Classic Goulash

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

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

Save Recipes
Create An Account & Save Recipes





  • 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 1/2 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 1/4 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

Pin This

Like this recipe? Save it to your Pinterest board now!




Classic Goulash

4.92 from 50 votes
  • Yield: 8 servings
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Course: Main Course
  • Cuisine: American
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder
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!


  • 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


Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Add in the macaroni, mix well then cover and simmer an additional 20 minutes, stirring occasionally before serving

Nutrition Information

Yield: 8 servings, Amount per serving: 455 calories, Calories: 455g, Carbohydrates: 35g, Protein: 25g, Fat: 23g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 80mg, Sodium: 965mg, Potassium: 1008mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 620g, Vitamin C: 31.8g, Calcium: 96g, Iron: 5.2g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keyword: Goulash

Classic Goulash

Leave a comment & rating

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    1. Once you’ve done step 1, I’d add everything else (except the macaroni) to a slow cooker and cook on low 4-5 hours. Mix in the cooked macaroni and cook and additional 10 minutes. Hope this helps!

  1. DO you cook the macaroni before putting it in? Followed the directions and put in uncooked. I think it made it starchy and they didn’t have a good texture. Might try the recipe again and cook macaroni seperately.

  2. My partner is allergic to onions, but otherwise this recipe looks perfect! Do you have any recommendations for a substitute for the onion?

    1. You can just leave it out if you’d like. If they’re not allergic or sensitive to chives, that would be the next best substitute or even celery. I hope you both enjoy the dish.

  3. So good!! I added some frozen corn and half of a can of green olives. Also used tomato paste instead of sauce and my own favorite seasonings. Delicious!!

  4. I lost my recipe for my family’s favorite goulash and ran across this one while looking online for it. I decided to give it a try. If you want a goulash that tastes like veggie soup, this is for you, but it does not taste like old fashion goulash. Disappointed.

  5. Made this recipe because i wanted to recreate my great aunts recipe. This did not disappoint! Followed the recipe and it was excellent. Definitely keeping it for easy dinner rotation and i had all the ingredients on hand. Very filling and easy, quick dinner. The leftovers make a great lunch the next day. Love this site and all the great recipes Sabrina sends to my inbox. Ive made a few of them and really like them all!

  6. This was a major hit with my husband! I added two cups of beef broth. It was very filling and there was enough to freeze some for later. Love it!

  7. loved the recipe made a few changes after reading others comments. I added I can of rotel and substituted the water for college in beef broth. I topped it with shredded cheddar cheese. So good, so much this would easily feed a family of 4. I have a whole pot full left because its only me and my husband, but this will make a great lunch, and I will freeze the rest. I like this recipe easy to make and taste great.

  8. My husband and I loved this! We did make some changes I would like to share – not because they change the flavor much, but to let others know that what we tried worked great. We halved the recipe since it’s just the 2 of us. Used one bag of Gardein veggie ground instead of meat. Also used garlic powder (1/4 tsp for each clove) since I forgot to buy fresh. I think in the future I will also separate in half, and then add half the pasta. We can then take the other half and use it for leftovers and cook the pasta “fresh” since it got a bit soggy when we put leftovers in the fridge. Also used veggie broth instead of water because the extra flavor is always welcome!

  9. For folks complaining about this being bland, just remember, you’re allowed to doctor recipes you come across. I like heavily seasoned dishes and knew I’d need to add to this. I’m pretty sure she mentioned adding and modifying to taste above. This was a starting point, but I started with bacon in sautéing the veggies then the beef, added beef boullion, about a third a cup of paprika, another tablespoon of smoked paprika, dash of white pepper, some red wine, and a couple other odds and ends. Turned out great.

    1. Agreed. Everyone has a different palette so it’s important to know what you like and adjust to fit that. So glad you enjoyed it.

  10. This recipe was amazing; very simple to follow for someone whose not a good cook like myself and the flavour was amazing. I missed a few minor ingredients but it still tasted great. I am so happy to have stumbled on it and recommend it to any beginner cooks or anyone who wants a flavourful, hardy stew.

    1. Delicious as is. Basic comfort food. I did not have macaroni so I opened a box of Velveeta mac and cheese and used the macaroni, exactly 8 oz in there. Then I thought it might be good with the cheese sauce added in. I didn’t add it to the whole pot, but had it on the side if anyone wanted to squirt some in. It was a nice addition but good without as well.
      Thank you for the recipe

  11. This is excellent “as is” but if you want to make it even better, use one pound beef and one pound Italian sausage. If you want to kick it up even more, use beef broth in place of water and fresh basil instead of dried. But even without those substitutions, this is still wonderful comfort food. Thank you so much for the recipe.

  12. Thank you for this recipe! We love it. I added a can of white beans and sauteed zucchini to ours – super yummy. Also, I cook the pasta separately and we add it as desired. Such a homey, comforting dish!

  13. I love goulash, but this surely isn’t. This receipe might be tasty as well and is much quicker to make, but you can’t just replace chuck roast slow cooked for 2 hours with minced beef and then call it goulash, or even classic.

    1. This is American Goulash, not Hungarian Goulash, both are great…this is even better when you add Sharp Cheddar Cheese after it’s cooked.

  14. Hi Sabrina, Just love your site…In this recipe is the macaroni 8 oz. weighed out or is it 1 cup? I made a recipe one time and weighed it out and it was an over abundance of noodles. Thanks for your help.

    1. I weighed it out so I’m surprised to hear it was too much. Feel free to adjust more to your liking. I’m so glad you’re loving the site.

  15. I just made it today and it was too tomatoey if that’s a word. How do I tweek that. Less tomato sauce or less diced tomatoes?

  16. My very favorite Goulash recipe, just like Ma used to make but better. I’ve used this recipe a bunch of times. Thanks for sharing.

  17. I love this recipe and usually cook the pasta on the side because I end up freezing the leftovers and its better making more pasta than the original getting mushy. Thank you

  18. I halved the recipe, except for the macaroni. I used 10 oz of dry gluten free macaroni, and added 1 can of whole kernel corn. We also put shredded cheddar cheese on top as we served it. Delicious! My husband liked it, but said he would prefer more meat to the same amount of other ingredients. As I described, it made 6 generous servings.

  19. I was searching Pinterest for a recipe using pasta, and hamburger, but not ordinary spaghetti at my husband’s request. I found this recipe and was delighted to have almost all the ingredients on hand. I had to make some adjustments, using fresh cut grape tomatoes and adding celery because I just knew it would make the dish taste that much better. I was right on all counts. It was delicious and I will try some other changes in the future, but I won’t be boring my husband with “spaghetti again”! An added benefit was that there were plenty of leftovers and we all know pasta dishes taste better the next day! This is a keeper for sure

  20. Thank you for this. I think this is the best recipe/web site for Goulash because (1) I’ve been making various goulashes for 50 years, and I know a great recipe when I see one; and (2) I’ve spent a couple of days, off and on, researching Goulash recipes other recipe web sites on the Internet. You win hands down! LOVE the ‘Tips’! I am making this tomorrow! (Love the ‘comments’ too. Readers can be so creative!)

  21. I had a grandma that would cook goulash she would never give her recipe to anyone and passed taking it with her. My dad would also make it every now and then but I never got a recipe and I can’t remember how they tasted it has been to long ago. I’m a little nervous cooking new recipes like this or bigger more complex recipes but I tried yours for the first time and accidentally scorched the bottom not stirring enough. It was still really good and I just made another pot today waiting for it to cool a little.

  22. Great recipe! Used home made tomatoe soup for liquid and added two jelapeno. We added parmesan cheese and grated cheddar on top. Very nicely spicy. We also cooked gluten free noodles separate as they get mushy. We really enjoyed this. Thanks

  23. Made this tonight and it was a hit. I didn’t have any canned tomatos or sauce but had a jar of chunky marinara so used that and also used chicken stock instead of water. Didn’t have green peppers but added in chopped carrots and an extra garlic clove. Used gluten free noodles that looked small so added am extra 4 ounces of those and it didnt dry out at all. The kids loved it! Husband added some cayenne and chowed. Will definately be making this more often!

  24. Like everyone else said it’s just like Mom use to make, in Illinois. The only ingredient I didn’t have was the Worcester sauce.
    Because it’s just for 2, I try to make a meals that will last for only one days. So on the 3rd day I will add sour cream and cheddar cheese as suggested for a completely different meal.
    I’m in the process of making bread to sop up the wonderful juices.
    Thank you Sabrina, you’ve made my day.

  25. I’ve made this many times. Everyone in the family likes it! I tried adding a teaspoon of smoked paprika. Great Flavor!

  26. I made this, and I absolutely love it. I halved the recipe because I knew it would be too much, and it still made quite a lot. I also made it vegan by using Beyond Beef crumbles in place of ground beef, and I used vegetable broth to add flavor in place of the water. It turned out very well, and my dinner guests could hardly believe it when I revealed that it was vegan. I added chopped baby carrots and roasted corn to the recipe as well. It’s easy, inexpensive, and very delicious. I definitely recommend it!