I was all set and ready to make another lentil dish when I saw this recipe and was hit with a serious craving for Goulash. I know goulash is exactly the type of basic “recipe-rut” dish that a lot of you are trying to steer away from but you gotta give this one a chance. Goulash is one of those dishes that if it’s done right, its really right but if it’s done wrong (hamburger helper anyone?) then it’s really really wrong. Well, Mehan’s recipe is oh so right. The red wine sauce is deep and rich and the soy sauce adds an interesting twist. You won’t be disappointed. It’s delicious, satisfying and inexpensive. This goulash fits Budget Bytes to a T.

I made only a couple small alterations to the recipe this time because the original was just that good. I used two green bell peppers instead of one red and reduced the wine to 1/2 cup, both in the name of cost reduction. I upped the diced tomatoes and sauce because I’m a tomato fiend. The rest is just as it’s written.

Oh, and here is my disclaimer: Goulash is one of those dishes that is different in just about every country that it’s made even though they all use the same name. So, before you email me with disgust at how this is NOT goulash, just know that “goulash” takes many forms. Thank you, the end.

(but I really do love every single email that I get, good, bad or ugly!)



4.72 from 7 votes


This American version of goulash includes ground beef pasta that is cooked right in a red wine tomato sauce for extra flavor.

Total Cost $10.17 recipe / $1.27 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 8


  • 1 lb ground beef $2.88
  • 1 medium onion $0.59
  • 4 cloves garlic $0.22
  • 2 medium bell peppers $1.68
  • 1/2 cup red wine $1.10
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce $0.12
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes $1.46
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce $0.88
  • 2 whole bay leaves $0.04
  • 1/2 tsp oregano $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp basil $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes $0.05
  • to taste salt and pepper $0.05
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni $1.00


  1. Cook the ground beef in a large pot until thoroughly browned. Drain off the fat, if necessary (less than 10% fat ground beef usually doesn’t need draining). While the beef is browning, chop the onion and mince the garlic.
  2. Add the onion and garlic to the pot and cook until they are softened (2-3 minutes, stir occasionally). While the onions and garlic are cooking with the beef, dice the bell peppers.
  3. Add the bell peppers to the pot and continue to cook until they are slightly softened (2-3 minutes). Add the wine and stir well, allowing the moisture to loosen any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pot.
  4. Add the soy sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, bay leaves, oregano, basil and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine, add a half cup of water then reduce the heat to medium low, cover and let simmer for a half hour.
  5. Stir in the dry macaroni, replace the cover and let the macaroni cook until soft (10-15 minutes). Stir every five minutes or so to prevent the macaroni from sticking to the bottom. Lower the heat if necessary but do not turn it down so low that it stops simmering.

Step By Step Photos

ground beef
Cook the ground beef in a large pot until thoroughly browned. I find that I don’t need to add any extra oil or butter to cook ground beef, even if using a low fat variety like 97/3.

drain meat
Drain the meat if you are using a high fat content ground beef. My beef was 80/20 so I drained it well.

add onions garlic
While the meat is browning, mince the garlic and chop the onion. Add them to the pot.

cooked onions garlic beef
Cook for a few minutes more until the onions and garlic are softened and slightly transparent.

add bell pepper
While the onions are cooking, dice the bell pepper then add them to the pot. It’s okay if stuff starts to stick to the bottom of the pot during all of this, the wine will “deglaze” the pan.

add wine deglaze
Pour in your wine, stir it all around and scrape up anything that has stuck to the bottom of the pan – that’s where all of the flavor lies!

tomatoes and seasoning
Add everything else except the pasta (diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, bay leaves, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper). Stir it all together.

Add a half cup of water, place a lid on top, reduce the heat to medium low and let it all simmer together for a half hour. (I was baking some no-knead bread at the same time, see it in the background? It turned out great!)

Add the macaroni, stir it in, put the lid back on and let it simmer until the pasta is fully cooked (10-15 min.). Stir it occasionally to keep the pasta from sticking to the bottom.

Then it’s all done and OH SO DELICIOUS!


NOTE: I used a $7 dollar bottle of wine, you really don’t need anything more expensive for this recipe. You can find some decent wine between $7-$10 per bottle and the rest of the bottle can be enjoyed with dinner. Or, buy a four pack of the mini bottles and use one at a time for cooking.