Classic Goulash

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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

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  • 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

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Classic Goulash

4.92 from 49 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

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  1. This is the first time I’ve ever commented on a food site and while I make all sorts recipes I felt I needed to say something about this. It was delicious! I made it completely as written but ended up making macaroni in another pot to add to the goulash because it was slightly soupy. Other than that it reminded of my grandmothers cooking. I haven’t had it in years and didn’t think I’d eat it again since grandmother is no longer with us. Remember how the food critic on the movie ratatouille reacted to eating the ratatouille? It took him back to a simpler time and this goulash did that for me. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Wow, what a great recipe, I will make this again and again. Only change I made was doubling the macaroni. Recipe calls for 8oz uncooked macaroni. I used a 500g (just a bit over 16 oz) uncooked package and the consistency was perfect. Reading other comments on it being soupy, I added more pasta and it was perfect! Great flavor. If you like goulash, this is a must try!

  3. A local restaurant makes goulash soup and my son loves it. I’d like to do that with this recipe by adding beef stock instead of water, plus extra stock until there’s enough to call it a soup. I’d also make the pasta separate and add a little to each bowl instead of the whole pot only because I love leftovers and the pasta has a tendency to become mushy in leftover soup. Besides these changes, would you recommend anything else that would make my soup a success? Thanks!

  4. Great recipe! Husband loved it. I cut this recipe in half and it could feed 6 with a healthy portion. So the regular recipe can probably feed a larger crowd or family.

  5. My Mom used to make this. She called it Friday night soup. Because she would add all the leftovers in the fridge from the week. Usually very good. Once in a while she put something really weird in it and no one wanted it.(for example the left over tuna fish?)

  6. I made this tonight. I used diced tomatoes with green chilies because that was what I had. Gave it a nice little kick.
    I cut back on the recipe because it was just 2 of us.
    Very easy and very good

  7. Outside in cold most of the day. Christmas decorating and making room in garage for my car for a possible 18” of snow. This is tasting really good right now! Brings back memories.
    Will have another bowl while watching the Patriots game. Yum!!!

  8. Omg! This is how my mom used to make it when we were kids growing up in Wisconsin! It was the PERFECT one pot dish! I have been wanting to make this for a while know but my mom couldn’t remember all the ingredients. So so so SOOOOOOO happy I found this recipe! The only difference to how my mom used to make is by adding is a couple cans of mexicorn which is so good but I can’t find it here in Texas where we now live. But honestly this tastes just how my mom made it. Her being Korean she could never figure out what is Americans called it lol so she always referred to it as one pot! Lol. Thank you so much for this amazing recipe!!

    1. I forgot to add the other difference with my moms recipe, she just added the “cheese” from the macaroni to give it that cheesy flavor!

    2. I’m so happy you were able to find this recipe and it brought back memories! You’re so welcome and I’d love to hear how you and your mom like it!

      1. Would you suggest cutting down on the water to make it less soupy as some have commented? And cut down how much? I don’t want it to be dry.

        1. I never had an issue with it being soupy. Remember you’re cooking the macaroni in this liquid too and that will soak up some. You may just have to eyeball it and adjust to your liking.

  9. Delicious!! I used shell pasta, added mushrooms and lots of cheese and baked it until the cheese was melted. I know-another step and dirty pan but everyone loved it. Thank you! Can’t wait to try your other recipes! Oh, can I freeze this? Looking to put dishes in the freezer for my daughter who just gave birth.??

    1. Extra cheese is never a bad idea :):) You can absolutely freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Congrats on the new baby in the family!

  10. This was a hit at my house! My husband (who is a super picky eater) couldn’t stop talking about how yummy this was. Definitely will a cold weather staple. Thanks for the awesome recipe ??

  11. I used lean ground beef 96/4 & added beef broth to keep it from sticking. Then added the rest of the broth to thin the whole dish. I remember it from school 30+ years ago. It was served as a soup with sandwiches. I thinned it with the broth and water, made a big cast iron pan of corn bread, and about 2 gallons were gone in just a few minutes with my bunch.

  12. I used lean ground beef 96/4 & added beef broth to keep it from sticking. Then added the rest of the broth to thin the whole dish. I remember it from school 30+ years ago. It was served as a soup with sandwiches. I thinned it with the broth and water, made a big cast iron pan of corn bread, and about 2 gallons were gone in just a few minutes with my bunch.

  13. I made this tonight for dinner. I halved the recipe because it’s just my husband and I. Made exactly per directions with the exception thus I used corkscrew pasta instead of macaroni, because it’s what I had on hand, and added a can of green beans. Really good comfort food! Thanks for a great recipe! Will be making again for sure!

  14. Sorry, Sabrina, but this is not goulash. This is a 1950s US concoction. Spend some time in Eastern Europe for the real thing.

    1. Snippy and you don’t seem to realize that there are other variations of the Hungarian one that’s why this is called American!

      This recipe is wonderful and a go to recipe in my household that all the children and adults love?

    2. @ Adam

      I am a chef and your comment was absolutely unnecessary. She is just trying to help others enjoy a dish that she likes to cook. Cooking and recipes are always evolving and it’s ok to twist a recipe to ones liking.

      Sabrina thanks for being the bigger person! Loved seeing your kind response!

  15. I followed the recipe completely. I thought the Worcester sauce taste was SO strong. Too strong. I’d add a splash at best because it overwhelms the entire dish

  16. Absolutely scrumptious! It’s exactly what goulash is supposed to taste like ? I love using Cavatappi noodles for added entertainment in every bite!

      1. It has been a looooong time since i have had goulash. Mom was the goulash queen but i never got her recipe before she passed away. I have a question: since i like some zip in my meals, big bold flavors, do you suppose i could substitute one jar of salsa for an equal amount of the diced tomatoes?

        1. That sounds like a great swap! I’m sorry you weren’t able to get her recipe, but here’s hoping this is a good base to getting the flavors how your mom used to make.

        2. I’m sorry for your loss. I’ve been trying to find recipies like my mom made too. Try a can of diced tomatoes with chili’s for heat!

  17. This isn’t real goulash. I’m sure it may taste perfectly fine but it’s NOT goulash nor would it taste as such.
    For one thing, macaroni isn’t in goulash. In my home country, this stuff would be passed over and laughed at if it were claimed to be “goulash.”

    1. This isn’t your home country. This is what we’ve always called it. Comfort food. Why feel the need to make such a negative comment?

      1. This recipe was just what I was looking for! I did substitute beef broth for the water and reduced the Worcestershire sauce- it was fabulous! Thank you!!

  18. So I doubled this recipe to have leftovers for my family of 5, but it made a very big batch! And it was very soupy, wondering what I can add to it now that it’s cooked to thicken it up, thanks!

    1. So sorry I’m just now seeing this. If that happens again, you can add cornstarch to water and stir until smooth. SLOWLY stir cornstarch mixture into the goulash until reaching desired consistency. I hope you still enjoyed it!

  19. I used tomato soup instead of sauce, beef bouillon in the water and rotel tomatoes. Delicious!!! Great flavor! Highly recommend.

  20. If one does not have (or really even know about) a Dutch Oven, what is a useable substitute? Just to be more challenging, this one (does know about but…) does not have any cast iron. Thank you for great recipe.

    1. You can use a skillet for the cast iron. Also as far as a dutch oven, you can use a big pot that you have. Hope this helps!

      1. Always someone trying to correct others?. This AMERICAN goulash is great and thank you so much for posting recipes for those of us whom need a lil help from time to time !!! Your amazing !

    1. Actually many different cultures have different versions of what “ goulash” is.
      Here in Newfoundland, Canada we used canned corned beef rather than ground…it was one of our family’s favorite meals! ??

    1. You can blend up canned or stewed tomatoes, mix tomato paste with water or use tomato juice in a pinch. Hope this helps!

  21. I too noticed how close to American chop suey this recipe sounded – I grew up in Maine and that’s what we call it. The only difference for me is using a store-bought sauce (I know, I know, but it saves on time). Top with some grated Parmesan, serve with a salad and garlic bread – comfort food at its best!!

    1. So glad you love it! No judgement on the store bought sauce at all. Sometimes we all need a little help in the kitchen.

      1. If anyone had taken the time they would have found out that goulash actually originates in Hungary I see no reason for a bunch of grown ups to argue about where a dish comes from, if you enjoy it you enjoy it, and I’m pretty sure when your eating it your not sitting there wondering where this dish came from, be kind people life’s to short for silly disagreement’s. Have a blessed day?

  22. Delicious! I cut the recipe in half and it fed our family of four, with some leftovers used for lunch the next day. Also used turkey burger instead of beef. So good, easy and cheap to make! Love the one-pot recipes!

  23. I live alone and don’t need to make so much, so I cut the recipe in half. I added green chilies and it came out great. The recipe was so easy to follow. I will be making this again. Thanks for such a wonderful supper.

    1. The nutritional information is available for this recipe at the bottom of the recipe card. We are currently working through all of recipes to update to show them. We appreciate your patience.