One Pot Goulash Recipe: American and Hungarian

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Have you ever eaten or made goulash?

Who hasn’t, right?!

It’s so ingrained in our collective cultures that I think everyone has a special version of goulash (American or Hungarian) in their family’s recipe files.

What is goulash?

For those of you who haven’t had goulash (and are wondering what is this foreign sounding meal?!), it’s basically a one pan meal made with beef, veggies and served with pasta.

A little of this, a little of that, and you’ve got yourself a delicious one-pot meal!

There are two main recipe variations for goulash: American and Hungarian.

Today, I’m offering my favorite recipes for both kinds.

American is on the left and Hungarian on the right.

side by side bowls of american and hungarian goulash

Each a very different, yet similar meal.

I’m already drooling – I love me some goulash, y’all.

Either one of these recipes will do. Just bring me da pot and a spoon!

Show of hands if your mom or dad whipped together a one-pot wonder of ground beef, stewed tomatoes and soft cooked pasta.

So many hands!

Show of hands if you loved that hamburgery helper-esque meal (Is that where Hamburger Helper got it’s idea for their boxed meals? Brilliant!).

Yep. Me too.

That would be the American classic goulash.

Hungarian Goulash is nothing like that.

~snort~

The faster-to-make, kid-friendly, one-pot meal, is called American Goulash.

pot of american goulash

The American version must have come about (I’m guessing here) because the Hungarian version takes longer to prepare (but, worth every minute of cook time) and cook.

It is so dang delicious, moms ever’where must have decided to try and replicate the dish quickly – yet with American flair.

True Hungarian Goulash is not a quick meal on a busy day; there’s no rushing the sauce or the tender beef to the table in 30-minutes or less.

Nope.

We’ll get to both versions today.

That way, you decide if it’s a day for a fast meal to feed your famished family, or a a day for a slow meal to feed your famished family (you just gotta do a little planning and prepping).

Both ways are good. Both ways have their place.

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What’s in American Goulash?

~ Ground Beef (I use a 80/20 mixture)

~ Beef Broth

~ Green Bell Peppers (you can substitute for yer favs)

~ Macaroni (elbow noodles)

~ Diced Onion and Garlic

~ Canned Diced Tomatoes

Variations to American Goulash:

~ Ground Chicken or Turkey (makes for a lighter meal)

~ Wine for Reduction (I’m in!)

~ Water in Place of Broth

~ Omitting Bay Leaf

~ Omitting Paprika

~ Smoked Paprika

Basically, follow the same rules as for Hungarian: use what you and your family love to eat.

How is Hungarian Goulash different than the American version?

bowl of goulash with bread beside it

Hungarian Goulash is basically a stew (some say a soup – but I’m going with stew, as it’s much heartier than what we think of as an ordinary soup) that includes beef and vegetables in a soup like sauce.

The Hungarian version also uses Hungarian paprika – which is sweeter and spicier than the American counterpart.

There are many versions of the hearty stew (or soup...the Hungarian word for goulash is Gulyásleves, and literally means “goulash soup” – which is most likely why some refer to it as a soup).

A quick trip around the Internet and you’ll find family favorites handed down from Hungarian grannies, as well as modified versions that allow for the tastes of each individual.

There’s no right or wrong here, simply variations of a goulash recipes.

What’s in Hungarian Goulash?

While this list is not exhaustive, it’s a fair picture of the basis for the dish.

~ Cubed Beef Stew Meat (trimmed of fat)

~ Yellow Onion (not the sweet Vidalia onions we Southerners love)

~ Minced Garlic

~ Beef Broth

~ Tomato Paste

~ Seasonings (salt – pepper – Bay leaf)

~ Hungarian Paprika (the secret ingredient)

Variations to the classic recipe:

~ Potatoes

~ Carrots

~ Sweet Red Peppers

~ Egg Noodles

~ Stewed Tomatoes

~ Fresh Tomatoes

See what I did there?

Decide what ingredients you and your family like to eat and take a classic Hungarian Goulash recipe and make it your own.

Why egg noddles and not macaroni?

 

American goulash is filled with macaroni noodles – delish! – but for the more traditional goulash recipe, I like to place a layer of egg noodles on my plate (or in a bowl) and then smother with goulash – just like I remember The German (my mother. yes, I call her that. yes, she knows. ha!) making in my youth.

What is the best cut of beef for stew?

The great thing about most stews, and this goulash, is you can use various cuts of beef and they will all work.

Most grocery stores will offer pre-cut beef for stews – it’s easy to find and usually labeled as stew meat.

Or, you can by a full roast of lean chuck or top round and cut into cubes yourself.

Any inexpensive cut of beef can work because the slow-cooking will produce tender, pull-apart bites of beef.

You can taste it now, can’t ya!

Goulash is the perfect comfort food.

Why?

Let’s review:

We’ve got beef, either cubed or ground (we Texans love our beef in all forms!), and carby potatoes or macaroni (for those times you neeeed some delicious carby comfort), nutritious tomatoes, carrots or bell peppers (eat your veggies, yo!), spicy spices, and the best part (for the Hungarian variety): gravy.

Throw in some crusty bread, turn on Netflix, and see ya when I see ya!

A common question for any goulash: Can you freeze it?

Yep – with a caveat for the Hungarian version if you’re using potatoes.

Potatoes can get grainy and mushy once frozen, then thawed.

You could make the dish without the potatoes, then add once thawed, but you’ll be missing out on some flavor and body.

Potatoes are a known soup and stew thickener, without having to add a roux.

Given that, I say, take your chances and freeze.

I don’t have any experience with it, because there is never ever anything to freeze.

Also, the American Goulash, with all dat pasta will freeze just fine.

How do you freeze goulash?

You can do this in a couple of ways.

#1: Simply pour cooled goulash into freezer bags, leave a bit of room for expansion, SEAL TIGHT, then lay flat and freeze.

#2: Place in a freezer safe container, LEAVE SOME ROOM AT TOP FOR EXPANSION, then place in freezer.

How to thaw goulash?

There are a few ways you can go about thawing your goulash.

#1: If you froze the dish in freezer bags, and you want to thaw quickly, you can place in a sink of warm water, being careful not to leave out for too long. You don’t want bacteria growing.

#2: Place container on a dish towel – as the meal thaws, condensation will drip off the container, hence, HENCE! the towel will keep water off your fridge shelves and save you some clean-up time – and place in fridge overnight (this is my preferred method – so easy). When you’re ready to reheat, it’s ready to be reheated. BFFS!

What is the main differences between Hungarian and American goulash?

There are couple of differences, as you saw above.

Hungarian Goulash takes a couple of hours to prepare, as it uses cubed beef (or any inexpensive cut of beef), which takes longer to cook.

The egg noodles are not cooked within the goulash, but separately, and then used for the goulash to be served upon.

If I’m making Hungarian Goulash, I use the last 15 minutes of cook time to cook the noodles so everything is hot and ready to eat together.

American Goulash uses ground beef and is much faster to make.

For American Goulash, you saute onions, garlic and bell peppers, then add ground beef to the same pan and cook through.

Once the ground beef is cooked, you add all the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT the macaroni and cook juices down a bit.

Finally, you add the macaroni and cook until tender, then serve altogether as one dish – BAMMO! – American Goulash.

Alrighty, enough jibber-jabber – to the recipes (printable versions of both are below).

AMERICAN GOULASH

A one-pot wonder of American comfort food!

Ingredients:

2 tbsp bacon grease

1 large red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 large sweet Vidalia onion, seeded and diced

6-8 cloves garlic, grated with microplane

2 lbs ground beef, 80/20

1 15 oz can diced tomatoes

1 15 oz can spicy diced tomatoes (or 1 10 oz can Rotel)

2 15 oz cans tomato puree or sauce

3 tbsp tomato paste

3-4 cups beef broth

1 tsp salt

3 tsp black pepper

1 tbsp smoked paprika

2 cups elbow macaroni

Instructions:

1: Dice onion, peppers.

2: Mince the garlic and set aside.

3: Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or large pot and saute onions and peppers until tender.

4: Add garlic. Cook through for another minute or so.

5: Add the ground meat to the pot of sauteed veggies and cook (medium heat is good) until meat is no longer pink and cooked through, stirring throughout.

6: Add the canned tomatoes, both diced and sauce, seasonings, and beef broth.

7: Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to low and simmer for approximately 20-30 minutes.

8: You can either cover the pot with lid or place lid on top of pot without covering completely.

9: Once you have simmered the sauce through, add your pasta and stir.

10: If you find too much of the broth has reduced while simmering, you can add between 1/2-1 cup more, after adding pasta.

11: Cover and cook until pasta is tender, about 15-20 minutes (make sure heat is on low, so nothing sticks to bottom of pan), while stirring frequently in that time period.

12: Check for tenderness and serve!

Notes:

* The sweetness of the red or yellow peppers and Vidalia onion, pair perfectly with the acidity of the tomatoes.

* If you find that your sauce has reduced too much prior to adding pasta, you can add a bit more broth at this time.

* Garnish with a dollop of sour cream or shredded cheese.

I made a video that shows the basic steps (please forgive the newbness of the vertical video – I totally forgot to turn my camera – Instagram stories have ruined me!):

HUNGARIAN GOULASH

A flavorful and satisfying stew that’s easy to make in one pot.

bowl of hungarian goulash

Ingredients:

3 tbsp bacon fat

2 lbs beef boneless chuck, tip or round, cut in 1″ cubes

4 cups low sodium beef broth

1 cups water

l 14 oz can diced tomatoes with juice

2 cups onions, diced

5 cloves garlic, diced

2 tsp Hungarian paprika

1 1/2 tsp salt

l/2 tsp pepper

3 med red potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces

2 carrots, chopped

2 sweet red peppers, cut into bite-size pieces

1 bay leaf

Instructions:

1: Heat 2 tbsp of bacon fat in Dutch oven or 12″ skillet until hot.

2: Cook and stir beef in small batches, in hot oil, until browned thoroughly on all sides.

3: When one batch is done, take out of pan with slotted spoon and add another batch until all meat is browned.

4: Set meat aside.

5: Heat 1 tbsp bacon fat and saute onions and peppers until onions are translucent.

6: Add garlic and heat through, but do not overcook, as garlic burned easily.

7: Add beef broth, browned beef, bay leaf, water, tomatoes (with liquid), paprika, salt, and pepper to sauteed onions, peppers and garlic.

8: Heat to boiling, reduce heat to simmer.

9: Cover and simmer one hour. Checking periodically to stir.

10: Add potatoes and carrots and stir.

11: Bring pot back to a simmer and continue to simmer until potatoes and carrots are tender, about 30-40 minutes.

Notes:

* You can substitute vegetable oil for bacon grease. Just know you will be sacrificing a layer of subtle flavor.

* Any inexpensive beef cut can be used. The slow cooking method will yield tender morsels.

* Serve over a bed of cooked egg noodles and with crusty french bread. Wine optional, but very much encouraged!

I made a video that shows the basic steps (please forgive the newbness of the vertical video – I totally forgot to turn my camera- Instagram stories have ruined me!):

 

American Goulash

American Goulash

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

The faster, just as tasty, Americanized version of Hungarian Goulash

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp bacon grease
  • 1 large red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 large sweet Vidalia onion, seeded and diced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, grated with microplane
  • 2 lbs ground beef, 80/20
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz can spicy diced tomatoes (or 1 10 oz can Rotel)
  • 2 15 oz cans tomato puree or sauce
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3-4 cups beef broth
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni

Instructions

  1. Dice onion, peppers.
  2. Mince the garlic and set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or large pot and saute onions and peppers until tender.
  4. Add garlic. Cook through for another minute or so.
  5. Add the ground meat to the pot of sauteed veggies and cook (medium heat is good) until meat is no longer pink and cooked through, stirring throughout.
  6. Add the canned tomatoes, both diced and sauce, seasonings, and beef broth.
  7. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to low and simmer for approximately 20-30 minutes.
  8. You can either cover the pot with lid or place lid on top of pot without covering completely.
  9. Once you have simmered the sauce through, add your pasta and stir.
  10. If you find too much of the broth has reduced while simmering, you can add between 1/2-1 cup more, after adding pasta.
  11. Cover and cook until pasta is tender, about 15-20 minutes (make sure heat is on low, so nothing sticks to bottom of pan), while stirring frequently in that time period.
  12. Check for tenderness and serve!

Notes

* The sweetness of the red or yellow peppers and Vidalia onion, pair perfectly with the acidity of the tomatoes.

* If you find that your sauce has reduced too much prior to adding pasta, you can add a bit more broth at this time.

* Garnish with a dollop of sour cream or shredded cheese.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 258 Total Fat: 11g Saturated Fat: 4g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 5g Cholesterol: 54mg Sodium: 500mg Carbohydrates: 20g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 7g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 20g
Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.
Hungarian Goulash

Hungarian Goulash

Yield: 8-10 servings
Prep Time : 20 minutes
Additional Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time : 1 hour 40 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes

A flavorful and satisfying stew that's easy to make.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp bacon fat
  • 2 lbs beef boneless chuck, tip or round, cut in 1" cubes
  • 4 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 1 cups water
  • l 14 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 cups onions, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 tsp Hungarian paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • l/2 tsp pepper
  • 3 med red potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 sweet red peppers, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 bay leaf

Instructions

  1. Heat 2 tbsp of bacon fat in Dutch oven or 12" skillet until hot.
  2. Cook and stir beef in small batches, in hot oil, until browned thoroughly on all sides.
  3. When one batch is done, take out of pan with slotted spoon and add another batch until all meat is browned.
  4. Set aside.
  5. Heat 1 tbsp bacon fat and saute onions and peppers until onions are translucent.Add garlic and heat through, but do not overcook, as garlic burned easily.
  6. Add beef broth, browned beef, bay leaf, water, tomatoes (with liquid), paprika, salt, and pepper to sauteed onions, peppers and garlic.
  7. Heat to boiling, reduce heat to simmer.
  8. Cover and simmer one hour. Checking periodically to stir.
  9. Add potatoes and carrots and stir.
  10. Bring pot back to a simmer and continue to simmer until potatoes and carrots are tender, about 30-40 minutes.


Notes

* You can substitute vegetable oil for bacon grease. Just know you will be sacrificing a layer of subtle flavor.

* Any inexpensive beef cut can be used. The slow cooking method will yield tender morsels.

* Serve over a bed of cooked egg noodles and with crusty french bread.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 555 Total Fat: 28g Saturated Fat: 11g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 14g Cholesterol: 114mg Sodium: 837mg Carbohydrates: 35g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 9g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 39g
Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

I’d love to know if you make either of these recipes – OR – if you already have it in your meal rotation of family favs.

Let us know!

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Comments

  1. My favorite recipe for Hungarian goulash is probably the German take on it. It doesn’t really have veggies at all. It’s good beef chunks simmered in a really thick ketchup based stew. Served over egg noodles. You get the veg from red cabbage. one of our family’s favorite recipes

  2. Patti, in 2017 my son married a delightful, lovely young lady from Hungary who moved to the U.S. after her high school graduation a decade ago. While celebrating her first Christmas with our family, I asked her what Hungarians usually ate for holiday dinners, and without a second of hesitation, she replied that Hungarian Goulash is the traditional meal at Christmas and other major holidays, not turkey or ham! Thick bread is also served, to sop up the gravy from the goulash. She added that in her native country, they add potatoes to almost every dish at meal times. After they’d been married a few months, I asked my son if his sweet wife is a good cook, and his response was that she LOVES to cook potatoes in every conceivable way possible! No doubt she’ll be excited to see this post! Thank you for sharing.

  3. Mother of 3 says

    Those both sound quite tasty! We make our goulash with a jar of spaghetti sauce and just add the cooked macaroni to it but I don’t know of any two people that make it quite the same way!

  4. I actually don’t think I’ve ever had goulash in my life, but it looks delicious. I’ll have to try this recipe!

  5. These both look delicious! Perfect fall meals!

  6. Yummm! I love goulash and this looks amazing!!!

  7. I was so interested to read this post, Patti! I hadn’t thought about the differences between the two Goulashes before, and both your recipes sound delicious. Thank you for being a part of the Hearth and Soul Link Party!

  8. Sounds tasty! My family has been eating goulash since I was a child but it’s made with bacon, rice, and tomatoes. Thanks so much for linking up at the UnlimitedMonthlyLinkParty 4. Shared.

  9. my mother came to this country from Poland and made a dish similar to the Hungarian goulash (minus the bacon. she was kosher). As soon as I’m sure we’re going to get some fall like temperatures, I am going to try youro recipe–with bacon. I live by the slogan: Everything’s better with bacon.

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