Rich, meaty tomato sauce generously coats the pasta in this hearty Crockpot goulash. The fix-it & forget it meat sauce is yummy and super simple to make!
When it comes to comfort food, pasta recipes are one of my favorites, and are right at the top of that list! Of course, crockpot goulash has the added benefit of using the ever-handy slow cooker to decrease prep time and increase flavor!
It’s hearty, super simple to make, and makes plenty to feed your hungry crew. The sauce assembles in under 15 minutes. Fast and fabulously delicious, crockpot goulash is one of those meals they’ll be requesting again and again!
I’m absolutely crazy for goulash! All types. This recipe is very similar to the taste of my American goulash which is made on the stovetop. My beef goulash is an altogether different style, more European. Made with flank steak and more paprika. I promise you’ll love it! And if you prefer a true classic, my German goulash and Hungarian goulash.
Important Ingredient Notes, Tips + Tricks
- Pasta- I use elbow macaroni, but you can use any type of short-cut pasta you like. I like to use pasta that has twists or bends in it, so it can hold on to the delicious sauce and really pack in the flavor with every bite!
- Cheese- Let’s level up this and make crockpot goulash with cheese! I love cheddar cheese with pasta and tomato-based sauces. You can use any type of cheese that you like. Mozzarella, Parmesan, or any Italian blend of cheeses would work well too! Just know that hard cheeses like Parmesan will take a little longer to melt.
- Beef- I suggest pouring the meat onto several layers of paper towels after you have drained the majority of the grease out of the pan. Pat the meat dry with another paper towel before adding putting it back in the skillet to cook with the onion and garlic.
- Drain the beef- I suggest pouring the meat onto several layers of paper towels after you have drained the majority of the grease out of the pan. Pat the meat dry with another paper towel before adding putting it back in the skillet to cook with the onion and garlic.
- Cooking the Pasta- Make sure you use plenty of salty water to cook your pasta. It makes a huge difference in the texture and taste of the pasta. Also, make sure you reserve at least 1 cup of the pasta water. The extra starch and salt in the water add flavor, thicken, and help bind the pasta to the sauce!
- To bay or not to bay – Bay leaves are an age-old culinary debate. I’m a bay leaf fan and think they do add to sauces and soups. It’s a background, foundation flavor. It’s not flashy or overpowering, which is why I call for 3 in this recipe. If you’re not a fan or don’t have any, your dish won’t be wrecked without them, but I feel they definitely add depth to the sauce.
Storing + Freezing + Make-Ahead
Friends, we all know that as pasta sits in a sauce it gets softer. So any way you store this, the texture of the pasta will change. Frankly, as the pasta absorbs sauce it gets even more flavorful and I find my family really enjoy the leftovers.
That said if you hate soft pasta, there’s really no way to avoid it with leftovers.
- How Long Can You Keep This In The Fridge? This will keep for about 4 days in the fridge.
- Can You Freeze This? I don’t generally freeze this dish because the pasta can easily become too mushy. The best way to freeze crockpot goulash soup is to freeze the cooked sauce. Let your goulash cool before freezing, use a proper container, label the container, and reheat the goulash.
- Tomato-based pasta sauces can be stored in the freezer for 4-6 months. When you’re ready to serve, warm the sauce through and stir in freshly cooked pasta.
- You can also freeze leftovers of the completed dish for 2 months. The noodles will definitely get quite a bit softer when reheating, but they will still be tasty!
- Make-Ahead Tips: You can certainly make this up to several days ahead of time. Cook the meat fully and combine the rest of the sauce ingredients. Cook as directed in the Crockpot on the day serving. You can either cook your pasta fresh that day or cook beforehand and store it separately from the sauce.
- If you’re using pasta you’ve stored in the fridge, let it warm up on the counter or warm it on the stove before stirring it into the warm sauce. Otherwise, you’ll have to allow time for the slow cooker to warm everything up.
One of the things I like about this dish is that I can pair it up with any freshly baked bread! My favorites are my soft copycat Olive Garden Breadsticks that are to die for delish, my beer bread– it’s yeast-free and only takes 5 minutes to prepare. And the perfect combination of crispy crust and soft interior makes it easy to get everyone to the dinner table!
If I’m really short on time, I just whip up a batch of fluffy Bisquick drop biscuits in less than 30 minutes flat.
Step By Step How To Make Crockpot Goulash
Brown the ground beef.
Add onion and garlic to the beef and cook.
Transfer the mixture to a large crockpot.
Add the rest of the ingredients except the pasta. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 7-8 hours.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in well-salted water. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
Drain well then stir into crockpot. Add reserved pasta water.
Sprinkle cheese over top and serve.
See full instructions below.
More Crockpot Pasta Recipes
- Creamy Crock pot Mac and Cheese
- Crockpot Lasagna
- Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce
- Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup
- 2 pounds ground beef 80/20
- 1 large onion chopped
- 4 large cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup water
- 3 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
- 2 (14.5-ounce) cans canned petite diced tomatoes juice included
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 cups elbow pasta
- 1 cup pasta cooking water
- 2 cups extra sharp cheese shredded
- In a large skillet, brown the ground beef (2 pounds) over medium-high heat, crumbling with as it cooks, until browned on both sides (It doesn't have to be cooked all the way through). Remove excess oil.
- Add onion (1) and garlic (4) to the beef and cook until the onions are translucent about 10 minutes. Transfer mixture to a large crockpot.
- Add the water (1 cup), tomato sauce (3 (15-ounce) cans), petite diced tomatoes with their juice (2 (14.5-ounce) cans), soy sauce (2 tablespoons), Worcestershire sauce (2 teaspoons), sugar (¼ teaspoon), salt (2 teaspoons), pepper (½ teaspoon), Italian seasoning (2 tablespoons), Bay leaves (3) and stir. Cover and cook on high 3-4 hours or low 7-8 hours. After the goulash has cooked, remove bay leaves.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta (2 cups) in well-salted water, according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Drain well then stir into crockpot. Add reserved pasta water 1/2 cup at a time to thin the sauce slightly. Only add more pasta water if consistency needs adjusting. Sprinkle cheese over top and serve.
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Inga Golombek says
Love this! Made it several times! One question though if I’m making the pasta before hand do I still reserve and add the cup of pasta water? Does it need to warmed like the pasta before adding?
Hi Inga, in this recipe I cook the pasta separately. It isn’t cooked in the goulash like I do in my classic American goulash. So, what I understand you to say, is you are doing it as the recipe directs. If that is the case, I use the reserved pasta water to thin the sauce of the goulash to your desired consistency. Please reach out again if I’m not understanding you correctly. I really want to help! 🙂
easy and good
If you have to cook the onion,garlic and meat. You cook pasta Why not just do it all on stovetop? Seems easier. Would that make a difference in taste?
Hi Diane. No this recipe, as written, doesn’t work well on the stovetop. It’s the ratio of liquid that would be off. Why don’t you try my American Goulash. It’s is written for the stovetop and is one of my all-time most popular recipes on my site. It’s my Grandmas recipe <3
Angela C. says
During the summer I like to use garden fresh ingredients as much as possible. There’s just something amazing about plucking veggies & herbs from the backyard and taking them straight to the kitchen! We also blanche, peel, season, and freeze the extra tomatoes. Think: Italian, salsa, Mediterranean, bisque, etc…
I couldn’t agree more, Angela! ?? Freshly-picked vegetables are the best!
Diana M says
I made this just like the recipe. Had 5 of my grandchildren for dinner and they all loved it!
So easy. In a crockpot.
That’s wonderful, Diana! <3 Glad you all enjoyed it!
Nicole Beratta says
I added the pasta in the crock pot or am I supposed to wait until 7-8 hours then add the pasta?
Hi Nicole! You should add the cooked pasta after 7-8 hours or else it will overcook. Hope this helps!
Angela Alpire says
I did everything exactly to your recipe and it turned out delicious. I drained the hamburger like you said in your tips. The only thing I will do differently next time is maybe just use 1 or 2 bay leaves. To my taste 3 was a bit over powering. Thank you so very much for the recipe..my husband said it’s a keeper ?
So glad you liked the Goulash Angela! <3
Yum! I have all the ingredients right now, I’ll better get cooking! 🙂
Yay! Let us know how it turns out 🙂
Lisa M says
Going to try this yet on the instruction #3 where it says add water how much water? I only see adding pasta water at the end?
Hi Lisa. Thanks for catching that omisssion. I’ve fixed the recipe. Its 1 cup <3