Classic Goulash

Classic Goulash made in ONE POT with ground beef, bell pepper, onions, and elbow macaroni in a seasoned tomato sauce, ready in under 45 minutes!

We’re always ready to make hearty comfort food, and if you like this goulash you’ll also love this Pot Roast, Slow Cooker Chili, Sloppy Joe, and Baked Million Dollar Spaghetti!

American Goulash

Classic Goulash is one of my favorite old fashioned recipes, made with ground beef, onion, bell pepper, and macaroni in a seasoned tomato sauce with diced tomatoes. It’s perfect for busy weeknight dinners because all it takes is one pot and less than 45 minutes!

You can also add more flavor to this dish with spices like paprika, or vegetables like mushrooms or spinach. This is also a great recipe to make if you have leftover marinara sauce, and it’s always crowd-pleasing, which is why I love making it for put-lucks!


If I’m making goulash ahead, I like to cook the pasta according to package directions and set aside. Then I make the ground beef according to the recipe, and store everything in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I also like to store some extra sauce on the side, just in case it needs it when you reheat it later.

When you’re ready, sauté the goulash with the pasta in a skillet over medium-low heat, adding any extra sauce as necessary. Stir as needed until heated through, then serve.


American goulash is a traditional mid-west dish to serve for dinner or take to a potluck. It’s made with really easy and available ingredients like pasta, ground beef, tomato sauce, and onion. You can also add some minced garlic or paprika to your American goulash, even though paprika is not traditionally used in this version.

American goulash is different from Hungarian goulash because the Hungarian goulash version is more like a stew made with ground meat, paprika, and sometimes additional vegetables and potatoes. Hungarian goulash is also referred to as Gulyas. Gulyas basically translates to cowboy in Hungarian, which is the perfect candidate to eat goulash soup.


You can freeze this goulash recipe, but if you’re making it ahead to freeze I recommend undercooking the macaroni slightly, then immediately removing from heat and letting it cool. That way when you go to reheat, the pasta will finish cooking all the way instead of becoming mushy. Defrost in the refrigerator the night before.

American Goulash





  • You can top goulash with shredded cheese at the table, or chopped parsley.
  • This goulash recipe calls for macaroni but you can also use egg noodles for this dish if that’s what you have.
  • You can add more flavor by replacing the water in this goulash recipe with beef broth, so the pasta absorbs the flavor of the beef broth as it cooks.
  • Add a cup of sour cream to make this goulash with a cream sauce. You can also add ½ cup of cheese while the goulash is still cooking instead.
  • I’m using a can of diced tomatoes in this recipe, but you can chop fresh tomatoes if you want to.
  • This goulash recipe is already seasoned but if you want even more flavor try adding a dash of paprika or garlic, or deglaze the ground beef with ¼ cup red wine.
  • You can lighten this goulash up by using turkey instead of beef, and adding more vegetables in place of some of the pasta.
  • You can make this recipe low sodium by omitting the salt, and using the low-sodium version of canned tomatoes and Worcestershire sauce.
  • We’re not using any all purpose flour in this recipe, but if you want a thicken sauce then next time whisk 1-2 tablespoons of all purpose flour into the onions when they’re cooking, to make a roux. I wouldn’t add more than two tablespoons of flour, or the sauce may get too thick. If that happens, you can add a small amount of broth as well.
  • You can replace the seasoning in this dish with simple Italian seasoning to save time.
  • If your ground beef is sticking to the pan while browning, you can add a small amount of olive oil to the pan.

Classic American Meat and Pasta Goulash

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Classic Goulash

Classic Goulash made in ONE POT with ground beef, bell pepper, onions, and elbow macaroni in a seasoned tomato sauce, ready in under 45 minutes!
Yield 8 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 2 pounds ground beef (80/20)
  • 2 yellow onions , chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper , chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic , chopped
  • 3 cups water
  • 29 ounces tomato sauce
  • 29 ounces diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni , uncooked


  • Add the ground beef, onions, bell peppers and garlic to a large dutch oven on medium-high heat and cook it breaking it apart until it is no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Drain most of the fat then add in the remaining ingredients except the macaroni, bring to a boil then reduce to a low heat and simmer with a cover on for 15 minutes.
  • Add in the macaroni, mix well then cover and simmer an additional 20 minutes, stirring occasionally before serving


Calories: 455kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 80mg | Sodium: 965mg | Potassium: 1008mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 620IU | Vitamin C: 31.8mg | Calcium: 96mg | Iron: 5.2mg
Keyword: Goulash

Classic Goulash

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the upcoming cookbook: Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients which is being published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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  1. This is about as much goulash, much less classic, as dry toast smeared with tomato puree is pizza.

    I’m sure this is tasty…but goulash it isn’t.
    Goulash contains paprika. It is a s made with beef chunks or cubes. It does NOT contain Worcestershire sauce, ground beef, or, most particularly, pasta.

    Make your own dish, by all means, but don’t go calling it what it isn’t.

  2. I made the Classic Goulash for dinner the other night and it was fabulous ! My husband is a VERY picky eater and even he loved it. Thank you for sharing this recipe. Definitely a keeper.

  3. Excellent! I don’t eat red meat so I used fake ground beef and cooked it separately and used Italian seasoning & liquid smoke and a dash of Worcestershire sauce to flavor the “meat”, then added it to the rest of the recipe later so the “meat” wouldn’t be mushy. So so so good!

  4. I’ve made this recipe a ton since I’ve found it and it’s delicious! Only thing I altered was doubled the macaroni. It’s one of our family favs.

  5. I have been making a version of this for years. I probably never make it the same way twice. It’s my go-to when I want a one pot meal. Yummy!

  6. I made this tonight. It brought back memories of my Mom. She had the same recipe except she added chopped celery. The flavor is delicious ?. It came together beautifully. I made the noodles separate as my husband is Slovak and his family always separated the noodles from the main dish. That’s good because I a. Going to freeze individual servings so when my kids visit they will get to taste some nostalgia from my parents. Thank you for this wonderful recipe ?.

  7. I made this and couldn’t stop eating it. It tasted like my mom used to make. I’ve been making it too much like a spaghetti sauce, so it never satisfied me. This was so good I ate it for several days. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Looks & Smells Amazing! I made this today & we will eat this for dinner the next few nights. I used 1.25 lb ground Turkey, 1 Vidalia Onion & 1 Bell Pepper in tbe 1st step. I added 1 Green Zucchini & 2 small yellow squash into the 2nd step + used beef broth not water & later added 2/3 of a pound elbows then once that cooked I added a pound of mushrooms. Mine is the perfect consistency not soupy at all. Hope everyone loves it ?

  9. I was looking for a recipe that was from my past. Easy to make however 20 minutes and the macaroni was mushy (nasty) and it had no taste… It was not what we made in the South so a bit disappointing. I did notice from past that you do not publish negative comments or low ratings or even a learning experience. However I will post on facebook for you. Try to learn from the negative comments. I want taste that explode in my mouth and not mushy macaroni….

    1. Hi L.A. I actually do take note and post the negative comments. If you didn’t like the macaroni mushy, you can take it off the stove a bit sooner than the 20 minutes, some stoves/ovens cook at slightly different temperatures and I can’t adjust every recipe ion that fact. Hope you try again to your liking.

  10. Super easy to make and soooo good. I use 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning instead of the individual herbs, and a teaspoon of garlic salt instead if garlic cloves, because I’m lazy, but other than that, this recipe is flawless. I use Worcestershire sauce in a lot more stuff now, too. It lends a nice depth to the flavor of lots of beef dishes.

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