American Goulash – Averie Cooks

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American Goulash – Hearty, easy, comfort food made with ground beef and sausage, tender elbow macaroni, green peppers, onions, and tomatoes. The mixture simmers in marinara sauce for layers of flavor! Ready in just 30 minutes and makes a big batch that’s perfect for potlucks, picnics, game days, or to have planned leftovers on hand. This classic American goulash recipe is always a family favorite! 

American Goulash - Hearty, easy, comfort food made with ground beef and sausage, tender elbow macaroni, green peppers, onions, and tomatoes. The mixture simmers in marinara sauce for layers of flavor! Ready in just 30 minutes and makes a big batch that's perfect for potlucks, picnics, game days, or to have planned leftovers on hand. This classic American goulash recipe is always a family favorite! 

American Goulash Recipe

I remember both my mom and grandma making goulash. Although sometimes we referred to it as “hot dish” but that’s because I grew up in Minnesota where so many things are just called hot dish!

Classic American goulash is known for being an easy comfort food recipe with ground beef, macaroni pasta, onions, and green peppers smothered in a mixture of canned diced tomatoes, marinara sauce, and a variety of seasonings. 

This hamburger pasta dish is thick, hearty, ready in just 30 minutes, and makes a very big batch.

American Goulash - Hearty, easy, comfort food made with ground beef and sausage, tender elbow macaroni, green peppers, onions, and tomatoes. The mixture simmers in marinara sauce for layers of flavor! Ready in just 30 minutes and makes a big batch that's perfect for potlucks, picnics, game days, or to have planned leftovers on hand. This classic American goulash recipe is always a family favorite! 

If you’re wondering what to bring to the next potluck, picnic, game day, graduation party, or are trying to have planned leftovers or meal prep and stash away some dinners in the freezer, this easy goulash recipe is for you! 

A nice bonus is that this is also a budget-friendly dish because the ingredients are relatively inexpensive and again, the recipe feeds a crowd.

Don’t be scared of the leftovers though because they reheat great in the microwave either right from the fridge or thawed from the freezer.

American Goulash - Hearty, easy, comfort food made with ground beef and sausage, tender elbow macaroni, green peppers, onions, and tomatoes. The mixture simmers in marinara sauce for layers of flavor! Ready in just 30 minutes and makes a big batch that's perfect for potlucks, picnics, game days, or to have planned leftovers on hand. This classic American goulash recipe is always a family favorite! 

What’s The Difference Between American Goulash Versus Hungarian Goulash?

In case you’re not a goulash expert but are curious what the differences are, allow me to give you the Cliff’s Notes about the differences between American goulash and Hungarian goulash:

  • American goulash tends to be made with ground beef or hamburger meat and possibly another ground protein, there’s elbow macaroni or small-shaped pasta, there’s a tomato-based broth or sauce, and it comes together in 30 minutes.
  • Hungarian goulash on the other hand is a stew-like recipe made with chunks of beef, vegetables and potatoes, the broth is beef-based like beef stew, and it simmers for many hours. 

Today we are making quick and easy American goulash. Let’s get started! 

American Goulash - Hearty, easy, comfort food made with ground beef and sausage, tender elbow macaroni, green peppers, onions, and tomatoes. The mixture simmers in marinara sauce for layers of flavor! Ready in just 30 minutes and makes a big batch that's perfect for potlucks, picnics, game days, or to have planned leftovers on hand. This classic American goulash recipe is always a family favorite! 

Ingredients in Easy Old-Fashioned American Goulash

For this easy American-style goulash recipe that comes together in 30 minutes and in just two pots, you’ll need the following easy-to-find fridge and pantry ingredients including the following:

  • Ground beef
  • Ground sausage (or another ground protein if desired)
  • Elbow macaroni
  • White or yellow onion
  • Green pepper
  • Garlic
  • Canned diced tomatoes
  • Marinara or tomato sauce
  • Beef broth
  • Soy sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce 
  • Italian seasoning
  • Salt 
  • Pepper
  • Fresh parsley

American Goulash - Hearty, easy, comfort food made with ground beef and sausage, tender elbow macaroni, green peppers, onions, and tomatoes. The mixture simmers in marinara sauce for layers of flavor! Ready in just 30 minutes and makes a big batch that's perfect for potlucks, picnics, game days, or to have planned leftovers on hand. This classic American goulash recipe is always a family favorite! 

How to Make American Goulash Recipe

Making this easy goulash recipe is a cinch! Simply follow these very basic directions and your American goulash will be ready in no time.

American Goulash - Hearty, easy, comfort food made with ground beef and sausage, tender elbow macaroni, green peppers, onions, and tomatoes. The mixture simmers in marinara sauce for layers of flavor! Ready in just 30 minutes and makes a big batch that's perfect for potlucks, picnics, game days, or to have planned leftovers on hand. This classic American goulash recipe is always a family favorite! 

Step 1: Brown the protein(s).

American Goulash - Hearty, easy, comfort food made with ground beef and sausage, tender elbow macaroni, green peppers, onions, and tomatoes. The mixture simmers in marinara sauce for layers of flavor! Ready in just 30 minutes and makes a big batch that's perfect for potlucks, picnics, game days, or to have planned leftovers on hand. This classic American goulash recipe is always a family favorite! 

Step 2: While the proteins are cooking, boil the pasta

Step 3: To the cooked proteins, add the onion, green pepper, garlic, and stir to combine.

American Goulash - Hearty, easy, comfort food made with ground beef and sausage, tender elbow macaroni, green peppers, onions, and tomatoes. The mixture simmers in marinara sauce for layers of flavor! Ready in just 30 minutes and makes a big batch that's perfect for potlucks, picnics, game days, or to have planned leftovers on hand. This classic American goulash recipe is always a family favorite! 

Step 4: Add the tomatoes, marinara, beef broth, soy and Worcestershire sauces, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, stir to combine and simmer for 10 minutes.

American Goulash - Hearty, easy, comfort food made with ground beef and sausage, tender elbow macaroni, green peppers, onions, and tomatoes. The mixture simmers in marinara sauce for layers of flavor! Ready in just 30 minutes and makes a big batch that's perfect for potlucks, picnics, game days, or to have planned leftovers on hand. This classic American goulash recipe is always a family favorite! 

Step 5: Add the pasta into the mixture and stir.

Step 6: Season with parsley and serve! 

American Goulash - Hearty, easy, comfort food made with ground beef and sausage, tender elbow macaroni, green peppers, onions, and tomatoes. The mixture simmers in marinara sauce for layers of flavor! Ready in just 30 minutes and makes a big batch that's perfect for potlucks, picnics, game days, or to have planned leftovers on hand. This classic American goulash recipe is always a family favorite! 

What Kind of Protein is Best for American Goulash?

Many people make American goulash with only ground beef.

However, I like to also add ground Italian sausage for extra flavor but making goulash solely with ground beef is fine.

You can also use:

  • Ground hot Italian sausage (if you like a little kick)
  • Ground pork
  • Ground chicken
  • Ground turkey

It’s really up to you based ion what you have on hand and what your family enjoys.

American Goulash - Hearty, easy, comfort food made with ground beef and sausage, tender elbow macaroni, green peppers, onions, and tomatoes. The mixture simmers in marinara sauce for layers of flavor! Ready in just 30 minutes and makes a big batch that's perfect for potlucks, picnics, game days, or to have planned leftovers on hand. This classic American goulash recipe is always a family favorite! 

Can I Use a Different Type of Pasta for Goulash?

I use small elbow macaroni that I boil just short of al dente but you can try other small-shaped pasta in your easy American goulash recipe including:

  • Small shells
  • Rotini
  • Fusilli
  • Penne
  • Rotelle (small wheels)
  • Farfalle (bowtie)

American Goulash - Hearty, easy, comfort food made with ground beef and sausage, tender elbow macaroni, green peppers, onions, and tomatoes. The mixture simmers in marinara sauce for layers of flavor! Ready in just 30 minutes and makes a big batch that's perfect for potlucks, picnics, game days, or to have planned leftovers on hand. This classic American goulash recipe is always a family favorite! 

What Substitutions Can I Make for Easy Goulash Dish?

My recipe for easy American goulash is a prime candidate for recipe substitutions based on what you have on hand and what flavors your family enjoys.

Here are a few substitution ideas that comes to mind:

  • As mentioned, mix-and-match another protein along with the ground beef
  • To make spicier goulash, use hot Italian sausage + ground beef
  • Add a sprinkle of red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper to make kicked up goulash
  • Use red, orange, or yellow bell pepper in place of green which is traditional
  • Add kidney or black beans for extra protein
  • Use more beef broth if you like a more chili-like consistency
  • Adding 1/2 to 1 cup of sour cream at the end will make for a creamier base
  • Stirring in 1 to 2 cups shredded cheese will make a cheesy and super comforting base
  • Garnishing with less cheese gives a nice touch of cheese but saves some calories and fat

American Goulash - Hearty, easy, comfort food made with ground beef and sausage, tender elbow macaroni, green peppers, onions, and tomatoes. The mixture simmers in marinara sauce for layers of flavor! Ready in just 30 minutes and makes a big batch that's perfect for potlucks, picnics, game days, or to have planned leftovers on hand. This classic American goulash recipe is always a family favorite! 

Can I Make Goulash in a Slow Cooker or in Advance?

Yes, you probably can make goulash in a slow cooker.

However, because it’s such a fast and easy 30-minute recipe, I don’t see a lot of point to dragging it out into a slow cooker recipe.

Although if you’re so inclined, I would follow the overall gist of my Slow Cooker Beef Chili recipe:

  1. Brown the proteins first on the stove and then add the onions, pepper, and garlic.
  2. Transfer it all to a large 8-quart slow cooker.
  3. Add in everything else, except for the macaroni and parsley, and simmer for about 3 hours on low.
  4. Add in already cooked pasta, stir, garnish with parsley, and serve.

American Goulash - Hearty, easy, comfort food made with ground beef and sausage, tender elbow macaroni, green peppers, onions, and tomatoes. The mixture simmers in marinara sauce for layers of flavor! Ready in just 30 minutes and makes a big batch that's perfect for potlucks, picnics, game days, or to have planned leftovers on hand. This classic American goulash recipe is always a family favorite! 

If you’re wanting to simply make the recipe a day in advance for a party for example, go for it.

Refrigerate it and then gently reheat it on the stove when you’re ready to serve it noting it will take a little time to rewarm it since it’s a big pot of food! 

American Goulash - Hearty, easy, comfort food made with ground beef and sausage, tender elbow macaroni, green peppers, onions, and tomatoes. The mixture simmers in marinara sauce for layers of flavor! Ready in just 30 minutes and makes a big batch that's perfect for potlucks, picnics, game days, or to have planned leftovers on hand. This classic American goulash recipe is always a family favorite! 

Serving and Storage Suggestions for Easy American Goulash

I remember my mom and grandma serving goulash with nothing more, which is totally fine!

If you’re wanting to balance it out with a fresh salad or roasted vegetables, they are welcome additions or just stick with the carbs and make some easy skillet cornbread.

Goulash is great hot and fresh from the stove but leftover goulash will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months.

I find that anything with a red sauce or tomato-based sauce actually gets better the next day.

Just like a homemade spaghetti sauce, the flavors marry and everything tastes even better after it rests for a day.

American Goulash - Hearty, easy, comfort food made with ground beef and sausage, tender elbow macaroni, green peppers, onions, and tomatoes. The mixture simmers in marinara sauce for layers of flavor! Ready in just 30 minutes and makes a big batch that's perfect for potlucks, picnics, game days, or to have planned leftovers on hand. This classic American goulash recipe is always a family favorite! 

Tips for the Best Easy Goulash Dish

Make sure to use a big pot when you’re making this easy goulash recipe because it makes a lot! Two pounds of protein, a pound of pasta, nearly a gallon of liquids, yep this is a potluck favorite indeed.

If you have a Dutch oven, break it out for the American goulash. 

When you’re browning the ground beef and ground sausage, if you see fit, you can drain any grease.

However, if you’re using fairly lean ground beef ~85% or leaner, this likely won’t be necessary. It surely won’t be necessary if you’re also using ground chicken or turkey with the ground beef since they are super lean.

American Goulash - Hearty, easy, comfort food made with ground beef and sausage, tender elbow macaroni, green peppers, onions, and tomatoes. The mixture simmers in marinara sauce for layers of flavor! Ready in just 30 minutes and makes a big batch that's perfect for potlucks, picnics, game days, or to have planned leftovers on hand. This classic American goulash recipe is always a family favorite! 

Also a little grease is good because it keeps the pasta from sticking when you’re dealing with leftover goulash. 

I like to use lower or reduced sodium beef broth and soy sauce but it’s up to you.

The consistency of this goulash is thick and hearty – even thicker than chili. However if you want to thin it out a bit, or you’re trying to stretch the recipe, feel free to increase the amount of beef broth to make it soupier or more chili-like.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground beef (~85 to 95% lean)
  • 1 pound ground sausage* (or another ground protein if desired)
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni (or another small shaped pasta)
  • 1 small white or yellow onion, diced small
  • 1 medium green pepper, seeded and diced small
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • two 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 24 ounces marinara or tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup beef broth (I use reduced sodium)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (I use reduced sodium)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or as desired 
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or as desired 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely minced; optional but recommended for garnishing

Instructions

  1. To a very large deep-sided pot or Dutch oven, add the ground beef, ground sausage or whatever combination of proteins you’re using, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring and crumbling the proteins as the cook to ensure cooking. If necessary or desired, drain off any fat. I don’t drain it even if I have some because the fat will prevent the pasta from sticking. Tip – Begin cooking the pasta while the proteins are cooking.
  2. While the proteins are browning, cook the pasta in a separate pot according to package directions. Drain and set aside until step 6.
  3. To the Dutch oven with the browned proteins, add the onions, green peppers, and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until beginning to soften; stir frequently.
  4. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant; stir constantly.
  5. Add the diced tomatoes, marinara, beef broth, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, stir to combine, and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
  6. Add the cooked pasta and stir to combine.
  7. Optionally garish with parsley and serve. Leftover goulash will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months. It reheats very well in the microwave.

Notes

*You can use 2 pounds ground beef if desired. Or 1 pound ground beef and 1 pound of one of the following:Ground hot Italian sausage (if you like a little kick)

  • Ground pork
  • Ground chicken
  • Ground turkey


General Substitution Ideas:

  • As mentioned, mix-and-match another protein along with the ground beef
  • To make spicier goulash, use hot Italian sausage + ground beef
  • Add a sprinkle of red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper to make kicked up goulash
  • Use red, orange, or yellow bell pepper in place of green which is traditional
  • Add kidney or black beans for extra protein
  • Use more beef broth if you like a more chili-like consistency
  • Adding 1/2 to 1 cup of sour cream at the end will make for a creamier base
  • Stirring in 1 to 2 cups shredded cheese will make a cheesy and super comforting base
  • Garnishing with less cheese gives a nice touch of cheese but saves some calories and fat

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving:

Calories: 376Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 70mgSodium: 1177mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 4gSugar: 7gProtein: 23g

More Easy Beef Dinner Recipes:

One-Skillet Tex Mex Beef Mac & Cheese – An EASY recipe that’s made in ONE skillet so you don’t have to cook the pasta separately!! Loaded with ground beef, peppers, tomatoes, cheese, and cilantro! A family FAVORITE that feeds a crowd!!

One-Skillet Tex Mex Beef Mac & Cheese - An EASY recipe that's made in ONE skillet so you don't have to cook the pasta separately!! Loaded with ground beef, peppers, tomatoes, cheese, and cilantro! A family FAVORITE that feeds a crowd!!

One-Pot Taco Pasta – An EASY recipe that’s ready in 20 minutes, made in ONE skillet, and loaded with Mexican-inspired flavors!! A family favorite that’s great for busy weeknights!!

overhead view of one pot taco pasta loaded with ground beef and beans

One-Skillet Beef Taco Pasta — An EASY recipe that’s ready in 20 minutes, made in ONE skillet, and loaded with Mexican-inspired flavors!! A family favorite that’s great for busy weeknights!!

One-Skillet Beef Taco Pasta — An EASY recipe that's ready in 20 minutes, made in ONE skillet, and loaded with Mexican-inspired flavors!! A family favorite that's great for busy weeknights!!

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff — A comfort food classic that everyone in the family LOVES! Hearty chunks of beef, rich and flavorful beef gravy, and served over a bed of warm noodles to soak up all that goodness! The EASIEST recipe for beef stroganoff ever because your Crock-Pot truly does all the work! Set it and forget it! 

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff - A comfort food classic that everyone in the family LOVES! Hearty chunks of beef, rich and flavorful beef gravy, and served over a bed of warm noodles to soak up all that goodness! The EASIEST recipe for beef stroganoff ever because your Crock-Pot truly does all the work! Set it and forget it! 

Slow Cooker Beef Stew – Comfort food at its finest with thick and tender chunks of potatoes, buttery soft potatoes, and mixed vegetables. The broth is rich, deep, and exquisite thanks to a mixture of beef broth, red wine, and a mixture of herbs and spices. IMPRESS your family and friends with this CLASSIC beef stew recipe! 

Slow Cooker Beef Stew – Comfort food at its finest with thick and tender chunks of potatoes, buttery soft potatoes, and mixed vegetables. The broth is rich, deep, and exquisite thanks to a mixture of beef broth, red wine, and a mixture of herbs and spices. IMPRESS your family and friends with this CLASSIC beef stew recipe!

Easy 30-Minute Beef Taco Chili – Don’t have all day for chili to simmer? No problem!! This EASY, hearty chili full of Mexican-inspired flavors is ready in 30 minutes! If you like TACOS, you’ll LOVE this chili!!

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Easy 30-Minute Smoky Ground Beef Chili — Don’t have all day for chili to simmer? No problem!! This EASY, hearty chili with lovely SMOKY heat is ready in 30 minutes! PERFECT for busy weeknights!!

a bowl of ground beef chili with a spoon resting on top

Slow Cooker Beef Chili — Easy, hearty comfort food that’s packed with flavor that develops beautifully as the beef chili simmers away in your slow cooker!

Slow Cooker Beef Chili - EASY, hearty, comfort food!! As the chili simmers in your slow cooker it develops so much FLAVOR! A foolproof chili recipe that you'll want to add into your regular rotation!!

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