Who doesn’t love goulash? It’s beefy, cheesy, and full of deep herby, tomato flavor.
I want to call this a casserole. I don’t know – what do you think?
Whatever you call it, it’s the kind of dish that we grew up eating. Just like these stuffed cabbage rolls, this is old soul food that never goes out of style. In this version, you get all the familiar flavors in an enamel coated Dutch oven for easy stove-top cooking.
No transferring the ground beef in and out required. Just timing and basic cooking techniques…
American Goulash Recipe Overview
Star Ingredient: beef
Flavor Affinities: BEEF + TOMATO + CHEDDAR + ITALIAN SEASONING
Function: equal parts warming & cooling
Tastes: herby, savory, tangy
Textures: chewy, saucy
Wisdom: Cooking the ground beef and macaroni together in the seasoned tomato sauce results in the quintessential American casserole we all know and love.
How to Make Goulash
This is every bit a simple, crowd pleasing dish. You just throw everything together and let it cook for about 40 minutes total. Since a Dutch oven works to maintain heat and moisture – this is one of the fastest goulash recipes around.
The hardest part of the recipe is honestly remembering to scrape the bottom of the pan every so often to prevent burning. Other than that, it’s just layering the ingredients in the right order.
Ground Beef + Garlic
This forms the base layer of savory flavor:
- add ground beef directly to heated dutch oven with a pinch of salt + pepper
- cook mostly through (it’s ok if it’s a little pink)
- stir in minced garlic
I always like to add dry herbs and seasoning right after cooking meat and before adding sauce. This way, the seasoning gets more direct contact with the heat.
- bay leaves
- Italian seasoning (usually a combination of thyme, parsley, and oregano)
- more salt
This is where we simmer the tomato sauce a bit to work the flavors we just developed into the sauce (about 10 minutes).
Macaroni (Gluten Free Optional)
Unlike Italian cooking, goulash has more of a casserole quality because we cook the dried macaroni noodles directly in the tomato sauce.
Not Liable for Burning Tip: Ok, here’s the most important part. A Dutch oven gets really hot on the bottom. It’s important to stir and scrape the bottom every 10 minutes or so to prevent burning.
Did you know that yellow cheese is died? I found this out semi-recently and switched to white cheddar ever since. Look for cheese that’s sold as a block and shred it yourself. Freshly grated cheese has more flavor.
Get ready for a pot full of cheesy, beefy deliciousness. Bring on the leftovers! Hope this reminds you of your mom’s homemade goulash:)
What to Serve with American Goulash:
Bread: Traditional Irish Soda Bread
Goulash Meal Prep and Storage Tips:
This recipe is make-ahead friendly as long as you:
- Do not overcook the pasta; cook to al dente.
- Transfer cooked goulash to airtight containers, let cool, then add lids.
- Reheat on the stove just until warmed through or in the microwave.
To store in the Dutch oven, cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Only reheat in the Dutch oven if you will consume the entire pot.
To Freeze: Please note that your pasta should only be cooked to al dente if you plan to freeze this recipe. Transfer the cooked goulash to airtight containers and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Label and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw completely in the fridge then heat until warmed through.
GOULASH RECIPE FAQS
What is the difference between Goulash and American Goulash?
Goulash refers to Hungarian stew made traditionally with beef or pork, potatoes and carrots, and heavily seasoned with Hungarian paprika (served over noodles). American goulash (like this one) is made with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and macaroni–simmered in a tomato-based sauce with Italian seasonings.
Is Hamburger Helper the same as goulash?
Both are American comfort food classics but goulash contains more of a tomato-based broth with vegetables whereas hamburger helper has a rich, dairy-based sauce.
Can you freeze goulash?
Noodles make this tricky to freeze. You can either leave the noodles out and freeze the beef stew portion or you can slightly under-cook the noodles so they won’t get mushy when you reheat.
More Dutch Oven Recipes for You:
- Dutch Oven London Broil Pot Roast
- Dutch Oven Meatballs
- 20-Minute Spicy Black Bean Soup
- Maple-Bacon Baked Beans
- Rise-and-Shine Brandy Berry French Toast Casserole
- Bucatini with Butter Anchovy Tomato Sauce
- and if you want them in cookbook form, Easy Dutch Oven Cooking
Dutch Oven Goulash
- Large Dutch Oven
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- salt and pepper see instructions
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
- 3 tbsp tamari shoyu, or soy sauce
- 3 cups water
- 1 29-oz can tomato sauce no salt added
- 2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
- 2 cups elbow macaroni uncooked
- 1 cup white cheddar cheese freshly shredded (4 oz)
- fresh thyme optional for garnish
- Cook ground beef in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat for 5 minutes until mostly cooked through. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add garlic and stir every so often, 2 minutes.
- Add bay leaves, Italian seasoning, tamari, and 1 tablespoon salt. Stir to distribute. Add water, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes. Put a lid on the pot and lower the heat to medium. Simmer the sauce for 15 minutes.
- Pour 2 cups dry macaroni to the pot, stir, and return the lid and simmer for 20-25 minutes (*use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pot and stir every so often to prevent the noodles from sticking and burning).
- Just before serving, remove the bay leaves and stir in the cheddar cheese. Garnish with fresh thyme for a little somethin' somethin'.
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