How to Make Goulash – An Easy American Goulash Recipe

American Goulash is a family-friendly, comfort food. Known by many names, the recipes include the same basic ingredients: ground beef, tomato sauce, and macaroni.

A bowl of American goulash om a table with a towel.

What is American Goulash?

American goulash is a hearty dish with tender beef, pasta, and savory tomato sauce. The texture is a delightful blend of soft pasta and juicy meat, creating a comforting mouthfeel. The flavor is rich, featuring a savory and slightly sweet taste complemented by herbs and spices.

Ingredients for American Goulash Recipe

Gather beef, pasta, tomatoes, onions, and spices for a delicious American goulash. Simple ingredients, big flavors!

  • Beef: Adds protein and a rich, meaty flavor.
  • Pasta: Provides a comforting, filling base.
  • Tomatoes: Adds sweetness and acidity to the sauce.
  • Onions: Enhances flavor with a savory and aromatic touch.
  • Spices: Infuse the dish with depth and warmth, elevating the overall taste.
A pan of American goulash sauce consisting of tomato, sauce, fire roasted tomatoes, ground beef and fresh herbs on sitting on a wooden board.

How to make American Goulash

Brown beef, sauté onions, add tomatoes & spices. Simmer. Cook pasta. Combine for a flavorful American goulash! Easy steps, delicious results!

  • Boil salted water, and add pasta.
  • Meanwhile, sauté onions, garlic, and beef. Season, add tomatoes. Simmer.
  • Drain pasta, and mix with beef. Serve topped with Parmesan and parsley. Enjoy!
A pan of American goulash ready to be mixed with tomato-beef sauce and drained macaroni noodles.

Why this recipe works

  1. Efficiency: Starting pasta in cold water saves time, synchronizing with the sauce preparation.
  2. Flavor Fusion: Sautéed onions, garlic, and well-seasoned beef create a rich and savory taste.
  3. Versatility: The final dish, topped with Parmesan and parsley, offers a customizable and delightful experience for every palate.

Recipe tips and kitchen tricks

  1. Quick Pasta: Start pasta in cold water for efficiency; it cooks almost completely by the time it boils.
  2. Flavor Boost: Sauté onions and garlic before adding beef for a richer, more aromatic sauce.
  3. Customize Toppings: Personalize each serving with freshly grated Parmesan and parsley for added flavor and visual appeal.

Recipe Variations

  1. Vegetarian Twist: Replace beef with hearty mushrooms or plant-based meat alternatives for a flavorful vegetarian goulash.
  2. Spicy Kick: Add diced jalapeños or red pepper flakes for those who enjoy a spicy kick in their goulash.
  3. Cheesy Delight: Mix in melted cheddar or mozzarella during the final steps for a gooey, cheesy version of American goulash.
An overhead shot of a bowl of American goulash in a wooden tray with a multicolored napkin set beside it.

Serving Suggestions

  1. Garlic Bread on the Side: Serve with crusty garlic bread for a delightful combination of textures and flavors.
  2. Side Salad: Pair with a crisp, refreshing side salad for a well-rounded and nutritious meal.
  3. Steamed Vegetables: Add steamed veggies like broccoli or green beans for a healthy and colorful accompaniment.
  4. Fresh Herbs Garnish: Sprinkle fresh herbs like basil or oregano for a burst of freshness and added aroma.

Storage, reheating, and Freezing Instructions

Storing: Store leftover goulash in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Freezing: To freeze, cool the goulash completely, transfer to a freezer-safe container, and store for up to 2-3 months.

Reheating: Thaw in the refrigerator if frozen. Reheat on the stovetop over medium heat or in the microwave until piping hot. Add a splash of broth or water to maintain moisture. Stir occasionally for even heating.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I use a different type of pasta?

Absolutely! Feel free to swap with your preferred pasta, adjusting cooking times accordingly.

What can I substitute for beef?

Try mushrooms, plant-based meat, or ground turkey for a tasty variation.

Is it necessary to use fire-roasted tomatoes?

No. While it adds a smoky flavor, regular diced tomatoes work well too.

Can I make it ahead of time?

Yes, it reheats beautifully. Prepare in advance and store for a convenient meal.

A serving of American goulash set in a white bowl with a fork and a piece of bread.

Wine, Cocktail, and Beer Pairings

Wine Pairings:

  1. Merlot: Its medium body complements the hearty beef, and the subtle tannins enhance the overall dining experience.
  2. Zinfandel: The bold flavors stand up to the richness of the goulash, creating a harmonious pairing.
  3. Chardonnay: If you prefer white wine, a buttery Chardonnay can complement the creamy textures.

Cocktail Pairings:

  1. Bloody Mary: The savory and spicy notes of a Bloody Mary can enhance the robust flavors of the goulash.
  2. Old Fashioned: The classic cocktail’s balance of sweetness and bitters can be a delightful contrast.
  3. Moscow Mule: The ginger kick adds a refreshing element that pairs well with the savory dish.

Beer Pairings:

  1. Brown Ale: Its malty sweetness complements the caramelization in the goulash, creating a harmonious pairing.
  2. IPA: The hoppy bitterness can cut through the richness of the dish, offering a refreshing contrast.
  3. Stout: A rich and robust stout can match the heartiness of the goulash, creating a comforting pairing.
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American Goulash Tomato Beef Macaroni 4

American Goulash

Ronda Eagle | Kitchen Dreaming
American Goulash is a family-friendly, comfort food classic. Popular across the United States, this dish is known regionally by many names but includes the same basic ingredients: ground beef, tomato sauce, and macaroni. It is quick, easy, and affordable comfort food. Scratch-made and on the table in just 30-minutes.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 8 Servings
Calories 468 kcal


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 large onion , diced finely
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning [paid link] blend (spice)
  • 28 ounces fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 28 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)


  • Start the Pasta [See Note 1]: To a large pot, add two quarts of water and generously salt the water. Set the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. While the water is still cold, add the pasta and give it a quick stir to prevent clumping. Pasta can be started in cold water and it will be almost completely cooked by the time the water boils. Cover with a tight-fitting lid to help the pot heat more quickly and boil faster.
  • Prepare the Sauce: In a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat, add the olive oil and diced onions. Cook 3-5 minutes until the onions are softened and translucent. Next, add the garlic and cook for another 1 minute. Add the ground beef and break it apart into small chunks while it browns. Season with garlic salt (or plain salt), ground black pepper, paprika, and Italian seasoning [paid link] stirring to combine. Add the fire-roasted tomatoes and tomato sauce. Continue to simmer for another 10 minutes or until the macaroni is cooking.
  • Putting it all together: Once the macaroni is finished cooking to your desired tenderness, drain but do not rinse. Return the macaroni to pot and add the beef mixture.
  • Serve in bowls topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and parsley.


  1. American goulash can be made as a skillet meal by adding 3 cups of water to the skillet and adding in the pasta. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the noodles reach your desired consistency. 
  2. What do I serve with American Goulash? Most often, we serve American Goulash with a side salad or a side of steamed vegetables. Crusty bread also goes nicely with American Goulash if you aren’t worried about your carbs.
  3. Can American Goulash be frozen? Absolutely! Cool completely and transfer to freezer-safe containers or zip-top freezer bags. Freeze up to 3 months. Thaw completely (in the refrigerator overnight) before reheating.
  4. How do I reheat American Goulash? Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop by adding a touch of water or beef stock to help it steam.


Calories: 468kcalCarbohydrates: 55gProtein: 23gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 55mgSodium: 1675mgPotassium: 670mgFiber: 5gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 1410IUVitamin C: 10mgVitamin D: 1µgVitamin E: 2mgVitamin K: 9µgCalcium: 182mgFolate: 32µgIron: 4mgZinc: 4mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

13 thoughts on “How to Make Goulash – An Easy American Goulash Recipe”

  1. I added red bell peppers and caramelized onions as I saw you talking about it in the comments and it really did take this dish to another level.

    Want to quick caramelized some onions? Add 1 tbsp sugar while they are sweating down. Cuts down the time by about half.

  2. I live in Chicago, and this was made frequently in our Irishh catholic home. We called it Noodle Dish, but others called it spanish stew or poor man’s stew. A pound of ground beef with as much of the noodles and tomato sauce to feed the family. I aslo add green pepper and sometimes a small can of V8 to give it more flavor

  3. This would be so good topped with caramelized onions, you are right on the money with that one. Funny thing in all my years cooking, I have never made goulash!! My mom makes it all the time, but I have never. I can’t wait to give this a try! I would love for you to stop by the Throw Back Thursday link party and share some of your posts!!

  4. I haven’t had this in years, my dad used to make it sometimes! I really almost forgot about it till seeing this. Thanks for sharing a fantastic recipe and bringing back childhood memories.


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