American goulash is an easy one pot meal that's inexpensive to make and comforting with ground beef and macaroni in a tasty tomato sauce.
You may also like my Easy Hamburger Gravy - another old fashioned ground beef dinner.
If you've never heard of it, American goulash has very little resemblance to classic European goulash recipes. It's a southern/midwestern thing that's also sometimes referred to as "American chop suey" and "slumgullion". Now you know!
Some versions include cheddar, while others don't. The cheddar in my version is totally optional. The pasta is cooked right in the sauce (that's what makes it a one pot meal), but I have some tips below if you want to make the pasta separately.
How to make American goulash (overview):
In a soup pot, sauté the beef, onions, and garlic until the beef has browned. Stir in the chopped bell pepper, tomatoes, beef broth, Italian seasoning, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Bring it to a boil and then add in the macaroni and bay leaves. Reduce the heat and simmer for 12 minutes, then take the pot off the heat, stir in the cheddar, and cover for about 5 minutes. (Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below)
Can I cook the pasta separately?
Yes, follow the recipe as normal (just without adding the pasta) but use a half cup less of beef broth than the instructions indicate.
Recipe notes & tips:
- If you prefer, swap the ground beef for sausage meat or ground turkey.
- You could easily add in some extra vegetables (chopped small) if needed.
- You can play with the seasonings a bit, but I wouldn't deviate from the liquid measurements too much as it's a one pot pasta and you don't want to end up with too little/too much liquid.
- For my UK audience, canned tomato sauce is similar to passata.
- Leftovers will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge, but keep in mind that cooked pasta does tend to get a bit puffy/soak up liquid, so it may not be as good after a couple of days.
- Freezing: If you're planning on freezing most/all of the batch, I recommend cooking the pasta separately. To do this, follow the recipe as usual, but use 1/2 cup less of beef broth.
This easy ground beef recipe is great for kids and picky eaters, and I hope you will enjoy it! 🙂
Give these ground beef recipes a try:
- Beef Noodle Casserole
- One Pot Cheeseburger Macaroni
- Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe
- Ground Beef Stuffed Peppers
Questions about this American goulash recipe? Did you grow up with it? Let's chat in the comments below.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 red or green bell pepper chopped
- 1 (14 fluid ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 (14 fluid ounce) can diced tomatoes with juices
- 1 cup beef broth (or do 50/50 mix of broth and dry red wine)
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes optional
- 1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 cup shredded cheddar optional
- Add the oil, beef, onion, and garlic to a soup pot over medium-high heat and cook, breaking the beef up with your spoon as you go along, for about 8 minutes or until browned. If there's a lot of excess fat, spoon most of it out.
- Add the chopped bell pepper, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, broth, Italian seasoning, paprika, and red pepper flakes to the pot. Bring it to a boil over high heat.
- Stir in the macaroni and bay leaves. Reduce the heat to a rapid simmer so it's still boiling, but not too crazy (I used medium heat). Cook, uncovered, for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally so the pasta doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot.
- Take the pot off the heat and stir in the cheddar. Cover the pot and let it sit for about 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the pasta has finished cooking. Season with salt & pepper as needed and enjoy immediately.
- Serves 4-6 depending on portion size.
- If you want to make the pasta separately, reduce the beef broth to 1/2 cup and otherwise follow the recipe as instructed (just leave the pasta out).
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.