Looking for a hearty weeknight meal to serve your family? Try our American goulash recipe for an easy meal that's kid-friendly, uses pantry staples, and the leftovers taste fantastic!
Our American goulash recipe takes pantry staples that are easy to find. Let's talk about some of the key ingredients.
- Meat: We used ground beef (80, 20), but you could substitute with ground turkey or ground chicken.
- Aromatics: We used yellow onion and freshly minced garlic.
- Spices: We used oregano, basil, rosemary, parsley, salt and black pepper.
- Pasta: We used elbow macaroni, but any small pasta would work.
- Canned: We used petite diced tomatoes and Worcestershire sauce for texture and flavoring.
See recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
- Want to make American goulash cheesy? Stir in 2 to 3 cups of sharp cheddar cheese at the very end.
- Want to add veggies? Try grated cauliflower, shredded zucchini, mushrooms, or green onion to make a healthier version of American goulash.
- Don't want to use hamburger? Try ground pork, ground turkey, or hot Italian sausage in American goulash.
- Want more ideas for spices? Try onion powder, bay leaves, sugar, or soy sauce.
- Want it spicier? Add crushed red pepper flakes and hot sauce.
- Want more of a tomato sauce? Add a can of tomato sauce or tomato paste in addition to the diced tomatoes.
- Don't want to use water? Use beef broth.
- Want other deglazing options? Use beef broth or red wine.
- Want it creamy? Stir in sour cream at the end instead of grated cheese.
How to Make
Gather all the ingredients to make American goulash. Chop up the onion and mince the garlic, then measure the liquids and the spices.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet until it shimmers over medium high heat. Brown the ground beef, breaking it up into smaller pieces with a wooden turner as it cooks. Drain the fat off the meat by lifting the cooked hamburger out with a slotted spoon and placing it in a bowl. Pour the fat from the skillet into another bowl.
- Heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion until soft, roughly 4 minutes, then cook the garlic until fragrant, about one minute.
3. Deglaze the skillet with ½ cup of water by scraping the bottom of the skillet with a wooden turner over medium high heat. You can also use red wine or beef broth.
4. Add all the dried spices to the onion mixture, then cook for 1 or 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. This will make the spices more fragrant and bring out their flavor.
5. Add the cooked hamburger, Worcestershire sauce, and the diced tomatoes to the skillet and stir.
6. Add the dry elbow macaroni and the filtered water.
7. Stir the goulash until it is well combined.
8. Cover the skillet of American goulash and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer with the lid on for 15 minutes. Once cooked, taste it to see if the spices need adjusting.
9. Stir in some grated Parmesan cheese.
10. Garnish with chopped parsley and enjoy this American goulash!
Hungarian goulash was made popular by Hungarian herdsmen and has been around for centuries. It is a beef stew that is slowly simmered with chunks of beef, vegetables, and sweet Hungarian paprika. Unlike American goulash, Hungarian goulash has no hamburger or pasta in it.
American goulash is made with hamburger, elbow macaroni, tomato sauce, and spices. Since it's quick, inexpensive, and easy to adapt to what you have on hand, it is quite popular with home cooks in the Midwest and the South.
Since American goulash is quite filling, balance out your meal with a small side salad, tomato wedges, and a slice of crusty homemade bread.
The traditional recipe for American goulash doesn't include vegetables but the beauty of goulash is you can add whatever you want. It's perfect to use up ingredients you already have on hand. If you want a healthier version, add your favorite vegetables to the pot.
If you're looking for other pasta recipes, you'll want to try our recipes for Panera mac and cheese, Panera broccoli mac and cheese, Chick-fil-A mac and cheese, creamy bow tie pasta, Caprese pesto pasta salad, and alfredo basil sauce.
- Leftovers: Any American goulash leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days when stored in an airtight container.
- Freezer: Cooked pasta doesn't freeze, thaw, and reheat very well; it tends to break down and be mushy. If this doesn't bother you, then you can freeze any leftovers, thaw overnight in the fridge, and reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave. If you prefer your pasta al dente, you would be better off cooking the goulash and the elbow macaroni separately, then adding the pasta just before eating. This way you can freeze leftovers without any pasta. When you're ready to eat the frozen leftovers, just cook some fresh pasta and add it to the American goulash.
- Don't have macaroni on hand? Swap it with rotini, ditalini, or small shells.
More Pasta Dishes You'll Love
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American Goulash Recipe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound ground beef, 80% meat, 20% fat
- 1 ¾ cup yellow onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
- 1 ½ cups filtered water, 3
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
- ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
- 2 ½ teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 28 ounces petite diced tomatoes
- 2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until it's shimmering. Brown the hamburger until it's no longer pink, roughly 4 minutes. Use a wooden turner to break up the hamburger into smaller pieces while it cooks. Drain the fat off the meat and pour the fat out of the pan into a small bowl. Set the meat aside.
- Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet. Turn the heat to medium-high and add the onion. Saute until soft, roughly 4 minutes, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Deglaze the pan by pouring ½ cup of water into the pan and scraping off the browned bits on the pan with a wooden turner.
- Add the dried spices (oregano, basil, rosemary, salt, black pepper and sugar). Cook for a minute, stirring constantly, to let the spices bloom.
- Return the cooked hamburger back to the skillet. Mix in the Worcestershire sauce, diced tomatoes with the juice, uncooked macaroni, and the water. Cover the skillet and bring to a boil, then simmer with the lid on for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
- Serve warm with a generous sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.
Slow Cooker Version
- Follow steps 1 to 4 from the stovetop directions above.
- Put the cooked hamburger, Worcestershire sauce, diced tomatoes with the juice, the onion mixture, and filtered water into a slow cooker.
- Cook covered on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours.
- During the last 15 minutes, add the uncooked elbow macaroni, stir, and cover and set on high.
- Garnish with grated cheese and parsley.
Serving sizes and nutritional information are only an estimate and may vary from your results.