This Goulash Recipe will warm you from the inside out with hearty ground beef, flavorful tomatoes, and a whole slew of spices, giving it incredible flavor. Add in elbow macaroni noodles and you’ve got yourself a delicious and filling meal. Follow along for step-by-step instructions on how to make one of the best comfort food recipes.
The Best Goulash Recipe
Whether you grew up eating this on cold winter days or if you’re new to the world of goulash, this recipe won’t disappoint. Complete with simple ingredients, easy to follow directions, and big flavors, this dish is perfect for a crowd or an easy weeknight meal.
What Is Goulash
Originating from the country of Hungary, goulash is a mix of ground beef, chopped veggies, and Hungarian paprika, giving a distinctive sweet flavor. Classic Hungarian goulash has more of a stew-like consistency using large chunks of beef vs. American goulash which uses ground beef, a diverse set of seasonings, and elbow noodles. Both goulash recipes are excellent and will leave you feeling satisfied and satiated.
What You Will Need
- butter – Olive oil works too.
- garlic – Adds a lovely nutty, peppery flavor throughout.
- yellow onion – We love yellow onion for its bold flavors compared to their white onion counterpart.
- ground beef – One of the main ingredients that makes this an American beef goulash vs. traditional Hungarian goulash which uses stew meat. Try to find 80% lean/ 20% fat ground beef for the best tasting goulash. You could use ground turkey, but the consistency will be a bit dryer.
- ground black pepper and kosher salt – Just a bit to heighten flavors.
- can of whole tomatoes – A simple way to get that whole tomato flavor into your dish.
- tomato paste – Adding richness and flavor.
- tomato sauce – Helps to thin out the ingredients while adding flavor.
- red kidney beans – A slightly firm texture paired with a slightly sweet taste.
- worcestershire sauce – A mixture of umami, sweet, and sour flavors.
- Italian seasoning – oregano, basil, and thyme just to name a few of the power house herbs in this yummy mix. Try out our homemade Italian seasoning recipe for the freshest flavors.
- bay leaf – When mixed into a liquid, this magically little leaf adds hints of mint, pine, and black pepper.
- elbow macaroni – A classic pasta to make you feel like a kid again. Feel free to use egg noodles if those are more readily available.
- toppings – shredded cheese, sour cream, or green onion
How To Make Goulash
We used a 5.5 qt Dutch Oven, but a large stock pot will work as well. Bring your pot to medium-high heat and add the butter or olive oil, ensuring that it coats the bottom of the pot. Next, add the diced onion and minced garlic, stirring with a wooden spoon until they’re fragrant and softened.
Then add in the ground beef, moving it around the pan until it’s cooked through. Drain the excess grease, leaving about 1 tablespoon or so in the pot. Add some salt and pepper and stir everything together to combine.
Now it’s time for the tomato ingredients, beans, and seasonings. Dump in the whole tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, kidney beans, worcestershire, Italian seasoning, and bay leaf.
Before you stir everything together, use a sharp knife to cut the whole tomatoes into quarters for easier serving. Now stir to combine everything together.
Cover the pot and let ingredients simmer for 10-30 minutes, allowing the flavors fully permeate. Meanwhile, cook the elbow macaroni according to the package instructions to reach an al dente texture.
You can cook your noodles in the ground beef mixture if that’s easier. However, after testing this method, we definitely noticed that the noodles got mushy very quickly. That being said, if you plan to eat this dish immediately after making, our one-pot method should work fine. Simply add approximately 2 cups of beef broth or beef stock to the mixture and then add the noodles. Cover and let simmer until the noodles are cooked al dente.
Add some noodles to a bowl and top with this yummy and cozy goulash. Stir everything together and add your favorite toppings.
This is a classic comfort food dish, so naturally, more comfort food toppings will elevate it to the next level. Here are some of our favorite toppings.
- shredded cheese – A classic colby jack or cheddar will do the trick.
- sour cream – This hearty meal just begs for a light and fresh dollop.
- sliced green onion – Add a bit of sharp and peppery flavor.
- hot sauce or red pepper flakes – For those who like some heat.
- black olives – A simple, mild flavored olive, perfect for adding a hint of flavor and texture.
What To Serve With Goulash
Since this is a pretty hearty dish, we like to pair it with some simple vegetable sides and/or salads to keep things fresh. But remember that regardless of its calorie count, garlic bread is the undeniable side dish for a cozy meal like this one.
- noodles: To make this a one-pot meal, simply add approximately 2 cups of beef broth to the mixture and then add the noodles. Cover and let simmer until noodles are cooked al dente.
- dairy-free: Use a dairy-free cheese and dairy-free sour cream for topping.
- gluten-free: Use a gluten-free noodle. If you chose this route, we highly recommend against the one-pot cooking method as they are even more likely to fall apart and get mushy.
- can you freeze goulash: Feel free to freeze the goulash mixture in a freezer safe container without the noodles. Make fresh noodles when you’re ready to serve the thawed and reheated goulash.
- storage: Store the noodles and meat mixture in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Made this recipe and loved it?! We would love it if you would take a minute and leave a star rating and review – it is also helpful if you made any substitutions or changes to the recipe to share that as well. THANK YOU!
Easy Goulash Recipe – a classic goulash recipe that is cozy, comforting and so delicious! Perfect for a crowd and don’t forget your favorite toppings!
- 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 1 sweet yellow onion, diced
- 1 1/2 pound ground beef (85/20)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 28oz can whole tomatoes
- 6oz can tomato paste
- 15oz can tomato sauce
- 15oz can red kidney beans, drained
- 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 lb elbow macaroni, cooked al dente
- toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream or sliced green onion
- Bring a 5.5qt Dutch Oven to medium-high heat. Add butter or olive oil, swirl to coat the pan.
- Add garlic and onion. Move around pan until the garlic is fragrant and the onion has softened slightly, approx. 2-3 minutes.
- Add ground beef and move around pan until it is cooked through. Drain excess grease, leaving about a tablespoon or so. Add salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
- Add whole tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, kidney beans, worcestershire, Italian seasoning and bay leaf. Use knife to cut the whole tomatoes into quarters. Stir to combine. Cover and let simmer 10-30 minutes. Taste and add additional salt, as-needed.
- Meanwhile, cook elbow macaroni al dente according to package instructions (see Notes).
- Add some noodles to a bowl and top with the ground beef mixture, stir and then add your favorite toppings.
- Noodles: you can cook your noodles in the ground beef mixture if you want, but after testing this method we definitely noticed the noodles got mushy very quickly. That being said, if you are serving crowd and they are eating right away it should still work – to do this simply add approx. 2 cups of beef broth to the mixture and then the add the noodles. Cover and let simmer until noodles are cooked al dente.
- Dairy-Free: to make this dairy-free use a dairy-free cheese and dairy-free sour cream as toppings.
- Gluten-Free: to make this gluten-free use a gluten-free noodle – if you are using gluten-free noodles I would definitely recommend against cooking them right in the tomato mixture as they are even more likely to fall apart.
- Storage: store noodles and ground beef mixture separately in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Serving Size: One bowl, no toppings
- Calories: 190
- Sugar: 3.9 g
- Sodium: 185.7 mg
- Fat: 3.5 g
- Carbohydrates: 22.8 g
- Protein: 17.1 g
- Cholesterol: 33.9 mg
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