Old Fashioned Goulash (American Goulash)

This incredibly easy American goulash recipe is packed with flavorful ground beef, tender elbow macaroni, and colorful bell peppers. It’s a mouthwatering combination that’ll have you hooked.

A bowl of goulash in a dark bowl.
The whole family is going to love this easy goulash recipe.

The tomato sauce infused with garlic and Worcestershire sauce adds a tangy twist that takes it to the next level. Easy to make and even easier to enjoy, this goulash will have you dancing with delight after just one bite.

Give this classic goulash recipe a whirl. The savory sauce, the chunks of beef, the hearty veggies … they all come together in a comforting meal that is pure comfort food.

Why This Recipe Works

For those unfamiliar with goulash, it’s a delicious mix of ground beef, elbow pasta (macaroni), tomatoes, and various spices.

Goulash was a weekday meal every week growing up. And we loved it! As an adult, I can understand why.

Being a very quick meal to prepare with affordable ingredients made this very easy for the parents to feed the six of us.

A bowl of american goulash in a dark bowl with a dutch oven full of goulash in the background.

It is quick, and it is flavorful, and a great comfort food.

Ladling out some steaming hot goulash into a bowl, with all those wonderful smells of spices and tomato sauce, will put a smile on everybody’s face.

Some of our favorites that kind of fall within the same line are our baked ziti with Italian sausage, stuffed bell peppers, and 30-minute Swedish meatballs. Affordable and delicious!

What Is The Difference Between Hungarian Goulash And American Goulash

Hungarian goulash and American goulash may share a similar name. Still, they are distinct dishes with different origins, ingredients, and cooking methods.

Traditional Hungarian goulash, or “guly├ís,” is a traditional stew featuring cubed beef, onions, Hungarian paprika, and other vegetables like potatoes and carrots. It is slow-cooked to perfection, allowing the flavors to meld together and create a rich and hearty dish.

On the other hand, the American version is a pasta dish that typically includes ground beef, elbow macaroni, onions, bell peppers, garlic, and a tomato-based sauce. It is cooked in a large pot or Dutch oven on the stovetop, resulting in a comforting one-pot meal.

While both goulashes offer delicious and satisfying flavors, they reflect different culinary traditions and have their own unique characteristics.

Ingredients Used For This Classic Goulash

This comfort food’s ingredients are basic but come together to make a very tasty dish.

Ingredients needed to make goulash.
  • Ground beef: Ground beef is the main protein source in this recipe. It adds flavor, richness, and texture to the goulash.
  • Elbow macaroni: Elbow macaroni is a classic pasta shape used in goulash. It provides substance and absorbs the flavors of the sauce while adding a satisfying texture.
  • Bell pepper (green, red, orange): Bell peppers add color, sweetness, and a slightly crunchy texture to the goulash. The combination of different colored peppers also enhances the visual appeal of the dish.
  • Onion: Onion adds depth of flavor and aroma to the goulash. It contributes a subtle sweetness and balances the overall taste of the dish.
  • Garlic: Garlic adds a bold and aromatic flavor to the goulash. It enhances the savory notes and complements the other ingredients.
  • Tomato sauce: Tomato sauce provides a rich and tangy base for the goulash. It adds moisture and helps bind the ingredients together while infusing the dish with a tomato flavor.
  • Diced tomatoes: Diced tomatoes add texture, acidity, and a burst of fresh tomato flavor to the goulash. They contribute to the overall richness and balance of the sauce.
  • Worcestershire sauce: Worcestershire sauce is a flavorful condiment that adds a savory and slightly tangy taste to the goulash. It enhances the umami flavors and complements the other ingredients.
  • Kosher salt: Salt is a fundamental seasoning that helps to enhance and balance the flavors of the dish. It brings out the natural flavors of the ingredients and makes the goulash more delicious.
  • Black pepper: Black pepper adds mild spiciness and subtle heat to the goulash. It complements the other flavors and adds depth to the overall taste.
  • Flat parsley or green onion (optional): These garnishes provide a fresh and vibrant touch to the goulash. They add a pop of color and a hint of freshness to the finished dish.

How To Make This Easy Goulash

You’re gonna love this old-fashioned goulash recipe because it’s on your table in about 30 minutes.

  • Cook the elbow macaroni noodles according to the directions. Drain and set to the side.
Elbow pasta boiling in a large stock pot.
  • While the pasta is cooking, place a large Dutch oven on medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the beef, bell peppers, and onions when the oil has heated up. As it cooks, break the beef up into smaller pieces.
Browned ground beef with other spices in a large dutch oven.

note

When adding your ground beef, break it up, then let it sit there on medium-high heat until it gets a good initial sear. This will add additional flavor and overall texture to the dish.

  • Continue to cook until the onions are translucent and the peppers have softened, about 10 to 12 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  • Add the garlic, stir in to combine, and cook for about a minute or until fragrant. Reduce to medium heat.
Old fashioned goulash (american goulash) in a large blue dutch oven.
A complete meal in a single pot. Perfect for busy weeknights. Try it for dinner tonight!
  • Add the elbow pasta, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine well.
  • Taste the dish and add salt and pepper to your preferred taste. Simmer for another minute or two to get everything combined well.
  • Garnish with a little flat parsley, chopped basil, or green onion, and serve hot.
A bowl of American goulash (old fashioned goulash) in a dark bowl with a dutch oven in the background.
A classic comfort food with simple ingredients! You will love this easy recipe.

This old fashioned goulash recipe will take you back to when you were a kid, just like it did me.

That warm bowl of seasoned beef, tomatoes, and elbow noodles will warm the soul as much as the belly!

Tips

  • Don’t overcook the pasta: Cook the elbow macaroni noodles al dente, which means they should still have a slight bite to them. This will prevent the pasta from becoming mushy when added to the goulash. Be sure to follow the cooking time indicated on the package and taste the pasta to ensure it is cooked to the desired texture.
  • Adjust seasoning to taste: While the recipe provides guidelines for salt and pepper, everyone’s taste preferences may vary. Taste the goulash before serving and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Add more salt, pepper, or even additional spices if desired, to achieve the perfect flavor balance for your palate.

Variations

  • Green pepper gives this dish a savory punch (which I like). If you’re not a fan of green bell pepper, sub out for red bell pepper. Better yet, do a 50/50 mix of green and red (or orange) bell pepper.
  • Instead of ground beef, you could use beef tips for a more Hungarian goulash style.
  • Use ground turkey or ground chicken instead of ground beef for a lighter dish.
  • Ground pork would be a great substitute for ground beef.
  • Top with shredded cheese, such as cheddar cheese or parmesan cheese, to add additional flavor to an already tasty dish.
  • Adding spices, such as Italian seasoning, oregano, bay leaves, or thyme, can change it up wildly.
  • Add red pepper flakes for a spicier version.
  • Add peas, carrots, corn, green beans, and/or kidney beans for a more vegetable-forward version.

FAQs

Can I freeze goulash?

Yes. Transfer to a freezer-safe container. Allow it to cool to room temperature and then store. It will keep for a couple of months.

Can I prepare the goulash ahead of time?

Yes. Make the dish as directed. Allow it to cool to room temperature, then store it in the refrigerator. The next day, add the goulash to a large skillet or pot and reheat until hot.

Is Goulash better the next day?

Yes. Allowing time for all the ingredients to come together makes for an even tastier dish.

What’s the difference between American goulash and Hungarian goulash?

Typically, Hungarian goulash uses beef tips and vegetables. It is heavily seasoned with paprika. American goulash uses ground beef, tomato, and elbow noodles.

How can I thicken goulash?

Mix one tablespoon of water and cornstarch in a ramekin. Add the cornstarch slurry and bring the goulash to a boil until thickened to your preference.

Can I make goulash into a soup?

Yes, add beef broth to your preferred consistency. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat. Taste and season to your preference.

Other Delicious Pasta Dishes

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A bowl of goulash in a dark bowl.

Old Fashioned Goulash (American Goulash)

Old fashioned goulash (american goulash) makes a tasty and affordable meal. Comfort food couldn't get any easier. Delicious!
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 282kcal
Author: Brad Harris

Ingredients
 

  • 1 lb Ground beef
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • 8 oz Elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup Bell pepper (green, red, orange) diced
  • 1/2 cup Onion diced
  • 1 tbsp Garlic finely diced
  • 15 oz Tomato sauce
  • 15 oz Diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Cook the elbow macaroni noodles according to the directions. Drain, and set to the side.
    8 oz Elbow macaroni
  • While the pasta is cooking, place a dutch oven on medium-high heat and add the olive oil.
    1 tbsp Olive oil
  • When the oil has heated, add the ground beef, bell peppers, and onions. As it cooks, break the beef up into smaller pieces.
    1 lb Ground beef, 1 cup Bell pepper (green, red, orange), 1/2 cup Onion
  • Continue to cook until the onions are translucent and the peppers have softened, about 10 to 12 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  • Add the garlic, stir in to combine, and cook for about a minute or until fragrant. Reduce heat to medium.
    1 tbsp Garlic
  • Add the elbow pasta, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine well.
    8 oz Elbow macaroni, 15 oz Tomato sauce, 15 oz Diced tomatoes, 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Taste the dish and add salt and pepper to your preferred taste. Cook for another minute or two to get everything combined well.
    Kosher salt, Black pepper
  • Garnish with a little flat parsley or green onion and serve hot.

Notes

Variations: Use red or orange bell peppers if you’re not a fan of green bell pepper. Add red pepper flakes for a spicier version.
Freezing: Transfer to a freezer-safe container. Allow it to cool to room temperature and then store in an airtight container. It will keep for a couple of months.
Refrigerating: Allow it to cool to room temperature, then store it in the refrigerator. To reheat, add the goulash to a large pan and reheat until hot.
Originally Published 11/28/2022

Nutrition

Calories: 282kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 40mg | Sodium: 326mg | Potassium: 542mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 363IU | Vitamin C: 25mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 3mg

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5 from 4 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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