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

Filled with meat, cheese, seasonings, and macaroni, this recipe is sure to become as loved as Beef Stroganoff and Pot Roast.

Beef Goulash recipe cooking in a skillet.

What is Goulash?

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

Today’s recipe is an American beef goulash that my family has made my entire life. Not only is it hearty, but it’s a great dinner idea for kids since they all love it!

Why we love it:

  • A simple dinner. It’s takes some time to make, but it’s very simple and is a one of our go-to beef dinner ideas.
  • Easy to change up. Add the cheese, leave out the cheese, add extra veggies or even change the noodles. This recipe is very versatile.
  • Can be in the slow cooker too! Just follow the directions below to make in the crockpot.

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.

The Americanized version 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. It’s the epitome of American comfort foods.

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

Macaroni noodles for American goulash recipe.

Goulash Ingredients

  • Ground Beef – You can use lean ground beef or one with higher fat content. Drain any excess grease that is produced. Replace half the ground beef with 1 pound of Italian sausage or completely substitute the beef for ground turkey or chicken. 
  • Minced Garlic – Adds flavor but can be coupled with Worcestershire sauce for even more flavor.
  • WaterBeef broth can be used instead of water for extra flavor. Increase the amount of broth to make this dish more “soupy” like the Hungarian goulash.
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Diced Tomatoes
  • Bay Leaves
  • Soy Sauce
  • Seasoned Salt
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Elbow Macaroni – Macaroni noodles are a classic, but any similarly sized pasta will work such as shell pasta, penne, ditalini, or fusilli.
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese – I love cheddar in our recipe, but shredded mozzarella or even Parmesan will work. Cheese can be omitted as well.

How to Make Goulash

  1. MEAT. 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.
  2. SAUCE. Add water, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, bay leaves, soy sauce, and seasoned salt.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

  • Sauté the ground beef in a skillet until cooked.
  • Drain excess fat and add garlic. Sauté for another 5 minutes.
  • Put the sautéed 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.

Variations + What to Serve With Goulash

Vegetables. Another way to make this more like the Hungarian version is to add extra veggies such as peas, red bell peppers, spinach, onion, and carrots. Add more tender vegetables toward the end so they don’t get mushy.

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

Close up of American goulash in a skillet.

storing info

  • Make it ahead of time. Make this hamburger goulash 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 it in an airtight container and put it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat by using the microwave.
  • FREEZE. Ground beef goulash can be made ahead of 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 this American goulash recipe 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°F, cover the dish with foil, and heat until it is the desired temperature.
Beef Goulash Recipe spooned out of pan.

For more ground beef recipes:

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4.97 from 594 votes

Goulash Recipe

By: Lil’ Luna
Old-fashioned goulash is an easy cheesy family favorite! It's the perfect go-to dinner recipe for any night of the week.
Servings: 8
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour

Ingredients 

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni uncooked
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
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Instructions 

  • Sauté ground beef in skillet over medium-high heat until cooked. Drain. Add garlic and sauté 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.

Video

Notes

Make it ahead of time. Make this hamburger goulash 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 it in an airtight container and put it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat by using the microwave.
FREEZE. Ground beef goulash can be made ahead of 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 this American goulash recipe 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°F, cover the dish with foil, and heat until it is the desired temperature.

Nutrition

Calories: 542kcal, Carbohydrates: 41g, Protein: 31g, Fat: 28g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Cholesterol: 95mg, Sodium: 2457mg, Potassium: 1183mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 10g, Vitamin A: 1020IU, Vitamin C: 21.8mg, Calcium: 210mg, Iron: 6.1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
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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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Recipe Rating




667 Comments

  1. SA says:

    5 stars
    Delicious and very easy to make! Definitely incorporating this recipe into my rotation.

  2. Sheree says:

    5 stars
    I love this recipe I give it a 10 my family loves adding whatever they like on top cheese ,scallions ,sour cream etc… It freezes up well for a quick dinner on a chilly night ! I love your recipes you have Blessed my life by making cooking easier God Bless you and your family 💗

  3. Nancy F says:

    5 stars
    I am allergic to all milk products, so cheese is a big no-no, but this is so good, I don’t miss it.
    This takes me back to when I was little, so I make a big batch so I have leftovers.
    Really good.

  4. Larry Hill says:

    The goulash is perfect for the family! Taste is simply delicious!
    Thanks for sharing,

  5. Suzanne Garner says:

    5 stars
    I’ve recently been making this as it was a forgotten favorite from my childhood and it is still a big hit. Might be the ultimate comfort food.