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 a white plate.

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:

Easy Goulash ingredients labeled and in various bowls.

Ingredient notes:

  • Ground beef: Yes, you can lighten things up by using ground turkey, instead.
  • Italian seasoning: Make your own Italian seasoning or use store-bought.
  • Macaroni: Or any shape of pasta that you have on hand: radiatore, penne, fusilli, shells, etc.
  • 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. Brown the ground beef, onion, and Italian seasoning over medium-high heat. Then stir in the garlic.
    Ground beef and onions cooking in a silver pot.
  2. Next, stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes (and their juice), macaroni, water, Worcestershire sauce, and a little salt and pepper.
    Easy goulash recipe ingredients in a silver pot.
  3. Cover the pot and simmer until macaroni is almost as tender as you want it. This could take 10 minutes or longer, depending on the shape you chose. Then uncover the pot and let the sauce thicken up while the pasta finishes cooking. Finally, season to taste with s&p and garnish with cheddar cheese, or mix all the cheese into the pot and stir until melted.

Recipe tips and variations:

  • 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 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.
  • Slow cooker: First, brown the meat on the stove, then transfer to a slow cooker. Add the water, onions, spices, tomato sauce, tomatoes, Worcestershire, and pasta. Then cover the slow cooker and cook on HIGH for one hour or LOW for 2 to 3 hours.
  • Freezing: If you freeze, don’t add the cheese. Portion the goulash into freezer-safe containers, label, date, and freeze. After thawing overnight in the fridge, add the cheese when you reheat the goulash.
  • Improvise: Goulash is a very forgiving, kitchen-sink kind of meal. Forgot to grab tomato sauce? That’s ok. Use beef broth, chicken broth, tomato soup, or a jar of tomato paste with a little water. Add a can of beans, some canned green chilies, or whatever is in the crisper drawer (like mushrooms, corn, or peppers). Or fold in a cup of sour cream to make a creamy goulash.

Easy goulash in blue bowls.

More delicious recipes:

Easy goulash on a white plate.

Easy Goulash Recipe

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

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound ground beef (see note 1)
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (see note 2)
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes undrained
  • 1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni uncooked (see note 3)
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups shredded cheese for garnish (see note 4)

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: Yes, you can lighten things up by using ground turkey, instead.
  2. Italian seasoning: Make your own Italian seasoning or use store-bought.
  3. Macaroni: Or any shape of pasta that you have on hand: radiatore, penne, fusilli, shells, etc.
  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. 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 strong, harsh flavor of Italian seasoning. We add it first so it has enough time to cook.
  6. 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.
  7. Slow cooker: First, brown the meat on the stove, then transfer to a slow cooker. Add the water, onions, spices, tomato sauce, tomatoes, Worcestershire, and pasta. Then cover the slow cooker and cook on HIGH for one hour or LOW for 2 to 3 hours.
  8. Freezing: If you freeze, don't add the cheese. Portion the goulash into freezer-safe containers, label, date, and freeze. After thawing overnight in the fridge, add the cheese when you reheat the goulash.
  9. Improvise: Goulash is a very forgiving, kitchen-sink kind of meal. Forgot to grab tomato sauce? That’s ok. Use beef broth, chicken broth, tomato soup, or a jar of tomato paste with a little water. Add a can of beans, some canned green chilies, or whatever is in the crisper drawer (like mushrooms, corn, or peppers). Or fold in a cup of sour cream to make a creamy goulash.

Nutrition

Calories: 675kcalCarbohydrates: 46gProtein: 39gFat: 36gSaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 125mgSodium: 479mgPotassium: 570mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 400IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 350mgIron: 4mg
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Meggan Hill

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Comments

  1. 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

  2. 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!!