This American Goulash recipe is an easy and delicious one-pot meal that can be cooked in 45 minutes. This budget-friendly dish is a classic American comfort food favorite that's perfect for busy weeknights and feeding large families.
🌟 Why this recipe works
This easy American Goulash (also known as American chop suey) is a great way to feed your family and save money! It’s made with budget-friendly ingredients like ground beef, broth, vegetables, a can of crushed tomatoes and sauce, seasonings, cheese, and macaroni noodles.
Beef goulash is a one-pot dish that’s easy enough for beginners to make and great for whipping up on busy weeknights. Everything is sauteed and stewed in the same pot for easy cleanup and is guaranteed to be a family favorite meal with its hearty and delicious flavors.
Old-fashioned American goulash is a tomato-based stew that has been around for ages and is similar to its cousin, Hungarian goulash, but is made using ground beef and pasta instead of tender beef and potatoes.
It's comfort food everyone can enjoy, and is easy to make a big pot of this recipe in less than an hour. And if you're a fan of inexpensive one-pot meals, check out our ground beef potato hash, beef paprika, and cowboy stew. They're just as flavorful and easy to make as this irresistible American goulash recipe.
🍽 Key Ingredients
American goulash is a recipe that uses simple, accessible ingredients like ground beef, tomatoes, and spices for a hearty, flavorful meal.
Ground beef - This recipe calls for 1 pound of lean ground beef to make a flavorful base for the goulash.
Vegetables - Onion, garlic, and green pepper are the vegetables of choice to add flavor and texture.
Tomato-based sauce - A good sauce can make or break a dish, and this recipe calls for beef broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and Worcestershire Sauce for a flavorful and hearty sauce.
Seasonings - Italian seasoning, paprika, bay leaves, salt, and pepper will bring the goulash to life and give it a delicious flavor.
Noodles - Macaroni noodles are common in the American goulash version.
Cheese - you'll need some shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese for a creamy finish.
Parsley - Fresh parsley is the perfect garnish for this goulash, adding a bit of freshness and color to the finished dish.
American goulash can be tailored to suit individual tastes, budgets, and what you have in your pantry. Here are some ideas for making this recipe your own:
You can use ground turkey or chicken in place of beef for a leaner alternative. You can also use Italian sausage if you have it on hand.
Any type of tomato pasta sauce or spaghetti sauce will work in this recipe. Rotel tomatoes can also be substituted for diced tomatoes with a bit of extra seasoning.
If you don't have beef broth, substitute it with water or chicken broth.
Instead of macaroni noodles, you can use small shells, rotini, or even penne if that's what you have on hand.
You can use any type of cheese for this goulash--cheddar, mozzarella, Monterey jack, and pepper jack - all would be great choices.
Soy sauce is a common substitute for Worcestershire sauce.
🔪 How to make goulash
Making American goulash is an easy and straightforward process that doesn't require any special culinary skills. With our step-by-step instructions, you can whip up this delicious one-pot meal in less than an hour!
- Dice the onion, garlic, and green bell peppers.
- Dice the tomatoes if using fresh.
- Finely chop the fresh parsley.
Set a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat with a spoon of olive oil and add ground beef, minced garlic, and onion, cooking for 5 minutes until the beef is cooked.
Add the broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, green peppers, Worcestershire Sauce, seasonings, and bay leaves.
Tip: Stir well to combine, then cover with a lid, and set the heat to simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the elbow macaroni to the pot and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the pasta is tender.
Discard the bay leaves and add the shredded cheese to the pot. Cover with the lid for 5 minutes until the cheese has melted.
Once melted, garnish with the freshly chopped parsley, and serve!
💭 Cooking tips
This goulash results in a thick sauce, but if you want it more like a goulash soup, you can add 1 cup of water to the pot for a thinner consistency.
This goulash is delicious with or without cheese, so feel free to omit it if you'd like.
📖 Recipe Variations
American goulash is a versatile recipe and can easily be adapted to suit individual tastes. Here are some variations you may want to try:
Spicy American goulash
For a bit of heat, use a can of Rotel diced tomatoes with green chiles and add 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes to the goulash when you add the seasonings.
Mexican American goulash
For a Mexican twist, add ¼ cup of sliced jalapenos, 1 cup of kidney beans, and ½ cup of kernel corn to the mix and serve with a generous amount of tortilla chips and a dollop of sour cream.
Creamy American goulash
For an added layer of creaminess, stir in ¼ cup of heavy cream or half-and-half when you add the cheese.
🥗 What to serve with
One-pot American goulash is a comforting and flavorful meal that can be served with many sides. Here are some ideas for what to serve this dish with:
Steamed vegetables, Prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, Southern-style fried cabbage with bacon, or roasted broccoli would be great sides for this goulash.
🙋 Frequently asked questions
What is the difference between American and Hungarian goulash?
The main difference between the two dishes is that the American version is a tomato-based stew cooked with ground beef and pasta - and the Hungarian version is more of a soup laced with Hungarian paprika and cooked with beef or veal cubes and potatoes.
Can I make this recipe ahead of time?
Yes, you can definitely make this recipe ahead of time and refrigerate it. Prepare the goulash as directed, but only cook the pasta for 15 minutes. Then, when you want to serve it, cook it on medium heat for 15 minutes and add the cheese and parsley before serving.
Can you cook the macaroni noodles separately?
Yes, you can cook the pasta separately and combine it with the goulash when adding the cheese. If adding cooked noodles, use 1 cup of broth/water so that the consistency isn't too thin, as the uncooked noodles absorb some of the liquid.
🧊 Storing and ♨️ reheating
If you have any leftover American goulash, you can store it and reheat it again and again throughout the week to enjoy!
Fridge - Store your leftovers in an airtight container or if you have room in the fridge, cover the pot with the lid and consume within 4 days.
Freezer - Pour the contents into a freezer container, label it with the date, and consume within 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
Reheating - Place the leftover beef goulash in a pot over medium heat and cook until hot, adding a few tablespoons of water or broth if needed to thin out the consistency. Alternatively, you can reheat leftovers in the microwave.
🍳 Related recipes
If you're a fan of simple yet flavorful meals like this American goulash, try one of our 35 Lazy Sunday dinner recipes for a delicious meal that requires minimal effort.
For busy weeknights, check out the best crock pot recipes and slow cooker meals to put together an easy yet delicious dish!
👪 Serving size
This American goulash recipe serves 6-8 people depending on portion size. The recipe can be very easily scaled also if you are expecting more people for dinner.
It is a delicious and comforting dish that can be served in a variety of ways. Whether you like your goulash as it is, spicy, creamy, or Mexican-style, it's sure to be a hit with the whole family and is definitely a keeper. I hope you enjoy making it, and let me know what you think in the comments!
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Try one of my comfort dinner recipes for your next family meal! And if you have any questions, I'm here to help!
- 1 pound Lean ground beef
- 1 large Onion - chopped
- 2 cloves Garlic - minced
- 2 cups Marinara sauce - or tomato-based pasta sauce approx. ½ of a 26 oz jar
- 1¾ cups Beef broth - or water or as needed
- 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
- 14.5 ounces Canned diced tomatoes - with juices
- 3 tablespoons Tomato paste
- 1 Green bell pepper - diced
- 1½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon Paprika
- 1 Bay leaves - 2 if they are small
- Salt and Black pepper - to taste
- 1¼ cup Elbow macaroni noodles - uncooked
- ¾ cup Cheddar cheese - or mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Fresh parsley - chopped
- Set a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat with a spoon of olive oil and add ground beef, minced garlic, and onion, cooking for 5 minutes until the beef is cooked.
- Add the broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, green peppers, Worcestershire Sauce, seasonings, and bay leaves. Tip: Stir well to combine, then cover with a lid, and set the heat to simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add the elbow macaroni to the pot and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the pasta is tender.
- Discard the bay leaves and add the shredded cheese to the pot. Cover with the lid for 5 minutes until the cheese has melted.
- Once melted, garnish with the freshly chopped parsley, and serve!