Chef John’s American Goulash

  • Recipe By
  • Published Sep 3rd
  • Ready In1h 15m
  • Servings12
  • Calories336
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 one of those very simple dishes that does not taste simple--perfect for your weeknight dinner rotation.

Chef John’s American Goulash Ingredients

The following are the ingredients needed to make delicious Chef John’s American Goulash for 12 servings:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (24 ounce) jar marinara sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 cup shredded white Cheddar cheese (optional)

Chef John’s American Goulash Cooking Instructions

  • Prep10m
  • Cook1h
  • Ready In1h 15m

To cook Chef John’s American Goulash, you need about 10 minutes of preparation time. The time needed to cook this Chef John’s American Goulash is about 1 hour , and you can serve your Chef John’s American Goulash within 1 hour 15 minutes . The following are the steps to cook Chef John’s American Goulash easily:

  1. 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. 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. 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. 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 grams of fat; 25.1 grams of carbohydrates; 18.9 grams of protein; 58 milligrams of cholesterol; 1169 milligrams of sodium.

  1. Sep 4th 2019

    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 les ...

  2. Aug 27th 2019

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