Easy American Goulash

Quick and easy American Goulash is a family favorite and a bit different than traditional Hungarian Goulash, also known as “gulyás.” 

This easy recipe is a little less expensive and time consuming than Hungarian, but equally delicious. In fact, the entire bowl of goulash and noodles is ready in under 30-minutes!

Bowl of goulash in a white bowl.

American Goulash is a hearty derivative of the traditionally slow-cooked Hungarian Goulash, which incorporates tender bites of beef into a thick and savory stew, usually accompanied with smoky Hungarian paprika and waxy potatoes.

Don’t confuse this goulash recipe with “chili mac” recipes; the meat seasoning is not the same as it is for chili; it’s quite different in that it’s tomato based, with a beefy onion and smoky paprika flavor to it.

Why this recipe works

  • Simple ingredients-nothing fancy or gourmet! You probably have all the ingredients you need right now in your kitchen
  • Versatile – make it as mild or spicy, thick or thin as you like!
  • Inexpensive and filling – this is a great way to stretch a pound or two of beef – a big pot of American goulash goes a long way, particulary if you’re feeding a crowd! Serve it with a crisp green salad and some bread and you’re done!

You can add just about anything you want to this easy American goulash recipe, afterall, it’s really just a combination of meat and vegetables so feel free to add whatever you want to yours!

What you’ll need

A few simple ingredients and you can have this one-pot meal on the table in no time!

Ground beef, white or sweet yellow onion, green bell pepper, tomato paste, smokey paprika, a dash of Worcestershire, beefy onion dried soup mix, salt, pepper, bay leaves and cooked elbow noodles. 

How to make Goulash

On medium to medium-high heat, saute the onion and bell pepper with the ground beef while bringing a stockpot of water to a boil for the pasta. Drain oil from the meat and vegetable mixture and return it to the stockpot or Dutch oven.

Add remaining ingredients and allow to simmer for 20 minutes

Prepare elbow noodles according to package directions for al dente noodles. Plate noodles in a deep dish bowl and cover with a big dollop of the meat mixture; combine and enjoy!

ground beef, onion, bell pepper and seasonings in stockpot.
Saute onion, bell pepper, and brown beef; then add remaining ingredients
 Goulash in stockpot with liquid.
Add water or beef broth and allow seasonings to simmer a bit

The elbow noodles take about 6 minutes to get to al dente stage. I like to cook the noodles about 4 minutes, then add them to the beef goulash mixture and let them finish cooking in the savory broth.

Recipe tips

Cook the elbow noodles only to al dente stage; if you cook them much longer, they don’t hold up well in the meaty broth

If you make this goulash recipe in advance, I recommend you do not add the noodles until ready to serve. Why? When you add the noodles to the hot broth, then refrigerate it, the noodles dissolve, break down, and the dish becomes mushy.

Smoky paprika is key to the delicious flavor of this easy American Goulash! Make sure your paprika is fresh!

If you want to thicken the goulash, add a thickening slurry: in a one-cup measuring cup, add 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup warm water; mix together with a fork until you get a smooth consistency, then add that to the stockpot of goulash and turn the heat up a little; once it thickens to your liking, re-taste it and adjust seasonings accordingly

Storage and reheating

Store the beef goulash broth and cooked elbow noodles separately an airtight container. When ready to serve, reheat the meat mixture on the stovetop or microwave; reheat the noodles in the microwave. Combine them right before you are ready to serve.

The noodles come out better and the whole dish looks better.

American goulash in white bowl.

American Goulash is an easy and inexpensive one-dish dinner you’ll make time and time again! Serve with a crisp green salad and some warm bread and call it dinner!

If you make this recipe, please scroll down and leave a comment and rating! I love to hear from you!

Easy American Goulash

Savory ground beef nestled in a seasoned broth with elbow noodles
5 from 2 votes
Print Rate
Course: Entree
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
Author: Anecia Hero


  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon oil , canola or vegetable
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 pkg. beefy onion soup mix (I use Lipton's Beefy flavor dry soup mix)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon smoky paprika (See Recipe Notes: Paprika)
  • 2 bay leaves , dried
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups water (See Recipe Notes: Water) or beef broth (liquid for goulash; you'll need more water for the pasta)
  • 12 oz. elbow noodles prepared al dente



  • Chop onion and bell pepper
    1 cup chopped yellow onion, 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • Bring large stockpot of water to boil; cook pasta 4 minutes; drain; set aside
    12 oz. elbow noodles

Make the Goulash

  • In a large pan, heat oil on medium heat; add onion, bell pepper and ground beef; cook till beef is no longer pink; drain; return to stockpot
    2 lbs. ground beef, 1 cup chopped yellow onion, 1 cup chopped green bell pepper, 1 tablespoon oil
  • Add everything else but the noodles: bring heat to medium until tomato paste is dissolved
    6 ounces tomato paste, 1 pkg. beefy onion soup mix, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon smoky paprika (See Recipe Notes: Paprika), 2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, 2 cups water (See Recipe Notes: Water) or beef broth
  • Once tomato paste is dissolved, turn heat to simmer; cover stockpot with lid and allow to simmer for 10 minutes
  • After 10 minutes, add prepared elbow noodles to meat mixture; allow to cook a few minutes more
  • Remove bay leaves; serve and enjoy!


Paprika is a key ingredient to the flavor of this dish! Make sure you use Smoky Hungarian or Spanish Paprika and be sure it’s fresh.
If you’ve got an old McCormick “paprika” in your pantry, you can use it but the flavor of the dish won’t be as well developed as when you use a fresh smoky paprika. 
Start by using one teaspoon; if you decide you want more, add more!
This American Goulash recipe uses water as the liquid,however, you can use beef broth or beef stock, or vegetable stock. 
Want it thicker?
Make a thickening slurry: in a one-cup measuring cup, add 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup warm water; mix together with a fork till smooth then add the mixture to the goulash; turn the heat up a little and it will thicken. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Nutrition Estimate

Serving: 1cupCalories: 540kcalCarbohydrates: 52gProtein: 39gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 98mgSodium: 758mgPotassium: 1016mgFiber: 4gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 694IUVitamin C: 29mgCalcium: 54mgIron: 5mg
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