Easy American Goulash

$10.96 recipe / $1.83 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.72 from 77 votes
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Oh my goulash, you guys. It’s not often that I use wine in my cooking because it can be pretty pricey, but something magical happens when you add red wine to beef, and it’s something that I just can not resist. Luckily I live near an Aldi store now so I can get a bottle of wine for about $5 that is not only good enough to cook with, but good enough that I’ll happily drink the rest of the bottle with my meal. This One Pot American Goulash is the ultimate comfort food with the richest, most yummiest red sauce ever, thanks to a splash of red wine. Seriously, you’ve got to try this one.

A bowl of warm and comforting One Pot American Goulash with Red Wine Sauce

Do I Need Red Wine in my Goulash?

If you want this dish to be as scrumptious as humanly possible, yes. But if you can’t use red wine, you can substitute beef broth in its place. You’ll still have a pretty rockin’ red sauce, but it just won’t be like “make me weak in the knees” good.

Where’s the Paprika?

This is American Goulash, which is basically just beef, macaroni, and red sauce. It’s totally different than Hungarian Goulash. So if you’re looking for chunks of beef that have been slow simmered in a delicious paprika sauce, this is not it. This is just straight up American comfort food.

Can You Freeze Goulash?

Yes! This One Pot American Goulash recipe is very freezer-friendly. Just make sure to cool the goulash completely in the refrigerator first, then transfer to the freezer for long term storage. I suggest freezing goulash for three months maximum. And remember, label and date everything that goes in your freezer!

What Do You Eat with Goulash?

I would consider this a “one pot meal” which means this one dish covers everything you need in a meal: carbs, proteins, and vegetables. If anything you might want some crusty bread to sop up that delicious gravy, or maybe a green salad on the side for extra vegetables.

Can I Add Cheese?

Yes! A common twist on this recipe is American Goulash with cheese. I would choose medium or sharp cheddar, and simply sprinkle it over top of each bowl, or stir it into the pot to give an overall cheesy flavor, similar to my Cheesy Vegetarian Chili Mac.

What Kind of Pot Should I Use?

Any large, heavy duty soup pot will work well for this recipe. For “one pot pastas” you really need cookware that is thick and heavy, so the contents heat evenly. Thin cookware will create hot spots and cold spots, and cause the pasta to cook unevenly. I used an enamel coated cast iron Dutch Oven, which can be found in my Amazon Shop.

Want more One Pot answers to dinner? Check out our archive of over 50 One Pot Meals!

close up of american goulash in the pot

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Easy American Goulash

4.72 from 77 votes
This easy one pot version of American Goulash cooks the pasta and beef in the same pot with a homemade red wine tomato sauce for extra flavor. 
close up of american goulash in the pot
Servings 6 About 1.5 cups each
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 1 hour
Total 1 hour 10 minutes


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.16)
  • 1 yellow onion ($0.32)
  • 4 cloves garlic ($0.32)
  • 2 bell peppers ($1.58)
  • 1 lb ground beef ($5.29)
  • 1/2 cup red wine* ($0.72)
  • 1 28oz. can diced tomatoes ($0.89)
  • 1 15oz. can tomato sauce ($0.59)
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce ($0.12)
  • 2 whole bay leaves (optional) ($0.30)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano ($0.05)
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil ($0.05)
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper ($0.02)
  • 1/2 cup water ($0.00)
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni (about 1/2 lb.) ($0.50)
  • salt to taste ($0.05)


  • Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Sauté both in a large soup pot with the olive oil over medium heat until the onions are translucent. While the onion and garlic are sautéing, dice the bell peppers, then add them to the pot and continue to sauté for about two minutes more.
  • Add the ground beef to the pot with the vegetables and continue to sauté over medium until the beef is cooked through. Add the red wine to the pot and stir to dissolve any browned bits off the bottom of the pot.
  • Add the diced tomatoes (with juices), tomato sauce, soy sauce, bay leaves, oregano, basil, crushed red pepper, and water to the pot. Stir to combine, place a lid on the pot, and allow it to come up to a boil. Once boiling, turn it down to low, and let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionally.
  • After the sauce has simmered for 30 minutes, add the macaroni and stir to combine. Continue to let the macaroni simmer in the sauce, with the lid on, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender (about 10-12 minutes).
  • Once the pasta is tender, taste the goulash and add salt to taste. Remove the bay leaves, then serve.

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*The type of red wine is flexible, just stay away from very sweet varieties. I used Cabernet Sauvignon.


Serving: 1.5CupsCalories: 467kcalCarbohydrates: 50gProtein: 22gFat: 19gSodium: 920mgFiber: 5g
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Scroll down for the step by step photos!

A forkful of warm and comforting One Pot American Goulash

How to Make American Goulash – Step By Step Photos

Sauteed Onion Garlic and Bell Pepper in Soup Pot

Begin by dicing one yellow onion and mincing four cloves of garlic. Add them to a soup pot along with 1 Tbsp olive oil and sauté over medium heat until the onion are translucent. While the onion and garlic are sautéing, dice two bell peppers, then add them to the pot and continue to sauté for about two minutes more.

Browned Beef and Red Wine

Add one pound ground beef to the pot and continue to sauté over medium heat until the beef is no longer pink, then add 1/2 cup red wine to the pot and stir to dissolve any browned bits off the bottom of the pot.

Add Tomatoes and Seasoning then Stir to Combine

Add one 28oz. can diced tomatoes (with the juices), one 15oz. can tomato sauce, 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 2 bay leaves, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp basil, 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper, and 1/2 cup water. Stir everything to combine, place a lid on the pot, and allow it to come up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low, and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Keep the lid on as it simmers, lifting it only occasionally to stir.

Add Macaroni to American Goulash

Once the sauce has simmered for 30 minutes (OMG it’s already smelling good), add 2 cups macaroni (that’s about 1/2 lb.). Stir to combine the macaroni with the sauce, place the lid back on top, and let it continue to simmer to cook the noodles for about 10-12 minutes, or until the macaroni is tender. Stir occasionally as the pasta simmers to keep it from sticking, returning the lid after each stir.

Finished One Pot American Goulash

Once the macaroni is tender, give the American Goulash a taste and add salt if needed. Remove the the pot from the heat, fish out the bay leaves, then serve that one pot goodness!

One Pot American Goulash being ladled into a bowl.

I’mma eat that goulash!!


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  1. Delicious! I did not add the wine due to family preferences. I used Cento San Marzano Italian peeled tomatoes which I just squished with my hands. I have made this several times but just now commenting. It is esential to drain the grease off the meat dispite what some comments stated. No one wants greasy Goulash. Thank you for posting as this is a keeper recipe!

  2. I grew up with something much like this that we called “meadle” for meat plus noodles. We could tell how family finances were doing based on the ratio of meat to noodles.

    I add carrots and celery. I’ve never used soy sauce.

  3. So easy, flavorful, and delicious. I love a one-pot mean and this, and several others from this site, are in our regular rotation.

  4. Great recipe but I made mine with some mid-tier tomato soup instead of the sauce because that’s what I had on hand. The soup worked great and added a sweetness.

    I appreciate a one pot meal but next time I will boil the macaroni separate because I feel like I had to watch the pot more to prevent sticking on the bottom and had to keep adding water and the timing was different than the recipe. Different stoves due different things. Mine is gas and runs hot.

  5. Sounds so very yummy,fast to make and sticks to the ribs …will make it some more…sonny

  6. Giving this four stars because I will try it again, but with an adjustment. When I asked my teens how it was, they both said “way too acidic”. After a few bites, I got their point. Between the red wine, the tomato sauce and 28 oz of diced tomatoes, this dish was heartburn in a bowl and much too tomato-forward. Still, the flavors were really good. Next time, I plan to sub either beef or chicken broth for the tomato sauce and maybe omit the water so that it still thickens up. Also, if you like some heat double the red pepper flakes. That gave it just the right kick. All in all, a good recipe and one I will attempt again in the future.

    1. Stephanie, maybe try to cook the tomato base longer before you put the macaroni in. The tomatoes take time to cook down and the acid will be MUCH more muted. I brown my burger meat separately because I don’t like all the fat, then drain it and put the onions/green peppers in a little olive oil to soften them for 10 minutes on low heat, then I add the tomatoes ( I use fresh romas that boil for 2 minutes to remove the skin), and then I add in the meat. Let that cook for at least 15 minutes on low then add your macaroni and cook till your preferred doneness.

      Great recipe BTW – oh and I also use 3/4 can of beer instead of the wine and water.

  7. I made this with meatless veggie crumbles, which come in a 12oz bag. Modifications required include:

    Add extra 1/4 cup of liquid (wine or water). Add extra 1-2T of olive oil (to account for lack of fat). No need to brown the “meat”. I added the water, tomatoes, spices, and “meat” at the same time.

    I also prefer red/yellow/orange peppers to green. But, YMMV.

  8. Very good and very easy, and makes a bunch of good leftovers if your cooking for two. I’ve made this I think around 4-5 times now. Favorite pepper combo to do is red pepper and poblano pepper, very tasty. Goes really well with a hot sauce like Frank’s Red Hot as well.

  9. Haha, we love this one, as its also a good reason to break out the good red wine and have a glass with. What’s not to like? Definitely have this one on repeat in our house.

  10. Now that winter finally decided to show here in Minnesota, I’ve been craving comfort foods from my childhood. I had to try this one since my mother’s recipe is canned soup, ground beef, tomato sauce, macaroni, and American cheese (I don’t enjoy the taste anymore). My family enjoyed this one! I did add sharp cheddar and gouda since I can’t resist the cheesy nostalgia.

  11. I’ve never tasted such an immense starch as putting the noodles directly into the sauct to cook. I’ve never done it this way, and I took the advice of many recipes that said to add the uncooked noodles to the sauce, no one liked it 😔. It was “yucky”, for lack of a better term. Did I miss something?

    1. The “one pot pasta” thing is meant to produce a yummy meal with less time and less clean-up. The idea is that the pasta cooks in the sauce, absorbing its flavor, while the starch thickens the sauce. I really like this technique but it might not be for everyone. You could always just add cooked noodles after the sauce has simmered (although you’ll need more that 2 cups since the pasta won’t be absorbing the liquid in the sauce).

    2. Yeah you missed a reality check!!!

      Starch is not good for anyone, but when you wanna eat it, there are right ways and wrong ways to do so, and this is a right way, as explained, it’ll absorb the Sauce…

      Oh that note though, NEVER, follow a recipe 100%, adjust it to your own!!! And NEVER, serve guests an untested recipe…

      You’ll do good on the next one :)

  12. This was incredibly good. We made it two weeks in a row. The wine just takes it to another level entirely. My mom made a version of this growing up and the second time we made it we added a can of corn and kidney beans seasoned with paprika & black pepper.Perfection.

  13. It didn’t say in the instructions, but do you drain the fat off of the meat before you deglaze the pot with the wine? (I usually always drain ground beef)

    Also, another question if I may… can I add vegetables (such as green beans or cabbage, or eggplant) to add to the “fill power” and lower the calories a bit? If so should more liquid be added? (granted, it wouldn’t be traditional goulash, but I am trying to lower our calorie intake while increasing the fill power of the meal.)

    1. It’s really up to you if you want to drain the fat or not. :) If you’re using a high fat percentage beef (like 80/20), you may find there is too much fat for your liking. I kind of like a little fat in there to make the dish more rich, but that’s just personal preference! If you add extra vegetables I would not add more liquid. The vegetables will release water as they cook, so if anything, it may end up making the dish too watery.

    2. Don’t drain the fats, that’s where all the good flavor is!!! And NO, to the people who thinks Fat is bad for you, go educate yourself, it’s the Carbs that’ll kill you, NOT the Fats!!! We’re designed to run on Fats, NOT on Carbs, as common believe, sadly :'(

  14. Hello, can you tell me if I can put all the ingredients in pressure cooking and make it that way? And can I do this to other one pot meal recipes? Thank you!

    1. Unfortunately, I haven’t tried that so I’m not sure how that would turn out. :)

    2. Maybe but definitely skip the wine if you try it. Alcohol doesn’t work in pressure cooker recipes because it can’t evaporate away

    3. You’d have to make too many changes in the amount of liquid in the canned tomatoes/water to make up for the lack of reduction time – there’s no evaporation in a sealed pressure cooker. Then you’d lose out on concentrated tomato flavor from reducing, so you’d probably be adding tomato paste.

      At that point, it’s not even the same recipe.

      I don’t really see an advantage to a pressure cooker here, aside from the pasta taking half as long to cook, saving you perhaps 5-6 minutes.