Table of Contents
  1. Ready for the best-ever homemade goulash recipe?
  2. Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.
  3. Here’s how to make this recipe.
  4. These pro tips will make this recipe a success.
  5. Frequently asked questions about this recipe.
  6. You'll love these other pasta-heavy recipes.
  7. Watch how to make this recipe.
  8. Have I convinced you to make this recipe?
  9. The Best Homemade Goulash Recipe

This homemade goulash, which can easily be argued as one of the best, is an easy-to-make weeknight meal that comes together in under an hour. And much of the time is spent waiting for the sauce to cook. Everything is made in one skillet with rich, almost caramel-like tomato flavors. It’s super yummy and perfect for cozy nights!

Ready for the best-ever homemade goulash recipe?

Goulash is a traditional Hungarian stew. The dish has been taken from my Midwestern home cooks over the years, and each recipe can be different. In school, we would have goulash, a type of tomato sauce mixed with macaroni without much flavor. I was never impressed.

This recipe is what I wish I could have eaten when I was younger. The important part is adding rich tomato flavor with just a bit of herb. Four types of tomato are used, paste, juice, sauce, and diced. Each gives a distinct flavor and texture that make this the best goulash.

Spoon holding spoonful of homemade goulash with rest of goulash sitting in black cast iron skillet below with white background behind.

Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.

  • Beef is the traditional meat when preparing goulash. I use 92% lean ground beef. For a vegetarian version, leave the meat and beef stock out.
  • Tomato paste is added and cooked. During cooking, it is caramelized and darkens for a deeper and richer flavor.
  • Paprika is a traditional spice added for flavor and color. The recipe uses sweet paprika if you want more heat use hot paprika.
  • Dried oregano and dried basil are not traditional. They offset the strong tomato flavors with a bright herb note.
  • Tomato sauce, tomato juice, and diced tomatoes are used to add flavor, but also each help give the correct amount of liquid for the macaroni to cook and be a correct texture once finished.
  • Macaroni is the noodle that is often used when making a goulash recipe. Elbow macaroni traps sauce into the noodle and holds onto the flavor.
Marble surface with all of the ingredients needed to make homemade goulash including tomato sauces, macaroni, cheese, raw beef, spices, and more.

Here’s how to make this recipe.

  1. Brown the ground beef. To an oven-safe 12-inch skillet over medium heat, add 1 tbsp of neutral oil. Then add in the diced onion, garlic, and ground beef. Let this mixture cook, breaking up the ground beef into small pieces until the ground beef has browned.
  1. Add the tomato paste. To the browned ground beef, add the tomato paste. Stir the paste into the meat mixture and allow it to caramelize for about 6 to 8 minutes.
  1. Add the spices, liquid, and pasta. Once the tomato paste has caramelized with ground beef, add in the salt, paprika, dried basil, dried oregano, and black pepper. Work the spices into the meat mixture, ensuring everything is well incorporated before moving on. Then add in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, beef stock, and tomato juice. Stir everything together and add in the macaroni. Stir the noodles into the liquid to ensure everything is evenly distributed, then cover it and let the mixture simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
  1. Add cheese and bake. Once the macaroni has absorbed some of the liquid, the mixture is almost done cooking. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the entire top of the meat and pasta mixture and place the skillet into the oven and bake at 375°F for 10 to 12 minutes. Once baked, serve immediately.

These pro tips will make this recipe a success.

  • In most cases, when building flavor, you want to allow the onion to cook for a time by itself. Then, towards the end of the cooking time, add in the garlic, so it does not burn. In this recipe, the onion, garlic, and ground beef are all added simultaneously at the beginning of the cooking to minimize the overall time.
  • If your ground beef has a higher fat content, some liquid may be left in the pan after it cooks with the onion in garlic. If so, drain off the excess liquid, so it does not affect the rest of the recipe.
  • When the ground beef and tomato paste are caramelized, the mixture will look somewhat dry, and the meat will tend to want to stick to the bottom of the skillet. At that point, you know that it’s time to move on and add in the remaining spices and tomato liquids.
  • Once the macaroni has cooked with the meat and tomato mixture, the dish is ready to eat. Rather than add the cheese on top and place it in the oven, the mixture could be eaten. But adding the cheese on top and a bit of baking time makes for a slightly more elevated meal.
Serving of baked goulash sitting on white plate with fork about to take a bite full of tomato-covered noodles.

Frequently asked questions about this recipe.

Can this recipe be made vegetarian?

Yes. Leave out the ground beef and substitute the beef stock for vegetable stock.

How long does this recipe last in the refrigerator?

Once prepared, the leftovers will last in the refrigerator for 10 days.

Would other types of meat work in this recipe as well?

The flavor of the ground beef stands up well against the intensity of the tomato flavor. Ground turkey, pork, and chicken will also work but not have as much flavor.

Watch how to make this recipe.

More weeknight dinners

Have I convinced you to make this recipe?

I hope you make this recipe and put some food on your table. Leave a comment and share a star rating so you can let others know how much you love this recipe. This helps show others that this is a recipe they, too, can make, enjoy, and love!

Black cast iron skillet with homemade goulash baked inside sprinkled with cheddar cheese on top with towel covering handle of skillet.

The Best Homemade Goulash

5 from 22 votes
This homemade goulash, which can easily be argued as one of the best, is an easy-to-make weeknight meal that comes together in under an hour. And much of the time is spent waiting for the sauce to cook. Everything is made in one skillet with rich, almost caramel-like tomato flavors. It’s super yummy and perfect for cozy nights!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • 1 lb macaroni
  • 6 oz shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • In a large oven-safe 12-inch skillet, heat 1 tbsp of neutral oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion, garlic, and ground beef. Break the beef into small bite-size pieces and cook until the beef is browned and the onion has softened, 8-10 minutes.
    1 large onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1 lb ground beef
  • Once the beef is cooked, add the tomato paste. Stir and cook the tomato paste until it is worked into the beef and is darker in color, 6-8 minutes.
    6 oz tomato paste
  • Add the salt, black pepper, dried basil, dried oregano, and paprika. Stir the spices and herbs in and add the tomato juice, tomato sauce, beef stock, and diced tomatoes with their liquid. Pour in the dried macaroni and stir to combine.
    1 tsp salt, 1 ½ tsp paprika, 1 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp dried oregano, ½ tsp black pepper, 1 15-oz can tomato sauce, 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, 2 cups beef stock, 2 cups tomato juice, 1 lb macaroni
  • Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the pasta is cooked, 20-30 minutes. Simmering instead of boiling in water will take the pasta longer to cook than the box instructions indicate. While cooking, stir every few minutes to encourage the pasta to cook evenly.
  • Once the pasta is cooked, remove it from the heat. Sprinkle the top with the shredded cheese and place in the oven. Bake the dish until the cheese is melted and bubbling, 10-12 minutes. Once baked, remove from the oven and serve.
    6 oz shredded cheddar cheese

Notes

  • In most cases, when building flavor, you want to allow the onion to cook for a time by itself. Then, towards the end of the cooking time, add in the garlic, so it does not burn. In this recipe, the onion, garlic, and ground beef are all added simultaneously at the beginning of the cooking to minimize the overall time.
  • If your ground beef has a higher fat content, some liquid may be left in the pan after it cooks with the onion in garlic. If so, drain off the excess liquid, so it does not affect the rest of the recipe.
  • When the ground beef and tomato paste are caramelized, the mixture will look somewhat dry, and the meat will tend to want to stick to the bottom of the skillet. At that point, you know that it’s time to move on and add in the remaining spices and tomato liquids.
  • Once the macaroni has cooked with the meat and tomato mixture, the dish is ready to eat. Rather than add the cheese on top and place it in the oven, the mixture could be eaten. But adding the cheese on top and a bit of baking time makes for a slightly more elevated meal.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 485kcal
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Difficulty Intermediate
Method Cooking

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Kaleb

I’m Kaleb! I'm not a chef, professional baker, landscaper, or designer, but I like to play each on Knollgate Farm. Come join me on my journey and let's learn together!

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19 Comments

  1. Totally enjoy watching you. In your yard while planting. Also your kitchen making delicious meals. You are so talented and knowledgeable.
    Thank you for being you Kaleb.

  2. Kaleb, what kind of cover did you use to simmer your goulash? Looks like a type of spatter guard, but I don’t think it is. Like it.

  3. I watched your goulash recipe and it looks delicious. We do love Goulash. When you were cooking it the stove you covered your cast iron pan with an all clad lid with handle. Can you tell me where you got the lid? I have a couple cast iron pans I got from my Mom and Grandmother that I need a lid for. It looks like it works well. Thank you

  4. 5 stars
    This was so good! And the fact that it was a one pot meal made it even better! It did take much longer for my pasta to cook however, I used elbows and it took 30 minutes at a low simmer. Also, I’ll halve the recipe next time (I had enough leftovers to fill three 32oz containers). Thanks again for another great recipe!

  5. Hi if I didn’t want to use the canned tomato’s would I just add equal amount of tomato sauce? I just don’t care for tomato chunks.

  6. I haven’t made goulash in years but
    This is the best Thank you. My husband Mr picket loved it

    Phyllis Mangold

  7. 5 stars
    I, for the life of me, could not figure out how you fit all those ingredients in your skillet! I ended up having to transfer in a large pot but I think I will transfer to a ceramic baking dish.

  8. 5 stars
    Kaleb-once again you’ve knocked it out of the park. PLEASE publish a cookbook. This was easy to make, took about an hour total, price of ingredients was reasonable, flavors were excellent and the whole family loved it. I didn’t have macaroni on hand so I used penne and it turned out great, I maybe simmered an extra 5 mins or so from the estimate in the recipe. I’ve made several of your recipes and they are all outstanding. Your videos are helpful and so cheerful also. Keep up the great work, it’s appreciated!

  9. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! Other goulash recipes have been a bit boring, but not this one. My husband and I feasted on it for three nights and it got better and better and the pasta wasn’t dried out.

    This makes A LOT, so make sure you have a big enough pan. I put at least half of it into the freezer the first night. I grabbed the smoked paprika accidentally, and discovered it after most of it was in the pan, but there was no problem with the taste at all. And putting it into the oven is a nice touch.

    Thank you, Kaleb!

  10. This recipe turned out great! Flavorful, filling, and straightforward to make. Served it with a side of homemade jalapeño bread and it was a perfect middle-of-winter dinner.

  11. 5 stars
    This was very close to my mother’s recipe (we are talking many many years ago) with the added deliciousness of cheese. I used fire roasted tomatoes (bought the wrong ones when shopping for the ingredients) and all four of us who enjoyed the meal said it added a nice smokiness. Maybe add that in your notes? I am making it with regular tomatoes next time though so I can totally decide which way I like it the best. (Also made your raspberry crumb bars for dessert for the same dinner and they were delicious also.)

  12. 5 stars
    So delicious! I’ve made this several times this winter. My family has loved this since following Caleb.

    Tonight it’s been cloudy & raining, in San Jose, so nice to have this in May. Cozy, filling, and comforting.

  13. 5 stars
    I just made this. My house smells fantastic and it tastes wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.

  14. 5 stars
    Grew up having Goulash but I never had a real recipe. Followed tyour recipe exactly and loved it! Adding it to my faves!