This American style Ground Beef Goulash is made with pantry staple ingredients like macaroni noodles, ground beef, and kidney beans simmered in a beef and tomato herb broth, making it ideal for a quick and inexpensive dinner.
Goulash is the epitome of comfort food and a go-to budget dinner recipe.
The addition of kidney beans stretches the meal out even further and adds additional protein, texture, and flavor.
A traditional American goulash has macaroni noodles, ground beef, a tomato and beef based broth with herbs and dark red kidney beans, along with paprika, onion and other spices.
Hungarian Goulash is a variation of the American version that has origins in Central Europe. The main difference is that Hungarian Goulash contains potatoes and usually uses cubed beef instead of ground beef. In addition, Hungarian Goulash often contains peppers, paprika and caraway for additional flavor.
The broth also tends to be thicker than the American version due to the use of flour as a thickening agent. Finally, Hungarian Goulash is served with sour cream on top as an additional garnish.
If you've never made American goulash with beans, you might be surprised to find out that you don't even need to go out to the store to buy ingredients for.
It's more than likely you already have what you need to make this simple dinner recipe.
Get all the info on these ingredients in the recipe card at the bottom.
- ground beef
- uncooked elbow noodles
- beef stock - ou can use beef broth if in a pinch but stock is preferred
- kidney beans
- tomato paste
- sweet paprika- avoid smoked paprika
- onion powder
- garlic powder
- dried or fresh thyme
- dried or fresh oregano
- bay leaves
- salt and black pepper
How to Make Ground Beef Goulash
Goulash is perfect for when you need a quick and hearty dinner in a pinch. Here's the easy goulash recipe!
Heat a deep skillet on medium-high heat.
Begin by browning the hamburger meat. If you choose to add a handful of diced onion, tomatoes or other vegetable, sauté it with the ground beef.
Once the ground beef is browned, drain the grease.
You can add a minced onion, fresh diced tomatoes, or another cup full of a diced vegetable if desired, and sauté it with the ground beef.
Add in the tomato paste and seasonings to the pan, and sauté them for a couple of minutes until fragrant.
Pour in the broth and herbs (thyme, oregano, bay leaf), and pinch of sugar; stir until combined. Add the dry, uncooked pasta. Stir, and reduce heat to medium.
Cook on medium heat until liquid is absorbed and pasta is tender, about 10 minutes; stirring occasionally.
Remove bay leaves, and salt and pepper to taste before serving.
Leftover goulash should be stored in an airtight container and placed in the refrigerator. It can stay there for up to 4 days.
To freeze leftover American goulash, place the goulash in an airtight container or freezer bag and seal it completely. Goulash will last in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw it and reheat on the stove if possible. If you have a really hearty ground beef, you may need to make some extra tomato-based sauce to add when reheating your leftovers.
What else can I add to my goulash?
We love this traditional goulash, but you can easily doctor this up so even the picky eaters will find that they enjoy this good, old fashioned goulash!
- Add vegetables: To add some extra nutrition and depth of flavor to your goulash, try adding diced bell peppers (green pepper and red pepper are our favorite), mushrooms, peas, carrots, green beans, or zucchini.
- Use different spices: Experiment with using different spice blends in your goulash for a unique twist. Try using cumin with your smoked paprika for a southwestern flair, or curry powder and turmeric for a more exotic taste. Add some Italian seasoning to up this easy recipe with even more flavor.
- Swap out the meat: While ground beef is the traditional choice for goulash, you can use other types of meat like ground turkey or chicken for a lighter version. You could even try using sausage or ground lamb for a more flavorful option.
- Change up the pasta: Instead of using elbow macaroni, try using penne or rotini to mix things up. You could even use egg noodles or small shells for a more comforting texture.
- Swap beans: For an extra boost of protein and fiber, swap the can of kidney beans for black beans. They'll also help make your dish heartier and more filling.
Can I make this with a creamy sauce?
Sure! If you're feeling a creamy tomato sauce for even more of a comfort meal, try adding a dollop of sour cream or cream cheese into the sauce mixture when stirring and really mix it in with the chunks of beef.
There is never anything wrong with adding a little extra flavor to this delicious old-fashioned goulash.
The best part about this hearty meal is that it is so easy to make with truly simple ingredients. Finish it off with some parmesan cheese or sprinkle around a cup of cheddar cheese to jazz this easy American Goulash recipe up even more!
Now you can see why it's a classic American comfort food that can be found in every kitchen recipe book.
Try these other budget-friendly, pantry staple ingredient recipes that use ground beef:
- ½-1 lb ground beef use ½ to 1 pound
- 1 ⅔ cups uncooked elbow noodles
- 32 oz beef stock
- 15 oz can kidney beans drained, rinsed
- 3 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tbsp. sweet paprika avoid smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon sugar (pinch)
- ½ teaspoon dried or fresh thyme and oregano each
- 3 bay leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 onion peeled minced (optional)
- 1 tomato diced (optional)
- On medium high heat brown 1 pound beef on medium high heat. (If you are adding diced onion and/or tomato, put them in with the beef now).
- Add (3 tbsp.) tomato paste, (1 tbsp.) paprika, (½ tsp. each) onion and garlic powders, sugar; Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes to toast spices.
- Add stock, stir to combine, then reduce heat to medium.
- Stir in dry pasta and drained, rinsed kidney beans.
- Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes until pasta is done; remove from heat.
- Salt and pepper to taste, and remove bay leaves before serving.
- Do not use smoked paprika
- Remember to remove bay leaves before serving