Now here’s a nostalgic dish from old time Americana… American Goulash! It’s a pantry staple comfort food that goes back over 100 years, and still tastes just as good today.
Tender macaroni, hearty ground beef, all tossed in a well seasoned tomato sauce along with plenty of cheese. Doesn’t that sound like the ultimate kid friendly dinner?
This easy pasta dish is a classic that just never gets old!
Now this American Goulash is another fine example. It’s so easy, and is such a hearty meal that everyone will leave the table satisfied.
What is American Goulash?
American Goulash, also known as slumgullion, is a ground beef and pasta dish, which has been mentioned in cookbooks since the early 1900’s.
It is not to be confused with Hungarian Goulash, which is a hearty stew-like beef soup.
It rose in popularity during the great depression, as it is budget friendly, can feed a large crowd, and can even be made using leftover ingredients.
The ground beef simmers in a tomato-based sauce, which is typically seasoned with onion, garlic, paprika and other flavor enhancers. The pasta cooks right in the sauce.
It’s very similar to Johnny Marzetti, however the latter often includes sausage and more vegetables, and typically gets topped with cheese and baked at the end.
Why You’ll Love this Easy Goulash Recipe
- It’s a true one-pot meal. That means less cleanup in the end.
- American Goulash is pure comfort food that will be loved by kids and adults alike.
- The recipe makes a huge batch, perfect for feeding a large crowd, or for lunches all week.
- You can customize it to your liking. We’ll give you some suggestions later in the post.
- It’s a nostalgic meal that’ll transport you back to your childhood.
- It freezes well, so makes for for great meal prep.
- Goulash is a very budget friendly meal.
- Olive oil
- Ground beef – We use 85/15 lean ground sirloin.
- Veggies and aromatics – Onion, bell pepper and garlic.
- The sauce base – Tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and beef broth.
- Seasonings – Italian seasoning, paprika, red chili flakes, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, salt and pepper.
- Pasta – Elbow macaroni.
- Cheese – Medium cheddar.
American Goulash Recipe
1. Sauté veggies and aromatics: Heat olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat. Add onion and bell pepper, sauté until they start to get soft. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.
2. Brown the meat: Add in ground beef and break it up with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring from time to time, until it is no longer pink. Add Italian seasoning, paprika, red chili flakes, salt and pepper. Cook 1-2 minutes.
3. Create the sauce: Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. While its cooking, you can check out our collection of favorite Ground Beef Recipes.
4. Cook the pasta: Remove bay leaves. Stir in macaroni pasta, and cook till just a bit firmer than your desired tenderness, about 15-20 minutes.
5. Stir in cheese: Cook 2-3 minutes, till it has melted and mixed in well. Serve immediately.
Recipe Tips and Notes
- Use 85/15 ground beef. It has enough fat to add flavor and result in tender ground beef, without making the dish too fatty. If desired, you can skim some of the grease off of the top later in the cooking process.
- Be generous with seasonings. If you want flavorful food, you have to put flavor in your food.
- Don’t rush it. We consider simmering the sauce for 20 minutes to be a minimum. If you have more time, simmer longer.
- Want to use fresh herbs? Swap the dried Italian seasoning for 2 tablespoons each of fresh oregano, basil and thyme.
- Use small elbow macaroni. They swell up a lot in this recipe.
- Use freshly shredded block cheese. It tastes better and melts better.
- Taste and adjust. Check for salt and seasonings both before and after cooking the pasta.
What to Serve with American Goulash
There are plenty of ways to make American Goulash your own. Here are some of our favorite ways to mix it up:
- You can make a leaner Goulash by swapping out the ground beef for ground turkey. You can also omit the cheese if you wish.
- Add in extra veggies like mushrooms, zucchini, or even corn.
- Add some kidney beans to make it extra hearty. Chili mac, anyone?
- Swap the regular paprika for smoked paprika to give it a different flavor profile.
- Try different cheeses. Parmesan or mozzarella would go great here.
- Watching carbs? Replace the pasta with shredded cabbage. We would recommend halving the amounts of tomato sauce, canned tomatoes and beef broth, as the pasta absorbs a lot of liquid.
Leftovers and Storage
American Goulash is great as leftovers. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for 3-4 days. Reheat on the stovetop, or in the microwave.
It also freezes well, so makes a great meal prep option. Store in individual portion sized freezer safe containers. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
If you’ve never tried this old time classic pasta comfort food, now is the time. American Goulash has been enjoyed for generations, and once you try it, you’ll see why. Cook up a big batch tonight, and watch those smiles light up around the table!
We have plenty more amazing dishes from all around the world coming your way. If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to our mailing list so you’re always in the loop. Until next time…
American Goulash, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
Try these other comforting pasta dishes!
Cheesy Tortellini Bake
Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
Creamy Sausage Pasta
Gigi Hadid Pasta
Tortellini al Forno
Ground Turkey Pasta Bake
Creamy Chicken Pasta
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- 1 tsp red chili flakes
- 28oz tomato sauce
- 28oz canned diced tomatoes
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups dry elbow macaroni
- 2 cups freshly shredded cheddar cheese
- Heat olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat. Add onion and bell pepper, sauté until they start to get soft. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.
- Add in ground beef and break it up with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring from time to time, until it is no longer pink. Add Italian seasoning, paprika, red chili flakes, salt and pepper. Cook 1-2 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Remove bay leaves. Return the sauce to a boil, then stir in macaroni pasta, and cook till just a bit firmer than your desired tenderness, about 15-20 minutes.
- Stir in cheese. Cook 2-3 minutes, till it has melted and mixed in well.
- Serve immediately.
Nutrition InformationYield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 556Total Fat 32gSaturated Fat 13gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 14gCholesterol 129mgSodium 1179mgCarbohydrates 25gFiber 5gSugar 9gProtein 42g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.
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