Total Time
Prep: 15 min. Cook: 25 min.
This old-fashioned American goulash recipe is a savory, satisfying dinner that cooks up in a single pot.

Updated: May 10, 2024

You’ve probably heard of Hungarian goulash (or gulyás). A stew that was originally made by shepherds in ninth century Europe, and later, changed to include paprika as a primary seasoning. It’s a slow-cooked dish made with onions, spices and chunks of meat.

American goulash—also called American chop suey or slumgullion—combines macaroni noodles, tomato and ground beef. It’s a common dish in school cafeterias and on dinner tables throughout the United States.

Unlike the original, which takes several hours, this version is a quick-cooking, one-pot meal!

What’s in a traditional Hungarian goulash recipe?

American goulash has very little in common with the Hungarian goulash version! In Hungary, it’s typical to use melted pork lard to cook onions and cubes of beef and then add tomatoes, garlic and other seasonings. The stew is rich with root vegetables and potatoes and usually includes paprika and caraway.

Why is American goulash so different?

In the American “melting pot,” traditional foods from around the world have been modified beyond recognition but sometimes kept the same name. In 1909, a newspaper published a recipe called “American Goulash,” which consisted of cubed beef steak baked with rice, tomato and onion. Thereafter, some of the published American goulash recipes had more in common with the original dish, while others moved toward the macaroni recipe we know and love today.

American Goulash Ingredients

ingredients for goulashTMB studio

  • Ground beef
  • Onion
  • Garlic cloves
  • Canned diced tomatoes
  • Canned tomato sauce
  • Beef broth
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Italian seasoning
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Elbow macaroni
  • Cheddar cheese, optional


Step 1: Saute the meat

top view of Sautéing meat in a dutch ovenTMB studio

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, cook beef, onion and garlic over medium-high heat until beef is no longer pink and onion is tender, four to five minutes, breaking beef into crumbles as it cooks. Drain.

Editor’s Tip: You can skip the draining step if you use lean ground beef or are OK with some extra fat.

Step 2: Simmer the sauce

Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, broth, Worcestershire sauce and seasonings, and bring to a boil.

Editor’s Tip: Want to bring this dish closer to the Hungarian version? Add some sweet paprika in place of (or alongside) the Italian seasoning.

Step 3: Add the mac

add macaroni to dutch ovenTMB studio

Stir in macaroni. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until macaroni is tender, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you like your pasta more al dente, start sampling noodles after 9 or 10 minutes, and turn off the heat whenever it’s to your liking.

Step 4: Make it cheesy

Remove from heat. Sprinkle with cheese if desired. Cover and let stand until cheese is melted, about five minutes.

Editor’s Tip: If you don’t have cheddar in the fridge, don’t be afraid to sprinkle this dish with Parmesan, mozzarella or a combo of the two.

Can American goulash be frozen?

It’s definitely possible to freeze goulash if you have lots of leftovers, but cooked pasta mixed with sauce tends to end up with a mushy texture after freezing and thawing. For best results, freeze the beef and tomato combo, thaw and bring to a simmer, and then add the pasta as directed.

Old-Fashioned American Goulash

Prep Time 15 min
Cook Time 25 min
Yield 4 servings.


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, optional
  • Chopped fresh parsley, optional


  1. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, cook beef, onion and garlic over medium-high heat until beef is no longer pink and onion is tender, 4-5 minutes, breaking up beef into crumbles; drain.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, broth, Worcestershire sauce and seasonings; bring to a boil. Stir in macaroni. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, until macaroni is tender, 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. If desired, sprinkle with cheese. Cover and let stand until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. If desired, top with parsley.

Nutrition Facts

1-1/2 cups: 330 calories, 14g fat (5g saturated fat), 70mg cholesterol, 929mg sodium, 26g carbohydrate (7g sugars, 4g fiber), 25g protein.

This easy stovetop dinner will be a hit with the family after a day at school or work. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen