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How To Make Easy One-Pot Beef Goulash

Classic American goulash made with ground beef, pasta, tomato sauce, and cheese.

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Photo by Joe Lingeman

Did you love Hamburger Helper as a kid? This one-pot dinner is basically a homemade version that checks all the comfort-food boxes: saucy macaroni, crumbles of ground beef, and generous pockets of creamy, melted cheddar.

The Difference Between American and Hungarian Goulash

When you hear the word “goulash,” there’s a chance you envision something a little different than a pot loaded with ground beef and macaroni. That’s because there are two distinctly different styles of goulash: classic American goulash and Hungarian goulash.

American beef goulash is what you see here: a one-pot meal made with ground beef, pasta, tomato sauce, and cheese. Hungarian goulash, on the other hand, is more of a stew, prepared with cubes of beef (often chuck roast) and vegetables swimming in a paprika-kissed tomato broth.


3 Tips for Making the Best Beef Goulash

1. Swap the water for broth. While some one-pot pastas call for water, this version swaps in broth to bring even more flavor to the table. Beef or chicken broth both work well here — use whichever one you have handy.

2. Don’t forget to stir. After adding the macaroni to the pot, don’t forget to give it a good stir every once in a while, and scrape the bottom and corners of the pot. This will guarantee that the pasta doesn’t stick or clump together.

3. Grate the cheese yourself. It can be tempting to grab a bag of cheddar to minimize prep, but the pre-shredded stuff containers stabilizers, which means it doesn’t melt nearly as well. You’ll have much better results if you start with a block of cheese and grate it yourself.

Easy One-Pot Beef Goulash

Yield: Serves 4

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes to 40 minutes


  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 (15-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef or chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup dried elbow macaroni (about 4 ounces)
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup), plus more for serving



  1. Cut the aromatics. Dice 1 medium yellow onion and mince 2 garlic cloves.

  2. Soften the aromatics. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 6-quart Dutch oven or heavy-bottom pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.

  3. Brown the beef. Add 1 pound lean ground beef and season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Cook, breaking up the meat into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned, beginning to crisp, and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.

  4. Add the seasonings and liquid. Add 1 tablespoon tomato paste and cook, stirring, until well-incorporated and darkened slightly in color, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes and their juices, 1 can tomato sauce, 1 1/2 cups beef or chicken broth, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning, and 2 bay leaves. Bring to a boil.

  5. Add the macaroni and simmer. Stir in 1 cup elbow macaroni. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until the pasta is just tender, 15 to 18 minutes. Meanwhile, shred 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, plus more for serving if desired.

  6. Add the cheese. Remove the pot from the heat. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Stir in the cheese until well-incorporated. Top with more grated cheese for serving, if desired.

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Kelli Foster is the Food Editor for Plan & Prep content for Kitchn. She's a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and author of “The Probiotic Kitchen,” “Buddha Bowls,” and “Everyday Freekeh Meals.”

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This post originally appeared on The Kitchn and was published January 15, 2020. This article is republished here with permission.

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