Old-fashioned Goulash is an easy cheesy family favorite! It’s the perfect go-to dinner recipe for any night of the week.

Goulash is a classic dinner recipe that is loved by all. Filled with meat, cheese, seasonings and macaroni, this recipe is sure to become as loved as Beef Stroganoff and Pot Roast.

Beef Goulash cooking in a skillet.

What is Goulash?

This is an American Beef Goulash – have you tried it before? What is goulash?

Goulash is a soup or stew of meat, usually seasoned with paprika and other spices. Originating from the medieval Hungary, goulash is a popular meal predominantly eaten in Central Europe but also in other parts of Europe.

We make goulash for dinner all the time, and although I’m sure we have a very American version of the recipe, we wanted to make sure we shared our Cheesy Beef Goulash recipe with you today – because it’s delicious! 🙂

This recipe has a number of different seasonings, but it is simple enough to please all ages. The whole family loves it, and I love it because it’s simple and tasty.

Hungarian vs American goulash

Hungarian goulash is more like a soup or stew and uses chunks of beef, various vegetables and seasoned with onion and paprika.

American goulash is typically tomato based and full of macaroni, ground beef, uses seasonings like basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary, and often includes cheese. American goulash is also called American chop suey or slumgullion. 

How to make Hungarian goulash. It’s a bit different than this recipe and includes more vegetables like carrots and peppers. For that recipe, CLICK HERE.

Hamburger cooked up for old-fashioned goulash recipe.

How to Make Goulash

I’m all about simple these days and this recipe is just that! It doesn’t take long to throw this easy cheesy goulash together, but plan ahead because it does have to simmer for about 45-50 minutes total.

MEAT + SAUCE. Begin by sautéing beef/hamburger in a skillet over medium-high heat until cooked, and then drain. Add the garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add water, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, bay leaves, soy sauce, and seasoned salt.

SIMMER. Stir this well; cover and allow to simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Add the uncooked elbow macaroni to skillet, stir well, then return the lid and simmer for about 30 minutes.

CHEESE. Once 30 minutes is up and the noodles are all cooked, turn off the heat, and remove the bay leaves. Add 1 cup of cheddar cheese right before serving, which will make it even more irresistible.

make in a crock pot

Making this American Goulash in the crockpot is super easy. Just follow these steps to make it:

  • Saute the ground beef beef in a skillet until cooked.
  • Drain excess fat and add garlic. Saute for another 5 minutes.
  • Put the sauteed meat in the crock pot along with the remaining ingredients.
  • Cook on High heat for 3-4 hours or on low heat for 7-8 hours.


Whether you need to substitute an ingredient or you wish to add a little extra my American goulash recipe is easy to adjust:

  • Ground Beef. You can use lean ground beef or one with higher fat content. Drain any excess grease that is produced. You can mix in a little Italian sausage with ground beef or completely substitute the beef for ground turkey or chicken. 
  • Macaroni noodles are a classic, but any similarly sized pasta will work such as shell pasta, penne, ditalini or fusilli
  • Cheese. I love cheddar in our recipe, but shredded mozzarella or even Parmesan will work.
  • Beef broth can be used instead of water for extra flavor. You can also increase the amount of broth to make this dish more “soupy” like the Hungarian goulash.
  • Vegetables. Another way to make this more like the Hungarian version is to add vegetables such as peas, red bell peppers, spinach, onion and carrots. Add more tender vegetables toward the end so they don’t get mushy.

What to serve with goulash

There are so many great sides that go with this recipe, but some of our favorites include:

Cheesy Hamburger Goulash in pan topped with shredded cheese.

storing info

Make ahead of time. Make this easy goulash recipe ahead of time. Simply follow the recipe directions, cover, and store in the fridge until you’re ready to use.

STORE. Goulash can reheat well, but it needs to be stored properly. Be sure to place in an air-tight container and put in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat by using the microwave.

FREEZE. Goulash can be made ahead time and frozen for up to 3 months. Place leftover goulash in a freezer safe dish and cover tightly with foil.

Reheat. If you plan to store the dish for more than a day the best place to keep it is in the freezer. When you’re ready to eat this delicious dish take it out of the fridge or freezer. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, cover dish with foil, and heat until it is the desired temperature.

We also recommend placing this in a freezer-safe Ziploc bag and placing in the freezer. When you’re ready to eat it remove from the freezer, thaw, and heat in a microwave, covered in an oven, or on the stove top in a skillet until it reaches your desired temperature.

Beef Goulash Recipe spooned out of pan.

For more easy ground beef recipes, try:

Goulash Recipe

4.79 from 215 votes
Old-fashioned Goulash is an easy cheesy family favorite! It's the perfect go-to for any night of the week.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 8
Calories 542 kcal
Author Lil’ Luna


  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 3 c water
  • 2 cans tomato sauce 15 oz cans
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes 15 oz cans
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 TB soy sauce
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt
  • 2 TB Italian seasoning
  • 2 c elbow macaroni uncooked
  • 1 c shredded cheddar cheese


  • Saute ground beef in skillet over medium-high heat until cooked. Drain. Add garlic and saute for about 5 minutes. Add water, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, bay leaves, soy sauce, and seasoned salt. Stir well. Cover and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes.
  • Add the uncooked elbow macaroni to skillet, stir well, return the lid and simmer for about 30 minutes. Turn off heat, remove the bay leaves, and add 1 cup of cheddar cheese right before serving.


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About Kristyn

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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  1. 5 stars
    I made this day before yesterday after realizing that I truly missed my moms goulash. So I let my fingers do the walking and was so thrilled to find one on your website. My mom never used a recipe so there wasn’t one to pass down. So when she passed, it was gone with her. But this… was nearly identical and I am a happy girl!!!

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