Old Fashioned Goulash

This classic goulash recipe is a hearty and comforting dish, perfect for a family meal. Made with ground beef, savory tomato sauce, and tender elbow macaroni, it’s a one-pot wonder that’s sure to please everyone at the table. Topped with melted mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, it’s a deliciously cheesy delight!


  • 2 lbs ground beef or turkey
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • ½ cup beef broth
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 2 15-ounce cans tomato sauce
  • 2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp Adobo seasoning
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp seasoned salt
  • ½ tbsp black pepper
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese


1. Sauté the Ground Meat
In a large pan, sauté the ground meat over medium-high heat until it is half cooked. Remove from heat.

2. Add Garlic, Onions, and Olive Oil
Add the garlic, onions, and olive oil to the pan. Continue cooking until the meat is fully cooked and the onions are translucent.

3. Pour in Liquids and Seasonings
Pour in the water, beef broth, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes. Add the Italian seasoning, Adobo seasoning, bay leaves, seasoned salt, and black pepper. Mix well.

4. Simmer the Mixture
Lower the heat, cover the pan, and allow the mixture to cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Add the Elbow Macaroni
Add the uncooked elbow macaroni to the skillet, stirring well to combine everything.

6. Cook Until Macaroni is Tender
Cover the pan again and let it simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the macaroni is tender.

7. Remove Bay Leaves
Once cooked, remove the bay leaves.

8. Stir in Cheddar Cheese
Stir in the shredded cheddar cheese until it is well combined.

9. Add Mozzarella Cheese
Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese on top just before serving.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 8

Serving and Storage Tips :

Serving Tips

  1. Garnish for Extra Flavor: Add a sprinkle of fresh parsley or a dash of grated Parmesan cheese on top for extra flavor and a pop of color.
  2. Side Dish Suggestions: Serve with a side of crusty bread or garlic toast to soak up the savory sauce. A simple green salad with a light vinaigrette also pairs well to balance the richness of the goulash.
  3. Beverage Pairing: Pair your goulash with a robust red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon or a light beer to complement the hearty flavors.

Storage Tips

  1. Refrigeration: Allow the goulash to cool to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  2. Freezing: For longer storage, place the cooled goulash in freezer-safe containers or heavy-duty freezer bags. Label with the date and freeze for up to 3 months.
  3. Reheating: To reheat, thaw frozen goulash in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat on the stovetop over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through. You can also reheat individual portions in the microwave, stirring halfway through heating.

Make-Ahead Tips

  1. Prepare in Advance: You can prepare the goulash a day ahead. The flavors often meld and improve overnight.
  2. Batch Cooking: Double the recipe and freeze half for a quick, homemade meal on a busy night.

Leftover Ideas

  1. Goulash Bake: Place leftover goulash in a baking dish, top with additional cheese, and bake until bubbly for a delicious goulash casserole.
  2. Stuffed Peppers: Use the goulash as a filling for bell peppers. Top with cheese and bake until the peppers are tender.
  3. Goulash Soup: Add extra broth or water to the leftover goulash and heat to create a hearty soup.

Enjoy your delicious old-fashioned goulash fresh, reheated, or repurposed with these serving and storage tips!

Variations :

1. Spicy Goulash

  • Ingredients Addition: Add diced jalapeños, red pepper flakes, or a dash of hot sauce for extra heat.
  • Flavor Twist: Incorporate spicy Italian sausage instead of ground beef for a kick.

2. Vegetarian Goulash

  • Protein Substitute: Use plant-based ground meat or crumbled tofu.
  • Vegetable Boost: Add more vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, and spinach.
  • Broth Choice: Substitute beef broth with vegetable broth.

3. Hungarian Goulash

  • Paprika Highlight: Use Hungarian paprika for an authentic flavor.
  • Beef Chunks: Replace ground beef with stew beef chunks.
  • Caraway Seeds: Add a teaspoon of caraway seeds for a traditional touch.

4. Cheese Lover’s Goulash

  • Extra Cheese: Mix in different types of cheese like Gouda, Parmesan, or Monterey Jack.
  • Creamy Sauce: Stir in a bit of cream cheese or sour cream for a richer texture.

5. Gluten-Free Goulash

  • Pasta Substitute: Use gluten-free elbow macaroni or other gluten-free pasta.
  • Thickening Agents: Ensure all seasonings and broth are gluten-free.

6. Mexican Goulash

  • Seasoning Change: Use taco seasoning instead of Italian seasoning.
  • Ingredient Additions: Add corn, black beans, and diced green chilies.
  • Cheese Choice: Top with shredded Mexican blend cheese.

7. Low-Carb Goulash

  • Pasta Replacement: Use zucchini noodles (zoodles) or cauliflower rice instead of elbow macaroni.
  • Vegetable Increase: Increase the amount of low-carb vegetables like bell peppers and spinach.

8. Mediterranean Goulash

  • Flavor Profile: Add olives, feta cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes.
  • Herb Mix: Use oregano, thyme, and rosemary instead of Italian seasoning.

9. Seafood Goulash

  • Protein Switch: Use shrimp or a mix of seafood instead of ground beef.
  • Light Broth: Substitute beef broth with seafood broth or clam juice.

10. BBQ Goulash

  • Sauce Variation: Mix in your favorite barbecue sauce along with the tomato sauce.
  • Meat Change: Use shredded barbecue chicken or pork.

Experimenting with these variations can bring a new twist to your traditional goulash, making it a versatile dish that can cater to different tastes and dietary preferences. Enjoy creating your perfect goulash!


1. What is the origin of goulash?

Goulash is originally a Hungarian dish, known as “gulyás,” which means herdsman. It traditionally consists of meat, vegetables, and spices, particularly paprika, and has been adapted into various versions around the world, including this American-style goulash.

2. Can I make goulash ahead of time?

Yes, goulash can be made ahead of time. In fact, the flavors often improve after sitting for a day. Store it in the refrigerator and reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave when ready to serve.

3. How do I store leftover goulash?

Store leftover goulash in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. For longer storage, freeze the goulash in freezer-safe containers or heavy-duty freezer bags for up to 3 months.

4. What is the best way to reheat goulash?

To reheat, thaw frozen goulash in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat on the stovetop over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through. You can also reheat individual portions in the microwave, stirring halfway through heating.

5. Can I use a different type of pasta?

Yes, you can use other types of pasta such as shells, rotini, or penne. Adjust the cooking time as needed to ensure the pasta is tender.

6. Is it possible to make goulash in a slow cooker?

Yes, you can make goulash in a slow cooker. Brown the meat and sauté the garlic and onions first, then add all ingredients except the pasta and cheese to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours. Add the pasta in the last 30 minutes of cooking.

7. How can I make goulash healthier?

To make goulash healthier, use ground turkey instead of beef, add more vegetables like bell peppers, carrots, and zucchini, and use whole wheat or gluten-free pasta. You can also reduce the amount of cheese or use a lower-fat version.

8. Can I make goulash dairy-free?

Yes, to make goulash dairy-free, simply omit the cheese or use a dairy-free cheese alternative. Ensure that all other ingredients, like broth and seasonings, are also dairy-free.

9. What side dishes go well with goulash?

Goulash pairs well with a variety of side dishes, including crusty bread or garlic toast, a simple green salad, steamed vegetables, or a cucumber and tomato salad.

10. Can I add other spices or herbs to the goulash?

Absolutely! Feel free to experiment with different spices and herbs to suit your taste. Common additions include paprika, thyme, oregano, or even a pinch of cayenne pepper for some heat.

Old Fashioned Goulash is a versatile and comforting dish perfect for family meals. Whether you stick to the classic recipe or try one of the many variations, this hearty one-pot wonder is sure to please. With easy storage and reheating options, it’s a convenient and delicious choice for any occasion. Enjoy experimenting and making this goulash your own!