enjoy it, it is one of my coworkers favorite meals but his wife refuses to make it for him so I always put some aside for him and he’s thrilled!!

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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. 🙂

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

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