Hamburger Goulash is cozy classic American comfort food that’s a perfect meal for a weeknight dinner at home. Made in just one pot, it’s easy to make and a go-to meal.  

american goulash in a bowl topped with shredded cheddar cheese

What is Goulash?

Goulash is a thick and flavorful meat and vegetable stew with paprika that originated in Hungary. 

Hungarian goulash dates back to the 9th century as a dish eaten by shepherds. In the 15th century, the Ottoman Turks invaded and brought with them a new spice: paprika, now a staple of Hungarian dishes like goulash. 

Heavily adapted from the Hungarian version, American Goulash is just as hearty but its ingredients are different. Also sometimes called American Chop Suey or Beef-a-roni, it’s a quick dinner of ground beef, tomatoes, herbs, and elbow noodles. 

Why you will love this traditional goulash recipe

This recipe for Hamburger Goulash is a version of American Beef Goulash. 

This old fashioned goulash recipe is one the whole family will love. 

Here’s why you’ll love it: 

  1. Comfort food: American goulash is hearty and filling, exactly what you look for in comfort food. The combination of pasta, ground meat, and tomato sauce creates a warm and cozy meal that is perfect for chilly nights or when you need a little comfort food.
  2. Easy to make: This quick and easy recipe comes together in just 30 minutes. It requires only a few ingredients and can be prepared in one pot. It makes this easy goulash recipe perfect for busy weeknights or when you want a quick and easy meal with fewer dishes!
  3. Family-friendly: American goulash is a dish that is loved by both kids and adults. The mild flavors and simple ingredients make it a crowd-pleaser, and it’s a great option for families with picky eaters.

I love serving this ultimate comfort food up in a large dutch oven for an easy weeknight dinner the entire family loves. 

Homemade goulash ingredients 

Here’s what you will need to make a delicious homemade cheeseburger goulash: 

  • ground beef – This is traditionally made with ground beef, but you could use ground chicken or ground turkey instead. It would even be good with ground Italian sausage. 
  • seasoned salt – Any kind of seasoned salt will work. My go-to is Lawry’s. 
  • black pepper – Freshly ground pepper makes a big difference in cooking. 
  • onion – You can substitute with onion powder if you like. 
  • minced garlic – Fresh cloves are best but you can also use the jarred minced garlic. 
  • beef bouillon cube – Substitute beef stock or beef broth for the water and bouillon combo. 
  • canned tomato sauce – You can also use marinara sauce if it’s what you have on hand. 
  • canned diced tomatoes – Any kind of canned diced tomatoes works here. I like fire-roasted. 
  • Worcestershire sauce – Soy sauce or coconut aminos would work instead.
  • Italian seasoning – You can buy this at the store but I prefer to make my own.
  • elbow noodles, uncooked – AKA macaroni noodles! But you can also use any kind of short noodle here, you don’t have to use elbow pasta. 
  • cheddar cheese – You can use pre-shredded cheese but if you have time to grate a block yourself it makes a huge difference and melts so much nicer. If you’re a cheese-loving family, top servings with extra cheese. 
ingredients to make american goulash

How to make goulash 

This American goulash is such a hearty recipe and comes together easily. Here’s how to make your own Hamburger Goulash: 

  1. Start by adding the ground beef to a dutch oven or deep large skillet over medium-high heat. Season with salt and pepper. Add in the onion (if using) or onion powder. Cook through until ground beef is fully cooked. 
  2. Drain the grease from the ground beef and return it to the pot.
  3. Add in the garlic and allow it to cook for about 1-2 minutes, until the garlic is just starting to become fragrant. Move quickly to the next step so you don’t burn it!
  4. Pour in the water along with the beef bouillon, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and Italian seasoning.
  5. Stir everything to combine it well, then bring the mixture to a boil. 
  6. Add the uncooked elbow macaroni noodles and allow it to simmer until the noodles are cooked to al dente. (Your box of pasta might offer a more precise time, but this is usually about 7 to 8 minutes.)
  7. Top bowls of goulash with some shredded cheddar cheese and dig in! 
tomato sauce, water, bouillon, and seasoning added to the cooked ground beef
american goulash simmering in a pan

How to serve ground beef goulash

This easy Hamburger Goulash is so good all on its own. It is usually served in bowls and can be eaten with a spoon or fork.

A garnish of chopped fresh parsley makes it look a little fancier. And you could always add extra cheese! A sprinkle of parmesan cheese is good as well. 

If you want to dress up your bowls of goulash even more, you could add a few burger toppings like avocado, a drizzle of burger sauce or fry sauce, a fried egg or some crispy onion straws. 

For picky eaters, you could cook the noodles separately and serve the meat sauce on top. 

Or you could keep with the burger night theme and have picklespotato salad or potato wedges on the side. 

While the classic goulash recipe (American style) doesn’t have them, you could sneak extra veggies in by chopping them up finely. You could include bell peppers (both green pepper and red bell pepper work) or even some finely chopped carrots or zucchini. 

How to store this traditional goulash recipe

If you have leftover goulash, you can store it in a food-safe, airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. 

You can reheat it in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove. 

american goulash in a bowl topped with cheese

Old fashioned goulash FAQs

What’s the difference between Hungarian goulash and American goulash?

While both tomato-based dishes Hungarian goulash is a meat and vegetable stew that typically includes chunks of beef, bay leaves, root vegetables, and paprika, whereas an American goulash recipe is a tomato base pasta dish that often includes hamburger meat and cheese. 

What makes a goulash a goulash? 

Goulash is meat that is cooked in a tomato based sauce and often features Hungarian paprika as the main spice. An American version also includes the addition of pasta and cheese. 

Why is my goulash meat tough?

When meat is overcooked, it can develop a tough and chewy texture. 

More One Pot Recipes to Try 

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Traditional Goulash Recipe (American style)

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Prep 5 minutes
Cook 25 minutes
Total 30 minutes
Servings: 8 servings



  • Start by adding the ground beef to a dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Season with salt and pepper. Add in the onion (if using) or onion powder. Cook through until ground beef is fully cooked.
  • Drain the grease from the ground beef and return it to the pot.
  • Add in the garlic and allow it to cook for about 1-2 minutes, just until the garlic is fragrant. Be careful to avoid burning it.
  • Pour in the water along with the beef bouillion, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, Worcestershire, and Italian seasoning.
  • Stir to combine and bring to a boil.
  • Add the elbow noodles and allow it to simmer until the noodles are cooked to al dente.
  • Top with shredded cheese and enjoy!



  • Be sure to drain the grease from your ground beef if you’ve used a fatty cut. You don’t want the finished dish to be greasy.
  • You can always use a different type of pasta noodle, but just be aware that if you use a large noodle, it may need additional liquid and time.


Serving: 1serving, Calories: 521kcal, Carbohydrates: 39g, Protein: 33g, Fat: 26g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 11g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 86mg, Sodium: 1579mg, Potassium: 981mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 669IU, Vitamin C: 19mg, Calcium: 226mg, Iron: 6mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Appetizer, Dinner, Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: American

Hi! I’m Kara!

Kara loves all things food and spending time with her family and dogs. She has a passion for cooking and loves making yummy, family-friendly recipes.

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