Easy Goulash

This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see our affiliate policy.

Busy days call for a recipe like Easy Goulash, a rewarding one-pot masterpiece that practically cooks itself. It’s cheesy, meaty, and 1000% delicious. My mom made this all the time when I was growing up and I hope you share it with your family, too.

Easy goulash on white plates.


 

Sometimes, kitchen-sink dinners are the best kinds, thrown together purely out of hunger and what’s in the refrigerator. Eons ago, Easy Goulash probably started out as just that: something fast and filling that can feed a group, especially kids. That’s why it’s called Mom’s goulash, made by cooks all over the country (my mom actually calls it “conglomeration.”)

And it’s definitely not a traditional Hungarian goulash or even a German goulash. It’s more of an American goulash; a beef, mac and cheese concoction made in one single pot for easy clean-up.

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for easy goulash.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Ground beef: Or lighten things up by using ground turkey instead. Ground Italian sausage tastes good too if you’re excited about that.
  • Italian seasoning: Make your own Italian seasoning or use store-bought.
  • Macaroni: Or any small pasta that you have on hand: penne, rotini, shells, etcetera.
  • Cheddar cheese: Shredded is best so it melts like a dream (the cheese is optional, but I’m from Wisconsin, so cheese goes on everything).

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat, add beef, onion, and Italian seasoning. Cook until beef is browned, about 5 minutes. Drain well if desired.
Ground beef and onions cooking in a silver pot.
  1. Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes with juice, macaroni, water, Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon of pepper.
Easy goulash recipe ingredients in a silver pot.
  1. Cover and simmer until macaroni is mostly tender, about 10 minutes. Uncover and cook until macaroni is tender and sauce has thickened slightly, about 3 to 5 minutes longer, then season to taste with salt and pepper (I like an additional ¼ teaspoon salt). Garnish with cheddar cheese.
Easy goulash in a blue bowl.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes about 8 cups of goulash, enough for 4 hearty, 2-cup servings.
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Freezer: Cool completely, label, date, and freeze for up to 3 months. For individual servings, portion into smaller containers. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating in the microwave.
  • Add the herbs and spices early in the game: If you don’t add the Italian seasoning with the meat, the final dish will have a strong, harsh flavor of Italian seasoning. We add it first so it has enough time to cook.
  • Don’t skimp on moisture: This recipe needs enough liquid for the pasta to cook. You can use beef broth instead of water to add an extra layer of flavor.
Easy goulash in a blue bowl.

Recipe FAQs

What is the difference between American and Hungarian goulash?

Traditional Hungarian goulash is a thick meat stew seasoned with paprika while American goulash is closer to Hamburger Helper, a quick and easy dinner with macaroni, ground beef, and tomato sauce. In the Midwest, we usually add cheese to our goulash, too.

Chili Mac

There’s nothing a bowl of Chili Mac can’t fix. This easy pasta, beef, and bean recipe lives to please; it’s fast, filling, and usually makes the cares of the day vanish into thin air. Plus…

25 minutes
View Recipe

More classic casseroles

Join Us

HUNGRY FOR MORE? Sign up for our weekly newsletter and follow along on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for our latest recipes! Tag all your glorious creations #culinaryhill so we can eat vicariously through you.
Easy goulash on white plates.

Easy Goulash

Busy days call for a recipe like Easy Goulash, a one-pot masterpiece that practically cooks itself. It’s cheesy, meaty, and 1000% delicious.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 servings (2 cups each)
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Calories 675
5 from 28 votes

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • In a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat, add beef, onion, and Italian seasoning. Cook until beef is browned, about 5 minutes. Drain well.
  • Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes with juice, macaroni, water, Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon of pepper.
  • Cover and simmer until macaroni is mostly tender, about 10 minutes. Uncover and cook until macaroni is tender and sauce has thickened slightly, about 3 to 5 minutes longer, then season to taste with salt and pepper (I like an additional ¼ teaspoon salt). Garnish with cheddar cheese.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Ground beef: Or lighten things up by using ground turkey instead. Ground Italian sausage tastes good too if you’re excited about that.
  2. Italian seasoning: To make your own homemade Italian seasoning, combine equal parts of dried basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. Store extra seasoning covered in the pantry for up to 6 months.
  3. Macaroni: Or any small pasta that you have on hand: penne, rotini, shells, etcetera.
  4. Cheddar cheese: Shredded is best so it melts like a dream (the cheese is optional, but I’m from Wisconsin, so cheese goes on everything).
  5. Yield: This recipe makes about 8 cups of goulash, enough for 4 hearty, 2-cup servings.
  6. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  7. Freezer: Cool completely, label, date, and freeze for up to 3 months. For individual servings, portion into smaller containers. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating in the microwave.

Nutrition

Serving: 2cupsCalories: 675kcalCarbohydrates: 46gProtein: 39gFat: 36gSaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 125mgSodium: 479mgPotassium: 570mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 400IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 350mgIron: 4mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @culinaryhill on Instagram so we can admire your masterpiece! #culinaryhill
Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

Quick & Easy Meals in Under 30 Minutes!
15 simple recipes for busy weeknights.

You May Also Like

Questions and Comments

Thank you for your comments! Please allow 1-2 business days for a reply. Our business hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 am PST to 5:00 pm PST, excluding holidays. Comments are moderated to prevent spam and profanity.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. What is the difference between Hungarian goulash and regular goulash?
    Hungarian Goulash is a thick meat and vegetable stew with a broth that’s heavily seasoned with paprika, while American Goulash is a quick dish made from ground beef, tomato sauce, herbs, and elbow macaroni noodles. It also goes by the name of American Chop Suey.

  2. I have made this for years but I use Hot sausage instead of hamburger and Velveeta diced up on the top of the mix. This is a go to meal in cold weather and great for football game day!

  3. Hi Meggan,
    Thank you for your recipe. Goulash is such a comforting dish. I love it. My Auntie Blanche made her version of it and she called it “Duke’s Mixture”. Whatever you call it, it’s just plain good. .

  4. Growing up, our goulash consisted of hamburger, tomato sauce and elbow macaroni, as my mom did not like to experiment with recipes.

    I have tried several goulash recipes and this one hit a homerun with my hubby, who grew up with a self-made mom-chef, so I knew she would be pleased (knowing how hard of a critic he is)! Thanks for sharing!!5 stars

    1. Hi JP, I haven’t tried this but I don’t see why not! Let me know if you try it. – Meggan

  5. I had some ground beef I needed to use and didn’t really know what to do with. Cooked this the night before to use it up and it came out fantastic.5 stars

  6. This recipe was amazing; very simple to follow for someone whose not a good cook like myself and the flavour was amazing. I missed a few minor ingredients but it still tasted great. I am so happy to have stumbled on it and recommend it to any beginner cooks or anyone who wants a flavourful, hardy stew. 5 stars

  7. I don’t know what this is, but this is not goulash! I grew up in Austria, a country whose cuisine was heavily influenced by Hungary, and goulash was a childhood favourite. There is Gulaschsuppe, Tafelgulasch mit Knödel, a venison Version, but none of them look like this. Don’t be fooled! This is NOT goulash.

    1. Hi Katja, the recipe post SO CLEARLY says “In case you’re wondering, it’s definitely not a traditional Hungarian goulash, or even a German goulash. It’s more of an American goulash; a beef, mac and cheese concoction made in one single pot for easy clean-up.” I’m not pretending it’s authentic. This is what my mom and her mom and her mom’s mom made… it’s not authentic, but to us it’s goulash. -Meggan

    2. Katia, Meggan clearly states there are many kinds of goulash & this is not Hungarian or European! just what many Americans call goulash!
      if you don’t have anything kind to say just keep quit & move on!!

    3. I sure hope you didn’t make it even after READING THE RECIPE!! Get off your high horse and enjoy the dish for what it is….. Yummy.!!