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American goulash is a comforting pasta dish the whole family will love. This one-pot dinner is full of meat, pasta, and spices for a flavorful weeknight meal.
I grew up eating Hamburger Helper multiple times a week, but it wasn’t until I was an adult with my own kids that I learned you can easily make this dish from scratch.
My whole family loves this meal, especially when paired with garlic bread.
American goulash is easy enough to whip up on busy weeknights. You can even double or triple the recipe to feed more hungry folks — or just a teenager.
What is goulash?
While goulash is a completely different dish in Europe, in the United States it has evolved into a pasta dish with tomatoes and ground meat.
Hungarian goulash is a thick stew mainly seasoned with paprika. While you can add paprika to American goulash, it is predominantly flavored with dried herbs such as packaged Italian seasoning blends.
You might also know this dish as midwest goulash, hamburger goulash, homemade hamburger helper, or even American chop suey.
No matter what you call it, it’s a great recipe to keep on rotation.
How to make goulash
This one-pot pasta dish couldn’t be any easier to make.
Grab your ingredients:
- OIive oil
- Ground beef
- Onion, chopped
- Garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- Salt and pepper
- Dried oregano
- Dried basil
- Crushed red chile flakes (optional)
- Worcestershire sauce
- Tomato paste
- Crushed tomatoes
- Beef broth
Add olive oil to a large pot or 4-quart dutch oven and heat over medium-high. Once the oil is shimmering, add the ground beef, chopped onion, and garlic.
Use a spoon or spatula to break up the ground beef into small pieces as it browns. Cook until the beef is browned and no pink remains.
Add the salt, pepper, oregano, basil, paprika, and chile flakes. Stir well to mix the spices into the meat; it should be fragrant.
Add the Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste and mix well again until incorporated.
Now, add the crushed tomatoes and beef broth. Stir to mix it all together and heat until lightly bubbling.
Stir in the macaroni noodles and reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
If the pasta is sticking too much, reduce heat to medium-low. The dish is done once the macaroni is tender.
Serve it up with garlic bread or soft cheddar dinner rolls!
Substitutions and Additions
I love how versatile this recipe is, because I can add or change ingredients depending on what we have on hand.
Pasta: Use any shape you like! While we always have macaroni noodles on hand, this dish is also great with medium shells, rotini, or bowtie pasta.
Meat: Hamburger goulash is great, but you can also use other meats if you don’t have any ground beef on hand. Ground turkey or chicken works well, and we love making this goulash recipe using Italian sausage. For a spicy kick try it with Mexican-style chorizo.
Tomatoes: Swap the crushed tomatoes for an equal amount of canned diced tomatoes, plus 8 ounces of tomato sauce.
You can also use fresh tomatoes in place of canned. You’ll need approximately 2 pounds. Be sure to peel the tomatoes first for the best texture.
Vegetables: Add chopped bell pepper, sliced mushrooms or zucchini, or even diced carrots.
Toppings: I serve goulash with Parmesan cheese, but you can do shredded cheddar cheese, mozzarella, ricotta cheese, sour cream, chopped fresh parsley, hot sauce, or even jalapeños.
Leftover hamburger goulash can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Reheat portions in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. Keep in mind that cooked pasta will absorb more liquid as it rests, so the dish will be thicker than the day it is made.
You can also freeze this dish. Once completely cooled, portion into individual containers. Freeze for up to 3 months.
Thaw goulash overnight in the refrigerator, then microwave to reheat, or simmer gently on the stove.
This one pot recipe is such a great dish any day of the week. You’ll love it!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound lean ground beef, or Italian sausage
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon crushed red chile flakes, optional
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 28 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
- 1 ½ cups beef broth
- 1 ½ cups uncooked macaroni noodles
- Add oil to a large pot or 4-quart dutch oven and heat over medium-high. Once oil is shimmering, crumble beef into the pot and add onion and garlic. Use a spatula to break up the beef into small pieces as it cooks, stirring to cook all sides.
- Once beef is browned and no pink remains, stir in the spices. Cook 30 seconds, until fragrant, then mix in Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste, stirring well to evenly distribute.
- Pour in crushed tomatoes and beef broth. Stir well to combine, then let come to a low boil.
- Stir in macaroni and reduce heat to medium. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking; if it is sticking too much reduce heat to medium-low. If you want a thicker sauce, remove the lid for the last 5 minutes of cooking.
- Serve with grated cheese and chopped fresh parsley, or your favorite toppings.