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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)
lean ground beef, small onion, green pepper, garlic cloves, can diced tomatoes (with Italian seasoning), spaghetti sauce, water, macaroni noodles, Italian seasoning, shredded cheddar cheese.


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)

This American Goulash is pure comfort food made all in one pot. Made with simple ingredients: ground beef, canned tomatoes and macaroni.
4.86 from 125 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Grandma’s Goulash
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 434kcal



  • 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.



  • 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. 


Calories: 434kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 80mg | Sodium: 515mg | Potassium: 861mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 475IU | Vitamin C: 13.9mg | Calcium: 76mg | Iron: 4.6mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

“The Country Cook” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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Originally published: August 2013
Updated & republished: April 2020

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This was great!!! My husband & I loved it. We added some triple cheddar shredded cheese on top of our servings while it was still hot which caused it to melt & had buttered Texas toast along with it. I didn’t have any salad with this but will fix that along with this next time. Thanks for the recipe it was definitely an easy recipe to follow and was pretty quick to fix. Loved it!!!! Thanks Country Cook!!!!! Sincerely, Brick Road Baker, Vanceboro, NC

  2. Is there anything I can use to replace the sugar? I would like to make this but one of the people I am serving can’t have sugar.

  3. 5 stars
    Finally! A recipe for Goulash like I remember Mom making! My hubby has been after me to make Goulash forever but I couldn’t find a recipe as perfect as this! Thank you!

  4. 5 stars
    Made this tonight and really enjoyed it with a side of garlic cheese bread! I can’t wait for the leftovers for lunch! My dad grew up on goulash and I was just trying to see what I could make that was in the pantry and found this recipe! I didn’t have fresh onion but used onion flakes and onion powder and minced garlic and it came out amazing! I also added a 2nd cup of noodles! Yum! Will be making again!

  5. 5 stars
    I have looked for a recipe for Goulash since 1989, when my Mom passed away. She made the best goulash! Her recipe was nowhere in her cookbooks.
    I made this goulash recipe yesterday and added corn, like my Mom did. I used corn that I had frozen from our garden and cut it off the cob. Canned corn is good too.
    My husband told me “I think you have it – it is like your Mom’s”!! I was so glad!! It is like my Mom’s!! Thank you so much for this recipe!! My search is over and my guess is that Mom is looking down from Heaven, with a smile on her face! Thank you again!!

  6. 5 stars
    Love, love it! I found this recipe several years ago when I was looking for suggestions and measurements for the seasoning for goulash of my childhood memories. I could never quite get it right. Now it is perfect every time. This is in my favorites collection of regular quick, savory, inexpensive meals that everyone likes. Thank you so much!

  7. 5 stars
    I have several recipes for goulash, but this is one of my favorites. I have made this several times. I usually add a bit more pasta (whole wheat), and also like the addition of green pepper and canned mushrooms. Very filling and inexpensive. Brings back those childhood memories although this is better than mom’s was.

  8. 5 stars
    I am pretty sure “American Goulash” was a recipe that came about during WWII rationing. It to me represents “comfort food”. My mother grew up during the Depression and WWII and this was supper for us many evenings. Mom used whatever she had — green pepper, celery, always onions, chopped tomatoes and just a little sugar. I think powdered onion and powdered garlic, salt and pepper, elbow mac. No cheese. Usually a pan of corn bread. And jello with fruit. Thank you for the trip down memory lane.

    1. 5 stars
      I made mine with ground turkey thigh meat and still used the sugar. Try Splenda. The sugar cuts down on the acidity in the tomatoes.

  9. 5 stars
    This is close to the recipe my ex-mother-in-law used to make but she used both canned spaghetti and kidney beans. I like this recipe and will definately use if because of everthing being fresh and not a lot of preservatives. I changed the canned tomatoes and tomatoe sauce to and used my own homemade spaghetti sauce from my garden grown tomatoes. It was wonderful. I also used 16 oz. of pasta as suggested by another reviewer. Thanks for sharing Brandie.

  10. 5 stars
    I’ve always found it funny that all of these food bloggers seem to have very picky husbands despite cooking so much great food

    I had this for dinner and it was great. I had to add a little bit of grated cheddar to thicken it up, but it might be because I used whole grain pasta instead of regular.

  11. Hi Brandie,
    I just love it when you publish an old time honored recipe!
    I’ve been making this almost identical recipe for 50 years
    now, and eating it since we were children in Illinois. And my mama
    also topped it with a sprinkle of Parmesan!
    Thanks again for reminding us that we are all more similar
    than different, and that food is kind of a common
    Keep on keepin on Brandie.

  12. 5 stars
    very good. making it again tonight. great recipe for a single person. doesn’t make too much but enough for leftovers.

    i use 1 1/2 pounds hamburger instead of 1 pound
    15oz can of sauce instead of 8oz.

    im going to add a little green pepper tonight.

    thank you for the recipe

  13. So many recipes for Goulash. After reading dozens of them I found yours and it is exactly what I wanted……basic ingredients that I have on hand. Thank you.

  14. 5 stars
    I am 81 yrs old and my mother made this recipe when I was in kindergarten! That’s how old this recipe is.! We all loved it.
    She made it with whole canned tomatoes, however when I got older I met a girl and she invited me to her home for dinner
    and her mother made this and she used tomato sauce as well so the sauce was red and I told my mom and she started using tomato sauce too. I like it better with both the sauce and the whole tomatoes.

  15. 5 stars
    Very good, i hadn’t made or even had goulash previously, but this recipe is great. Im making it the third time for dinner tonight, and am very much looking forward to it.

  16. 5 stars
    I just printed this recipe and will be making it very soon. It looks so good and i love pasta dishes!

  17. 5 stars
    This easy goulash recipe is so delicious! The only thing I challenge in this recipe is that it says to only used 1 cup (measured dry) pasta. That’s not a lot of pasta for as much sauce as this makes. I used approximately 16 ounces of pasta, give or take an ounce, and it came out perfect. Had I only used 1 cup of dry pasta, it would have been too saucy. I happened to have a lonely green pepper in my fridge, so I took the advice of the recipe notes and added some chopped green pepper. We love garlic so I used about 5 cloves of minced fresh garlic, and for topping I used freshly grated Asiago cheese, which I think has more flavor than Parmesan. My whole family loved it as did I! I use at least 93% lean ground beef, making each delicious serving only 7 WW freestyle SmartPoints! Thank you so much for such a wonderful recipe!