This one pot American goulash recipe is full of robust flavor. The rich beef flavor balances perfectly with the herby tomato-based sauce. There's is a little bit of heat too! And since everything cooks in one pot, clean-up is a breeze, making this a perfect meal any day of the week.
This is not your typical American goulash recipe
First, let's be clear about something. American goulash has absolutely nothing to do with Hungarian gulyás, which has a similar pronunciation, but is a beef stew.
I grew up with this dish. Based on where you live, you might know this as goulash, beefaroni, slumgullion, or American chop suey (I have no idea why, since—again—it has zero similarity to actual chop suey).
Whatever you call American goulash, it's pure comfort food. Better yet, it's budget-friendly.
Too often American goulash recipes are flavorless tomato soups with noodles and ground beef.
Or, if it is flavorful, the recipe is more like a chili or a spaghetti marinara soup. Neither of which is goulash.
You won't find any of that here.
My one pot American goulash recipe has bold and unique flavors due to some key ingredients:
All these flavors meld perfectly with the rich beef flavor and tomato sauce base.
Prepare to put this recipe on speed dial. It's that good!
Think this can't be low carb? Think again! I have a section further down on how to do just that.
Ingredients for one pot American goulash
Some recipes that claim to be "one-pot" have you adding already-cooked pasta, which—guess what?!—got cooked in another pot. Ours is truly a one-pot wonder!
The ingredients below are staple items in most pantries. If you don't have them hanging about in your pantry, you can easily find them at just about any grocery.
|Ground Beef||RO-TEL Tomatoes||Garlic Powder|
|Green Pepper||Worcestershire sauce||Onion Powder|
|Beef Broth||Bay Leaf||Crushed Red Pepper|
|Beer||Ground Fennel||Salt & Pepper|
How to make one pot American goulash
This recipe yields 8 servings.
First, brown the meat
In your large pot, brown the ground beef over medium heat until cooked about 75% of the way.
Cooking the beef to 75% allows us to cook the veggies (in the next step) without overcooking the meat.
Now, it's time to drain the fat (some folks leave it in, but we always drain our meat to reduce calories).
To further save on dirty dishes, I simply push all meat to one side, then tilt the pan at a 45º angle. This allows the fat to pool at the bottom.
With a small spoon, I scoop out the fat and discard. Just make sure to turn the burner off before doing this. 🙂
Next, add the veggies
Add the chopped green pepper and onion and cook an additional 5-7 minutes until soft and translucent.
The meat will finish cooking during this stage.
Follow up with the herbs & spices
Add the paprika, garlic and onion powders, crushed red pepper, ground fennel, Italian seasoning, bay leaf, and salt & pepper.
Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently. This will bloom the herbs and spices.
Then, add the liquids
Add the beer, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, Sriracha, tomato sauce, and Ro-Tel tomatoes.
It will be pretty soupy at this point, but that's what we want. This extra broth is needed because it will soak into the pasta.
Let the mixture simmer (covered) for 30 minutes. This allows all the spices to fully incorporate throughout the sauce before adding the pasta.
Finally, add the Macaroni
While still simmering on low, add the dry, uncooked, macaroni.
(I am a huge fan of Dreamfields pasta. It's high in fiber and protein, but has the taste and texture of regular pasta!)
Stir the macaroni every 2-3 minutes. This will prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Allow this to slowly cook for 15-20 minutes or until your desired tenderness is reached.
Then serve immediately...but don't forget the accompaniments.
What to serve with American goulash
There are some key items we like to serve with goulash.
- #1 on the list is freshly grated cheese. I grew up without any cheese on my goulash, so this is optional. But the cheese takes it to a new level of ooey-gooey delicious. Any melty cheese is good. I recommend jack (or pepper jack), mozzarella, provolone, cheddar, or American.
- Add a dollop of sour cream. This will bring some creaminess and will reduce the spice level a bit.
- My stovetop croutons are wonderful on this dish. They are crispy on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside. Or just serve it with a lightly toasted baguette.
- Homemade dinner rolls are always a hit.
How to modify the spice level
If you prefer it spicier...
- Add a chopped fresh jalapeno to your green pepper and onions. Pickled jalapenos would also work.
- Increase the amount of crushed red pepper and/or Sriracha.
- Use a spicy paprika.
If you prefer it less spicy...
- Reduce or remove the crushed red pepper and/or Sriracha.
- Use a sweet paprika
- Add sour cream for those who want it less spicy.
Variations and substitutions
This is a very flexible recipe. Have fun with it and tweak it to your liking. Below are some ideas to get you started.
Make it a stew
- Substitute the beef stew meat for the ground beef. Just make sure to let it simmer until fork tender (1-2 hours).
- Remove the pasta and add potatoes and carrots.
Change up the pasta
Although we like macaroni, you can use pretty much any pasta you want. This also is a great way to use up those half empty pasta boxes we all seem to have in our pantry. The only caveat to this is that you want to make sure that if you're mixing pasta, they should all have the same cooking time.
Make it soupier
A simple way to do this is by reducing the quantity of pasta by half. This will allow you to add more veggies and meat, if you'd like.
Use a different ground meat
This dish would be equally great with ground turkey or chicken. You could also do half beef and half with a different ground meat of your choice.
Make it vegetarian
Take out the meat and add a ton of veggies you like. Some nice additions would be cauliflower, squash, potatoes, zucchini, and carrots. Note the different cooking times (for example, cubed zucchini needs only a couple of minutes of simmering to soften, as opposed to carrots or potatoes).
Also replace the beef broth with vegetable broth, and the Worchestershire sauce with Maggi seasoning sauce (add half the amount).
How to make low carb goulash
Note that if you're doing a strict diet like Atkins, the tomatoes and some of the sauces in this recipe contain too much sugar to be allowable during "induction." But we can at least lower the carb load.
This is a simple matter of removing the pasta from this dish. Note that you'll need to reduce the liquid significantly in order to get the same texture, or simply eat it like a soup!
If you are looking for a low carb alternative to pasta, how about...CAULIFLOWER?
Cauliflower has a neutral taste (similar to pasta) but when you cook it to firm-tender, it provides a great texture in this dish.
Just trim off a couple cups of small cauliflower florets and let that simmer until your desired tenderness is reached.
Zucchini noodles are another great option, or even spaghetti squash.
Can you freeze goulash?
Absolutely! In fact, when it's just me and Phil, I often make this entire recipe. We eat it for dinner and lunch the next day, and then I freeze the rest. It's great to have a thaw-reheat-and-heat meal available when things are busy.
I simply load up one of these twist-top containers, leaving about an inch of headspace at the top.
If you're looking for more one-pot meal inspiration, check out these favorites:
- Creamy One-Pot Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese (or this spicy spin, One-Pot Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese)
- One-Pot Sausage Kale and Potato Soup
- One-Pot Taco Pasta
- One-pan Arroz con Pollo
- One-Pan Meyer Lemon Chicken and Rice
Or, check out my "master class" post on creating one-pot meals: Mastering Easy One-Pot Meal Recipes!
That's it! I hope your family loves this meal.
Stay safe and well, my friends.
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 1 green pepper (chopped)
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 ½ tablespoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon ground fennel
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt (table)
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 15 oz tomato sauce
- 20 oz Ro-Tel tomatoes
- 2 C beef broth (see Recipe Note #1)
- 12 oz beer (lager)
- 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
- 8 oz macaroni
- In a large pot or dutch oven, brown the ground beef on medium-high heat until it is approximately 75% cooked, 6-8 minutes. Drain the fat, if desired.
- Add the onion and green pepper and continue to cook until the veggies are softened. 6-8 minutes.
- Add the paprika, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, ground fennel, crushed red pepper, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly with the beef, onion and pepper mixture and continue to cook for an additional minute.
- Add the tomato sauce, Ro-Tel tomatoes, beef broth, beer, Worcestershire sauce and Sriracha sauce. Allow this to come to a boil, then reduce to low heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes of simmering, add the uncooked macaroni and stir thoroughly. Allow this to simmer for 15-20 minutes until your desired tenderness is reached. Stir frequently to ensure noodles don't stick to the bottom of the pot (see Recipe Note #2).
- Serve and enjoy!
- If you have leftovers, you may find that you need to add additional liquid since the noodles tend to soak it up after sitting for a while.
- There is no need to drain the noodles! If you like your goulash thicker, you can continue simmering, uncovered, for an additional 5 minutes.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 271Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 50mgSodium: 1084mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 3gSugar: 6gProtein: 20g
Nutrition data provided here is only an estimate: if you are tracking this information for medical purposes, please consult a trusted external source. Thanks!