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American Goulash is the epitome of comfort food, all bundled up in one pot for an easy, no-fuss meal. Made with hearty ground beef, a medley of aromatic onions and bell peppers, sweet tomatoes, and tender macaroni, it’s a quick dinner you can whip up in 30 minutes. It’s a dish that brings back childhood memories for many, and in this single serving version, you get the cozy vibes without the leftovers.

Think about pairing this single serving goulash with a slice of warm, freshly-baked French bread or moist cornbread. Complement it with lightly sautéed green beans for a well-rounded meal.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Speedy: Have a warm meal on your table in just 30 minutes.
  • Effortless: One pot means minimal dishes and cleanup.
  • Versatile: Great for both meat lovers and vegetarians with simple swaps.
  • Accessible: Made from ingredients you probably already have.
  • Portion-Controlled: No worry about leftovers; it’s a single serving!
Goulash cooking in a pan filled with ground beef, noodles, and tomato sauce.

What Is The Difference Between Goulash And American Goulash?

Traditional Hungarian Goulash is a beef stew seasoned with paprika. American Goulash, however, ditches the paprika for a tomato-based sauce and includes macaroni. Both are comforting but differ in flavors and ingredients.

Ingredient Notes

If you have any ingredients leftover from this easy Goulash recipe, check out our Leftover Ingredients Recipe Finder .

  • Olive Oil: Extra virgin olive oil adds richness and depth of flavor to the dish. It’s the least processed and highest-quality option, retaining the true olive taste along with beneficial vitamins and minerals. For a milder flavor, you can use light olive oil instead.
  • Onions, Bell Peppers, and Garlic: A trio of aromatic vegetables that infuse the goulash with layers of flavor. Don’t skip these as they are essential for a well-rounded taste. This delicious trio of vegetables can also be used in our Pepper Steak recipe or in a Philly Cheesesteak.
  • Ground Beef: The main protein that adds a hearty touch. If you’re aiming for a lighter meal, ground turkey or plant-based meat are both suitable substitutes. If you have any ground beef leftover from this goulash recipe, consider using it in a small batch Sheet Pan Lasagna, Stuffed Peppers, or Taco Soup.
  • Tomato Sauce: Opt for your preferred brand or make your own homemade tomato sauce.
  • Diced Tomatoes: A 1/2-cup from a can will do. Leftover diced tomatoes can be used to make Spanish Rice, Chicken Paprika, and Chili.
  • Pasta: While elbow macaroni is a classic choice for American Goulash, feel free to use whatever pasta you have readily available. Consider using leftover pasta in a small Macaroni Salad, Chili Mac, or Macaroni and Cheese.

Remember, you can always tweak these ingredients to suit your preferences or dietary needs, but these notes should give you a solid starting point.

Recipe Variations

Variety is the spice of life, and the same holds true for American goulash. Feel free to get creative and add your own twist to this classic dish.

  • Spicy Kick: Add a pinch or two of red pepper flakes or a dollop of sriracha to infuse a bit of heat into the dish.
  • Vegetarian Option: Substitute the ground beef with plant-based meat or lentils for a meatless alternative that’s just as satisfying.
  • Cheesy Overload: Stir in some shredded cheddar or mozzarella during the last few minutes of cooking for a gooey, cheesy delight.
  • Herb Infusion: Fresh herbs like basil, thyme, or rosemary can add a sophisticated layer of flavor. Sprinkle them in during the last few minutes of cooking or as a garnish.
  • Creamy Twist: For a creamier texture, stir in a spoonful of sour cream or Greek yogurt just before serving. Make sure to lower the heat to avoid curdling.
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How To Make Goulash

These step-by-step photos and instructions help you visualize how to make American Goulash. See the recipe below for ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions.

  1. In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil 30 seconds. Add onions and peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes until tender.
  2. Add garlic and ground beef, breaking up the ground beef as it cooks. Cook, stirring occasionally until meat is no longer pink and is starting to brown, 5 minutes.
Ground beef, onions, green bell peppers, and garlic cooking in a frying pan.
  1. Stir in tomato sauce, tomatoes and water and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Ground beef, onions, green bell peppers, and garlic simmering in a tomato sauce for american goulash.
  1. Add the pasta, cover, and simmer over low heat until pasta is tender, 15 minutes.
  2. Transfer to a bowl and enjoy hot.

Expert Tips

  • Before you start cooking, make sure to read the entire recipe, including the Ingredient Notes section, and examine the process photos. This detailed guide will help you understand how the recipe unfolds, ensuring your goulash turns out perfect every time. All the information you need is found within the body of this recipe post, so don’t miss a thing!
  • Cheesy Finish: Elevate your goulash with a sprinkle of shredded cheese or a dollop of sour cream on top.
  • Noodle Flexibility: No need to stick to the recommended pasta; use whatever you have available for a convenient switch.
  • Pasta Care: Remember to stir the pasta occasionally to prevent it from clumping together.
  • Boost the Flavor: Swap out water for chicken or beef broth to deepen the flavor profile of your goulash.
  • Lighter Option: For a less hearty take, ground turkey can be used in place of ground beef.
  • Fresh Over Canned: For an even fresher taste, opt for a chopped fresh tomato instead of the canned variety.
  • Scaling Up: Doubling the ingredients is an easy way to yield more servings, perfect for meal prep or future dinners.
A bowl of american goulash topped with fresh parsley.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I double this goulash recipe?

Absolutely, doubling the recipe is great for meal prepping or to serve another person. Simply double the ingredient amounts and use a larger skillet to hold the additional ingredients.

Can I freeze goulash?

Yes, you can freeze goulash. To prevent mushy noodles during reheating, undercook the macaroni slightly. Cool the goulash before transferring it to a freezer-safe container. Defrost in the refrigerator before reheating. Freezing is recommended for up to 3 months.

Can I make goulash ahead of time?

Yes, it stores well for up to two days in the fridge.

Do the noodles have to be cooked in the goulash sauce?

While it’s not mandatory to cook the noodles in the sauce, doing so infuses them with the dish’s rich flavors. If you plan to store goulash for later, you may want to keep the noodles separate and combine them before eating to maintain texture and flavor.

Can I make vegetarian goulash?

Yes! Use plant-based meat or lentils.

An overhead view of a bowl of american goulash topped with fresh parsley.

Ways To Use Leftover Ingredients

If you have any ingredients leftover from this recipe, check out our Leftover Ingredients Recipe Finder or you might like to consider using them in any of these single serving and small batch recipes:

If you would like additional information on the cooking and baking dishes I use in our “recipes for one”, please visit our FAQ page.

For examples of the dishes used at One Dish Kitchen, please visit our Store page.

If you’ve tried this goulash recipe or any recipe on One Dish Kitchen please let me know how you liked it by rating the recipe and telling me about it in the comment section below.

Also, if you take a picture please tag us on Instagram (@onedishkitchen) we’d love to see!


Your Cooking For One Source
Because you’re worth it

Goulash For One

5 from 14 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 1 serving
This American Goulash is an easy, one-pot meal made with ground beef, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, and macaroni. It's a simple skillet dish that cooks in 30 minutes.

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • ½ cup chopped green bell peppers
  • 4 ounces ground beef
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • ½ cup canned diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 ounces elbow macaroni

Instructions 

  • In a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil 30 seconds. Add onions and peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes until tender.
  • Add garlic and ground beef, breaking up the ground beef as it cooks. Cook, stirring occasionally until meat is no longer pink and is starting to brown, 5 minutes.
  • Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and water and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the pasta, cover, and simmer over low heat until pasta is tender, 15 minutes. Be sure to stir the pasta occasionally so that the noodles don't stick together.
  • Transfer to a bowl and enjoy hot.

Notes

  • Before you start cooking, make sure to read the entire recipe, including the Ingredient Notes section, and examine the process photos. This detailed guide will help you understand how the recipe unfolds, ensuring your goulash turns out perfect every time. All the information you need is found within the body of this recipe post, so don’t miss a thing!
  • Cheesy Finish: Elevate your goulash with a sprinkle of shredded cheese or a dollop of sour cream on top.
  • Noodle Flexibility: No need to stick to the recommended pasta; use whatever you have available for a convenient switch.
  • Pasta Care: Remember to stir the pasta occasionally to prevent it from clumping together.
  • Boost the Flavor: Swap out water for chicken or beef broth to deepen the flavor profile of your goulash.
  • Lighter Option: For a less hearty take, ground turkey can be used in place of ground beef.
  • Fresh Over Canned: For an even fresher taste, opt for a chopped fresh tomato instead of the canned variety.
  • Scaling Up: Doubling the ingredients is an easy way to yield more servings, perfect for meal prep or future dinners.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 576kcal, Carbohydrates: 62g, Protein: 35g, Fat: 21g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 70mg, Sodium: 902mg, Potassium: 1267mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 13g, Vitamin A: 671IU, Vitamin C: 27mg, Calcium: 94mg, Iron: 6mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Recipe Rating




21 Comments

  1. This recipe is perfect. Made it as the recipe states, just added Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. I doubled the recipe, put it in 2 oven safe dishes, covered with cheddar cheese and put it in the oven to melt the cheese. One for supper tonight and 1 for freezing for another meal.

  2. I had some leftover cooked ground beef so I decided to use it in this Goulash. It made plenty for the two of us plus some leftovers. I used spaghetti sauce (for the tomato sauce) and chicken broth (for the water) and it was delicious. It cooks quickly which is another big plus. Thanks for all the great recipes.

  3. Delicious. I didn’t change anything, except I added a dash of Worcestershire and subbed beed broth for the water.