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Aug 16

Beefy American Goulash

Beefy American Goulash

This one-pot Beefy American Goulash is a dish that goes by many names. I’ve seen people make similar dishes that went by many names (American Chop Suey is another popular title), but whatever you call it, there’s no denying that this is classic comfort food. Meaty, saucy and full of juicy tomatoes and hearty macaroni, this savory dish comes together simply and all in one pot (yay, less dishes!). This Beefy American Goulash makes a little over 15 cups total, so each satisfying serving is almost 2 cups! That’s a lot of comfort for just 379 calories or 8 Green, 8 Blue or 3 Purple Weight Watchers SmartPoints. To view your current Points for this recipe and track it in the WW app or site, click here!

Beefy American Goulash

I definitely recommend making this recipe as written (don’t omit the soy sauce, paprika or seasoned salt – they’re necessary for the flavor!), but you can add to it if you wish. Some people add bell peppers or cheese, and you can definitely add other veggies or mix-ins. I am usually of the mindset that anything can be improved by cheese, but I honestly found this dish doesn’t even need it. I know, who the heck am I? I do sometimes sprinkle some Parmesan on top if I’m feeling cheesy.

Beefy American Goulash

Looking for more lightened up comfort food pasta dishes? Check out the pasta section of my recipe index for favorites like Slow Cooker Kickin’ Chicken Pasta, Beef and Sausage Manicotti, Pumpkin Alfredo Tortellini Skillet, Spinach and Artichoke Lasagna Roll Ups, Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta Bake, Tomato Soup Mac & Cheese, Spaghetti Pie, Sausage Tortellini Skillet, Buffalo Chicken Lasagna Roll Ups, Chicken Parmesan Stuffed Shells, Spicy Sausage Pasta and many more!

Beefy American Goulash
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5 from 7 votes
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Beefy American Goulash

Meaty, saucy and full of juicy tomatoes and hearty macaroni, this savory dish comes together simply and all in one pot!


  • 2 lbs uncooked 95% lean ground beef
  • 2 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoons seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 12 oz uncooked elbow macaroni, use whole wheat pasta if following the WW Purple plan


  • Place the ground beef in a large dutch oven and bring over medium heat. Cook, breaking up with a spoon or spatula, until the meat is browned and in small pieces. Drain the grease from the pan. Add the onions and garlic and stir together. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add the water, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, bay leaves, soy sauce, seasoned salt, paprika and black pepper and stir together. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Cover the pot and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  • Add the macaroni and stir until well combined. Re-cover the pot and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the macaroni is cooked through. Remove from heat, stir and remove the bay leaves. Allow to sit for 15 minutes before serving.


To view your WW Points for this recipe and track it in the WW app or site, click here!
Nutrition Information per (scant 2 cups) serving:
379 calories, 49 g carbs, 10 g sugars, 7 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 33 g protein, 5 g fiber (from myfitnesspal.com)
MyWW SmartPoints per (scant 2 cups) serving: (SP calculated using the recipe builder on weightwatchers.com)
Green: 8 SmartPoints/ Blue: 8 SmartPoints/ Purple: 3 SmartPoints (if using wheat pasta, if not then use the Blue points)
Weight Watchers Points Plus:
10 per (scant 2 cups) serving (P+ calculated using the recipe builder on weightwatchers.com)
Adapted from Paula Deen

141 comments on “Beefy American Goulash”

  1. Thanks for the great recipe! Can’t wait to make this! LOVE comfort foods! Do you use regular elbow noodles or whole wheat?

    • I hope you love it! I used regular Barilla elbows, but you can definitely sub wheat macaroni if you prefer!

  2. Any recommendations on how to adapt this to cook in the crockpot?

  3. WOW, two cups that is a lot and not to many points with this meal..

  4. How much sodium is in this per serving…high sodium is a no-no for me?

    • MFP is telling me 1577 for sodium. You could certainly lower that with low sodium diced tomatoes or by reducing the seasoned salt a bit. Hope that helps!

  5. I recently came across a recipe which was very similar to this one on another Blog. I made it, and it was pretty decent. However, your recipe sounds much better, so I’ll definitely try yours! The only other thing which I’d add into this recipe are some diced green (or) red bell peppers. Otherwise, everything else sounds like what I’d use.
    I too, am very concerned with the amount of sodium in this lovely dish, so I’ll attempt to find lower sodium tomato products to use.

  6. Love your recipes, Emily! Did you drain the meat?

  7. Delish! Made it exactly as written and was great. Hubby loved it as well. Next time I’m trying with Zoddles! So glad I found this site thank you!

  8. Made his last night … Super delish but SUUUUPER salty! Will definitely make again, but with significantly less seasoning salt. (If you read the Paula Deen recipe reviews, the saltiness is a major issue there too!)

    • I really didn’t find this overly salty, but I’m sorry you did! I eliminated the Paula’s mostly-salt house seasoning and also used low sodium soy sauce, so my version of the recipe has significantly less salt than hers. Feel free to reduce it further if you prefer!

  9. I haven’t had this in years, my dad used to make it sometimes! I really almost forgot about it till seeing this. Thanks for sharing a fantastic recipe!

  10. This was so delicious! I also love that it’s just one pot and it makes a LOT. Really easy, very little prep time. You can’t ask for much more!

  11. Making this tomorrow night for dinner. Can’t wait to try it! Any recommendations for side dishes other than salad?

  12. This is a great recipe. I adjusted salt as I went. I put in the onions and garlic first, in some olive oil, with a little Stout and when they were soft, drained and removed. Then I cooked the meat, drained, and added the onions and garlic, and added a little garlic. Used a multigrain-veg pasta instead of elbows (spinach and other vegetables in the pasta), and no seasoned salt (so many have added stuff). Cooking now. Great

  13. I also added red bell peppers, mushroom, and fresh corn cut off of the cobb, and a few celery sticks chopped up.

  14. Made this tonight, it is wonderful! Thank you for the recipe!

  15. I made this tonight and took out the soy sauce. Interesting flavors…I am think next time do more of Italian flavors and make it a beef-a-roni. Also, I am cooking the noodles and adding. My noodles didn’t turn out that well. Not sure why:(

  16. Oh my goodness, you really knocked it out of the park with this one Emily! Fantastic!! I made it exactly as the recipe called for except I did it with only half of all the ingredients since there’s only two of us. I wouldn’t change a thing. I really wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did. I paired it with sweet and sour fried cabbage which complimented it to a tee. I can’t wait to eat left overs tomorrow. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  17. I will stick to my Great Aunt Lillian’s recipe she was in her nineties when she past and I’m in my fifties I have never tasted a better one than hers.

    • Mary Beth it’s not necessary to leave such comments. Keep those to yourself. This recipe was delicious so you are missing out!!

    • What is the recipe?  I’m always looking for variations of any recipe.   I to am passionate about my grandma’s recipes but like I said always looking for variations.  Please share. 

    • What could I use in place of the soy sauce? (My son is allergic to soy.)

    • Worcestershire sauce?

  18. Excellent flavor! Easy to make. My family was VERY excited about the taste. Thank you!

  19. I made this for dinner last night and it was fabulous! Hubby had two helpings. We love your receipes. They always come out perfect and taste wonderful. Thank you for posting.

  20. I made this recently and it was amazing!!!! I’m making it again for a neighbor and she doesn’t like chunky tomatoes. Any suggestions on what I can use to replace them? Thanks!!!

  21. I just made this yesterday for a group of 7 (ranging in age from 16-75) and everyone just LOVED it!! I served it with some sliced up french bread and offered parm cheese on the side for those that wanted to make it cheesy. SO GOOD!

  22. This was so good! I found the portion to be very generous and it was so filling! For my household this dish did 4 dinners for us! It even tasted better the second day!!

  23. loved this as a child!! My NaNa made this all the time for me!! Can’t wait to make it’

  24. Our maid would make this but she would mix the jiffy mix box corn meal mix and dop it around the sides and cook. Would add a little more water. She was a great cook and lived to be 104, Liza Jane.

  25. Does this freeze well? If so, how would you suggest doing so? Portioning it out first? Any ideas?


  26. Loved this, would make with a little less soy and probably only one clove of garlic. I used only two and it was still very garlicky. I added worcestershire to the meat which may be why it came out a little salty.

    • Yup, that would do it! If you’re going to add worcestershire sauce I would definitely reduce the amount of soy sauce. Glad you liked it!

  27. My daughter made this for her family and one of her 5 year old twins said “This is the best home cooked meal ever!” Out of the mouths of babes… I can’t wait to make it! I, too, would probably add some celery cuz that is just how I roll….

  28. Loooove this! Have made this 2x…I halved the recipe both times. A definite keeper! Thx!

  29. When I made this the Italian Seasoning was very strong. Any advice on the kind of Italian Seasoning to use? With all the great reviews I don’t feel like I could have used the right kind. Thank you!

  30. I just made this in my 11-1 cooker and I have to say it is DELICIOUS and I will be making it again. I can’t believe how much 1 serving is. Very happy camper right now……lol

  31. This dish rocks! It’s one of my hubby’s favorites that gets cooked often. It’s a huge plus that it makes a large quantity which gives me a “go to” during this hectic holiday season. This rates up there with Doritos Taco Salad which is high praise indeed! Thank you for the great recipes through the years. Keep them coming please

  32. I calculated this using the nutritional values given and also by putting the ingredients in the recipe builder and got 10 Smart Points, not 8

  33. This is 10 Smart Points per serving.

  34. Way too much Italian seasoning. More tomatoe sauce and water didn’t even help.

  35. Do you drain the diced tomatoes in the Goulash?


  36. If I substitute 80/20 ground chuck what would the sp be?

  37. Sorry to repeat but I messed up email address.
    If I substitute with 80/20 ground chuck what would the sp be?? Thank you

    • Hi Judy, I’m sorry but I only have the points calculated for the recipe as I wrote it. If you want to make changes to the recipe you can always run it through the WW recipe builder using the ingredients you choose. Enjoy!

  38. My family absolutely loves this dish. It’s a regular in our house. My husband likes it a little meatier so I use 3lbs of hamburger instead of 2lbs. I also use tomato juice instead of water and I add sweet corn for my six year old daughter. I follow the spices as directed and I serve it with mashed potatoes. It’s fantastic dish to serve on a cold winter day. Thank you Emily for the recipe. It reminds me of my granny.

  39. Can’t wait to make this – I re-built this in the WW app using Trader Joe’s 96% extra lean ground beef and whole wheat pasta (elbow) and it dropped down to 6 Smartpoints.

  40. I don’t have a Dutch oven would a big pot work instead? Thanks!

  41. Do you cook the noodles then put them in the sauce

  42. I adapted this for the Instant Pot tonight, I had never made it before. It was AMAZING!!! Will definitely make it again!!

    • Susan, can you please tell me how you adapted this for the Instant Pot? I’d love to make it in mine. Thank you!

  43. OMG!! This looks delicious and reminds me of my childhood. Going on the meal plan for next week…..

  44. Very good…I used the trader joes extra lean beef and put 80 calories of crushed tomato sauce.. I luv the serving size.

  45. I actually came out with a little higher SP for 8 servings when I put everything into the recipe builder on WW app, but still a very hearty serving for 11SP. I would have never thought to use soy sauce in a tomato sauce recipe, but it really does deepen the flavors. Seemed a little salty to me, so may reduce the amount of season salt and use low sodium tomatoes next time. We had this with some steamed broccoli for dinner and it was so YUMMY!. So glad that I can have my childhood comfort foods on the WW plan. Thanks for the recipe.

  46. Great recipe. I heard about it on Kelley and Kim YouTube channel. I have to watch sodium intake so used no salt added tomato products and omitted seasoning salt. Tastes great and will be good leftovers for lunches.

  47. Came out awesome! I could barely finish one cup…. very filling!

  48. I made this last night and it was so good. I made 1/2 the recipe and there was still a lot left over. Points value is great. Yours is the website with the recipes I have been searching for–good, regular food with a few tweaks so you can be healthy and successful with WW!!! I also made the Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins and they are the perfect thing for breakfast–especially if you like oatmeal, but don’t like hot oatmeal. I have so many other recipes of yours that I plan to try so keep them coming. Very nice job! You are really good at this!!

  49. Thank you for the recipe! Have you ever cut the recipe in half??? Just my husband and me, and he doesn’t eat meat. 🙂

  50. Oh my goodness….. This is definitely a keeper. One of the best recipes so far. You feel like your eating more than 8sp…it will be a main dish in my house. Thanks

  51. Your recipe sounds great and your pictures are gorgeous. I’m curious about the soy sauce. Seems out of place with all the Italian flavors. Can you tell me what using it adds to the flavor profile of the dish? In any case, I’ve pinned to my Recipes to Try Board. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  52. Your recipe sounds great and your pictures are gorgeous. I’m curious about the soy sauce. Seems out of place with all the Italian flavors. Can you tell me what using it adds to the flavor profile of the dish? In any case, I’ve pinned to my Recipes to Try Board. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  53. I made this recipe last week – it was the BOMB! I figured I’d like it, but I didn’t expect to be wowed by American Goulash…I was wrong. My sixteen year old daughter devoured two bowls of it and brought it to school for lunch the next day. Kudos for coming up with such a flavorful and satisfying lightened up dish!!

  54. This was very good, but suuuper salty …followed recipe to the letter…not sure what the difference could be…hubby couldn’t finish it because of the saltiness

  55. Sorry, I just figured out what I did wrong….I used sea salt instead of seasoned salt…will try this again…the flavor was awesome with the exception of my mistake.

  56. This has nothing to do with Goulash. Goulash is the typical soup of Hungarians, that the Gulyás people used to make, who are our “cowboys”. The original name of the food is also Gulyás, and every hungarian adult has tried to cook it at least once. 🙂 In the link there is a photo of a Gulyás.

  57. Man what is with all these stupid negative comments?! If you don’t like it or “it’s not real goulash” get out of here!

    That aside, Emily this is an amazing recipe! We made it last night and it was delicious, hearty, and filling. I only had one cup instead of two and we have leftovers (assuming my husband doesn’t eat them first :P)! Thank you Emily!

  58. Apparently I am really bad at following directions. Could be due to the fact that I wanted to make half the recipe and can’t figure that out! :-). So I made a few errors such as adding a can of tomato sauce which was 24 oz vs 15 oz. I also didn’t have reduced sodium soy sauce so I only put in one tablespoon and omitted the salt. I also didn’t allow everything to cook for 15 minutes before I added the macaroni noodles and I substituted the beef for turkey. All that said, I was a little worried how this would turn out!! 🙂

    The verdict…it was amazing! I added a little parm cheese to the top. The serving size is huge so I did 1 cup with some roasted veggies on the side.

    Take my advice and add the spices even though it sounds different…Italian seasoning with paprika and soy sauce was odd but makes for a wonderful low point comfort food! If I messed it up that much but got the spices right it’s proof that this is a good one! Definitely a keeper! Thank you!!

  59. I made this for dinner and it was delicious! I was worried about the combo of spices and I’m not a huge fan of italian seasoning… but this really was so good. I cut the recipe in half for my husband and I, and plenty of leftovers. I also used no salt added tomatoes and sauce after reading a few comments, only because I watch my sodium. THIS IS GOULASH! A lot of comments that its not… but it definitely reminded me of my mom’s Goulash, and I’m happy to eat this and have great memories of growing up! Haven’t had it in years, and she has passed away, so this was really SPECIAL for me! Thanks for the recipe.. adding it to my round up, like so many others you’ve created!

  60. Oh wow! This was great. Made it just the way you wrote it except my canned tomatoes had green chilies (medium hotness) and it added a nice small heat to it (I like spicy). Thank you for this amazing recipe. Loved the flavors!! The soy sauce and the bay leaves were such an amazing flavor in this.

  61. Amazing flavor. A new household favorite! Thank you!

  62. Can this be cooked in a regular pot? I don’t have a Dutch oven.

  63. I’m a veg on WW so made this last night with soy crumbles instead of ground beef, spaghetti noodles instead of macaroni, and added corn and carrot spirals from Trader Joe’s! Delicious!!! Just like the goulash of my childhood! Yum! I have subscribed to your page, so nice to have an alternate for “veggie chile” all the time, thanks!!!

  64. I have made this 3 times. My husband and I love it. I think the spices are perfect! I put one # of hamburger though. And it is great for lunches!! Thank you Emily!

  65. Made this for the second time last night and it was a hit, again! I halved the recipe because there are only three of us but next time I won’t do that so we can have more leftovers. It’s definitely going into the regular rotation!

  66. Has anyone made this with ground turkey? Very seldom do I use beef.

  67. My husband’s grandma calls this mac-a-dill-doc!

  68. This is DELICIOUS. My whole family lapped it up. Thank you!

  69. This looks delish! Is it the same free style points?

  70. This was great! I made this tonight, but halved it and converted to the Instant Pot. The sauce was delish! Next time I’ll just reduced the water instead of just halving it because it was a bit watery for my taste – now I know!

  71. Can’t wait to this. I noticed you used a Dutch oven, do you recommend getting one? I’ve been thinking about it, suggest any specific brand?

  72. This was incredible! My entire family loved it! Plus we had tons of leftovers!

  73. This was the first recipe I have tried from your website and it was amazing!!!!!! I will be back to try more for sure. Thank you for doing what you do!

  74. Because it makes a large batch and we are only a family of three. Do you think I could freeze 1/2 of the batch for another day?

  75. Made this for dinner. It was really good!

  76. This looks great but wondering if I could speed up the cooking time with my pressure cooker…. Any suggestions on how to adapt this to an Instantpot?

  77. This is a great recipe, the whole family loved it – definitely a keeper!

  78. I have made this several times and it was a very easy recipe to cut in half for just my husband and I.  He loves it!  I serve it with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese on top. 

  79. Would it be ok if I used only 1 pound of ground beef instead of 2? I only have a pound at hand. Thank you!

  80. Does anyone know how many points for freestyle for the Goulash? 

  81. Wow! Tastes just like home. I haven’t had American-style goulash in years, but today, I got a hankering for it. I found this recipe and cooked it to the letter. I made a side of green beans and a skillet of my Mamaw’s cornbread to go with it. So delicious and takes me back to my grandma’s house.

  82. Okay! First of all I LOVE YOU!! Secondly, I made this as a half-batch for me and my husband. Well, we had no idea that it was going to be soooo delicious AND I had to make another batch two days later!! Not kidding! OMW – better than my Mom’s. This will be a go-to recipe for my family from now on. THANK YOU!!

  83. Do you know if the water content would change if you used Chickpea or Lentil pasta?

  84. This looks so much like the goulash my dear mother used to make. I’ll be trying this for some comfort food this winter season. Thanks so much for posting.

  85. I have made this many times and my family loves it!  The leftovers the next day are great!  The only change I make are onion salt (hubby doesn’t like any onion pieces). And reduce the seasoned salt by half.  It taste delicious and is a great winter meal in the Midwest.  It is very easy recipe to double for a crowd or to half for 2. I have tried different pastas and it has turned out great.  Thanks for this recipe!!!

  86. This is my families favorite recipe. I want to make it for a friend on maternity. But not necessarily as a frozen leftover. Would you advise to make the meat and sauce mixture and freeze that. Then have them heat that back up and add the noodles and cook as normal?

  87. This recipe is so much like my mother’s she is 88 we use Del Monte original stewed tomatoes instead and celery I am a private chef for 15 and they are having this for dinner with side dish cottage and sliced tomatoes yummy for the tummy

  88. One of my favorite meals from growing up.  I lost my mom’s specific recipe but this is very close.  One thing I remember when I got the recipe over the phone was she also used sweet Italian sausage; perhaps 1 lb of ground beef and 1 lb of the sausage (?).   I always thought the leftovers were even better the next day as the flavor got into the pasta!)

  89. I wish I would have halved this recipe. It makes so much! Feel like I could feed an Army. Also, wish I would have cut back on the Italian seasoning. I ended up adding tomato paste there was so much liquid. Otherwise great recipe. Will definitely make again but will half the recipe. There is only 2 of us.

  90. I love this recipe as is and my family eats it up also…Yummmmm

  91. I finally made this and it was SO delicious (not surprising since all of your recipes are). I’m team   so this delicious filling, meal was only 3 points for me! 

  92. I made this tonight in my Instant Pot. I sauteed the meat and added in everything but the pasta and water. I then cooked under manual pressure for 10 min. I let it naturally release for about 4 min then released remaining pressure manually. I added about 1 1/2 cup of water and the pasta, stirred and cooked under pressure for 4 more minutes. Manually released the pressure when it berped. I did add a little more water in the end. It was a hit with the kids.

    I made this before on the stove and liked it but loved it in the IP.

    • Thank you for the Instant Pot approach! I used your method and it was perfect. The pasta was done but not mushy and all the flavors really developed well!

  93. Hi!

    Love your recipes sooo much! I just made this but used lean ground turkey instead of beef because beef bothers my stomach. Do you know if that would change the weight watchers points? I’m on the green plan.

    Thank you!


  94. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS RECIPE! I did make a few changes though after reading the comments about how salty it was. So first of all, I marinated my beef with just salt and pepper and garlic. I also didn’t have canned tomatoes anymore so I had to dice them myself, which was alright. I cut 8 tomatoes. Another thing I did was, after adding the onions and garlic to the beef, I added 1/2 cup of red wine. So I didn’t have any low sodium soy sauce so what I did was google how much sodium is in a low sodium one per tbsp and saw that mine was double. So instead of 3 tbsp, I put 1.5. I also didn’t have paprika so I replaced it with cayenne pepper (I am Mauritian so we eat lots of spices in my family hehe). And the results were AMAZING. I’m definitely making this again!

  95. My #1 favorite WW recipe. Pure comfort food with little guilt. 

  96. This is one of our favorite recipes on regular rotation! Tastes even better as leftovers!

  97. 1 TB salt???

  98. Came here to tell you that I have been making your goulash recipe since you posted it and it is PERFECTION. it’s the best I’ve had. My whole family gets excited when I cook this. 5 stars

  99. This is very similar to the one I’ve always made but I am going to adapt mine to this one next time.

  100. How many servings does this make?
    I put the ingredients into WW but it says it has to give 6 servings to be 11 points per serving and that’s with turkey meat instead of ground beef… are you sure this was calculated correctly?

    • Yup, I’m sure! It makes 8 servings. I’m not sure what you’re entering to get that, but I’m happy to send you a screenshot of my recipe builder by email.

  101. Can you freeze the leftovers?

  102. Can I make this in my crockpot?

  103. This Facebook group has stolen your image and text. facebook (space).com/groups/tasty1/posts/676155643799613/

  104. Love this recipe, although I do add green pepper and cook the elbows separately since they didn’t turn out great when I cooked with the meat and sauce.5 stars

  105. This is my favorite fall recipe. I’ve made the whole recipe I have also made half and I always make sure I have enough leftovers to freeze. It’s always delicious and turns out great!5 stars

  106. So good! Made this tonight, just added mushrooms to sub for 1lb meat. Turned out delicious! Love all your recipes! Thanks for all your hard work 5 stars

  107. Very good recipe. I added the suggested green peppers and some crushed red pepper for a little heat. Followed all your directions and it was great. Thank you.5 stars

  108. I really enjoyed this; like some others, I didn’t like how salty it was, and want more of the tomato-y flavor rather than the soy sauce/seasoned salt flavor. I used Carba Nada noodles, which lowered the points a bit. Next time, I will reduce the seasoned salt by half and omit the soy sauce and see how it is.

    Thanks for all of your great recipes, your website is a godsend!5 stars

  109. I really like everything about it. It’s a nice thing to share and a great service

  110. Very delicious! Great flavor! I used ground turkey instead of ground beef. I will make the pasta separate next time, it was a pretty soft. Thank you for this delicious recipe.5 stars

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