How To Make Easy One-Pot Beef Goulash

updated Jan 29, 2020
Easy One-Pot Beef Goulash

From the sauce-slicked macaroni to the crumbles of ground beef and pockets of melted cheddar, one-pot beef goulash is as comforting as it is easy to get on the table.


Prep5 minutes

Cook35 minutes to 40 minutes

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Credit: 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.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

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.

Credit: Joe Lingeman
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Here's how to make an easy American beef goulash.

Easy One-Pot Beef Goulash

From the sauce-slicked macaroni to the crumbles of ground beef and pockets of melted cheddar, one-pot beef goulash is as comforting as it is easy to get on the table.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 35 minutes to 40 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 1

    medium yellow onion

  • 2 cloves


  • 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


  • Cutting board

  • Chefs knife

  • 6-quart Dutch oven

  • Wooden spoon

  • Measuring spoons and cups

  • Box grater


  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.

Recipe Notes

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

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