Old Fashioned Goulash

4.47 from 1756 votes
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This old fashioned goulash recipe is pure comfort. It’s rich, hearty, perfectly seasoned, and only takes 45 minutes to make. 

A red dutch oven full of goulash


Old fashioned goulash was a staple in my house growing up. And now that I’m an adult, it’s still a staple in my house! This recipe is so cozy and comforting. Hearty ground beef is cooked in an intense sauce of tomatoes, onions, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and many spices. Melty cheddar cheese is added for richness and texture. And of course, there’s the classic elbow macaroni!

Every time I eat old fashioned goulash, I’m transported back to my childhood. Something about the beef, tomatoes, macaroni, and cheese just works perfectly together. It’s so comforting, but it’s also easy to make! This recipe only takes 45 minutes. It’s a staple in my household when I need a filling weekday meal.

Why You’ll Love This Classic American Goulash

There’s a lot to like about this rich beef goulash. Here are some reasons why you’ll love making it. 

  • Simple. This recipe is super easy to make. It doesn’t have many steps, and it only takes 45 minutes. Plus, it mostly uses ingredients that you probably already have in your fridge and pantry. 
  • Storable. This recipe stores really well in the fridge or freezer. I love to make a large batch so that I can have old fashioned goulash anytime I want. 
  • Healthy comfort food. Most comfort foods are pretty unhealthy. But this recipe satisfies your cravings without being bad for you. It has a lot of protein, with ground beef and a little cheddar cheese. There’s no extra fat added. And it’s packed with tomatoes. This is a comfort food you can feel great about eating.
Close up of a spoonful of goulash with a pot of goulash in the background

What You’ll Need

Here are all the ingredients that you need to make this rich goulash. Be sure to scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the page to see the exact amounts for each ingredient.

  • Elbow macaroni – You can substitute other types of pasta if you want, but macaroni is the traditional choice.
  • Ground beef
  • Onion – I like to use a yellow onion for this recipe, but red or white onions will also work.
  • Garlic
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Canned tomato sauce
  • Canned diced tomatoes – Use petite diced tomatoes if possible.
  • Italian seasoning
  • Salt
  • Black pepper – Make sure to use freshly ground black pepper.
  • Cheddar cheese – Shred your own cheese for best results, but pre-shredded works fine.

What is Italian Seasoning?

Italian seasoning is a common spice blend that you can find at any grocery store. It’s usually made up of dried basil, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, and oregano. Some spice brands add additional herbs, too. If you don’t have Italian seasoning, you can add those ingredients individually. 

How to Make Goulash

Here’s how to make this simple, comforting goulash. It only takes about 45 minutes!

  • Prep. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  • Cook the pasta. Boil a large pot of water, and add the elbow macaroni. Cook for 3 minutes less than what the package suggests.
  • Drain. When the pasta is done cooking, drain it.
  • Cook the beef and onions. Heat a skillet over high heat. Add the beef and the onions, and break the meat apart. Cook until the beef is browned, about 6-7 minutes. Drain the fat from the skillet. 
  • Add the garlic. Put the garlic in the skillet and cook until fragrant. This should take about 1 minute. 
  • Mix in the wet ingredients. Add the canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine. 
  • Add the seasonings. Put the Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper into the skillet, and stir to combine. 
  • Mix in the pasta and cheese. Stir in the macaroni and the shredded cheddar cheese until everything is mixed together.
  • Bake. If your skillet is oven safe, place it in the oven. If not, transfer the goulash to a casserole dish. Bake until the cheese is fully melted, and the goulash is bubbling. This should take 20-25 minutes. Then serve. 
Overhead view of a dutch oven filled with goulash, next to a spoon

Tips for Success

Here are a few tricks and tips for making this beefy goulash. 

  • Salt the water. For the best-tasting pasta, add a little bit of salt to the boiling water. This will give the macaroni a light seasoning. 
  • Adjust the seasonings. When you add the Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to the sauce, start small. Then taste the sauce, and adjust the seasonings as needed. Some people like more Italian seasoning or salt than others. Adjust the sauce to your liking. 
  • Get some color on the beef. Don’t be scared of getting some color on the ground meat. Browning the beef is the secret to getting the most flavor out of the meat. Make sure to cook the beef until it’s pretty brown before continuing with the recipe. 

Serving Suggestions

Since this is a traditional comfort dish, I love to serve it alongside classic sides. Here are a few of my favorite side dishes to serve with goulash. In my family it was always buttered saltine crackers that were a must with this dish.

A dutch oven filled with goulash, with a spoon in it

How to Store and Reheat Hearty Old Fashioned Goulash

This recipe is easy to store and reheat. Keep leftover goulash in an airtight container and it will last in the fridge for 4 days. Reheat in the microwave on 80% power in 30-second increments. 

Can You Freeze This Recipe?

Absolutely! Let the goulash cool completely, then store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost or thaw completely before reheating. 

More American Comfort Foods to Make

I hope you loved this traditional goulash. Here are some more American comfort foods to cook. 

Old Fashioned Goulash - The same American goulash recipe that you grew up with. A hearty recipe that the entire family can enjoy any night of the week. 
4.47 from 1756 votes

Old Fashioned Goulash

By Erin
This old fashioned goulash recipe is hearty and comforting. It's full of juicy beef, melty cheese, and a rich tomato sauce.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Servings: 8


  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 15 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2 14.5 oz cans petit diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook macaroni for 3 minutes less than the box directions, then drain. 
  • Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add ground beef and onions to the pan. Break beef apart, cooking for 6-7 minutes until browned. Drain any fat.  
  • Mix in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. 
  • Add in Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes. Mix until combined.  
  • Stir in the Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
  • Mix in cooked macaroni and cheddar cheese. If your skillet is heat-safe, you can place in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the goulash is bubbly and the cheese is melted.  If the skillet is not heat-safe, transfer the goulash to a casserole dish and bake.



  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 days, or in the freezer for 3 months.
  • Reheat in the microwave on 80% power in 30-second increments.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 500kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 115mg | Sodium: 1397mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g

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

Additional Info

Author: Erin
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Course: Dinner Recipes
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8
Calories: 500
Keyword: american goulash, beef goulash, easy goulash recipe, homemade goulash
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About Erin S

Welcome to Dinners, Dishes, & Desserts where my love of food meets my busy life. My name is Erin and I’m a casual home cook who loves to feed people. On this blog, you’ll find hundreds of quick and easy recipes made mostly from scratch. My days are spent in the kitchen, creating new recipes to share with family and friends.

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  1. I’ve made this in the past-the chesse is unnecessary, and so is baking it in the oven. Stovetop is just fine.

  2. I keep hearing about the butter and crackers, well we used to mix butter with syrup and mix it together making a surbutter paste and then we put that on our saltines and that was the best snack I have ever had growing up. I guess I never grew up though because I still fix it and share it with my grandkids and they love it also.

  3. This reminds me of my aunt! She always had a pot of this on her stove. Was a cheap and easy meal for house load of ppl and there was always a bunch of us there. Hahahahaha. As I’m reading the comments ppl complaining about the salt content and they don’t bake it or add the cheese or the buttered crackers! So what! You can adjust this recipe to however you want it! This is her recipe and this is how she likes like! My mom always said, “don’t knock it until you try it”! And this is so true! Just like ppl that add salt to everything, taste it first, it might be perfect the way it is! If u need more salt, then add it, but at least taste first before you add more! That makes me so mad! I don’t usually add salt either and just add to my plate as well. But it also depends on the sauce n tomatoes you are using. I know that we always had to add a lot of salt to our plates because it was very bland. So like she says, taste the sauce mixture before the adding the macaroni! I can’t wait to make this. Thinking about making it for Christmas Eve dinner to go to my brothers w the rest of my family for get together!

  4. Let me preface my review by saying I’m a recipe developer. I’ve had my recipes integrated under nationally known food brands. That said, my dad saw this recipe shared on a relative’s Facebook page. I could tell it wouldn’t be flavorful, but He wanted it, so I humored him and I made it. Bland would be a word I would use. I’m not sure where the recipe originated from (I SO detest blog recipes as the reader has to scroll forever to get to the recipe, plus they’re hit and miss on quality and flavor) regardless, I would give the recipe creator a spice rack. Salt shouldn’t be relied on as a seasoning as this recipe has done. This recipe would be given a 1 star review if ratings were allowed.

    1. Sarah – the blog post tells you that I got this recipe from my mom, who got it from her mom. So this is a depression era recipe that was a staple in so many houses in the US. I did not develop it or change it – this is the recipe that was made in my family for years and years. I have plenty of spices in my spice rack and am a recipe developer who has their recipes integrated under nationally known food brands as well. But when you share a family recipe that goes back 50 years…you share it as it was made originally.

      1. Erin, this is absolutely a Depressions Era recipe. Both my parents lived through the Depression and I have several simple, inexpensive recipes that helped put food on the table. My mother’s Goulash is very similar to your recipe, iron skillet and all!

    2. This reply is to Sarah: I grew up in the family restaurant & learned to cook/bake from an early age before I went to cooking school. I also grow my own organic vegetables & 13 fruit trees, berries, rhubarb, gooseberries, red currants etc. Addionally I’m a many times over state fair grand champion in many categories of home preservation (tomatoes, jam, jelly, vegetables, pie filling etc) as well as gardening. I teach home preservation to young brides, men, anyone who wishes to learn to put up food safely. That being said I do not pretend to know it all and even though I’m a grandmother I continue to learn. Sarah your remarks were stated most unkindly.I would not care to break bread with someone so opinionated & lacking in good manners. Remember the old saying if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all? Next time perhaps you can offer your own preferences for a recipe rather then choosing to be rude.

    3. @Christine M Woods, so well said. I’m afraid I would not have been as gracious in replying as you. I have a hard time with such omnipotent people as Sara.

  5. I make this all the time and add what I want when it comes to spices. I use the basic’s like ground chuck and Macaronni….I add stewed tomato’s and tomato soup (instead of tomato sauce) which are blended in a blender first because my husband doesnt like tomato chunks in it…….also canned mushrooms and cheddar cheese. Sometimes Green Peppers too. I bake it with cheese on top afterwards. It is AWESOME!!!

  6. American Chop Suey is a old family favorite…grew up never knowing anyone who had ever heard of it. Then one day traveling through Massachusetts, I saw it on a menu in a little gas station and was told it’s a New England thing. ! Still don’t know why it’s called that tho!
    This recipe looks interesting… it’s similar to ours but we cooked up bacon with the onions and used tomato soup instead of the tomatoes or sauce and just mixed it with the macaroni. Pretty simple!

  7. I used to make mine this way but a couple of years ago I decided to swap out the ground beef for ground chourico instead and it is so much better. I love spicy food and that’s what the chourico does but not too spicy unless you add some crushed red pepper which I do lol

    1. This!!!! I use macaroni and hamburger as posted, put in a jar of roasted garlic Prego, a can of chededar cheese soup, a can of corn and a can of rotel. Will have to try it with some onion though.

  8. My mother-in-law taught me to make goulash 60 yrs ago just like your recipe except we didn’t use cheese or bake. We loved it with buttered saltine crackers also.I made a big pot of goulash very recently we ate the whole thing
    Love your blog.