American-Style Goulash Recipe

Goulash usually comes in two different styles: a meaty Hungarian stew that simmers for hours and a quick American mishmash that bears very little resemblance to its European name. While recipe developer Michelle McGlinn is giving us what she calls "a pretty classic take" on the latter style, she bridges the gap between the two with her use of paprika and also gives the dish a major upgrade with the addition of sour cream. "Sour cream is used in Hungarian cuisine so it fits well here," she explains. She does say, though, that you could use heavy cream or half-and-half instead, or go a slightly different direction by adding Parmesan cheese.

Speaking of switching things up, McGlinn notes that one of the great things about this goulash recipe is that it is easy to customize. As she suggests, "You can add bell peppers, spinach, or broccoli, or switch up the pasta to be grain free." In fact, she even notes that the ground beef and macaroni provide great camouflage, making the dish "easy to sneak vegetables into." Stealth veggies, after all, aren't just for kids — many adults aren't big fans of eating the (non-Skittles) rainbow, either, but vegetables diced really fine and stirred into a meaty, creamy, tomato-based sauce aren't so painful to eat and might even be enjoyable.

Assemble the ingredients for this American-style goulash

This all-American goulash starts with ground beef and elbow macaroni, while the sauce is built on tomato paste, tomato sauce, and crushed tomatoes. Additional ingredients include an onion, garlic, beef broth (water can be used in its place), salt, pepper, and paprika.

While McGlinn uses Hungarian paprika, she says, "Smoked paprika can definitely be used ... it does add a nice smokey-spicy flavor to things that aren't wholly hot." She also uses caraway seeds but says these are optional. Caraway, she explains, "tastes a lot like fennel, or like a floral licorice ... very strong and sharp." For this reason, she suggests skipping it if you're not a fan of fennel, anise, or other licorice-type flavors.

Brown the ground beef, onions, and garlic

The first step in making this goulash is to brown the ground beef. Add it to a large frying pan or heavy pot, and begin cooking it over medium heat. Break it up and stir it around as it cooks in order to crumble it into loose bits. After about 5 minutes, the beef should be brown throughout, with no more pink in the middle. At this point, stir in the onions and garlic and cook them for about 3 minutes.

Add everything but the sour cream to the pot

Once the onions have softened up a bit and are starting to smell onion-y, and the garlic smells garlicky, stir in the tomato paste. Follow this up with the two other types of canned tomatoes along with the beef broth and the elbow macaroni. Heat the goulash to a simmer, then season it with the salt, pepper, and paprika. If you're using the caraway seeds, add those in, as well.

Finish the goulash off with the final ingredient

Let the goulash cook for about 10 minutes, stirring it every once in a while. When the pasta is soft (or al dente), the dish is done ... well, almost. Turn off the heat, then stir in the sour cream. Now it's ready to eat.

Can't polish off all the goulash in one sitting? No need to worry, as McGlinn assures us that leftovers save well. She says they can be kept in the fridge for up to a week and can also be frozen in an airtight container without it affecting the sour cream.

American-Style Goulash Recipe
5 from 43 ratings
This American-style goulash is warm, hearty, and loaded with tomato-y goodness.
Prep Time
Cook Time
american goulash in white bowl
Total time: 25 minutes
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
  • ½ cup sour cream
Optional Ingredients
  • ½ teaspoon caraway seeds
  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook the beef over medium heat, crumbling as it browns, about 5 minutes. Then, add the onions and garlic and cook until softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes longer.
  2. As the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the pot, add the tomato paste and mix well to incorporate. Add the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce and stir.
  3. Add the beef broth and elbow macaroni and bring to a simmer, stirring to combine. Add the salt, pepper, paprika, and caraway seeds, if using.
  4. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is cooked and soft, about 10 minutes. If broth is absorbed before pasta softens, add more broth.
  5. Stir in the sour cream and incorporate until creamy, then serve.
Calories per Serving 687
Total Fat 30.5 g
Saturated Fat 12.3 g
Trans Fat 1.3 g
Cholesterol 95.5 mg
Total Carbohydrates 71.3 g
Dietary Fiber 8.9 g
Total Sugars 17.2 g
Sodium 1,459.9 mg
Protein 35.4 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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