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Authentic American Goulash

When it’s cold outside or when I am craving a comfort dish, I almost always gravitate towards soups and stews. Authentic goulash is one of my family’s favorites. With warm spices, hearty ground beef, noodles and vegetables, this recipe is one you can have in rotation in your home. 

a bowl of american goulash

There are many variations of goulash. American goulash and Hungarian beef goulash are the main ones.

It seems that every family has a version that has been passed down for generations.

This recipe is a simple dish and I know that it will be one your whole family loves.

If you’re looking for other great family recipes, be sure to try my crustless chicken pot pie and easy French dip sandwiches!

a bowl of american goulash

American Goulash vs. Hungarian Goulash

Hungarian goulash is a stew that is slow cooked in a dutch oven, pot or crockpot with sweet paprika, tender beef and usually onions, sweet peppers and tomatoes.

The traditional way to cook goulash is low and slow. Grab a large pot so the house smells of the spices and beef broth.

American goulash is a different variety that incorporates ground beef, noodles, spices, and a tomato based sauce.

Lots of paprika is what makes this dish stand out. It is found in every variation of goulash, whether it’s a classic Hungarian goulash or American goulash.

a bowl of american goulash

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • This is the perfect recipe for any night of the week and makes a large portion so that you can easily feed a large family, guests or store some in the freezer for future meals.
  • Because this recipe is so versatile you can substitute any ingredient according to your preferences.  
  • Stews are a great hearty meal that can stand alone or be served with many different sides. 
  • There is something for everyone in this recipe. Kids love the macaroni noodles and I find that slow cooking vegetables makes them more likely for my children to eat them.  
  • Since this is a one pot meal there is minimal clean up, and comes together very quickly and is perfect for home cooks. You can even cook this recipe in a crock pot or instant pot for the nights you are on the go. 
  • The rich broth makes any cut of beef, cooked over low heat, into tender chunks of beef full of big flavor.
  • While we prefer elbow noodles, you may use what you have on hand, such as egg noodles.
a bowl of american goulash

Tell me about this Goulash

  • Taste– The star of this recipe is the sweet paprika. This warm, sweet spice is paired perfectly with the slow cooked onions, bell peppers, ground beef and noodles. Adding some soy sauce adds a really great umami flavor that really pulls all the flavors together. 
  • Texture– This is a dish that can be described as a cross between a soup and a stew. With all the chunks of vegetables and noodles it is a bit thicker and heartier than a soup and therefore lends itself to a more stew-like consistency. 
  • Ease– With simple ingredients and minimal preparation, this recipe comes together and needs very little tending. You can cook on the stove top or in a crock pot, and prep the veggies ahead of time to truly make this a quick and easy weeknight dinner. 
  • Time– On the stove top this recipe comes together in less than an hour and can be cooked all day in a slow cooker. 
a bowl of american goulash

Ingredients for Authentic American Goulash

  • Ground Beef – Since this is a stew it is best to use ground beef that has a lower fat content like 80/20, but you can use whatever you have on hand. Make sure you drain out any extra fat before adding to the dish. 
  • Canned Diced Tomatoes – This recipe asks for one 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes but you can use stewed tomatoes and break them up with a potato masher, or finely dice up any fresh tomatoes you may have. 
  • Marinara Sauce -Use whatever marinara sauce you like to use or substitute with tomato sauce. 
  • Soy Sauce – If you would like to make this recipe gluten free you can substitute with tamari or add coconut aminos. 
  • Macaroni Noodles – You can substitute any noodles you have on hand, but I would recommend a noodle that can withstand heavy sauces. 
  • Onion– Using a sweet onion will complement the spices and give a sweet note to this dish. This finely chopped onion adds a nice flavor to this hearty dish.
  • Spices – In this recipe you will find sweet paprika, dried parsley, minced garlic, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, Italian seasoning and bay leaves. If you would like a spicy goulash you can substitute for hot paprika, or for a smoky flavor you can use smoked paprika. Toss in a bay leaf to further season the sauce.
  • Beef Broth – Use whatever broth or stock you have on hand, chicken would be great with this recipe as well. 
a bowl of american goulash

Make American Goulash in 3 easy steps

  1. Brown meat and vegetables on stove top with some olive oil, add spices and stir until softened and browned. 
  2. Add broth, tomatoes, marinara sauce and simmer for 30 min. 
  3. Add macaroni noodles and cook for an additional 12 min. Remove bay leaves and serve. 

Tips for making the best goulash 

  • Make sure you brown and cook the beef all the way through in a large skillet until it is no longer pink before adding additional ingredients or to the crock pot. 
  • Adding cheddar cheese to the top of this dish makes this recipe even more delicious. 
  • This is a versatile recipe so use whatever you have already available. You could add some red bell peppers or green peppers to give extra flavor and nutrients.
  • Make this with chunks of beef instead of ground beef to get a hearty stew.
  • While the main ingredient for this delicious beef stew is paprika, adding lots of onions gives tremendous flavor, so don’t skimp!

How do you store leftover goulash?

Goulash can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.. You can also store room temperature goulash in a ziploc bag or other airtight container in the freezer  for several months. When you are ready to serve, just warm in a saucepan for 15-20 min on the stovetop or until warmed through. 

What to serve with goulash?

  • Crusty bread tastes great dipped in this goulash soup.
  • Add a dollop of sour cream to add a tang to this thick sauce.
a bowl of american goulash

Frequently Asked Questions

What is traditional goulash made with?

Traditional Hungarian goulash is made with chunks of beef or pork, bell peppers, paprika, onions and tomatoes. There is also a variation that uses red wine and different spices. Many people consider goulash with ground meat and macaroni as an American style goulash.

How should I serve Hungarian goulash?

Because this recipe is so versatile it can be served in many different ways. You could serve alongside a salad or green beans, or with mashed potatoes. This could also be served as a casserole baked in the oven and broiled with cheese on top. You could serve in a sourdough bread bowl or even add some fun toppings to the top like you would a chili. 

Authentic American Goulash Recipe

a bowl of american goulash

American Goulash

Liz Quick
When it’s cold outside or when I am craving a comfort dish, I almost always gravitate towards soups and stews. Authentic goulash is one of my family’s favorites. With warm spices, hearty ground beef, noodles and vegetables, this recipe is one you can have in rotation in your home. 
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 42 mins
0 mins
Total Time 47 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8 people
Calories 300 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 large stock pot

Ingredients
  

  • 2 pounds ground beef, cooked and drained
  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 24 ounce jar marinara sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons liquid aminos, or soy sauce
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 quart beef broth or chicken broth

Instructions
 

  • In a large stock pot, heat the oil and sauté the onion and ground beef until the beef is no longer pink and the onion is translucent.
  • Add the garlic, salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, parsley, Italian seasoning, and bay leaves to the meat and cook until everything marries together- 2 minutes.
  • Pour in the broth, tomatoes, soy sauce and marinara sauce. Use the marinara sauce to fill 1 cup of water and pour that into the pot.
  • Simmer on medium-low for 30 minutes.
  • Add the macaroni and simmer for 12 minutes.
  • Remove the bay leaves, top with a shredded cheese, and enjoy!

Notes

  • Make sure you brown and cook the beef all the way through in a large skillet until it is no longer pink before adding additional ingredients or to the crock pot. 
  • Adding cheddar cheese to the top of this dish makes this recipe even more delicious. 
  • This is a versatile recipe so use whatever you have already available. You could add some red bell peppers or green peppers to give extra flavor and nutrients.
Keyword american goulash, hungarian goulash

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