Old Fashioned Goulash (American Goulash)

This old fashioned American goulash, with its seasoned ground beef, delicate pasta, and creamy tomato sauce, is a perfect dish. Classic comfort food that tastes amazing.

A bowl of goulash in a dark bowl.

It is quick and easy and an inexpensive dish to prepare.

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, 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!

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 – The backbone of the dish
  • Elbow pasta – Feel free to sub this out for a favorite type of pasta
  • Bell pepper – I always use green pepper. Use other colors for a sweeter version.
  • Onion – Flavor for the beef
  • Garlic – Additional flavor for the beef
  • Tomato sauce – The primary taste of this dish is tomato based
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Worcestershire sauce – Always adds a subtle depth
  • Salt – To taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper – To taste

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.

Elbow pasta boiling in a large stock pot.

Cook the elbow macaroni noodles according to the directions. Drain, and set to the side.

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.

While the pasta is cooking, place a dutch oven on medium-high heat on the stove top and add the beef, bell peppers, and onions. As it cooks, break the beef up into smaller pieces.

Browned ground beef with other spices in a large dutch oven.

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.

Old fashioned goulash (american goulash) in a large blue dutch oven.

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.

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!

Variations

There are several ways to change up this dish, making it different each time.

  • 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.

FAQ

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

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 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Ground beef, macaroni, tomato
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 282kcal
Author: Brad Harris

Ingredients
 

  • 1 lb Ground beef
  • 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 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. 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.

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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