Classic Beef Goulash or American Chop Suey
First Published: February 2, 2008… Last Updated: January 14, 2020

Classic Beef Goulash is a comfort food recipe I grew up with that others may call American Chop Suey. It is a basic, easy recipe made with ground beef, tomato sauce, macaroni, and spices. This is all simmered together making a delicious meal for your family!

This beef goulash is a great make-ahead dish that you can easily reheat when you get home from one of the kid’s after school activities. It is sure to warm you up and satisfy those hungry bellies.

Cooking memories with Mom

I remember my mom making this classic beef goulash for dinner quite often. She would serve it up with slices of warm homemade bread smothered with butter. This is a comfort food recipe that makes me wish I were young again.

Those were the days and I often wonder why we can’t actually appreciate those days while we are living them! I remember my mom telling me not to wish my life away. I think she likely knew what she was talking about after all.

A bowl of comfort food in this Classic Beef Goulash in a serving bowl

Classic Beef Goulash or American Chop Suey?

The first time I heard this Classic Beef Goulash recipe referred to as American Chop Suey was from my mother-in-law. She was talking about how her mom would make it for their dinners. When she told me how it was made and what was in it, I realized it was the same thing my mom would make that she just called Goulash!

Cooking the onions and peppers in a skillet

The great thing about Classic Beef Goulash is you can make it pretty much any way you want to. My mom always would put green peppers and use home-canned tomatoes in her goulash recipe. She never used fresh garlic back then, but I use it now so when I made this recipe I used onions, bell pepper, and fresh garlic.

beef sauteing in the skillet

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Ground Beef: I highly believe that the quality of your beef makes a huge difference in the taste and flavor of the dish. I also am a firm believer in using at least an 85/15 ration. I don’t like to go any leaner because I like the flavor fat brings to the beef.

Marinara Sauce: While mom would use home-canned tomatoes and others use diced tomatoes, I like to use a marinara sauce and canned tomato combination. I like the richness and flavor it adds to the dish.

Stewed tomatoes added to the stockpot

Most classic beef goulash recipes use stewed tomatoes and tomato paste. Using the marinara sauce eliminates the need for the tomato paste. I learned a long time ago to use marinara sauce and I use it in this Roasted Garlic Meatball Chili and Low Carb Spicy Shrimp and Tortilla Soup recipe also.

Spices: Classic spices such as chili powder, paprika, Italian seasoning, and Worcestershire sauce are used in this recipe.

Large Stockpot: While some may use a slow cooker, I stick to the old fashioned stockpot way of cooking. Be sure you have at least a 6-quart stockpot.

a pot of comfort food simmering: beef and tomato sauce base in a stock pot

The Pasta in the goulash

I always use elbow macaroni. Any other type of pasta in this recipe would make me think it was not goulash!

Some people will cook the pasta right in the meat mixture. I probably could and save myself one less dish to wash, but I like to cook my pasta separately. Grumpy is super picky about his pasta and I feel that I can control how much it is cooked better by cooking it separately.

That could all be in my head, seriously. However, if you want to toss your pasta into the meat mixture, go right ahead. You may want to add a little water to your mixture if you go that route because the pasta will absorb the liquid.

uncooked pasta in a measuring cup
Comfort food in a stock pot, pasta, tomato sauce and beef

How to serve Classic Beef Goulash

We also love to put shaved parmesan on our beef goulash. My mom would put out the grated parm in a can, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve progressed to grating my own!

Grumpy loves to sprinkle his with hot sauce. While I do love my hot sauce, I prefer it without. But, if your in for that kind of thing, then definitely give it a try!

Pinnable Image for Classic Beef Goulash

What to serve with this recipe

The answer here is pretty much bread. Anything bready that you can dip into the tomato-based sauce and sop up what is remaining at the bottom of the bowl with. I do want to say that if you go to the effort of making this homemade beef goulash recipe, then you should also make one of the recipes below to accompany it.

Homemade Soft White Bread is always a good choice. My mom always served her goulash with homemade bread and it is my very first go to. However, I also love dinner roll and this recipe for Sweet Dinner Rolls is a delicious one to serve. If you don’t have a lot of time, these Quick Dinner Rolls will do the trick.

Cheesy Garlic Pepperoni Bites are also a great treat to serve with this Classic Beef Goulash. The pepperoni fits right in with the tomato-based sauce and pasta!

Or go with a muffin and make these Sweet Corn Muffins.

Mom’s Buttermilk Biscuits are always a winner. The big fluffy biscuit is perfect with butter and honey alongside the goulash. My mom would sometimes serve biscuits and then, the dessert would be strawberry shortcakes with the biscuits that we didn’t eat with dinner!

*If you made this recipe for Classic Beef Goulash, please give it a star rating*

Classic Beef Goulash or American Chop Suey

Classic Beef Goulash

Classic American Goulash is a recipe I grew up that others may call American Chop Suey. It is a basic, easy recipe made with ground beef, tomato sauce, macaroni, and spices. This is all simmered together making a delicious comfort food meal for your family!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Classic Beef Goulash
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 276kcal


  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 small onion diced
  • 1/2 medium green bell pepper diced
  • [1-1/2 pounds ground beef]
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2-14.5 oz cans stewed tomatoes
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni


  • Fill a large stockpot with water and add salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook the elbow macaroni, stirring occasionally, until almost done (about 2 minutes less than package directions). Drain and set aside.
  • Place oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add peppers, onion, and garlic. Simmer until onions become translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add ground beef to onion mixture. Cook until beef is no longer pink and browned. Drain any excess fat from the beef mixture.
  • Add spices, Worcestershire sauce, stewed tomatoes, and marinara sauce to beef mixture and bring to a simmer. Simmer about 5 minutes.
  • Add pasta and simmer a couple more minutes. Serve with parmesan cheese if desired.


Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy but will vary depending on the specific brands of ingredients you use. Please consult with your doctor regarding specific health needs.


Serving: 2cups | Calories: 276kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 520mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g

About the Author: Shelby Law Ruttan

Shelby is the author/owner of Grumpy's Honeybunch. Established in 2007, she shares and preserves family recipes as well as recipes for cooking light and keto. She is an experienced, self-taught home cook who loves to share recipes with others. You can see her work on websites such as Veal Made Easy, Parade, Community Table, SoFab Food, Yummly, and FoodGawker.


  1. lobsteriffic February 2, 2008 at 7:52 pm - Reply

    I’ve never heard of American Chop Suey before either…mind you people around here don’t talk about goulash a lot either, it’s just something I’ve heard on tv. Looks interesting – like it would be nice and comforting on a cold day.

  2. Anonymous October 12, 2019 at 5:27 pm - Reply


  3. Miriah October 26, 2019 at 11:18 am - Reply


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Shelby Welcome! I'm Shelby, author of Grumpy's Honeybunch. I have been sharing family favorite recipes since 2007. I started the Keto Diet in October 2017 and since then I have been creating Keto ... read more

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