Bowl of American style goulash

We’ve reached the “1 pound of meat isn’t cutting it for our family of 5 anymore” portion of the program. Translation: I am constantly looking for ways to stretch ground beef, especially, and my American Goulash recipe is the perfect way to do it!

This easy and economical beef goulash recipe not only cooks in one pot with ingredients I always have on hand, but it goes from stovetop to table top in under 30 minutes. Every time I make it I ask myself, “Is this really it? Am I missing a step?” NOPE! It really is that simple.

Close up photo of a bowl of OMG good goulash

Hungarian Goulash vs American Goulash

Goulash comes from the Hungarian word gulyáshús which means “meat prepared by cattleman”. This dish has been around since the 9th century! Hungarian Goulash is a thick meat and vegetable stew flavored with spices, while American Goulash is a quick dish made from ground beef, tomato sauce, herbs, and elbow macaroni noodles. It’s total comfort food and my whole family practically licks the pot clean every time I make it.

Now, what’s the difference between American Goulash and spaghetti? American Goulash combines the meat sauce and noodles in one pot to cook together, while the meat sauce and noodles are cooked then served separately in spaghetti.

How to Make Goulash Healthier

Almost anytime I make a dish with ground beef I use it as an opportunity to hide vegetables inside because the texture becomes undetectable. Here are a few ways to make this dish a little healthier:

  1. Add 1 – 2 cups frozen shredded cauliflower when browning the ground beef.
  2. Add 8oz minced fresh mushrooms when browning the ground beef.
  3. Use 99% ground turkey breast instead of ground beef.


What I love about this dish is that its versatile – think of the goulash as a blank slate to add seasonings and ingredients to in the spirt of traditional Hungarian Goulash. Here’s a few ways to switch things up:

Reuben Chicken


Reuben Chicken

  • Add shredded sharp cheddar cheese to the top of each bowl for a mac and cheese meets spaghetti flavor. SO good.
  • Add shredded mozzarella cheese and diced pepperoni, or your favorite pizza toppings, to the top of each bowl for a pizza spin.
  • Add shredded cheddar cheese, chili powder, and a can of beans to the pot to turn it into Chili Mac.

Can I Freeze Goulash?

Cooked pasta does not typically hold up well to freezing then thawing. That said, you can prepare this goulash recipe as written stopping shy of adding the pasta. Cool completely then ladle into a freezer bag and freeze flat. Thaw 24 hours before eating in the fridge then pour the contents of the bag into a pot, bring to a boil, add the noodles, and continue cooking per recipe instructions.

Overhead photo of a bowl of american Goulash

How to Make this Recipe

Start by browning ground beef with chopped shallots or onions, garlic, worcestershire sauce, homemade seasoned salt, and pepper.

Next add tomato sauce, petite diced tomatoes, chicken or beef broth (whichever you’ve got in the cupboard,) dried Italian seasoning, more homemade seasoned salt, and a bay leaf then simmer for 10 minutes to help marry the flavors.

Last step is to add gluten free elbow macaroni pasta then simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender, 12-14 minutes. I prefer using a corn/rice blend of pasta in this dish as brown rice pasta tends to turn to mush quickly, and soaks up more liquid.

If you don’t need to eat gluten free you can use regular elbow macaroni pasta.

That’s all she wrote! Scoop the American Goulash into bowls then serve with a side salad or roasted vegetables. I hope you love this easy, totally tasty, family-friendly dish – enjoy!

bowl of ground beef goulash

American Goulash



My easy American Goulash recipe will be a hit with the whole family! This one pot dish is made with fridge and pantry staples and it comes together in just 30 minutes.


serves 4-5

  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • 1 large shallot or small yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 8 shakes gluten free worcestershire sauce (~1/2 Tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon + extra dash homemade seasoned salt (see notes)
  • pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken or beef broth
  • 15oz can tomato sauce
  • 15oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup uncooked gluten free elbow noodles


  1. Heat a large skillet or Dutch Oven over medium-high heat. Add beef, shallot or onion, and garlic then break beef up with a wooden spoon. Season with worcestershire sauce, a dash of homemade seasoned salt, and pepper, then brown. Add remaining teaspoon seasoned salt, broth, tomato products, Italian seasoning, and bay leaf then turn heat up to bring to a bubble. Turn heat down to medium/medium-low then gently simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add elbow noodles then continue to simmer, stirring often, until noodles are tender, 12-14 minutes, turning the heat down slightly near the end to maintain a very gentle simmer. Remove bay leaf then taste and add additional seasoned salt and/or pepper if desired. Serve.


Adapted from Paula Deen

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,

Photo collage of American style goulash