This Goulash recipe (American style) is the ultimate pantry-friendly, make-ahead family pleaser, and is on your table in just over 30 minutes! The juicy ground beef and pasta simmer in ONE POT for extra flavor and ease, with a cozy, multi-dimensional sauce the whole family will CRAVE. This American Chop Suey is easy to customize with ground turkey, different veggies, pasta, etc. so you can make it at a moment’s notice to fit your pantry or your cravings!
This Goulash recipe is sponsored by Zoup! All opinions are my own.
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Goulash Recipe FAQs
The main difference between traditional goulash and American Goulash is traditional goulash is a Hungarian stew made with chunks of meat (usually beef or pork), potatoes and carrots, heavily seasoned with Hungarian paprika served over noodles. American Goulash, on the other hand, is made with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and pasta (typically elbow macaroni) all simmered together in a tomato-based sauce and relies more on Italian seasonings.
Another name for American Goulash is “American Chop Suey.” Depending on the region, it may also be referred to as “American-Style Goulash” or simply “Goulash.”
American Goulash and Hamburger Helper are both American comfort food classics, but they differ in composition and flavor. American Goulash features ground beef, pasta (like elbow macaroni), tomatoes, any veggies, and spices, particularly paprika, all cooked together in a tomato-based sauce. Hamburger Helper also features pasta and ground beef, but is cooked in a creamy, cheesy sauce, traditionally without added vegetables or tomatoes.
Hungarian Goulash is the mother of all Goulash recipes, even our macaroni studded American Goulash finds its roots in the famous national dish. Over the centuries, Goulash was embraced all over Europe, and eventually the world, even a far as the Philippines! Here are some varieties of goulash from different countries:
1. Austria: Austrians enjoy Wiener Saftgulasch, which loosely translates to “Viennese gravy goulash.” It is aptly named because Viennese-style goulash consists of tender beef and onions without any other added vegetables. The beef is coated in a thick, dark, and smooth gravy that reduces and thickens over the slow cooking time.
2. Czech Republic: you will find český guláš (Czech goulash) or hovězí guláš (beef goulash) in the Czech Republic. It’s a thick stew also made with beef, onions and spices without additional vegetables. “Guláš” boasts a similar flavor profile to Hungarian Goulash but does not include other vegetables. It is often served topped with sliced onion and a side of simple boiled dumplings accompanied by Pilsner beer, the Czech drink of choice.
3. Croatia: Croatian “Gulaš” is often made with venison or boar instead of beef with the addition of sliced or shredded carrots and mushrooms. It is traditional served over a bed of polenta.
4. Germany: Beef Goulash (Rindergulasch), Venison Goulash (Wildschweingulasch), Pork Goulash (Schweinegulasch) and Wild Boar Goulash (Wildschweingulasch) are all popular in Germany! German Goulash omits the potatoes and replaces some of the broth with red wine. In northern Germany, it’s often served over boiled potatoes. In southern German, it is served with Spätzle, a homemade noodle.
5. Romania: includes Transylvania which was once part of the Austro-Hungarian empire so its Goulash is very similar to Hungary’s. Romanian Goulash also includes beef or pork, onions, bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes and sour cream. In some areas of Romania, sauerkraut is added. It is served over Romanian polenta, dumplings or pasta.
6. Serbia: Serbian Goulash is also very similar to Hungarian Goulash with the inclusion of vegetables but usually made with lamb or pork instead of beef. It can also boast a different flavor profile with the inclusion of chili pepper and cinnamon. It is typically served over mashed potatoes or pasta.
7. North America: Goulash in America is more like hamburger helper than a stew. It first showed up in North American cookbooks around 1914, made with elbow macaroni, ground beef and canned tomato sauce.
Goulash dates back to 9th century Hungary. During that time, Hungary was the home to massive herds of cattle that herdsman drove to Europe’s biggest cattle markets from Vienna to Nuremberg. To feed themselves along the journey, the herdsman would claim the leanest cattle to butcher along the way.
They would spice, cook and dehydrate the beef and store it in a bag made from sheep’s stomach. This created a portable meal that only needed water to rehydrate, and could be supplemented with ingredients found along the way or carried in saddlebags such as onions, cured bacon, or lard. The stew was then cooked over cast-iron cauldrons over an open fire until rich and tender. The portable nature of Hungarian Goulash made it extremely popular and soon it spread to other countries, becoming the peasant dish of the masses.
In the 15th century, peppers arrived from America to Hungary. The Hungarians dried, crushed, and made them into paprika and soon paprika became the quintessential, signature spice of Goulash. By the late 17th century, Goulash was beloved by most of Eastern Europe, but it wasn’t until the early 1800s during the split of the Austro-Hungarian empire, that Hungarians declared Goulash their national dish as a way to distinguish themselves from their Austrian oppressors. Today, Goulash is just as beloved in Hungary and around the world.
Goulash originates from the Hungarian gulyás meaning “herdsman” or “cowboy,” a nod to the herdsman who invented the portable, dehydrated stew. Over time, the dish became gulyáshús, which translates to “goulash meat,” meaning, a meat dish prepared by herdsmen. Today, gulyás refers both to the herdsmen, and to the soup.
Goulash (American Style)
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- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped (may sub 2 tsps onion powder)
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (won’t make it spicy)
- 4-6 cloves garlic, minced (may sub 1 tsp garlic powder)
- 1 15 oz. can sweet corn (drained) or 1 ¾ cup frozen corn
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 32 oz. jar Zoup! Good Really Good® Beef Bone Broth
- 1 32 oz. jar marinara sauce
- 1 15 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes with juices
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp EACH paprika, dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp EACH dried thyme, dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 2 cups freshly shredded sharp cheddar
- Cook beef and onions: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté for 3 minutes. Add ground beef and cook, while crumbling the beef, until the beef is almost cooked through.
- Sauté bell peppers: Add bell peppers, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook 2 minutes (beef should be cooked through). Drain excess grease if needed.
- Add ingredients: Increase heat to high to bring to a boil while you stir in all the remaining ingredients except the pasta and cheese. Cover to help bring to a boil.
- Boil pasta: Once boiling, add the pasta and boil (uncovered) just until al dente, about 8-10 minutes, stirring often so the bottom doesn’t stick and burn. DON'T overcook because the residual heat will continue to cook the pasta once removed from the stove. Note, there will be excess liquid once the pasta is cooked that will become the sauce.
- Add cheese: Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheddar cheese a handful at a time until melted. Taste and season with salt, pepper and/or red pepper flakes to taste. If you would like a saucier pasta, stir in additional beef broth.
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