Brace yourself — this American Goulash recipe has been in my family for generations! Goulash has variations in many cultures, but they all center around bringing families together. My grandmother’s sacred recipe ticks all the must-have boxes for “hug-in-a-bowl” pasta recipes: thick tomato-sauce; zesty garlic; rich herbs; and as much cheese as I can stand.
I wouldn’t tease this tempting goulash recipe if it wasn’t quick to make and — best of all — a one-pot pasta recipe. You can have my grandmother’s American goulash with minimal clean-up. If that isn’t comforting, I don’t know what is.
Let’s get started!
My grandmother’s American goulash recipe is comfort food at its best:
- A crowd-pleasing one-pot pasta recipe
- It’s loaded with comfort food staples like pasta and cheese.
- Minimal clean-up!
American goulash is a forgiving dish, but you want to make sure you get the biggest comfort food bang out of your one-pot pasta recipe.
Go for the dried herbs. Don’t let dried herbs scare you off. If you want your dish to have a bright burst of flavor, you use fresh herbs; but if you want a mellow, warm-and-cozy build of flavor, you use dried herbs.
What makes this goulash dish stand out from others are the Mediterranean-inspired spices — the bay leaves, oregano, and basil. If you don’t have all of those, you can swap in 1-2 tablespoons of good ol’, reliable Italian seasoning.
Herbs, Part Deux. My grandma was a master of balancing flavors, and one trick she loved was using seasoned salt. Seasoned salt is a great multi-purpose flavor enhancer, and its versatility is endless!
Sprinkle it on French fries, zest up roasted veggies, add a shake or two into sandwiches — it adds spices like paprika, turmeric, onion, and garlic, and even a sweet twist of sugar.
Watch your meat prep! I’m all for making this dish as easily as possible (we want comfort food, not stress food, after all!) If you’re using frozen beef then make sure you defrost your ground beef properly. If you can, try to thaw your beef in the fridge rather than in a water bath or on the counter.
Shredded versus block cheese. I am a bit of a cheese purist. Those bags of pre-shredded cheese available at the grocery store may look tempting and may save time, but there’s something so much creamier about freshly shredded cheese.
Obviously, there is NO judgment if you choose to use the pre-shredded cheese for convenience sake! To take this goulash pasta recipe over the top, I generally buy a block of cheddar cheese and hand shredding it to use for garnish.
Dietary adjustments. Need a gluten-free version? Grandma added a splash of soy sauce to her American goulash recipe to bring in that rounded umami flavor — to preserve that, you can substitute tamari, the Japanese version of soy sauce, and still end up with an umami-laced gluten-free bowl of YUM!
Then you can substitute the pasta for angel hair shredded cabbage-like in the recipe Low Carb Goulash by Lindsey at The Little Pine. I’ve tried her recipe and it’s actually, really delicious!
You’ve cooked a pot of American goulash big enough to feed the whole block — so what do you do with the leftovers?
Can You Freeze This?
Yes! Well, sort of. Pasta is notoriously fickle in the freezer (say that five times fast), as the water content in the noodles can do funky things to the quality. And if you store the sauce on top of the pasta, the noodles will continue to absorb the liquid, making them softer and softer over time.
After freezing and thawing, this American goulash recipe will be a bit mushy, but that’s one of the beautiful things about comfort food — a little mushiness doesn’t stop it from tasting delicious!
But if you only enjoy firm, al dente pasta, it’s best to only freeze the sauce, and make the pasta fresh when you’re planning to indulge again.
As for the American goulash sauce, you can freeze that for up to four months!
Make Ahead Tips
Thankfully, this recipe is very “make-ahead” friendly. Much of the ingredients are canned and dried, which means they’ll be ready and waiting in your pantry whenever it’s time to get cooking.
As for the more sensitive parts: you can always cook the ground beef ahead of time, and just refrigerate it in an airtight container until you’re ready to make the full American goulash recipe (but don’t wait longer than two days!).
A great trick with the chopped onions is to dice up a bunch and store them in the fridge in airtight containers. You can prep this up to four days ahead of time.
How Long Can You Keep This In The Fridge?
An airtight container in the fridge is the way to go if you’re planning to finish off this pasta recipe in one to two days — but if you’re wanting to store it longer, you’ll want to transfer it to the freezer.
Like I said, the world of goulash is endless! This hearty pasta recipe has been filling bellies across the globe for centuries. Here are just a few of the variations!
What Other Beefy Goulash I Can Try?
Beef, tomatoes, and cheese loaded onto carbs — am I describing this American goulash recipe, or am I describing the American classic, a hamburger?
Trick question — it’s both! But if you’re looking for a goulash recipe that screams BURGER, try our hamburger goulash recipe! You can always make instant pot goulash version too! Beef goulash goodness!
Can I Make This In Crockpot?
Yes! That’s the best part of comfort food — 9 times out of 10, you can dump all the ingredients in the Crockpot and let them come together without you. I actually have a delicious Crockpot Goulash recipe ready and waiting for you!
To transition this to Crockpot, brown the meat first in a skillet. Transfer to the Crockpot, and gradually add the sauce ingredients, stirring to combine. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 7-8 hours. While these ingredients are getting all simmered and delicious, whip up the pasta according to package directions.
When the American goulash is done, ladle it into a bowl of the pasta, and enjoy!
Can I Make This As Soup?
If you’re looking for a thinner take on the sauce, you can make this into goulash soup by adding a few cups of chicken broth (to your tastes!). Take it a step further by throwing in two chopped potatoes and letting them simmer in the brothy sauce. Soup perfection!
What Other Goulash Variations I Can Try?
The iconic recipe that springs to mind when most people hear the word “goulash” is the Hungarian goulash version. What makes that dish so unique is the addition of paprika.
Watch what paprika you add, though! There are many different kinds, each with their own flavor profiles, so go into the store knowing what sort of twist you’d like to add to your goulash recipe.
Do you want a husky, robust flavor? Then grab the smoky paprika. Do you want spicy sweetness? Pick up the sweet paprika. Don’t be afraid to try something new!
It is also common with in Hungary to add sour cream as the finishing touch, not cheese. Swap out your garnishes and get ready for your tastebuds to thank you!
German goulash uses chunky beef cuts and uses lesser veggies!
- 2 pounds Ground Beef 80/20
- 1 large yellow onion
- 4 large cloves garlic minced
- 3 cups water
- 2 (15-ounce ) canned tomato sauce
- 2 (14.5-ounce) canned diced tomatoes juice included
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon seasoned salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups elbow macaroni uncooked
- 2 cups cheddar shredded (optional)
- In a large pot, brown the meat over medium heat, breaking up the meat as it cooks into small pieces. Continue to cook until the meat is cooked through and there's no longer any pink.
- Stir in the onions and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are translucent.
- Stir in water, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, soy sauce, oregano, basil, bay leaves, seasoned salt, and black pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the pasta, cover, and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally until the pasta is tender about 25 minutes. Remove from heat, discard bay leaves. To serve, ladle into individual bowls and top with cheddar.
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In this American goulash’s cheese and spices, the noodles and beef, let us not forget the most glorious of traits that this one pot pasta recipe offers: the ease of clean up! For more easy, breezy, belly-full one pot pasta dishes, check out:
- One Pot Mac And Cheese
- One Pot Chicken Alfredo
We thank you, American goulash recipe, for reminding us that even when life is hard, comfort food is easy.
How does comfort food improve your day? Comment below!