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American Goulash (Easy One Pot Recipe)

American goulash is comfort food that the whole family will love. It’s warm and hearty with a rich, savory sauce.

Best of all, it’s one of the most affordable meals you can make in a single pot!

What I love most about this recipe is just how simple it is. As much as I enjoy cooking, I still don’t want to spend all my time in the kitchen.

American Goulash with Ground Beef
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This is a meal that I can prep on Sunday and feed the family for multiple meals. It’s also great for potlucks.

American goulash is made with a tomato baste, ground beef, and elbow macaroni. Topped with a variety of seasoning to give it that rich, savory flavor.

What Is Goulash?

Goulash means something different, depending on where you’re enjoying it. For this recipe, we’ll talk about American goulash.

American goulash is a quick, comforting, one-pot meal popular in southern and midwestern US states.

It typically contains ground beef, a tomato-based sauce, pasta, onions, and peppers.

American Goulash Ingredients - Ground Beef, Onions, Peppers, Tomato Sauce, Diced Tomatoes and Elbow Macaroni


Here’s what you’ll need for this goulash recipe:

  • Ground beef. Good, old-fashioned ground beef provides the protein for this recipe. It’s flavorful, juicy, and absolutely delicious. Don’t get it too lean; you want a little fat for extra flavor.
  • Onions, peppers, and garlic. Yellow onions, green bell peppers, and fresh garlic work best. These ingredients provide loads of earthy, umami flavor and a bit of crunch.
  • A liquid base. You can use three cups of water or two cans of beef broth for the base. The beef broth makes the recipe richer, but it also adds more calories.
  • Tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. These ingredients combine to make a rich, zesty sauce.
  • Seasonings. You’ll add Italian herb seasoning and seasoned salt to the goulash. Together, they add a ton of great Italian flavor.
  • Elbow macaroni. You can also use bowtie pasta, shells, or something else. I don’t suggest using long noodles, though. Add the pasta to the recipe uncooked. It’ll cook along with everything else.
American Goulash with elbow macaroni

How to Make American Goulash

Here are the basic steps for preparing goulash:

1. Cook the meat. Use a large saucepan or a Dutch oven. Cook the meat for about 10 minutes, draining the grease when it’s done.

2. Add the veggies, tomatoes, and seasonings. Next, add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook for another 2-3 minutes until the onions are fragrant and translucent.

Then, add the water, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and seasonings. Mix well.

Reduce the heat to low, and put the lid on the pot. Simmer the dish for approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the pasta. Pour in the pasta and stir well. Return the lid to the pot and let the goulash simmer for another 30 minutes.

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4. Garnish and serve! Transfer the goulash to individual serving bowls. Then, top them with shredded cheese (if desired), and enjoy!

Tips & Variations

Before you start cooking, check out these tips and tricks.

  • Cook the noodles separately if you prefer. Cooking this dish in one pot is super simple. However, some people like to cook the noodles separately. If you go that route, don’t add water to the recipe.
  • Add extra flavor. Feel free to add a shake of garlic powder and freshly ground pepper.
  • Make it spicy. Add a dash of chili powder or cayenne. Or swap 2 tablespoons of chili powder for the Italian seasoning. Either way, it’ll taste delicious.
  • Add a little sweetness. Two tablespoons of sugar can be your own secret ingredient for this recipe. If you don’t mind the extra calories, sugar adds a bit of magic to the dish.
Homemade American Goulash

What’s the Difference Between Hungarian Goulash and American Goulash?

Despite having the same name, these two dishes are as different as night and day. The primary difference between the two lies in their ingredients.

  • Hungarian goulash. This recipe is a slow-cooked stew recipe. It includes three main ingredients: beef stew meat, tomato broth, and paprika. It’s also a much older recipe that dates back to the 9th century AD.
  • American goulash. This recipe is a newer, quicker goulash recipe. It uses ground beef (instead of stew meat) and doesn’t usually contain paprika. It also traditionally has some type of pasta in it.

How to Store Leftovers

This goulash makes delicious leftovers! For proper storage, follow these tips.

Store in the Fridge: Allow your goulash to cool to room temperature. Transfer to an airtight container and put it in the fridge. Leftover goulash will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Reheat: For a quick and easy meal, pop it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. You can also warm it up on the stovetop. Cook on medium until it’s warmed through.

Can You Freeze Goulash?

You sure can! You can freeze leftover goulash or make it ahead of time for future meals.

Freeze: Allow goulash to cool completely. Freeze in an airtight container or ziploc bag. For best results, use within a month. When you freeze goulash, the pasta continues to absorb the liquid, making them softer over time.

Of course, that’s the great thing about comfort food, a little mushiness doesn’t hurt. It still tastes delicous!

Reheat: Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Warm on stovetop over medium heat or microwave until heated through.

American Goulash in a Bowl

What To Serve with Goulash

There are so many options for what you can serve with goulash.

However, when it comes to savory dishes like this, I always love a side of garlic bread to dip in the sauce. It’s probably my favorite part.

Use my favorite recipe for garlic butter to make your bread extra delicious.

Here are some other suggestions:

Let me know in the comments if you’ve made this before. I’d also love to hear any tasty variations you’ve come up with 🙂

American Goulash (Easy One Pot Recipe)



Prep time


Cooking time








  • 2 pounds ground beef

  • 1 large yellow onion (chopped)

  • 1 green bell pepper

  • 3 cloves garlic (chopped)

  • 3 cups water (or two cans of beef broth)

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce

  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes

  • 2 tbsp dried Italian herb seasoning

  • 1 tbsp seasoned salt

  • 2 cups elbow macaroni (uncooked)


  • Cook 2 pounds of ground beef in a Dutch oven or large, heavy saucepan until the meat is no longer pink. It usually takes about 10 minutes. Afterwards, drain the grease from the pan.
  • Add the onion, garlic, and green bell pepper. Cook until onions are translucent.
  • Add the water, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and salt. Mix well. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
  • Add the uncooked elbow macaroni. Stir well. Cover once again and allow everything to simmer for about 30 minutes.
  • Enjoy! Top with shredded cheese right before serving.
Easy One-Pot American Goulash

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

11 thoughts on “American Goulash (Easy One Pot Recipe)”

  1. I have saved your Cracker Barrel Meatloaf Recipe and am looking forward to making it when the weather gets a little cooler. What I am looking for is a good recipe for Salisbury Steak and sauce.

  2. Made it. Didn’t have Ritz substituted a buttery cracker. Omitted the green pepper and grated the onion. I used 2# beef and 1# pork. Delicious..will definitely make again.

  3. I have been making a variation of this for over 65 years, The kids called it “Dad’s Special”. I use cut up bacon to start with. I agree, slice of bread, heavy on the butter, goes perfectly with this dish.

  4. I have made a rendition of this for years. I got the recipe for this from a friend, and it includes chopped celery (and grated cheddar cheese at the end). We call it Hamburger Heaven. A family favorite.

  5. Our momma made this alot when my sisters (3) and myself were young.
    she always called it
    Roman Holiday.
    Sisters have been searching for this recipe for years. Definitely going to make this and bring back loving memories.

  6. My mom made this, and every time we got off the school bus and smelled it, we would RUN to the house because we knew Mom would allow us to have a small “taste” (usually a small cup full) to eat before supper time. One of our favorite dishes! We had it with homemade grits bread or cornbread.

    • Hi Susie. What a fun memory! And what tasty sides to serve with it. I’ll have to make a batch of cornbread the next time I make this 🙂


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