American Goulash Recipe

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Have dinner on the table in about 30 minutes with this easy American goulash. This beefy macaroni is loaded with diced tomatoes and tomato sauce….then topped with cheese. 

Back when we were first married we made a lot of hamburger helper meals. Whether it was a cheesy macaroni and beef or even a tuna macaroni salad, elbow macs were cheap, so we ate a lot of it!

pot of American Goulash Recipe

What is goulash?

There are two different types of goulash. Hungarian goulash and American goulash. Hungarian goulash is a thick soup with meat and vegetables, usually seasoned with paprika. American goulash is very different. It generally has tomato sauce, macaroni and beef. It’s almost like a homemade hamburger helper.

American goulash is an easy dinner that can be prepped and ready to eat in just around 30 minutes.

This dinner is also called a slumgullion recipe and can be made in the Instant Pot.

What cut of meat is best for goulash?

We use a lean ground beef for this recipe. You could also use ground turkey if you’d like. If you want to spice it up a little, use Italian sausage. Delicious!

what is in american goulash

What spices to put in goulash?

You’ll find that every goulash recipe is seasoned just a little differently. Ours has Italian seasoning, soy sauce, a pinch of sugar, salt & pepper and butter. It’s a very simply flavored dish. What other spices can you add to goulash? You can add garlic, bay leaves or even a little dried red pepper flakes for spice.

How do you make goulash with ground beef?

Here are some hints for making this recipe:

  • This is a great way to use up leftover cooked elbow macaroni. If you don’t have any leftovers to use up, cook the noodles the same time you are cooking the beef. Cook the noodles to al dente so they don’t get mushy.
  • Start cooking the ground beef ( we recommend 85% lean) and then when it is halfway done, add the chopped onion to cook along with it.
  • Drain off any fat, then add the tomato sauce and undrained tomatoes.
  • Add the seasonings and then allow the sauce to simmer for about 20 minutes.
  • Once the sauce has simmered, add the cooked elbow macaroni and heat through.
  • We recommend serving this easy dinner with a sprinkling of cheddar cheese. You could use parmesan cheese too!
American Goulash Recipe on a wooden spoon

Can you freeze goulash?

Yes! Make the recipe is it describes in the recipe, then place it in a 9×13 baking pan. Cover it with plastic wrap, then wrap it in foil. Freeze for up to 2 months.

This casserole will reheat best if it is defrosted, so thaw it before you put it in the oven. Bake uncovered at 350º Fahrenheit for about 30-40 minutes until it is heated through. You may want to add a little extra spaghetti sauce and cheese if you are choosing the freezer method.

bowl of American Goulash

What goes with American goulash?

We recommend serving this goulash with a side salad and a piece of Italian bread. If you’re looking for a different type of vegetable side dish besides salad, try one of these:

macaroni and beef in a bowl with a fork

Other Pasta Dinners

how to make american goulash
how to make american goulash

American Goulash Recipe

4.48 from 17 votes
Have dinner on the table in about 30 minutes with this easy American goulash. This beefy macaroni is loaded with diced tomatoes and tomato sauce….then topped with cheese. 
Servings 8
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

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  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/3 cup diced onion
  • 28 ounces canned diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • 28 ounces canned tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Pinch sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni (cooked al dente)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)


  • *If you don’t already have cooked macaroni, boil the macaroni and cook to al dente while the beef is cooking.*
  • In a skillet over medium heat, brown and crumble the ground beef.
  • Add onion to the skillet when ground beef is about half done, cooking the onion along with the beef.
  • Add the diced tomatoes. Mix well.
  • Add the tomato sauce. Mix well.
  • Add the butter, soy sauce, sugar and Italian seasoning.
  • Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.
  • Add the cooked macaroni and mix well.
  • Top with cheddar if desired and serve immediately. 



Calories: 469kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 58mg | Sodium: 929mg | Potassium: 822mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 730IU | Vitamin C: 16.7mg | Calcium: 173mg | Iron: 4.1mg
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 469
Keyword beefy macaroni, easy dinner idea, hamburger helper, how to make goulash
american goulash title image
About JulieJulie Clark

About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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1 year ago

5 stars
This was even tastier than I imagined. It didn’t even need the cheese. Next time I will do without. I was worried about 28 ounces of both tomato cans. I used 28 oz of the sauce and 14 oz of the diced and that seemed perfect to me. There’s a lot of pasta to cover.

Very easy and tasty. Great recipe.

1 year ago

Can I use penne pasta instead of elbows

Lisa Henderson
2 years ago

Just checking that these are 28 oz cans of tomatoes and sauce? That seems like a lot of sauce and the photo shows what looks like 14 oz cans. Please advise. Thank you!!

Einar Valstad
3 years ago

5 stars
Lovely recipe! When I make it I add finely chopped kale or spinach and some chickpeas or white beans for an extra bit of nutrition, but it’s absolutely perfect just the way it is presented here.

4 years ago

When I make goulash, I brown hamburger, onion and a green pepper. I dump in cooked elbow macaroni, a can of diced tomatoes (if I feel like it) and a large can of tomato juice. People are generally lined up with bowls at this point. I prefer to reduce it a bit, but I’m not gonna lie…. it’s delicious even “soupy”. It’s quick, easy and no fuss, no muss. You can even do it all in one pan. Just throw uncooked pasta in with the juice. I think it makes it too starchy so the taste is a little off… Read more »