Healthy American Goulash Recipe

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This Healthy American Goulash recipe is full of flavor and packed with six kinds of vegetables! Not your typical goulash, it has a casserole-like consistency, making it extra filling. Serve it on its own or with your favorite sides for a comfort food dinner the whole family will love! 

A large spoon digging into a pan of healthy goulash with vegetables.

What is Goulash? 

Classic goulash is a type of soup or stew that originates from Hungary. I’m half Hungarian and grew up eating my mother’s traditional recipe.  

And this recipe isn’t that! For starters, it does not contain any paprika. Additionally, there’s not really any broth or liquid. Instead, it comes out as more of a casserole. 

It’s delicious nonetheless and a great way to get my kids to eat more veggies! I find it hard to get my kids to snack on veggies very often. However, if I sneak them in main dishes like chili, sloppy joes, and American goulash, they happily eat them!

Ingredients for American goulash grouped in a stainless steel pan ready to be mixed.

What’s the Difference Between American and Hungarian Goulash? 

Hungarian goulash is a soup or stew made with stewed beef, vegetables, and paprika. Typically, it is served with buttered egg noodles. 

American goulash, or American chop suey, is a one-pot meal. It features ground beef, macaroni noodles, tomatoes, and cheese. Some versions contain paprika like Hungarian paprika but not always! 

American versions cook much faster than their Hungarian counterpart. In addition, they’re served as a complete meal on their own instead of over a side like noodles. 

Why I Love This American Goulash Recipe

There’s so much to love about this recipe! So, I’ll just name a few of my favorite things.

  • You only need 15 minutes of prep time.
  • The dish cooks in just over 30 minutes.
  • There’s no need to cook the pasta. Instead, the pasta cooks right in the sauce, meaning you don’t have to dirty up more than one dish.
  • Every bite packs in tons of veggies, protein, and flavor!
Close up side shot of healthy American goulash garnished with green onion.

What Is American Goulash Made Of?  

Everyone seems to have their own take on goulash, but this is what I use in my recipe:

  • Ground Beef – I recommend using a beef slightly higher in fat such as 80/20 over lean ground beef. This adds lots of flavor to the dish! 
  • SeasoningsGarlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
  • Fresh Veggies – White onion, bell pepper (any color), and mushrooms. 
  • Tomato Sauce – This forms the base of the goulash, creating a sort of broth. 
  • Diced Tomatoes – For added nutrients and texture. 
  • Elbow Macaroni – Also known as macaroni noodles. 
  • Corn – Drained, canned corn works best. However, you can also use fresh corn if you have it on hand.

Full ingredients, instructions, and nutrition information are in the recipe card below. 

Up close photo of healthy goulash on a large spoon over the pan.

Ingredient Variations

Feel free to mix and match different ingredients to make this recipe your own! Some variations include: 

  • Swapping the Meat. Ground venison, ground turkey, buffalo, or bison all taste amazing in this goulash recipe! Add a tablespoon or two of bacon rendering (bacon fat) or butter if you’re using a particularly lean meat like venison. Olive oil will also work, it just won’t be quite as flavorful.
  • Switching the Noodles. Feel free to use any shape and size of noodles you like best. If needed, opt for gluten-free varieties
  • Adding Extra Ingredients. Mix in any veggies you have on hand to make this recipe even more nutritious and filling. Shredded carrots, diced celery, or chopped zucchini all work great. Or, stir in kidney beans or black beans for added fiber.
  • Enhancing the Flavor. Add a splash of Worcestershire sauce or a sprinkle of red chili flakes to enhance the flavor and add a touch of heat. You can even mix in some bay leaves to enhance the savoriness.
  • Make it Soup-Like. Add beef broth or more tomato-based sauce to thin out the mixture
Overhead photo browned ground meat and vegetables grouped in a pan.

How to Make This Easy American Goulash Recipe

  1. Heat the meat. Heat a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the meat. 
  2. Combine. Add the garlic powder, onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, and Italian seasoning. Mix to combine and break up the meat. 
  3. Simmer. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Then, cover the pot, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally. 
  4. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir in the pasta, corn, salt, and pepper. Cover, and continue to simmer until the pasta is al dente, stirring occasionally. Enjoy! 
Overhead photo of Healthy American Goulash in a stainless steel pan.

How to Store and Reheat

  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. 
  • Reheat individual servings in the microwave. Or, heat larger portions in a pot over medium heat. Add a splash of water as needed if the mixture becomes too thick! 

Can I Freeze Leftovers? 

Yes, this recipe makes for a fabulous freezer meal. Allow the goulash to cool completely. 

Then, transfer it to a freezer-safe container, and freeze it for up to three months. Thaw leftovers in the fridge overnight, and reheat as normal. It’s a lifesaver on busy weeknights!  

Up close photo of healthy goulash in a pan garnished with green onions.

Healthy American Goulash Recipe

Make this healthy American goulash recipe in a single pot in just an hour for a flavor-loaded, nutrient-packed comfort food meal!
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: All American
Keyword: american goulash, american goulash recipe, casserole, easy dinner, feeds a crowd, ghoulash, goulash, hungarian, recipe for goulash, veggies
Servings: 8
Calories: 430kcal
Cost: $12.00

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef (or ground venison, buffalo, or turkey meat) *see recipe notes
  • 2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 8 oz mushrooms, finely diced
  • 28 oz canned tomato sauce
  • 28 oz water use the emptied tomato sauce can
  • 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 16 oz elbow macaroni
  • 15 oz canned corn, drained
  • 1 Tablespoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Heat a large Dutch oven or large soup pot over medium-high heat.
  • Brown the ground beef. (If using ground venison, turkey, or buffalo add 2 Tbsp bacon renderings or butter- see recipe notes below)
    1 lb ground beef
  • Add in the garlic powder, onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, and Italian seasoning. Mix until combined.
    2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 white onion, diced, 1 bell pepper, diced, 8 oz mushrooms, finely diced, 28 oz canned tomato sauce, 28 oz water, 15 oz can diced tomatoes, 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • Bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  • Stir in the elbow macaroni pasta, corn, salt, and pepper. Cover and continue to simmer an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is cooked.
    16 oz elbow macaroni, 15 oz canned corn, drained, 1 Tablespoon sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Serve warm and refrigerate leftovers for up to 4 days.

Video

Notes

*Add 2 Tbsp bacon fat if using ground venison, buffalo, or turkey. If I do not use ground beef I feel like the end result needs some “umphhh” aka depth. Bacon renderings (bacon fat) is perfect! Butter will do the trick too if you do not have saved bacon renderings in your refrigerator.
I was inspired to make this recipe by this one: https://4sonrus.com/grandmas-american-goulash
Banza chickpea pasta or a gluten free pasta may be substituted, but the noodles tend to get mushy. 

Nutrition

Calories: 430kcal

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