When it comes to comfort food, pasta recipes are one of my favorites, and goulash is 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!
This is one of my favorite crock pot pasta dishes. 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!
The slow cooker does the hard work to develop the flavor of the amazing sauce in this crockpot goulash recipe. That is only one of the reasons I love this recipe! No long simmer on the stove for a delicious sauce. Just fix it and forget it! A few other things that I think are fabulous about this recipe are:
- Super quick prep for the sauce
- Feeds a crowd
- Simple to cook and assemble
- Uses ingredients you probably have in your pantry
This is a very straightforward recipe. However, here are a few extra tips!
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!
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!
Cook pasta separately- This allows you to build a thick sauce and also prevents you from overcooking the noodles. If you prepared the sauce with enough water to cook the noodles, it would turn out too thin! And if you’re not careful, you might end up with a pasta mushier than the snow lingering outside my window!
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.
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.
As with all tomato-based sauces, I recommend storing in a well-sealed glass container. Plastic will work, but the sauce may stain the container.
Can You Freeze This?
The best way to freeze crockpot goulash is to freeze the cooked sauce. Let your goulash cool before freezing, use a proper container, label the container, and reheat the goulash within a few months for best results.
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. The noodles might get a little soft when reheating, but it 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 separate 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 into the warm sauce. Otherwise, you’ll have to allow time for the slow cooker warm everything up.
How Long Can You Keep This In The Fridge?
This will keep for about 3 days in the fridge.
Pasta and slow cooker recipes always seem to have lots of versions and variations. Crockpot goulash is no exception! I think it’s one of the best things about these kinds of recipes- you can’t make them wrong!
Can I Make This Into A Soup?
Goulash soup is a very common variation of goulash, particularly in Eastern Europe, and it sounds like a perfect fall treat! If you want to modify this recipe to make it more of a soup, I recommend adding 3-4 cups of beef broth until you get to the desired consistency. You might have to tweak the spices and other flavors if they become too diluted. Start slowly and go a little at a time.
This recipe is a fantastic foundation for soup, and you can add vegetables like carrots, celery, or zucchini for more textures and fill it out a bit.
What Other Goulash Recipe I Can Try?
My crockpot goulash is very much American Goulash. Hungarian Goulash typically uses chunks of meat, like chuck roast, vegetables, and either potatoes or dumplings. It’s a lot more stew-like than the American version.
The sauce has less Italian influence and focuses more on the tomato flavor and the smoky taste of Hungarian paprika. While they both bear the name goulash, they’re very different but equally yummy!
You can also try German goulash, that uses beef chunks and lesser veggies than other goulash recipes.
What Other Beefy Goulash I Can Try?
I love hearty, beefy goulash, and hamburger goulash, like this recipe, is my favorite. You can also change it up and use cut up chuck roast to make beef goulash. Simply cut into chunks and brown in a skillet with the onion and garlic before transferring to the slow cooker.
The large chunks of meat will intensify the beef flavor and satisfy any carnivore cravings! If you don’t have much time for a crockpot goulash, you can definitely try instant pot goulash!
- 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 over medium-high heat, crumbling with as it cooks, until browned on both sites (It doesn't have to be cooked all the way through). Remove excess oil.
- Add onion and garlic to the beef and cook until the onions are translucent about 10 minutes. Transfer mixture to a large crockpot.
- Add the water, tomato sauce, petite diced tomatoes with their juice, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, Bay leaves and stir. Cover and cook on high 3-4 hours or low 7-8 hours.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta 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 sauce slightly. Only add more pasta water if consistency needs adjusting. Sprinkle cheese over top and serve.
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Let’s face it. Life is busy. Crock Pot Pasta Recipes can help you put hot, hearty meals on the table despite your busy schedule! I’ve got plenty of Crock Pot Pasta meals you and your family will love!
- Crock Pot Mac And Cheese
- Crockpot Lasagna
- Crock Pot Spaghetti
- Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup
- Crockpot Chicken And Noodles
I can’t think of better comfort food than crockpot goulash. You’re going to love the thick, rich, meaty tomato sauce that has just the right amount of seasoning. Your family will be crowded around when they hear goulash is on the menu! Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments!