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.
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!
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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!
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
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- ½ small onion diced
- ½ medium green bell pepper diced
- [1-½ pounds ground beef]
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1-½ tablespoons chili powder
- ½ 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.