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American Goulash (+Video)

This recipe for Grandma’s American Goulash is pure comfort food made all in one pot. Made with simple ingredients: ground beef, canned tomatoes and macaroni.


We call this recipe “American Goulash” because even though it is called goulash, it’s not the Hungarian version with paprika and whole cuts of meat. It goes by a lot of different names: Slumgullion, American Chop Suey, Johnny Marzetti (just to name a few.) This is my husband’s Grandma’s recipe for this classic favorite.

a square white bowl filled with goulash.


What is the difference between Hungarian Goulash and American Goulash?

They are actually very different. Hungarian goulash and American goulash are both hearty, one-pot dishes made with meat, vegetables, and spices, but they differ in a few key ways.
Firstly, the meat used in Hungarian goulash is typically beef or pork, while American goulash usually calls for ground beef.
Secondly, Hungarian goulash often contains paprika, which is a spice made from ground sweet or hot peppers, and gives the dish a distinctive reddish-orange color and smoky flavor. American goulash, on the other hand, typically uses canned tomatoes and tomato sauce for its base, which gives it a more tomato-forward flavor.
Lastly, the texture and consistency of the two dishes also differ. Hungarian goulash is usually more of a stew, with tender chunks of meat and vegetables, while American goulash has a thicker sauce and is more like a pasta dish with ground meat and macaroni.

Can goulash be made in the slow cooker?

If you are looking for a slow cooker version, be sure to check out my Crock Pot American Goulash recipe.

Can this be made in an instant pot?

Yes, in fact I have a recipe for Instant Pot American Goulash here.

Can this be made in advance?

Yes, American Goulash can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. It can also be frozen for up to three months.

Can this be made with other meat besides ground beef?

Absolutely! Ground Italian sausage, turkey, chicken or pork will all work. You could even use a meat substitute like Beyond or Impossible meats or soy crumbles.

What are some good side dishes to serve with goulash?

I would pretty much serve the same side dishes I would with any other Italian pasta dish. A green salad, garlic bread, or steamed vegetables such as broccoli or green beans all work well here.

What if I don’t have macaroni noodles?

Just substitute with a similar sized pasta (like shells.)

a spoon holding a serving of goulash over a large pot.


  • ground beef
  • onion
  • garlic
  • crushed tomatoes
  • tomato sauce
  • sugar
  • Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper
  • macaroni noodles
  • grated Parmesan cheese (for serving)
ground beef, elbow macaroni, tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, seasonings, garlic and onion.


In a large saucepan over medium heat, brown beef along with onion and garlic.

brown and crumbled ground beef with diced onions in a large skillet.

Drain excess grease. Stir in tomatoes (with juices) and tomato sauce.

crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce added to ground beef in a skillet with a wooden spatula.

Season with sugar, Italian seasoning and salt and pepper. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. 

Italian seasoning added to ground beef, onion, garlic, tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes.

Then add in cooked pasta and stir.

cooked macaroni noodles added to tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, diced onion, garlic, Italian seasoning in a large skillet.

Allow to simmer for another 5 minutes. Sprinkle with a little grated Parmesan cheese.

American Goulash, also known as slumgullion or Johnny Marzetti shown in a white square dish.


Easy Grandma's Goulash recipe

American Goulash (+Video)

Brandie @ The Country Cook
This American Goulash is pure comfort food made all in one pot. Made with simple ingredients: ground beef, canned tomatoes and macaroni.
4.87 from 134 votes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 434 kcal


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup elbow macaroni pasta, cooked (measured before cooking)
  • grated Parmesan cheese (for serving)


  • In a large saucepan, over medium heat, brown and crumble 1 pound ground beef along with 1 small onion, diced and 1 teaspoon minced garlic. Drain excess grease.
  • Stir in 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes (with juices) and 8 ounce can tomato sauce.
  • Season with 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning and salt and pepper, to taste. Stir well and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Then add in 1 cup elbow macaroni pasta, cooked and stir. Allow to simmer for another 5 minutes then serve.
  • Serve and sprinkle with a little grated Parmesan cheese.


YouTube video


  • Add in additional veggies your family enjoys! Green peppers, diced tomatoes or mushrooms would all be great additions.
  • Shredded cheddar cheese can also be added. 
  • A tad of sugar is added to cut the acidity from the tomatoes. 
Keyword Grandma’s Goulash

Originally published: August 2013
Updated & republished: April 2020

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  1. Hi Brandie, have you changed this recipe? In the picture of ingredients used, it shows a jar of spaghetti sauce and a can of diced tomatoes. The recipe ingredients call for the diced tomatoes and 8oz of tomato sauce. I need to make a trip to the grocery store and want to buy the correct ingredients. Thank you!