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Easy goulash on a white plate.

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.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 675kcal


  • 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 cheddar cheese for garnish (see note 4)


  • 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 1/2 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 1/4 teaspoon salt). Garnish with cheddar cheese.



  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.


Calories: 675kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Cholesterol: 125mg | Sodium: 479mg | Potassium: 570mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 400IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 350mg | Iron: 4mg