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Chef John's American Goulash

Rated as 4.83 out of 5 Stars

"One of my all-time favorite comfort food meals growing up was the beef goulash they served in my school cafeteria alongside a slice of buttered white bread and a carton of milk. Little did I know that it wasn't really goulash, but an Americanized version, invented to stretch a small amount of beef into enough food for a not-so-small family. This is one of those very simple dishes that does not taste simple--perfect for your weeknight dinner rotation."
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1 h 15 m servings 336
Original recipe yields 12 servings


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  1. Heat oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and ground beef. Cook, breaking the meat into small pieces, until browned, about 5 minutes. Cook and stir until liquid is evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes more. Add garlic, salt, black pepper, cayenne, paprika, Italian seasoning, and bay leaves.
  2. Cook and stir until flavors come together, about 3 minutes. Pour in chicken broth, diced tomatoes, and marinara sauce. Rinse out the jar with 1 cup water and pour into the pot. Add soy sauce, stir, and bring soup to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and simmer to let flavors intensify, about 30 minutes.
  3. Increase heat to medium-high and bring soup to a simmer. Add macaroni; simmer, stirring occasionally, until just barely tender, about 12 minutes. Check for doneness after 10 minutes.
  4. Remove goulash from heat. Discard bay leaves; stir in parsley and Cheddar cheese. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Taste and season as desired.


  • Chef's Notes:
  • Make your own Italian herb mix with any desired blend of oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley, and basil.
  • Feel free to swap water for chicken broth.
  • You can also add beans to turn this into an excellent pasta fazool.

Nutrition Facts

Per Serving: 336 calories; 17.3 25.1 18.9 58 1169 Full nutrition

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Read all reviews 9
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I was skeptical, but Chef John has never steered me wrong. So glad I tried it as I was pleasantly surprised. It tastes fancier than it sounds, and my family loved it. Next time would use less sa...

We called this slumgullion growing up. Super yummy and 1 pot makes it a winner! The cheese makes it thicker and yummy!

This recipe was fantastic! My kids ate it up. Chef John does not disappoint! My one change is that I drained the tomatoes to keep it from being too soupy. Other than that, you need to make thi...

Followed recipe to a T and it was delicious!! Family loved it.

So good! I did a half recipe because it’s only the two of us but used a whole can of tomatoes and the one cup of water at the end and it was perfect.

This was so good! i added saute zucchini and eggplant and a green pepper because I had to use them up. Taste even better the next day and will continue to thicken.

Made this several times and the family loved it .....

I made this today. Absolutely wonderful! I changed it up a bit by adding sweet Italian sausage, mushrooms, peppers, shredded yellow cheddar and parmigiana cheese. I also substituted ziti pasta ...

Very easy to make and tastes great as directed. My granddaughter requested this in her lunch for school. It's also easily tweaked to ones own personal tastes.