American-Style With Ground Beef and Cheese

Goulash in a pot with a wooden spoon

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 60 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Yield: 10 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
390 Calories
23g Fat
18g Carbs
29g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 390
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 23g 29%
Saturated Fat 9g 45%
Cholesterol 86mg 29%
Sodium 1042mg 45%
Total Carbohydrate 18g 7%
Dietary Fiber 5g 17%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 29g
Vitamin C 25mg 123%
Calcium 233mg 18%
Iron 4mg 24%
Potassium 884mg 19%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

American goulash is a comforting, satisfying dish of macaroni, beef, tomatoes, and seasonings, and it has many regional variations. In New England, it's called American chop suey, while in other areas, it's known as Johnny Marzetti, beefaroni, or slumgullion. Whatever you call it, goulash is one of America's favorite comfort foods. Macaroni is combined with ground beef and a tomato-based sauce, and it often includes cheese. It's a well-balanced pasta dish you'll find on family dinner tables and at potluck events across America.

This version of family-friendly goulash is a basic one, including elbow macaroni, ground beef, onions, peppers, seasonings, and cheese. One of the best things about this goulash is that it's a one-pot meal. Everything, including the pasta, is cooked in one pot. You won't need an extra cooking pot or colander for the pasta, so cleanup is a breeze.

Goulash is a versatile dish as well. Omit the cheese or use a different one, or make the sauce creamier with a spoonful or two of cream cheese. If you don't have elbow macaroni, feel free to use whatever pasta you may have on hand. Try making it with shells, wheels, rotini, or bows.

Serve the goulash with some garlic bread, breadsticks, or cornbread, or add a tossed salad to round out the meal. Add a side vegetable if you like—roasted asparagus, steamed corn, or broccoli are excellent choices.

"Another amazing recipe that the entire family can enjoy. Basically, all the ingredients get cooked in one pot so cleanup is no effort. It's very rich and the cheese adds a great texture to it. Another great thing is that the leftovers taste even better the next day." —Tara Omidvar

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A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 large onion, diced

  • 1 pound ground beef

  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 small bell pepper, diced, optional

  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

  • 1 large bay leaf

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste

  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth

  • 15 ounces tomato sauce

  • 29 ounces diced tomatoes

  • 4 ounces elbow macaroni

  • 4 ounces (1 cup) grated cheddar cheese, or to taste

  • Chopped parsley, for optional garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Goulash ingredients in bowls

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  2. Add the olive oil to a large Dutch oven or sauté pan and place the pan over medium-high heat. When the olive oil is hot and shimmering, add the ground beef and onion. Sauté, occasionally stirring with a spatula to break up the beef, until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 to 7 minutes.

    ground beef and onions cooking in a pot on a burner

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  3. Add the garlic, bell pepper (if using), Italian seasoning, bay leaf, kosher salt, and black pepper. Continue to cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

    beef, garlic, bell pepper, Italian seasoning, bay leaf, kosher salt, and black pepper in a pot with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  4. Add the beef broth, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low; simmer for 20 minutes.

    beef broth, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes cooking in a pot on a burner

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  5. Add the macaroni to the sauce mixture and increase the heat to medium-low. Cover the pan and cook, occasionally stirring, until the pasta is tender, about 12 to 15 minutes.

    Goulash cooking in a pot on a burner

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  6. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Taste the goulash and adjust the salt and pepper, if needed. Remove from the heat and garnish with parsley, if desired.

    Goulash in a pot

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga


  • Make-Ahead: To streamline the cooking process, you can make the ground beef and tomato sauce—steps 2 through 4—a day in advance and refrigerate it until about 20 minutes before serving time. Bring the sauce mixture to a boil and add the macaroni. Continue to cook, covered, over medium-low heat, following steps 5 and 6.
  • To make goulash in a slow cooker, brown the ground beef and onions as directed, then combine it in a slow cooker with the garlic, bell pepper, Italian seasoning, bay leaf, salt, pepper, beef broth, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes. Cover and cook on low for 3 to 5 hours. Cook the macaroni separately; drain and add it to the slow cooker along with the cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted and serve.

Recipe Variations

  • Make it gluten-free with your favorite brand of gluten-free pasta and cook it just until the pasta is tender.
  • Omit the cheese or use another kind of melty cheese, such as Monterey Jack, cheddar jack, or Gouda.
  • For a different flavor profile, use French herbes de Provence or a Greek herb blend.

How to Store

  • Transfer leftover goulash to a shallow covered container and refrigerate for 3 to 4 days.
  • To freeze, transfer the goulash to freezer containers or zip-close freezer bags. Freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost frozen goulash in the refrigerator overnight.
  • To reheat, put the goulash in a saucepan or skillet with a few tablespoons of water to keep it moist. Cook, stirring, until hot. Alternatively, reheat it in the microwave with a tablespoon or two of water, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking.

What is the difference between Hungarian goulash and American goulash?

While both share the name goulash, that appears to be the only similarity. Hungarian goulash is a stew or soup made with meat and vegetables seasoned with paprika and various spices. American goulash is made with ground beef, macaroni, onions, tomatoes, and seasonings, and sometimes, cheese.